When it comes to makeup, foundation is one of the most important components to achieving a polished look. There are tons of different formulas, price points, and (finally) plenty of shades to choose from, so finding the perfect option has never been easier.
But (ugh, there’s always a but!) applying said foundation can be tricky. We know it’s not brain surgery or anything, but admit it: You’ve definitely experienced that feeling of utter betrayal when, for reasons beyond your understanding, your foundation looks like a hot mess. If only we all had professional makeup artists on call at all times, this wouldn’t be a problem, right?
Well, as it turns out, the beauty editors of Who What Wear actually do have some pals in the beauty business who can troubleshoot these foundation issues. That’s where celebrity makeup artists Kelsey Deenihan and Sarah Tanno come in. Deenihan’s clients include stars like Lucy Hale, Reese Witherspoon, Millie Bobby Brown, and Nathalie Emmanuel, just to name a few. Tanno is Lady Gaga’s trusted artist and is responsible for the singer’s out-of-this-world 2019 Met Gala makeup looks. So, yeah, these ladies know what they’re talking about, and they’re sharing that wisdom here.
To set the record straight and provide solutions for some of the biggest foundation issues that are standing between you and flawless skin, we got Deenihan’s and Tanno’s takes on the top foundation mistakes that are sabotaging flawless execution. Get their tips, and shop the must-have products you’ll need to implement them ahead.
As Deenihan explains, aggressively tugging and rubbing foundation into your skin is not the move. “People are in such a hurry. If you’re using all this anti-aging skincare, and you’re getting your lasers and facials, yet you’re literally pulling your face down to apply makeup with your fingers… just no.” Tanno admits to using all different methods of foundation application. “There are many ways to apply your favorite foundation: brushes, sponges, or your fingers. None of them are wrong! I often use all three,” she explains.
The takeaway: Take it easy on your face! There’s no right or wrong tool to use, but be conscious of the vigor with which you’re using them.
This one might seem like a no-brainer, but Deenihan and Tanno both agree that more goes into shade matching than you might think. For starters, you’ve got to consider that your face is most likely more than one color. “You want to match [your foundation] to your jawline so it seamlessly blends into your neck as well,” says Tanno. “Usually the forehead is a bit darker and warmer, so I wouldn’t bring the same shade all the way to my hairline. You can simply blend a darker shade or just use bronzer to blend skin tone.” Deenihan says this is especially true of darker skin tones, where mismatched coloring can result in ashy, orange, and even green casts. “I literally use six different colors on some people,” she shared. “The undertones are so much more prominent in darker skin tones.”
The takeaway: Take all the colors of your face into account, and don’t forget those undertones.
Just because some foundations contain skin-moisturizing ingredients doesn’t mean you should skip wearing an actual moisturizer underneath. Not only does it help keep your skin happy, but it also helps the foundation spread more easily on the skin. Tanno is a huge fan of an adequately quenched face ahead of any foundation application. “I apply the Marc Jacobs Youthquake moisturizer first so [the skin] has great hydration and slip. Now it’s super easy to get the level of coverage and color you’re looking for.”
The takeaway: Moisturizer will protect your skin and help your foundation glide better. Don’t skip it.
If you want to avoid a caked-on foundation look, Tanno and Deenihan both recommend starting small when it comes to the amount you’re applying. “If you’re not performing on a stage, you shouldn’t look like it. I love a good full coverage for the right occasion, but less is really more,” says Tanno.
The takeaway: Start small, and add more foundation little by little as needed. After all, you can always apply more if you feel like you want more coverage.
Lighting can make or break your foundation application. Having a clear picture of your strokes and colors is key when it comes to that flawless look we’re always after. “Make sure to blend foundation on your neck and the redness of your ears for a perfect complexion. Then go check it by a window. If it looks great in daylight, you are good to go,” says Tanno.
The takeaway: Make sure to check your work in the light. (Natural is best.)