How to Apply Foundation

There’s no shame in using the finger to dab concealer under the eyes or blush on the cheeks. However, if you think how to apply foundation is with your hands, we’re here to burst your bubble. It may have been deemed acceptable ten years ago when blending didn’t exist. Today, years of missed patches and streaky lines have taught us that when applying foundation, there are preferred methods. What’s more, since there is now a foundation shade to match every tone, there’s no excuse for a face-neck contrast. The method of how to apply foundation has certainly progressed in recent years, but also depends on the type of look you’re going for. For example, if you prefer a natural look, you may want to know how to apply powder foundation rather than liquid. The tools and techniques differ depending on your choice of coverage, texture and whether or not you’re sticking to your true skin tone.

Keep reading for our guide on how to apply foundation for your perfect look.

woman wearing foundation looking at herself in mirror

How to apply liquid foundation

The most common foundation formula is a liquid one. Although the go-to choice for a flawless complexion, liquid foundations can also be the easiest to leave a few streaks. To avoid these streaks, we have crowned the foundation brush and the sponge as the best ways how to apply liquid foundation. However, the key to the entire process and one which many still get wrong is finding the right shade.

Your skin will be one of the four types of undertones:

  1. Warm
  2. Olive
  3. Neutral
  4. Cool

If you have porcelain skin but unfortunately tend to scald on your sun holiday, you fall into the cool category. If you’re a lucky one who returns from a few days abroad with a deep bronze, you’re most likely warm. Once you’ve found your undertone, swatch two or three shades from that range against the jawline. The one which blends seamlessly is the one that will not require you to paint the entire neck to avoid lines. However, your skin-tone can vary at different times of the year, because unfortunately life doesn’t bless us with a sun-kissed glow all year round. So, make sure to update your foundation shade when necessary. If you’re shopping online, we have provided an AI Shade finder to narrow down the twenty six shades of Skin Base Foundation for the one that suits you.

How to apply powder foundation

If you prefer your natural complexion to shine through but still want to blur imperfections and even out your skin-tone, you may want to know how to apply a powder foundation. Many people presume that applying a powder foundation is a much simpler process than applying a liquid foundation. Although yes, it’s easier to avoid that visually upsetting face-neck color contrast, applying powder foundation has some obstacles of it’s own. To ensure that your powder foundation doesn’t fall into any cracks, it’s best to apply a primer first to create a smooth base to work with. You also want to make sure it doesn’t end up looking cakey or dry, which is largely due to how hydrated your skin is. The Illamasqua Hydra Veil Primer is part hydrator, part primer, so works as the first step to apply powder foundation by prepping the skin for a smooth hydrated base.

How to apply foundation with a brush

Hopefully at this point you’ve established the foundation you want to apply and have now decided that you want to know how to apply the foundation with a brush. The brush is a staple for applying makeup but with so many shapes and sizes, it can be tricky to know which one to use for what.

row of various makeup brushes including powder foundation brush and stippling brush

How to apply a liquid foundation with a brush

Let’s start with the best brush to apply a liquid foundation, a Stippling Brush. You’ll notice your Stippling Brush has two sets of bristles. The long set applies the product to the skin, while the shorter, denser bristles pushes it into the skin for a flawless base.

  1. Squeezing some foundation on the back of your hand, dab the brush into the liquid and lightly dot the product on the target areas such as the forehead, nose, chin, and cheeks.
  2. Now you can begin making quick, small circles working outwards towards the edges of the face.
  3. Don’t forget to blend both into the ears and neck! A little tip on how to apply foundation with a brush- give yourself a double-chin. That way, you can ensure that the product is properly blended into the neck.

How to apply a powder foundation with a brush

To apply powder, we want to work with a Tapered Powder Brush and its flexible bristles. This style of brush with its large, round shape makes it easier to smoothly disperse the powder around the face.

  1. Swirl the brush into the powder if the powder is pressed. If you’re working with a loose powder, shimmy some of the product into the inside of the lid and swirl the brush in there. This is to make sure you don’t go overboard, resulting in a cakey look that we’re trying to avoid.
  2. Tap the brush against the side of the lid to get rid of any excess.
  3. Again, using circular motions, work outwards towards the edges of the face, not forgetting about the ears and neck. Simply repeat these steps if you’re looking for extra coverage.

How to apply foundation with a sponge

Lastly, an alternative way how to apply liquid foundation is with a sponge.

  1. Before touching your face, head straight to the sink and drench the sponge in water, then squeeze. Now that your sponge is damp, it won’t absorb the foundation and the product will bounce off onto the face.
  2. Dip the sponge into the liquid foundation that has been squeezed onto the back of the hand and similarly to how we used the foundation brush, dot it onto the target areas of the face.
  3. From here, begin dabbing. Dab, don’t drag, the product outwards. Dabbing with a sponge gives the face a seamless look with full coverage.

How to clean your foundation brush

Now that you use brushes and sponges to apply your foundation, please clean them. We know, this task does not come naturally to anyone’s routine. However, ideally we should be cleaning our brushes at least once a month. All you need is a gentle shampoo, warm water and a mug. Swirl the brushes around the water and massage the bristles to get out all of that residue that would otherwise be rubbed onto your face. Rinse, squeeze, and lay out to dry. It’s a good idea to do this before bed so they’re ready to be used again by the morning.

We understand the struggle of getting ready on dark mornings. It usually follows with a nasty shock provided by the harsh lighting of the office bathroom. However, with these foundation application tips, the neck will be matched, the lines blended, and confidence restored!

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Josie Wilkins

Josie Wilkins

Writer and expert

Josie is an Online Beauty Editor with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism. Her passions involve all things skincare and beauty and in her free time she likes to travel, read and get her beauty sleep.