How to Apply Every Type of Foundation for the Smoothest Finish

October 14, 2022
Tembe Denton-Hurst
By: Tembe Denton-Hurst | Makeup.com by L'Oréal
Image of woman applying foundation to her cheek with a makeup sponge

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. For an even more seamless finish, pat on top of the foundation with a damp sponge.

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 a Sponge

Pour a small amount of foundation onto the back of your hand, then dot the product onto your face, starting where you want the most coverage (typically at the center). Then, take a damp makeup sponge and bounce it against your skin to evenly distribute and blend in the foundation.

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, medium-to-full-coverage foundation, look no further than the Maybelline New York Fit Me Matte + Poreless Liquid Foundation, an oil-free, affordable formula that lasts all day. For a glowy look, we love the Lancôme Teint Idole Ultra Wear Care & Glow Foundation


Lancôme Teint Idole Ultra Wear Care & Glow 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. Follow the same steps as the kabuki brush for application.

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 one of our favorites because it leaves behind a flawless finish and is perfect by itself or layered on top of other complexion products. Another great option? Try the L’Oréal Paris True Match Mineral Loose Powder Foundation for a light dusting of coverage and a built-in brush that’s perfect for touch-ups. 


NYX Professional Makeup Mineral Finishing Powder and L’Oréal Paris True Match Mineral Loose Powder 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 in a Powder. This mattifying foundation powder provides a matte finish and full coverage that feels surprisingly lightweight on the skin. Plus, it provides a blurring effect that lasts 24 hours. 


L’Oréal Paris Infallible Fresh Wear Foundation Powder

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 Makeup Sponge

For a more sheer finish, use a damp makeup 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 glides on smoothly 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.

 

ermablend Continuous Correction CC Cream SPF 50+

How to Apply Balm Foundation

Coverage: Light to Medium

Recommended Skin Type: Dry and Mature Skin

Best Application Method: Varies

Applying Balm Foundation With a Flat Foundation Brush

A flat-top foundation brush allows you to quickly press the product into your skin for slightly fuller coverage and a subtle blurring effect.

Applying Balm Foundation With a Makeup Sponge

To sheer out the formula, use a damp makeup sponge to press the balm into your skin.

Applying Balm Foundation With Your Fingers

Because most foundation balms are on the sheer side, they’re the easiest out of the bunch to apply with your fingers. Simply warm the product up between clean fingers, then dab and press where you want coverage

Our Favorite Balm Foundation

Balm foundations are great because they often have skin-loving benefits as well as light to medium coverage. We recommend the L'Oréal Paris Age Perfect Makeup 4-in-1 Tinted Face Balm Foundation, which packs four benefits in one balmy formula. Overtime, it helps to firm skin, smooth the look of lines, conceal imperfections and even skin’s tone. 

 

L'Oréal Paris Age Perfect Makeup 4-in-1 Tinted Face Balm Foundation


Photo: Chaunte Vaughn

Read more

Loading
Back to top