How to Apply Every Type of Foundation

August 18, 2021
Tembe Denton-Hurst
By: Tembe Denton-Hurst | by L'Oréal
how to apply foundation

Have you ever stared in awe at your favorite celeb and wondered how they get smooth, poreless-looking skin? Well, aside from a regular regimen of peels, exfoliators and enough essences to bathe in, their foundation application likely has a little something to do with it. While we can’t provide you with professional glam squads, we can steal a few expert makeup tips so you can get a flawless foundation look on your own. Whether you like to apply your foundation with a brush, your fingers or a beauty sponge, keep reading.

How to Prep for Foundation

The key to a flawless base is well-prepped skin, so make sure your face is clean and prepped with your favorite moisturizer or makeup primer. We love using the Urban Decay All Nighter Ultra Glow Primer to help the foundation last throughout the day. 

How to Apply Liquid Foundation

Coverage Level: Varies

Recommended Skin Type: All Skin Types

Best Application Method: Varies

Applying Liquid Foundation With a Foundation Brush

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

Applying Liquid Foundation With a Stippling Brush

A stippling brush will give you sheerer coverage than a foundation brush. Use a stippling motion (or, gently pressing the brush all over your face rather than sweeping it across your skin) for a light, glowy finish. 

Applying Liquid Foundation With Your Fingers

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 Foundations

If you want a matte, full-coverage foundation, look no further than NYX Professional Makeup Can’t Stop Won’t Stop Foundation, an oil-free, affordable formula that lasts all day. For a full-coverage foundation, we love the Lancôme Teint Idole Ultra 24H Long Lasting Foundation. For a lightweight, glowy option, try the L’Oréal Paris True Match Nude Tinted Serum.
how to apply foundation

How to Apply Mineral or Loose Powder Foundation

Coverage: Light to Medium

Recommended Skin Type: Oily or Combination Skin

Best Application Method: Brushes

Applying Loose Powder Foundation With a 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. Then, tap off the excess product and apply it all over your face using a buffing, swirling motion. Pay special attention to the nose, forehead and other areas where you may need extra coverage to prevent shine.

Applying Loose Powder Foundation With a 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 when setting a liquid or cream foundation.

Applying Loose Powder Foundation With a Fluffy Powder Brush

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

Our Favorite Mineral and Loose Powder Foundation

The NYX Professional Makeup Mineral Finishing Powder is our fave because it leaves behind a flawless finish and is perfect by itself or layered on top of other complexion products. Another option? Try the L’Oréal Paris True Match Mineral Loose Powder Foundation for coverage without looking overdone.
how to apply foundation

How to Apply Pressed Powder Foundation

Coverage: Medium to Full

Recommended Skin Type: Oily or Combination Skin

Best Application Method:Varies

Applying Pressed Powder Foundation With a 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.

Applying Pressed Powder Foundation With a 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.

Applying Pressed Powder Foundation With a Rounded Foundation Brush

The round, dome 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 cakey.

Applying Pressed Powder Foundation With a Puff

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 Foundations

We are head over heels for L’Oréal Paris Infallible Fresh Wear Foundation Powder. This mattifying foundation powder provides coverage without looking overdone. Plus, it feels almost weightless on the skin for a blurring effect that lasts 24 hours. Another option? We adore the Giorgio Armani Beauty Luminous Silk Powder Foundation. This compact allows you to easily customize the amount of coverage. Plus, the oil-free formula is perfect for getting a radiant glow.
how to apply foundation

How to Apply Cream Foundation

Coverage: Full

Recommended Skin Type: Dry and Mature Skin

Best Application Method: Varies

Applying Cream Foundation With a Tapered Foundation Brush

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.

Applying Cream Foundation With a Beauty Sponge

For a more sheer 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.

Applying Cream Foundation With Your Fingers

Warm up the cream foundation with your hands and apply it directly from your hands to your face, as you would with a liquid foundation. 

Our Favorite Cream Foundation

If you love cream foundation, the Dermablend Continuous Correction CC Cream SPF 50+ should be on your radar. This formula goes on smooth and has a weightless finish that lasts for an entire day. It’s also perfect for covering acne marks, scars, tattoos or anything else you want to hide.
how to apply foundation
Photo: Chaunte Vaughn

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