10 easy ways to brush up on your foundation

Loose powderWhether you've got 10 minutes or 10 seconds to spend on your make-up routine, choosing the right foundation makes all the difference.

We consulted make-up artist Ruby Hammer on everything from choosing foundation to ensuring a smooth finish.

1. Picking the right primer

You wouldn't apply paint to a surface that you hadn't prepared. A primer ensures that make-up glides easily onto skin that's been prepped. Whatever your skin type, tone or texture, choose your primer accordingly. Lacklustre skin will benefit from a radiance booster with a hint of a sheen or colour, oily skin needs a mattifying primer which will help make-up last longer and reduce shine and dry skin can always do with a little extra moisturiser.

For oily skin, try Wild About Beauty's Mattifying Balm, £21, a silicone-free multi-purpose balm that leaves skin smooth and shine-free, and creates the perfect base for make-up.

For normal to dry skin, a good all-round moisturiser is all you need - Caudalie Premieres Vendanges, £17.15, creates the perfect make-up base.

If your skin is looking a bit drab, This Works Perfect Look Skin Miracle, £24.92, is a double-duty wonder cream. Apply it before foundation as a primer to even out skin tone, bring back a glow and generally perk-up a dull complexion, or mix it with foundation to liven up pale skin. Well worth it.

2. Choose the right foundation

When choosing foundation you probably test foundation on your hands instead of your face. This is not ideal as the two areas are rarely the same colour. Instead, choose the three shades that appear to be the closest to your skin tone and then test them on or under your jawline. The shade that almost disappears is the best shade for your skin. Check the colour in daylight too, as artificial lighting can be deceptive.

3. Make-up trends

Like skirt lengths and the cut of jeans, make-up textures follow fashion. If the catwalks are showing shiny skin, then it's a dead cert that a base with luminosity will keep you (and your skin) looking modern. That's not to say that you should be a slave to fashion. If you have oily skin and the current trend is for shine, you don't want to end up with overly-shiny skin. Pick a semi-matte texture which will help reduce oiliness, but keep skin looking dewy.

As a rule, follow this guide: oily skins need an oil-free, cream-to-powder or mattifying foundation. Combination skins benefit from stick or mineral foundations; and dry skin will lap up tinted moisturisers and fluid bases.

4. Know your BB cream from your CC and your HD

Buying a foundation or tinted moisturiser can be just as bewildering as shopping for a TV. So what is the difference between BBs, CCs and HDs?

For light coverage with more benefits than a tinted moisturiser, opt for a BB (blemish balm) cream. These multi-tasking hybrids - part tinted moisturiser, part skin treatment - come in hydrating, mattifying and anti-aging variants that focus on problem-solving, as well as providing some coverage. Try Ginvera Green Tea Nude Cover BB Cream SPF30, £15.49. It really is worth the investment - skin looks brighter, even-toned and smoother.

CC creams (colour and care) give more coverage than BBs, as well as having more intensive treatment properties, such as high levels of antioxidants or other active ingredients.

First developed with the advent of HD film and television, HD foundation contains light diffusing pigments that help to bounce light away from the skin to reduce shadows, lines and uneven skin tone and texture. Try NYX HD Foundation, £14.50.

5. How to apply your foundation

Fingers? Sponge? Brush? Once you've picked your perfect shade, how best to apply it? Start by dotting a small amount of base onto the areas that need it most ie under your eyes, around your nose and the corners of your mouth, then blend with a sponge or make-up brush. Next, dot on a little more to the other areas that need coverage, and then use small, circular movements to blend. Don't forget your jawline, hairline, and around your ears. We recommend the Jane Iredale Foundation Brush, £28.22, a chiselled synthetic brush which is perfect for even application.

Foundation brush

6. When to apply concealer

Concealer is the perfect rescue if you are caught on the hoof and need to quickly camouflage dark circles or blemishes, but don't have time for full-on foundation. But should you apply concealer before or after foundation? It's best to apply it after foundation so that you can use it to perfect, correct and conceal anything that hasn't been evened-out by foundation. Try NYX Concealer Wand (comes in many different colours), £7.99, which is easy to use on-the-go, with a light, suit-all texture.

7. Using under-eye concealer

Before you pick a concealer, consider what its main role will be. Dark, under-eye circles require a creamy texture, ideally with light-reflective particles to create the illusion of lightness and brightness. Once you apply your concealer, pat on a little powder with a soft puff. Try Jane Iredale Active Light - Under Eye Concealer (six colours to choose from), £22.92.

8. Getting the right concealer

Like foundation, the texture and consistency of concealer are key. If you have dry skin, pick something creamy. Oily skin will benefit from a light fluid, cream-to-powder or mineral concealer to avoid slip and to ensure it stays the day - try Lily Lolo Mineral Concealer in Nude, £9.98.

9. Powder foundation

The trend for skin that looks dewy and luminous has meant that powder has taken a back seat. Add to this the fact that powders of the past tended to be ashy, pore-clogging and heavy, and it's hardly surprising that powder hasn't been a priority.

Enter the new generation of powders and mineral foundations which have the benefit of the latest technology ie micro-particles and pigments, super-fine, light and airy textures and colours that suit all skin tones. One rule still applies: a little goes a long way. Tap your brush against the powder pot before you apply to ensure you get the lightest possible veil of coverage. Try Lily Lolo Finishing Powder in Flawless Silk, £15.48.

10. Pressed powder versus loose

Whether you use compact or pressed powder or loose powder, it doesn't really affect the finish you get. Compacts are obviously easier to carry in your make-up bag and are less likely to spill and if you use them with a powder brush, you can create a light veil of cover. The perfect portable compact, Jane Iredale PurePressed Base Pressed Mineral Powder, £28.50, can be used to create a sheer veil or be built up for more coverage.



Last updated: about 3 years ago