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Here's How To Nail Your Foundation Application So It Doesn't Cake Up

From skin prep to finishing powders, here are the tips and tricks to help nail your foundation application so you won't look like you put makeup.

This article first appeared in Her World. 

There’s a common understanding among beauty insiders that when you wear foundation, people should comment on how good your skin looks, not how great your makeup is. The subtext here is that you should never look like you’re wearing foundation and that it should always look natural not cakey. And we’re here to help you with that.

Here are some top tips to apply your foundation so that it looks like you’re not wearing foundation at all.

Build a foundation wardrobe
Having different foundation finishes on hand is a good way to ensure your makeup always looks natural. You might want a matte finish for days when you’re experiencing period skin, and days that you feel a bit more confident in your skin will call for sheer textures. Similarly having at least two different shades—one similar to your skin tone and one deeper—will ensure truly natural coverage. And it will come in handy after you’ve spent the weekend cycling in Pulau Ubin. Less is more
When it comes to applying foundation you definitely want to start with applying less. You can always add on more where needed. So no matter what you see on Instagram, TikTok and YouTube, start by dispensing the foundation to the back of your hand and lifting it from there. This way you can control how much you need to use.   Estee Lauder Double Wear Stay-In-Place Makeup SPF 10 Foundation, $71 Prep your skin
The journey to achieveing natural looking foundation, actually start even before you apply it. Prepping your skin the right way ensures that foundation goes on smoothly. Regular exfoliation will ensure there are no dry patches for foundation to cling to, but the real trick to getting your foundation to look flawless is to always prep your skin with a moisturiser. It’s easier to blend foundation onto hydrated skin for smooth, even coverage. Kim Kardashian’s makeup artist Mario Dedivanovic uses the Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Moisturizer ($57) to prep her skin. If it’s good enough for Kim K, it’s good enough for us. Apply it in the right place
The trick to looking like you’re not wearing any foundation at all, is to start applying it at the centre of your face and blending outward. Most of us have some redness or uneven skin tone and visible pores at the centre of the face and that’s why you need the most coverage there. As you blend out from the centre, the foundation should “disappear” into your skin making it look natural and like you’re not wearing anything at all.   Tarte Babassu Foundcealer Multi-Tasking Foundation SPF 20, $60 Mist, mist, mist
If you like matte finishes or use powder regularly, a good way to ensure a more natural finish versus a very made up or cakey one is to finish your makeup with a few spritzes of a makeup setting mist. Not only will this set your makeup it will also make it look like skin, rather than like you’ve applied a lot of foundation. We like the MAC Prep + Prime Fix+ , $37 Choose the right foundation for your skin type
Matching your foundation to your skin type will go a long way in making your foundation look flawless. You don’t want to wear matte foundation that will emphasise dry patches on dry, dehydrated skin, or a rich, moisturising foundation that will make oily skin look greasy. Pick the right foundation and finish—dewy, matte, velvety—for your skin type and you’re on your way to creating the perfect canvas for your makeup.   Tom Ford Beauty Traceless Foundation Stick, $142 Use a primer
This may seem like an extra step, but given the heat and humidity, it’s worth the extra 10 seconds it takes to swipe on a primer. This will seal in all the benefits of your skincare while ensuring your foundation stays on and on and on. Pick from hydrating, mattifying, pore-minimising and radiance-boosting primers according to your skin’s needs. The Too Faced Hangover Replenishing Face Primer ($32) is good option with its hydrating and smoothing properties that promise to make your foundation look flawless. Use the right tools
Did you know different makeup brushes work best with different foundation formulas? Pick synthetic brushes when working with cream and liquid formulations and natural hair brushes when using powder foundations. Different shapes will give different finishes: Flat brushes allow you to build up coverage; domed and flat will give you full coverage, while using a duo-fibre brush will result in sheer to medium coverage.   Zoeva Vegan Face Set, $128  Blend it the right way
Lightly dust powder along the T-zone and jawline. Any more and you run the risk of making your foundation look cakey. To ensure you’re using just the right amount of powder, dip your brush into the tub, dust off the excess and then proceed to powder your face.   Shiseido Synchro Skin Invisible Silk Loose Powder, $70