Want gorgeous skin? Fake it! Sure, a proper skin care regimen, smart diet, regular exercise and never even looking at a lit cigarette (much less smoking one) will give you good skin. But to get to great, you need to bring in some artifice: Foundation.
How to Choose the Best Foundation for You
The right foundation is what gives stars who walk the red carpet the look of poreless, airbrushed skin. And it can be yours too. First, choose the foundation that’s right for you in both texture and color. If your skin is oily, you’ll want to control your T-zone with an oil-free formula or a powder foundation. Mineral makeup is a good choice too. Those mineralized particles suck up extra moisture.
Opt for a cream or liquid foundation if you have dry skin. Look for words like “hydrating,” “moisturizing” or “luminous” in the product description.
Hate makeup? Get the benefit of foundation without looking like you’re wearing any with a lightweight tinted moisturizer or a BB cream. These “beauty balms” are all-in-one wonders, acting as primer, coverage, moisturizer, skin treatment, sunscreen and even concealer.
Find a shade that matches your skin exactly. When you swipe it across your jawline it should melt into your skin invisibly. Step into natural light to check it. (Yes, you want to go foundation shopping in the daytime.)
Application Secrets of the Pros
Borrow a few tricks from makeup artists for perfect application. Brett Freedman, a Hollywood makeup artist who has worked on stars like Emily Blunt, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Lisa Kudrow, says prepping your skin before your apply foundation is key. He likes to lay down a veil of lightweight oil-free foundation with a flat-top brush, allow it to dry for a few seconds and then use the same brush to apply foundation.
“That way there’s still a touch of moisturizer on the bristles when I’m smoothing foundation over the skin,” Freedman says.
Makeup artists also spend at least a minute or more blending foundation so it completely melts into the skin. They make sure to blend around the hairline, ears and neck. Forget these areas and you can end up with the dreaded VFL (visible foundation line).
The pros are divided on whether to apply concealer before or after foundation. If you apply foundation first, some makeup artists say, you’ll know exactly where you need concealer. But Kimara Ahnert, who owns a makeup studio on Manhattan’s Madison Avenue and includes Brooke Shields and Cameron Diaz among her well-heeled clients, makes a convincing case for starting with concealer.
“Under-eye concealer first,” says Ahnert. “And foundation only on the rest of your face.” And here’s where her advice is truly eye-opening: “Do not double up!” she says. “If you layer foundation on top of the concealer, you’ll dilute it or completely blend away what you’ve just applied.”
Shelley Levitt, managing editor of The Style Glossy, is a former West Coast editor of Self and senior writer at People.