Flawless skin: 7 essential foundation rules from the pros

  1. Prep with primer, but not too much. “Primers are usually silicone-based and should be applied as a very thin layer on the skin, after moisturizer,” says L.A.-based makeup artist Joanna Schlip. “People will put too much on and then their foundation will ball up and the texture is bumpy.” Joanna prefers to tap primer on to areas that might need smoothing – such as over the nose, cheeks, and lines around the mouth – rather than all over the skin.
  2. Apply concealer first, then follow with foundation. This point seems to always be up for debate, but Joanna thinks that because most concealers are oil-based and tacky, it’s best to layer them first, before the foundation. “If you apply concealer last, it’s harder to blend,” says the pro, who has worked with Hollywood A-listers Angelina Jolie, Scarlett Johansson, Jennifer Lopez and Madonna.
  3. Test shades on your cheek. You won’t get the best match by trying out foundation on your inner arm, especially in winter, says Joanna. “When you swipe it on, the colour should be seamless with your skin. When it disappears you know you have the winning shade.”
  4. Choose a formula for your skin type. If you’ve got dry skin, a cream compact formula will look smooth and flawless (a godsend in winter). If you have oily skin, try a mattifying formula. “Even if you only use it on your T-zone, it will help nix shine,” says Joanna.
  5. Don’t waste product. Just one pump of foundation is usually enough to do your whole face. “Using the right tools really helps get the most mileage from your product,” says Joanna. A foundation brush has synthetic bristles so you can use less, compared with a sponge that absorbs a lot of product. One crucial step? Keep your brushes clean. “Synthetic bristles can easily be cleaned with rubbing alcohol; just do it sink-side right after application,” she says. Put a little rubbing alcohol on a paper towel, rub your brush back and forth and place it flat to dry. Correct cleansing preserves the bristles and keeps brushes from being sodden with product.
  6. Don’t wear foundation? Give CC cream a try. Most women need some coverage to even out blotchiness, blur blemishes or disguise redness. A CC (short for “colour correction”) cream is a multi-tasking formula that lets you conceal imperfections, but also infuses skin with anti-aging ingredients like vitamin C and SPF. “I apply CC cream like foundation: start in the centre of the face and work out to the jaw and hairline,” says Joanna.
  7. Think veil, not mask. The new high-tech, HD formulations have smart pigments that do the work for you, reflecting light so your skin looks even and fresh with less product. After applying, step back to see where you need more coverage and layer on top of that. Skin should look alive and real, not heavily made up.

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