Makeup Editor Tips: How To Find The Right Foundation Shade For Your Skin Tone And How To Apply It
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Having worked at the cosmetic counters for twenty years, the most troublesome product women have finding is foundation. There are so many kinds, so many colors and so many different ways to apply that learning trigonometry can seem easier. In this article, I hope to demystify this cosmetic staple for you, which can be as simple as 1, 2, 3.
The basic types of foundation are liquid, which come in different versions, either moisturizing and oil-free; powder, which is great to use either alone or on top of foundation for extra coverage; cream, which again can come in either a compact or stick form and my favorite for special occasions: air brush.
Before I start with any foundation, I do like to use a primer. Like foundation, there are many different kinds, so it just depends on what type of finish you like; I have big pores and my skin tends to be combination. Some great primers I use on myself and in my kit include Benefit POREfessional ($30.00), Hourglass Veil Mineral Primer SPF 15 ($52.00), Smashbox Photo Finish Foundation Primer ($36.00) and Mally Evercolor Poreless Face Defender ($40.00).
Liquid, I find, is the most versatile of all foundations. I like to get a full coverage foundation and apply with a sponge. You can also use a brush, but I find brushes streak and don’t give the finish I like. When I trained with a top artist in New Jersey (and she trained with Way Bandy, so if it was good enough for him…)
I learned to use a sea sponge. The sponge should be damp, then drain it with a towel and stipple over the entire face. This enables you to determine how much coverage you need so you don’t waste any product. I also find that you waste a lot of product with foundation brushes. No need to add more product, because if you just press the sponge into your skin, more product will magically appear. Generally, I like to start stippling the product towards the middle of my face and work outward; that is where you usually need the most coverage.
Also, if the foundation isn’t your perfect color you won’t notice the demarcation as much. You can make the sponge more damp and it will lighten the color. Now, you can use a natural sea sponge from the art supply store, or, you can use a gorgeous product called the Beauty Blender ($23.95). This does look prettier and is cut for all the nooks and crannies of your face. It does a superb job and it’s pink. Anything pink makes me happy.
A tip for finding the right shade for your skin tone: Apply from your cheek down to your jawline, blend, and go outside where you can find natural light. Natural light is your best friend, it will give you the truest color rendering. Remember, don’t worry if you look pale. You can add color with bronzer or blush, NOT with your foundation.
I know most of us like to look tan, but please ladies, do it with bronzer. Otherwise you will end up looking like a cartoon character. Here are some of my favorite liquid foundations: MUFE Face & Body Liquid Foundation ($40.00), Mally Ultimate Performance Full Coverage Liquid Foundation ($36.38) and Giorgio Armani Luminous Silk Foundation ($59.00).
Next up are powder foundations. Powder foundations are just that — powders with more coverage than a regular powder. I love to use these on clients after I am done with their foundation. I use powder if they need more coverage. I don’t recommend using these to set liquid foundations, as they have a tendency to not set as nice and, as a result, look streaky. I also like to use these with a brush.
The brush gives a softer finish, and you can get the desired coverage you want. I only use the sponge to touch-up when I’m out. Now, if someone needs full coverage then I skip the brush and go straight for a sponge which picks up the most product. Some of my favorite brands of powder foundations are Shiseido The Makeup Powdery Foundation ($29.50), MAC Studio Fix Powder Plus Foundation ($27.00) and Nars Powder Foundation SPF 12 )$45.00).
Another favorite foundation I like to use is cream foundation. As I mentioned before, they can come in two forms: stick and compact. I always have the stick in my makeup kit, as they can be used on all skin types: oily, dry or combination. Just adjust the moisturizer you are using to get the perfect finish. There is only one brand I carry in my kit to this day and that is Bobbi Brown.
She was the foundation stick originator. Her product in particular is made with beeswax, not oil. So you oil-fobes need not to worry. I like to do a stripe on my chin, cheeks and forehead, then blend down with a sponge. With the stick, I tend not to wet the sponge. I like to do it dry with a traditional triangular sponge.
Bobbi Brown Foundation Stick ($42.00)
When in doubt, I always reach for this product. If I am in need of extra coverage, then I run the sponge over the stick and stipple over the troublesome areas. And, to top it off, I set with a powder. There are also some great compact foundations. I use the sponge that comes with the product. Depending on your preference, you can use a sponge or brush. My preference with this formulation is a dry sponge.
The application is the same: I start towards the center of the face and work my way outward. Some great compact foundations are Cover FX Total Cover Cream Foundation ($42.00), Bobbi Brown Oil-Free Even Finish Compact Foundation ($42.00) and MAC Studio Tech Foundation ($30.00).
Last but not least, this is one category that is slowly but surely becoming more well-known: airbrush foundation. Airbrush is for the more sophisticated makeup consumer. I say that because it is more expensive. You have to buy the mechanism to apply the foundation, along with the actual foundation. These mechanisms can run anywhere from $250 to $1000, depending on the make and the model. The one that I find is the most reasonable and great for beginners is the Temptu model.
The price is in the lower range, and they have a nice selection of colors. Don’t we all want our skin to look airbrushed, just like they are in the magazines? These systems give you just that. You will look like Greta Garbo — perfectly diffused skin. I like to start with the system on low and work my way up on the dial. As with anything in makeup. You can always add more later, it’s harder to take away.
On the Temptu model, there is a dial so YOU control how much product comes out of the gun. And, as always, I start in the center and work my way out. Temptu in particular also has great blushes and bronzers, which you can add to sculpt the skin to your perfect look. As for powder with airbrush foundations, I don’t use a loose powder and puff. I prefer to take a brush and the compact’s regular powder and sweep across the face to set. That way you don’t wind up looking too cakey and your skin looks more natural.
So, there you have it: my personal tips and favorite foundation products. I hope you find my information useful.
So. tell me… What kind of skin do you desire? Let us know by commenting below, which will automatically be posted to our Community Forum (click here to check it out!) where you can find other beauty related discussions! Don’t forget to also submit a photo to our Photo Of The Day (click here!) feature, where a new photo will be picked daily. Your photo just might be selected, so get going!
- Erin Sutera, senior writer and makeup artist
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