Finding the perfect foundation may seem impossible at times, but there are several factors to consider when it comes to your base. Technique, formula, finish - there are numerous things to keep in mind to achieve foundation success, and today I am going to talk about 10 common mistakes we sometimes make that can lead to a less than perfect outcome.
1. Using products that just don't mix. Literally.
For most women, rarely is our foundation the first product we put on our face. Typically we all start out with some type of skincare (serum, moisturizer, eye cream, sunscreen, etc.), and oftentimes that is followed by a foundation primer, pore minimizer, or some other priming/perfecting product. Realistically, foundation can and usually does end up being the 2nd, 3rd, or even 4th product we put on our face. Something to consider is how well the products you are using work together. A very common mistake is to use an oil-based serum/moisturizer or primer and then use an oil free water-based foundation, or vice-versa. And, as we all know, oil and water do not mix. If you are not happy with your foundation results, try switching up the skincare products and makeup prep items you are using with your foundation.
2. Applying your primer incorrectly.
There are different types of foundation primers on the market and applying them correctly is key. Primers that are formulated for the sole purpose of minimizing your pores need to be patted and blended into the areas of your face that need filling (apples of the cheeks, nose, or any other area you notice large pores). Simply sweeping these types of products over your face with your fingertips isn't beneficial, as the product can easily skip over pores and imperfections instead of actually getting in there and filling them to create a smoother canvas. My favorite pore filling primer is Benefit's The Porefessional. I take a tiny dab of this on the pads of my fingers and press this right on the apples of my cheeks, pressing it into my pores and blending. When you do this you should be able to immediately see your pores start to disappear. Primers that are designed to mattify or luminize skin, increase makeup wear time, etc., should be applied with the fingertips in a sweeping motion over the surface of your face. Pay attention to what the products you are using are designed to do, and make sure you are applying them so that they work in the best possible way for you. If you are using a mattifying foundation primer don't rub that all over your face! Only use it where you need it. Don't get carried away and apply it all over your face, as you should probably NEVER need a mattifying product of any kind under your eyes. That area is naturally drier and prone to dehydration and crepiness, so adding a product that would only accentuate such problems could make for a very unflattering makeup day!
3. Using the wrong application technique.
It's just a fact, some foundations look better applied with a brush, some look better applied with a sponge or beauty blender. Some foundations even look better applied with your fingers! That's just how it goes. You are not going to know right off what is going to work best until you just try it. Trial and error. If your makeup is looking a little heavy or cakey next time try using a damp beauty blender, it is designed to soak up any extra foundation that is not needed to keep your foundation from being too heavy. I cannot stress enough how beneficial it is to invest in a really good foundation brush. My favorite is the Sigma F80 Flat Top Kabuki. This brush takes almost all the work and headache out of applying your foundation. It buffs and smooths everything out perfectly.
4. Using the wrong formula for your skin type.
With the right moisturizer, primer and makeup setting spray, you can probably use any type of foundation and get away with it. But, that can be a lot of work and on a daily basis you need to find a foundation that works. One that doesn't make you greasy or dry to a flat, matte finish. One that doesn't break you out or irritate your skin. Don't fall into the habit of wanting to love a product simply because other people do. Pay attention to your skin and how something looks on you and do what you like. If you are oily then find an oil-free foundation that holds up during the day and gives you a natural, flawless finish. If your skin is dry then look for something more luminous that gives your skin a glow.
5. Choosing a foundation that is completely the wrong color.
This is one of the most common mistakes I see. So often gals want to grab a foundation darker than their skin to give their face "some color." Ladies, do NOT do that. Again, DO NOT DO THAT. This is not flattering and it does not look natural, and nobody looks good with a face that is a completely different color than their neck. NOBODY. Long gone are the days of one solid color on your face in a matte finish. Makeup looks have evolved so much, and the general look we are after nowadays is more of a natural finish on the skin with dimension. Pretty glowing cheekbones, highlights accentuating the areas of the face you want to bring forward, darker shadows in the areas you want to recede. Soft, blended pops of color on the cheeks. Trust me, once you add your contouring products, bronzers, highlights, and blushes, your face is going to have all of the color you could wish for. Using a dark and muddy foundation is not only going to look weird against the rest of your body, but it's also going to limit the effect of your contouring and highlighting. Generally speaking it is always more flattering to go lighter and more yellow in your foundation choices. Foundation is just the beginning step and it's only purpose is to even out your complexion. That's it. Spot treat any troublesome spots with concealer and use contours/bronzers/blush to bring color and life to the face. It can be hard when you are at the drugstore to pick out the shade that is best for you, so if you're really unsure then I suggest going to Sephora. They will color-match you there for free and will steer you in the right direction for the perfect hue. Then, after you get a product that is right for you, use it to find something similar at the drugstore if you want to.
6. Layering products incorrectly on the face.
Generally speaking it is always better to layer powder products over cream ones. I used to set my foundation with a powder all over my face. I don't do that anymore, I mainly only set my T-zone now. But, if you use a powder foundation or you do use a powder all over the face to set your foundation, be extremely careful about using cream blushes, bronzers, and highlights. Cream products over powder ones can sometimes be disastrous. When applying your makeup try to apply all of your cream products before applying any powder products.
7. Not properly blending.
When in doubt, blend some more! It's really, really, really hard to over-blend, but it's incredibly common for people to under-blend. While I don't actually apply foundation to my neck, I do make sure to blend whatever is left on my brush or sponge down onto the neckline and onto the neck. I also have an EXACT way I apply the products I put on top of my foundation as well. I always apply my bronzer first with a large duo-fiber brush lightly on the hollows of my cheeks and around the forehead, then I go back in with my Nars Ita Brush to concentrate that color a little heavier. Next, I always apply my highlight, which I lightly sweep on my cheekbones, down the nose, and in the browbone areas. Lastly I do my blush, dusting lightly on the apples of my cheeks up towards the top of the ear. The reason I do my makeup in this order (bronzer - highlight - blush) is solely based on blending. Bronzer is under the cheek, highlight is on top of the cheek, and blush goes right in the middle. When you finish with your blush everything blends together effortlessly. You want a beautiful natural finish with your foundation, color and dimension with everything blended seamlessly, you DON'T want a clown face.
8. Using foundation in areas you don't need it.
Only use foundation where you need it. I know that sounds simple, but you really might not even realize that you're not doing it. Up until very recently, I always use to apply my foundation all over my face including under my eyes. Then, I would always apply my undereye concealer, followed by a setting powder. Then, I would sweep a light powder all over my face to set my foundation. Then bronzer, highlight, blush, etc., and before I knew it, I had a ton of layers of product on my face. I've always heard it and it is SO true.....less is more. Nowadays, I normally start out with clean/moisturized skin and then I apply a pore minimizing primer on the apples of my cheeks and nose. I do a very thin layer of foundation all over my face except for the area around my eyes, and after I do my foundation I apply my undereye concealer and set it with the smallest dab of setting powder. I lightly dust my T-zone with a setting powder, and then go ahead with the rest of my makeup. I no longer set my cheeks or anything with powder because my blush and bronzer basically set it. The more layers you have the harder it is to keep your makeup in place all day. Light/thin makeup holds up in heat better and it doesn't tend to run and melt. The more makeup I use the oilier my skin gets during the day and the more touching up I have to do.
9. Simply using too much (cake face).
You can always add more, but you can't take away once you've used too much without washing your face and starting over again. Always start out with the smallest amount of foundation possible and go from there. Remember, the only purpose of foundation is to even out your complexion. Heavier/fuller coverage foundations will cover things like freckles and some blemishes, if that is something you are looking for. But, don't pile on layer after layer of foundation trying to get a few zits covered. That is what concealer is for! Decide on what level of coverage you are after, apply the smallest amount needed to cover your face, then utilize other makeup items to do the rest.
10. Knowing when to use lighter coverage and fuller coverage products.
Over the past few years there has been an explosion of lighter coverage products on the market - tinted moisturizers, BB Creams, CC Creams, etc. And while I do like these types of products, they definitely have their specific place in my makeup routines. For days I want to pull myself together a little bit but I'm not really going anywhere I will totally use a product like this. Whereas if I am going somewhere that I am really wanting to look nice, I will always reach for a foundation. Something to keep in mind: sometimes it's just easier to put on a thin coat of a really good coverage product (foundation) than to pile on a lesser coverage product (tinted moisturizer, BB Cream, etc.). This is especially true in the hotter more humid months, as these types of products have a tendency to really make me greasy. A total exception I have to mention is the It Cosmetics CC+ Cream SPF 50. It's jam-packed with skin loving ingredients, covers like a foundation, and it's your sunscreen all in one. I do have to set this product with some powder, but it really does work more like a foundation than a CC Cream.
Alright guys, hope that gives you some ideas on how to achieve a more satisfying look with your foundations. Remember, what works for other people might not work for you. It's going to take some trial and error, but with some patience you'll find something that makes you happy. When you spend your money on something you definitely want to try and use it, so just because something doesn't work for you the first time doesn't mean it's completely terrible. Try it with different skincare, primers, and setting sprays. Use different tools to apply and see what works. Best of luck...