Faith Xue Jul 10, 2017

how to apply foundation 

Even though we always want our skin to cooperate, it tends to rebel at the worst times. Anyone else have a giant spot on their forehead during a big presentation or date? Like it or not, our skin tends to have a mind of its own. Sigh.


Thankfully, we have an arsenal of different foundations to help make it behave. These “magical” powders can help to conceal, brighten, and smooth out even the worst skin. No matter what type of foundation you prefer, this guide will prepare you for any skin-related curveballs.


We’re here to help you figure out which foundation is right for your skin type, how to apply it, and where you can buy some to add to your makeup arsenal.


But wait! Before you go foundation crazy, you need to make sure that your skin is clean and moisturized. Otherwise, the application will be uneven, and you’ll need to do some touchups throughout the day. And if you’re like us, you’re too busy for that! So remember: before makeup, always wash your face with a gentle cleanser, apply toner with a cotton pad, and moisturize.


Have you waited a few minutes for the moisturizer to sink in? Perfect! Let’s start with…

1. How To Apply Liquid Foundation

If your face is the canvas, liquid foundation is the paint. This product is one coverage level above tinted foundation, and can mask blemishes and discoloration without getting cakey. In other words, you want this stuff in your cabinet.

Liquid Foundation Coverage Type


Recommended Skin Type

All skin types

Selecting The Right Liquid Foundation Application Method

Tapered Foundation Brush

Using a tapered foundation brush, “paint” the liquid foundation onto your face using short, downward and outward strokes. Move the product from the center of the face outwards.
Make sure you blend down to the top of the neck to avoid getting the dreaded demarcation line along your jaw. Pat and blend to erase any telltale lines or creases.

Stippling Brush

A stippling brush will give you sheerer coverage than a foundation brush. Use a stippling motion to blend and press the foundation all over your face for a light, glowy finish. That’s when you press gently and lightly all over the face with your brush.

Rounded Foundation Brush

Blend the liquid foundation into your face, alternating between swirling and stroking motions. Use a circular motion to blend out seamlessly and prevent any creases or lines.

Flat-Top Kabuki Brush

Dot your foundation around your face, taking extra care on the areas that need more coverage. Use the flat top kabuki brush to press the product into your skin, dabbing it all around. Then use light swirling and sweeping motions to blend it in.

Clarisonic Foundation Brush

After cleansing your skin, dot your face with your favorite foundation. Key points to hit are your forehead, cheeks, chin, and the bridge of your nose. Next, power up your Clarisonic Foundation Brush, place it on low and blend each dot with a circular motion. Voila! Flawless skin. To clean your Clarisonic Foundation Brush, rinse the head with water and a gentle soap.

Beauty Sponge

A beauty sponge will give you a natural finish but also allow you to build up coverage. Wet your beauty sponge, squeeze out any excess water and gently press the foundation into your skin with the damp sponge. Press in and outwards to blend well.


NOTE: If you are using a round beauty sponge, use a rolling motion to blend the foundation into your skin.


Some makeup artists swear that no method gives quite the same flawless finish as using your fingers. Squeeze the foundation onto your wrist and use your fingers to warm it up. Apply to your face using circular motions, taking care to blend and distribute evenly.

Our Favorite Liquid Foundation


If you want the perfect match for your skin tone, look no further than L’Oreal Paris True Match Super-Blendable Makeup in Soft Sable. L’Oreal Paris True Match is a celebrity and professional makeup artist favorite around the world.


*Confused what each brush looks like? Our ultimate guide to face makeup brushes has got your covered.

2. How To Apply Mineral / Loose Powder Foundation

If you have sensitive skin, avoid heavier formulas and go for mineral makeup instead. These loose powders are typically free from harsh chemicals, which means they’re perfect for anyone prone to breakouts.

Mineral / Loose Powder Foundation Coverage

Light to Medium


Recommended Skin Type

Oily/combination skin


Selecting The Right Mineral / Loose Powder Foundation Application Method

Rounded Kabuki Brush

The easiest way to apply loose mineral foundation is with a rounded kabuki brush. Use the brush and swirl around to pick up the powder; tap off the excess product. Then, apply all over your face using a buffing, swirling motion. Pay special attention to the nose, forehead and other areas you may need extra shine coverage.

Rounded foundation brush

As an alternative to a kabuki brush, some people prefer using a rounded foundation brush to apply loose powder foundation. The coverage will be more sheer and is often used on to set a liquid or cream foundation.

Fluffy Powder Brush

If you want light coverage for a more natural look, use a fluffy powder brush. Tap the brush into the loose powder lightly, and sweep the brush across the face, focusing on the T-zone and then moving outwards.

Our Favorite Mineral / Loose Powder Foundation



We are head over heels for L’Oreal’s True Match Naturale line. This gentle mineral makeup provides coverage without looking overdone. Plus, it has the perfect dose of SPF to protect you from the sun.

3. How To Apply Pressed Powder Foundation

If you’re on the go, pressed powder foundation should be your constant companion. The compact formula is perfect for touch-ups, without the fear of loose powder ruining your bag. It’s pretty much your makeup savior.

Pressed Powder Foundation Coverage

Medium to Full

Recommended Skin Type

Oily/combination skin


Selecting The Right Pressed Powder Foundation Application Method

Rounded Kabuki Brush

If you are using a pressed powder as your only form of foundation, use a rounded kabuki brush to achieve the same finish as if you were using a loose powder.

Beauty Sponge

For a more opaque finish, wet a beauty sponge and use it to apply the pressed powder to your face in dabbing motion.

Rounded Foundation Brush

The round, domed shape of this brush allows you to distribute powder foundation evenly. Swish the brush back and forth over the powder foundation using short, back-and-forth strokes, then press the powder in a slight rolling motion all over your skin for a smooth finish that doesn’t look caked-on.


Many pressed powders come with their own puff – use this for on-the-go touch ups by patting the powder over any oil-prone section like your nose or forehead.

Our Favorite Pressed Powder Foundation


We adore the Giorgio Armani Luminous Silk Powder Foundation. This compact allows you to easily customize the amount of coverage. Plus, the oil-free formula is perfect for getting that elusive, radiant glow.

4. How To Apply Cream Foundation

Cream Foundation Coverage


Recommended Skin Type

Mature and acne-prone skin.

Selecting The Right Cream Foundation Application Method

Tapered Foundation Brush

Since cream foundations are emollient-based, they are perfect for filling in wrinkles and covering hyper-pigmentation.

Use a tapered foundation brush to paint the foundation onto your skin, starting from the center of your face and working outwards. Stipple and pat in the foundation afterwards to blend in any streaks.

Beauty Sponge

For a sheerer finish, use a beauty sponge with your cream foundation. Apply as you would a liquid foundation, paying extra care to blend and roll the product into your skin for even coverage.


Warm up cream foundation between your fingers and apply to your skin as you would liquid foundation. One key point – make sure your skin is well- moisturized before applying to avoid any patchy-looking sections.

Our Favorite Cream Foundation




No true makeup fan should leave the house without some Dermablend Smooth Liquid Camo Foundation. This formula goes on smooth, with a weightless finish that lasts for an entire day. It’s also perfect for covering acne marks, scars, and anything else you’d rather smooth over.

5. How To Apply Gel Foundation

Gel foundation can match any skin tone with a creamy, luxurious finish. It’s perfect for dissolving oil, and is ideal for ladies who want a natural look.

Gel Foundation Coverage

Light to Medium


Recommended Skin Type

All skin types (especially dry skin)

Selecting The Right Gel Foundation Application Method

Tapered foundation brush

Start from the center of your face and work outwards. Make sure to pat the foundation afterwards to prevent streaking.

Rounded foundation brush

Alternate between swirling and stroking motions. Afterwards, use a circular motion to prevent creases and lines.

Beauty sponge

Wet the sponge, squeeze out any extra water, and gently press the foundation into your skin. To blend well, make sure to press outwards. If you’re using a round sponge, use a rolling motion for even coverage.

If you’re using a gel foundation stick like Maybelline Fit Me Shine-Free Foundation Stick, apply over your forehead, down the nose, and upwards and outwards from the cheeks. Blend everything in with your fingers, then finish with a light dusting of loose powder.

Our Favorite Gel Foundation


If you’re dealing with fine lines or wrinkles, we recommend L’Oreal’s Visible Lift Serum Absolute. This magic formula tackles the 5 signs of aging, while simultaneously brightening and evening skin. It’s a win-win!


We know that finding the perfect foundation can feel impossible. That’s why we created this guide! Now you can walk into any pharmacy or department store, and know which look will make you feel absolutely flawless.


What type of foundation do you use and how do you apply it? Any tips and tricks to share? Tell us in the comments!  


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