tips for foundation

Foundation has to be one of the most important elements of makeup application, get it right and everything else just seems to fall in to place. While I’m happy to report more brands are bringing more focus to extending shade ranges (don’t get me wrong there’s always room for further improvement) extensive finishes, and choice of coverage, its easy to feel overwhelmed. I’ve created a little foundation 101 for you with all the answers in one place, and tips and tricks galore! For more information on long wear foundations, I have a separate post and video you can read here.


There’s no point jumping into the foundation if we don’t quite literally start at the very foundation of the skin and what we put on it before even a trace of makeup is applied. Understanding your skin and what you are trying to achieve is half the battle with finding the perfect foundation. You want to address your skins needs as much as possible before you apply foundation, whether that’s with skincare or a primer or both. For those of you that like a very light weight foundation that’s  very natural looking in finish, read this post for my recommendations. 



The first thing you want to do is look at your wrists, clench them and notice what colour veins you have, are they more blue or green or do you see both colours present? If you have green veins you have a warm undertone, if you have blue you have a cooler undertone and if you have both you are neutral. Like I said foundations have come a long way since I first started out as a makeup artist, and most brands now tend to carry a mix or warm cool and neutral shades. If you have a warmer tone and have green veins you want to look for foundations with more yellow or golden undertones. If you have a cooler undertone you want to go for a foundation with more pink undertones, and as the name would suggest for neutral it sits some where in the middle.


If we’re being very literal and you want to match your skin exactly as it appears in day light, then you want to take 3 shades within the correct undertone for your skin and apply the ones that initially you feel could be a close match, apply them along your jaw line next to each other then blend each one down into your neck, the one that disappears into the skin is your shade. However, one thing that’s important to consider is what colour then rest of your body is, for example many people, myself included, tend to have a warmer body and paler face or vice verse depoending on how often they’re in the sun and whether or not they wear spf regularly. So keeping this in mind you may want to go warmer than your actual skin tone. Keeping in the tonal range for the shades you have tested now test to see how much warmer you can go with it looking believeable, it may only be one shade warmer. The key is it should be believable, compliment you, and universally flatter whatever other skin is on show. If in doubt take a photo of your chin leaning onto your shoulder and see if the two are in harmony with one another, preferably without the flash on.


Presuming you have the right shade and your skin is prepped, start with less product and start to apply in the area that needs the most coverage first. Build thin layers and only add coverage where needed. Experiment with different brushes and tools, you may even end up preferring to use your hands. Once in place, take a clean tool and rebuff to make sure there aren’t any harsh edges or lines where makeup starts and stops. Buff in soft circular motions to blend for a seamless finish.


I recommend concealing (more tips on under eye concealer here and how to cover redness, blemishes and acne here) before setting things into place with a light dusting of powder. Remember, unless you have very oily skin, you don’t have to powder everywhere just focus on the areas where makeup disappears the quickest or any areas that tend to be more oily. A good rule of thumb is to focus not the T Zone, for the best powders to use read this.

tips for foundation


1. Make sure you store your foundation in a cool dry place so it doesn’t oxidize in any sunlight or heat.

2. Shake it to make it. If you are using a liquid foundation or tinted mosituriser it can help the formula if you shake it a little just to make sure nothing separates in the bottle before application.

3. If it smells bad, it is bad, time to throw it away!

4. Less is more, its easier to start with less than to take away.

5. In the event of it getting to heavy, I recommend removing the makeup with a baby wipe off the nose to make it look a little bit more natural. You can also mix a little moisturizer into the foundation on your skin and buff it over with a clean brush to thin it out a little and sheer it out.

6. Avoid a foundation high in SPF if you’re being photographed, i.e if its your wedding day or you’re at a special event where you’re likely to be photographed. My go to foundations free of SPF include Giorgio Armani Luminous Silk and Nars Natural Radiant Long Wear Foundation.

7. Start in the Centre of the face and blend outwards, blend blend blend.

8. Don’t forget your ears and neck.

9. If you’re working with a very dewy foundation, avoid getting it on your eyelids as its likely to make your eyeshadow crease. If it’s a matte foundation however or a satin finish, a little is fine on the eye lids. If in doubt opt for a tinted eye primer instead something like Laura Mercier Eye Basics.

10. Use good lighting for application and don’t forget to check in day light also.

11. Try adding a facial oil to a foundation that feels a little too thick and to help it glide on and create a more dewy finish.

12. If you have any facial hair be sure to use downward brush strokes so as not to draw more attention to it, aka the peach fuzz look.

Photos By Kayla Varley