Makeup how-to: foundation 101

LIKE the way an artist prepares his canvas, the secret to looking a million bucks is getting your foundation right.

There are a myriad of products on the market to suit all skin types, and a variety of ways you can apply your foundation. But at the end of the day, what you want is a smooth and flawless finish that looks natural and not caked..

1. Matching your foundation

Choosing the right shade. Swatch from the jaw-line down to your neck.

You want to choose a foundation that matches your skin tone, but it can be a bewildering experience staring down the shopping aisle and wondering how to choose between the stuff that seems to come in every shade imaginable.

Contrary to popular belief, the way to begin is not by doing a colour swatch on your hand or forearm, unless you’re preparing to go to a Halloween party.

Instead, start by looking at the colour of the veins on your forearm. If it appears more blue than green, foundations with beige undertones will suit you better. If your veins appear more green than blue, you want to pick shades with a yellow tint.

Only then do you perform a colour swatch of the shades you think would make the closest match to your skin tone, starting from the jaw-line down to your neck. In good lighting, look in the mirror to decide which colour blends in best.

2. Protect…

Protect and prime your skin. Sunscreen is a must and primers help smoothen your skin.

Unless you have dry skin, it’s not uncommon to give the moisturiser a miss. But resist passing up the sunscreen as the sun’s harmful UV rays can cause pre-mature aging and wrinkles.

SPF stands for sun protection factor, and you want to look for a sunscreen that has an SPF rating of at least 30 or above. Use a generous dollop measuring about a teaspoon, and don’t stinge. The SPF decreases dramatically if less than the prescribed amount is used.

The only time you don’t want to use sunscreen is if you’re heading out to a party at night, or if you know there’s going to be a lot of flash photography. SPF can make your face look really white under harsh bright light.

Product Suggestions

  • Need: Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Sunscreen
  • Want: Mecca Cosmetica To Save Face SPF 30+ Hydrating Facial Sunscreen, Mario Badescu SPF30.

…….and Prime

If you want a flawless easy application, a primer will help smoothen out any harsh lines, hydrate the skin and ensure your foundation stays on longer. All you need to do is smooth it over your face after the sunscreen with your hands.

Product Suggestions

  • Need: Rimmel Fix & Perfect Primer
  • Want: Makeup Forever HD Primer, Smashbox Photofinish.

3. Tools of the trade

Foundation Paddle Brush

The paddle brush. Simply dab and blend.

A foundation paddle brush is best suited for liquid foundations or cream concealers. Apply the foundation onto the face in short dabbing motions and blend. This creates a perfect, flawless finish.

Product Suggestions

  • Need: MAC 190, Smashbox #13
  • Want: Artiste Professional Paddle Foundation Brush.

Stippling Brush

The skunk, or stippling brush. Helps create a flawless but sheer and natural look.

The duo–fibre stippling brush, or skunk as it’s often called, is a handy versatile tool to keep in your makeup arsenal. It’s great for liquid foundations and mineral makeup, and can also be used as a cream blush applicator or a bronzer brush.

When used for applying foundation, the stippling brush helps create a flawless but sheer and natural look.

Squeeze some of the foundation onto the back of your hand, use the brush to stipple (i.e. dab down lightly in an up and down motion) some of the product onto it’s bristles and apply to the face in stippling motions to create a sort of pixel effect. When done, blend the product with only the white bristles moving independently of the black bristles for a smooth finish.

Product Suggestions

  • Need: MAC 187
  • Want: Artiste Professional Stippling Brush.

Your hands:

Golden rule when using your hands to apply makeup: make sure your hands are clean.

There’s nothing wrong with using your hands when it comes to applying liquid foundation. It also saves you some money. Just make sure your hands are clean before you begin. Dot and blend. Sometimes, it makes for the most flawless application.

4. Types of foundation

Liquid Foundation

Good foundation should blend easily and provide good coverage.

If you think foundation, you’re probably thinking liquid.

Liquid foundation is great for dry skin and skin needing higher levels of coverage. If you have oily skin, look for foundations that say oil-free to save you from blotting your face incessantly throughout the day.

A good foundation should be neither too thick nor too thin. It should blend easily and give you good coverage from flaws.

Product Suggestions

  • Need: Revlon Color-Stay Foundation, Rimmel Lasting Finish Foundation
  • Want: Makeup Forever HD Foundation.

Mineral Foundation

The alternative to liquid is mineral foundation. Use a very fluffy and dense synthetic brush to buff the foundation onto your skin.

Mineral foundation provides less coverage, but is probably a healthier alternative for your skin.

These products usually come in loose powder form, and are supposed to be packed with antioxidants, minerals, vitamins and fewer preservatives.

Mineral makeup is most commonly applied with a very fluffy and dense synthetic brush that buffs the makeup onto the skin. Simply swirl your brush into the product, tap off the excess and apply in circular motions. This is also great for oily skin.

Product Suggestions

  • Need: Maybelline Mineral Power Natural Perfecting Powder Foundation, Everyday Minerals Base
  • Want: Elizabeth Arden Pure Finish Mineral Powder Foundation.

BB Cream/Tinted Moisturizers

BB cream or the blemish balm. Provides light coverage and helps combat acne scars.

If you’ve lived in Asia, you probably know what a BB cream is. The blemish balm is Asia’s answer to tinted moisturizers, with the added benefit of healing acne scars.

It’s suitable for all skin types and provides light to medium coverage. The downside is it comes only in limited shades, usually for those whose skin tone range from very fair to fair.

Alternatively, use a tinted moisturiser for days you want some light coverage but can’t be bothered with the whole makeup routine.

Product Suggestions

  • Need: Skin79 Diamond Collection BB Cream
  • Want: Elizabeth Arden Pure Finish Tinted Moisturiser.


The final step – setting your foundation.

And finally, to achieve that flawless finish, you need to dust some powder over your foundation. It’s called setting your foundation.

A big fluffy powder brush works best. But be careful not to go overboard with it, or the foundation would end up looking really cakey.

Product Suggestions

  • Need: Maybelline Dream Matte Powder
  • Want: MAC Mineralised Skin-Finish Natural

Have you got tips to share with other readers, questions you’d like Roseanne to answer, or a topic you wish to find out more about? Drop us a line in the comments section below.

Credits: model Jamie Tong and photos by Joel Lee.

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