The Foundation Hacks Everyone Should Know

How to apply foundation remains one of the most common beauty-related questions on Google – which suggests many of us are still looking for ways to make our base look better. To help you achieve flawless results every time, we asked some of the UK’s leading make-up artists to share their hacks. Whether it’s mixing your foundation with fake tan or perfecting the buffing technique, these are the expert tips worth knowing…
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Mix It With Fake Tan

“Achieving glowy skin is easier than you think. Simply add two to three gradual tanning drops to your foundation or base so you can apply everything in one go. Use a brush and blend it all over, right up into your hairline; over the next few hours the colour will build, delivering greater luminosity and a healthy-looking glow. The Isle of Paradise Tanning Drops are particularly good for this – plus, they’re vegan.” – Cher Webb, Make-Up Artist & Beauty Influencer

Apply Skincare On Top 

“A daily exfoliation with a gentle product like Medik8’s PHA Daily Exfoliating Tonic will get rid of surface dirt and dullness, giving you a smoother, more luminous complexion. Then, after you’ve let your foundation set, press in some of the Herbivore facial oil on top. You only need a small amount, but it’s a great way to get the glow.” – Caroline Barnes, A-List Make-Up Artist

Match Your Face To Your Neck

“You don’t want your face to be darker than your neck – so test out different shades around your jawline, or dust your bronzer over your neck to even everything out for a more seamless blend.” – Jillian Dempsey, A-List Make-Up Artist

Find A Shade That’s Lighter

“Before you even apply foundation, make sure you choose the right tone and colour. No one should go darker than their natural skin tone – leave the warming up to bronzers rather than your foundation. Go half a shade lighter to brighten up your complexion, and then go in with some depth. That way, your face never looks flat or dull.” – Kenneth Soh, Make-Up Artist

Nail The Consistency

“It’s an age-old tip but sheering out your foundation with a moisturiser is one of the easiest tricks in the book. Do this on the back of your hand to get the right consistency before you apply it. As a general rule of thumb, go for two parts foundation to one part moisturiser so you still get good coverage. You can also mix your base with an illuminating primer or an SPF – like Beauty Pie’s Lightweight SPF50 Primer. This will thin everything out and give you extra glow.” – Jessica Kell, Make-Up Artist

Prevent Pilling

“If you find your foundation doesn’t apply that well, or it’s pilling (rolling off in little balls), it’s important to check its compatibility with the other products you’re using. Remember, oil and water repel each other, so if you’re using a highlighting oil with a water-based foundation, it’s going to break up and bubble.” – Nilofar Mussa, Make-Up Artist

Start In The Centre Of Your Face

“Foundation should be applied from the centre of the face outwards for the most natural coverage, thinning it out towards the jawline so it blends seamlessly into the neck and hairline. Doing it this way means the areas where you need more coverage (like the nose and under eyes) get a flawless and even blend. Try to avoid caking it over your nose, too – especially if you have freckles.” – Kenneth Soh

Don’t Forget To Prep

“Preparation is key to good foundation. When I work with a new face, I’ll always do a complete skincare routine first to see where we need make-up. By going through the process of balancing out (dry or oily) skin, exfoliating and hydrating the lips, then prepping the eye area, you can make sure foundation sits well and stays put. It’s simple advice, but it’s something I wish I was told when I was younger. Look after your skin and applying foundation will be easier.” – Camilla Hewitt, Make-Up Artist & Wellness Writer

Opt for brushes with a flat base and fluffy hairs to really buff the foundation in. Use a dabbing motion to push the product down, rather than wiping it on and off in the same movement.
Em-J, Vegan & Cruelty-Free Make-Up Artist

Layer Base Make-Up With Highlighter

“Coming into autumn, a lack of sun and the cooler weather makes our skin duller. To counteract this, mix one part of liquid highlighter to two parts of liquid foundation. This will illuminate your skin and keep it looking fresh.” – Lisa Potter-Dixon, Make-Up Artist & Author

Buff, Never Paint 

“Technique is paramount when it comes to flawless foundation. You want your base to melt into the skin, rather than just sweeping it on top – the latter will just result in it sitting on the surface. Opt for brushes with a flat base and fluffy hairs to really buff the foundation in. Use a dabbing motion to push the product down, rather than wiping it on and off in the same movement. Above all, if you see creases starting to form, keep working the formula in and be sure to buff around the jaw and hairline to avoid tidemarks.” – Em-J, Vegan & Cruelty-Free Make-Up Artist

Warm Skin Tints Up

“If you like using tinted moisturisers, warm them up with your fingertips first, then apply the product directly to your skin. It makes them much easier to work with and gives your complexion incredible luminosity – especially if you’re using a liquid, like bareMinerals’ Complexion Rescue Tint.” – Cher Webb

Identify Your Undertones

“Finding out whether your skin has warm, cool or neutral undertones is the key to finding the right foundation for you. There are easy ways to do so. First, you can do the vein test by looking at the ones on your wrist. If you have blue/purple veins, your undertone is cool; if you have green veins and yellow, golden skin, your undertones are warm. If you find your veins are neither or in between the two, then you’re considered a neutral undertone. Most foundation brands have warm (W), cool (C) and neutral (N) shades to choose from.” – Mira Parmar, Make-Up Artist

Swatch Against Your Face

“Your face is still the best place to test out any foundation. Try sweeping it onto the cheek, rather than the jawline, as most discolouration tends to be through the centre of the face, so you will achieve a more accurate result. Also, the cheek is equidistant from the forehead and jaw, so swatching it here allows you to make sure your foundation works with the top and bottom of the face. If you’re still unsure, swatch a cool, warm and neutral foundation on your forearm or chest to see which one works best with your skin tone – two will look ‘off’ while the correct one will look believable.” – Nilofar Mussa

Try To Double Up

“If you’re lucky enough to find a foundation that matches your skin perfectly all over, then great! However, you should have a couple of shades to work with the different tones all over your face. Ideally, you would have a slightly lighter shade for under your eyes and a darker tone for any patches and uneven tone. Don’t be afraid to mix and match – your natural skin tone isn’t one shade, so blending colours together will always give you a more natural finish. If budget is an issue, tinted moisturisers are a great place to start, followed by a concealer that can provide more coverage where needed.” – Ruby Hammer MBE, Make-Up Artist

Stick To Similar Textures

“The ‘lightweight’ look isn’t just about your foundation. Yes, it’s the starting point, but to maintain that healthy, dewy glow, you need to be using similar textures in your other products. That includes bronzer, blusher and highlighter, so apply these (if you can) in cream or liquid format. This way, everything will work in synergy and you’re less likely to get pilling, too. Finally, always shake your foundation first – lightweight textures often separate in the bottle, and you want the liquid to combine for even, flawless coverage.” – Jessica Kell


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