How to apply foundation ?

Some of the questions I get asked the most as a makeup artist is about the foundation and what is the best way to apply it. The main goal with foundation is to leave your facial skin looking smooth, even and flawless throughout the day.

But to achieve this, you must understand the basics about how to prep your skin, how to pick the right foundation and the tools you might need for the perfect application.

Foundation is a makeup product that comes in different textures (liquid, cream, powder). To pick the right one you need to know what you are looking for in your skin, answering some of these questions might help you get an idea:

  • How much coverage do you want? (Light, Medium, Heavy)
  • Do you tend to be oily during the day? 
  • Is your skin sensitive to some ingredients? 
  • Do you want your skin looking matte or luminous throughout the day?
  • Do you have fine lines, blemishes or large pores?
apply foundation

Why is foundation good?

The days where foundation made your skin look cakey and/or fake are over. Nowadays the formulas we have in stores are extremely good that they not only leave your skin looking even more healthy and beautiful but they can protect you throughout the day with SPF, prevent getting fine lines, add moisture and help improve your skin texture.

You must get to know your skin better and know that what works for your skin might not work for other people’s skin and vice-versa. So, my best advice is that once you find a foundation that works for you, keep it. Consider that, changing to a new foundation could be normal for anyone who experiences changes in their skin seasonally because of the weather, hormones, or aging. 

How to prep your skin before foundation

The real story behind every beautiful face starts by having a good skincare preparation and creating these steps before applying your foundation will make the difference in the long term. 

1. Cleanse 

1 Cleanse Tone

Use a gentle cleanser to lift dead skin cells and remove all traces of dirt and makeup from the skin’s surface to ensure a smooth makeup application.

2. Tone 

Restore balance to your skin using a toner or micellar water.  This essential step provides an added layer of hydration to the skin and prepares the skin PH for the day. You may apply it with cotton rounds.

3. Hydrate 

This step is the key to creating a smooth, even surface for makeup application. Use a moisturizer suited for your skin type that offers long-lasting hydration. Using an oil-free moisturizer is a great option. Hydrate your face and neck.

4. Under eye area

You must take care of this sensitive and important area. Make sure you hydrate with the right eye cream to brighten, lift and add a nice extra glow. 

5. Use a primer

2. Use a primer

How to apply primer

Depending on your skin type, you may also want to add a primer before applying foundation to make sure certain areas are balanced and prepared for the rest of the day. 

Primers can help balance skin pigmentation or discolorations; oiliness, dryness or smooth out large pores and fine lines. 

1. Right after you cleanse and hydrate your skin, you may apply any of the following primers:

If you have combination or oily skin and tend to have greasy areas, you may apply a mattifying primer on the “T zone” to control the oiliness throughout the day. 

If you have large pores or fine lines, you may want to use a smoothing primer. This will not only help skin look smoother but also, it will help your foundation last longer.

If you want extra hydration, there are also some radiant primers with hyaluronic acid and other ingredients that will help those with dry skin to keep skin looking glowy throughout the day. 

For those of you who want to balance discoloration, you should look for primers with a little bit of pigment that will help your undertone to tone down. For example: 

Green Primer: helps balance red blemishes caused by acne or rosacea. 

2. Important things to consider when applying primer:

  • You may apply primer as you would apply your regular cream. I recommend using your hands to blend it well into your skin.
  • Do not apply the primer all over your face, just in the areas that you want it to work throughout the day.
  • Let the primer set into your skin for a few minutes before you start applying foundation. 

How to apply foundation

How to apply foundation

1. Make sure you are using the right color

The key to the testing foundation is to match the neck rather than only the face, try foundation on your neck first and see if it matches with your skin tone. 

2. Start with a small amount of product

It is very important that you start using a little bit of foundation and work through it, if you need more you can add more on the areas needed. 

3. Apply foundation

Here I separated the 3 different ways to apply it :

Applying foundation with a brush

4. How to apply foundation with a brush

If you are using a round foundation brush (which is my favorite) add a small amount to the tip of the brush and blend in circular motions towards each area of your face. Make sure you also add some of it under your chin and towards your ears to make sure everything looks nice and even. 

Applying foundation with a sponge

6. How to apply foundation with a sponge

If you are using a sponge, add a small amount to the sponge you are using and apply it doing gentle tapping motions to introduce and blend the foundation towards your skin. I recommend using a sponge on the areas you want to cover the most, it’s recommended when using a creamy or full coverage type of foundation. 

Applying foundation with fingers 

7. How to apply Foundation with your fingers

Apply a small amount into your ring and middle finger and then apply your foundation using light circular motions, when using your fingers it is key to make sure you are being gentle.

4. Set your foundation  

A setting powder will help control oil and maintain your foundation in place throughout the day. Use a soft round powder brush to apply it pressing lightly into the skin. 

You may also use a setting spray at the end of the entire makeup application to make sure it sets and lasts.

What is the best tool to apply foundation?

Once you prepped your skin to apply foundation, you may still have some thoughts about what tools to use to apply it. You may use either a foundation brush, a good sponge, or your fingers. 

When I am applying it to clients I prefer to use either a sponge or a foundation brush and when I’m applying it to myself sometimes I like to blend some areas with my fingers. 

Is it better to use fingers for foundation?

The right way is the one that works best for you. I like to say that there are no rules on applying makeup but it is important that you maintain hygiene and with it I mean, having your tools and/or fingers sanitized before the application. 

What are the different types of foundations

There are several types of foundations created within the thousands of makeup brands on the market and the good thing is that among all of the options, there is the perfect fit for your needs. 

Liquid Foundation 

This is the most common and popular type of foundation. You may find a variety of options under this type of foundation that can fit everyone’s needs.  Some are more luminous, while others are matte and work best for someone who wants to control oil throughout the day. You may also find liquid foundations with light, medium, and full coverage. 

Stick / Cream 

This type of foundation tends to be a little bit thicker and usually helps to cover blemishes, it can also be applied on specific areas to cover up certain skin concerns or spots.


The powder is commonly used on people who don’t like to wear heavy or any makeup at all and prefer to just remove any oil from the skin with it. It usually comes in a compact case, which is ideal for on-the-go touch-ups. It is recommended for someone who doesn’t have too many fine lines and for people with normal, combination, or oily skin since their formula tends to be more on the dryer side. Powder foundation typically provides more lightweight coverage. 

Under this type of foundation, you can also find mineral powders, since there is a big interest in natural, organic, and clean makeup solutions. Mineral powder is a great option for someone with sensitive skin.

Tinted Moisturizer

Its main purpose is to improve skin. As its name describes, they are a combination of tint and ingredients that focus on keeping your skin bright, dewy, and even. The coverage tends to be lighter and because of this, they are not recommended for someone who wants to cover up blemishes or darker spots. 

BB Cream

It stands for “blemish balm” or “beauty balm” and its formula tends to provide a light coverage while also treating a skin concern. 

CC Cream

It stands for “color correcting” and it provides also a light layer of coverage with a natural tint. These foundations frequently contain anti-aging ingredients which can prevent getting fine lines and works on your skin to even out any blemishes. 

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