We’ve talked a bit about cleansing and priming the skin in one of our previous articles. Now comes the fun part… We’ll be talking about “actual” makeup. This starts with foundation and concealer. These two products can make or break your look. After all, you can have all the color you want, but if you don’t have flawless-looking skin, then you won’t achieve whatever effect you’re going for. In fact, you just might end up looking worse.
This is probably why I have, for years, been left stymied by these two products. I had used a lot of guesswork in the past, and my old pictures are an embarrassing testament to that. After a few years of hits and misses, I finally understood how to make these products work for me. While I can’t claim to be the authority on cosmetics, I hope these tips will help you do the same… And since the simplest things can often be the most complicated, let’s focus on foundation for now.
Liquid, cake, and other dilemmas
With countless products in the market, it can be so easy to get lost. One of the first things you have to decide on is whether to get a liquid or cake foundation. Since liquid foundation started becoming popular, I have become a convert. I love how easy it is to apply, and how I don’t have to use a sponge dipped in water when I use it, but that’s just me.
There are some guidelines you may want to be aware of before you decide for yourself. Cake foundation, for example, is supposed to give more coverage. It is also more likely to give you a matte finish for a longer period of time. This makes it a better option if you have oily skin. Of course, with new products coming out every season, exceptions have been created, and there are now liquid formulations which promise to give a matte finish that lasts.
There are also products which offer different benefits, such as added SPF. While it’s great if you can find a good product which can double as a sunscreen, it’s not really wise to depend on this alone, especially since the effects won’t necessarily last for very long, especially if you are exposed to sunlight (yes, even through your office window) or bright lights for extended periods of time. The verdict? Go for it if you want, but use a separate sunscreen with the right SPF anyway.
The same goes for products which promise to double as foundation and skin treatment. They’re great, but they’re not really substitutes for getting actual treatment for any condition you may have.
Of course, there are always exceptions. If you have a very specific condition or allergy, then you simply MUST opt for a hypoallergenic product. Your dermatologist knows best when it comes to these things.
How do you know which shade of foundation is best for you?
One of the most common mistakes that women make when choosing makeup is testing the foundation on the back of the hand or on the wrist. Ladies, foundation is quite different from perfume, so don’t even try the wrist technique! Unless the color of your skin is perfectly even all throughout your body, which is highly unlikely, this won’t work. Chances are, the color of your hand or wrist is several shades away from the actual color of your facial skin. (Here’s a quick tip: If you’re Asian, chances are, you will need a foundation with yellow undertones. Don’t worry, it won’t make your skin look sallow – instead, it will lend your skin a nice, natural-looking glow.)
Now all you have to do is take a very small amount of the product and blend it along your jaw line. The product you want is that which seems to disappear completely into your skin. Don’t choose a color that seems a bit too light, unless you’re okay with looking like a china doll, and don’t choose a darker shade, because you just might end up looking burnt. If you want a bronze effect, well, you’ve got bronzer for that.
Some people have more acidic skin than others, though. Now this is the exception, because if you’re highly acidic, there will be a tendency for the product to darken on your skin after some time. If you think you might be acidic, try the product and let it sit for a few hours. If you notice that it has turned a bit darker than your actual skin tone, then you might have to test a foundation which is a shade lighter. Again, wait and see if the color changes. This may make foundation selection seem like such a pain, but trust me, it is well worth all the effort.
Less is more
Once you’ve chosen the right product, it’s time to put it to good use! Don’t rely on your fingertips for this task. Aside from the fact that it will probably take longer for you to finish, you could mess up your clothes and end up with a less-than-polished look. Depending on the product, you can choose to use a foundation sponge or a foundation brush. Some cake foundations work better with sponges, but the creamier formulations are easily picked up by the brushes, too.
If you decide to use a sponge, choose the triangular ones over the round sponges. The corners can be very useful whenever you want to blend the color on smaller areas, or when you want to clean up smudges caused by eyeshadow or eyeliner.
I am personally a fan of brushes, and I think a good foundation brush is the ultimate must-have (okay, good eyeliner is the ultimate must-have, but you get my point). It makes makeup application more pleasurable as it glides on smoothly on your skin. Of course, the shape allows you to reach smaller spots, as well.
When you apply foundation, make sure to use just a tiny bit with each application. Don’t pile on the product immediately, or else your face is going to look cakey in the end. Just like salt, it is easier to use just a little and gradually add more than to use a lot and find it difficult to reverse the damage. Apply the product using downward strokes, following the direction of facial hair growth (yes, you do have facial hair!) to allow the product to glide seamlessly on your skin. If you’re new to makeup, this may seem tedious, but with a bit of practice, you should feel more comfortable with it quite quickly.
A few of our top picks
Since there are so many products out there, it is impossible to come up with a definitive list of the best products. To help you get a headstart, here are some which have been tried, tested, and loved!
Who says liquid foundation is not for those with oily skin? Nars’ Sheer Matte Foundation is specially-made for those with normal to oily skin, and has been formulated to fight shine all day. This is a great product to use on a daily basis as it keeps the skin looking bright and fresh.
On the other hand, those with dry skin can take comfort in the fact that something has been created especially for them. One of the best brands ever when it comes to foundation, Bobbi Brown, has come up with the Moisturizing Cream Compact Foundation. Aside from providing full coverage, it also contains oils from jojoba and avocado which nourish the skin all day long. It’s a great choice for young ladies who have naturally dry skin or who live in very dry weather conditions. It’s also excellent for middle-aged or older women who are starting to see some wrinkling.
The last one on our list, Shu Uemura’s Face Architect Smoothing Fluid Foundation, helps you achieve the right balance because it provides a matte effect while keeping the skin hydrated. This product is so light, which makes it great for those who don’t want to feel like they’re wearing makeup.
So that’s my take on foundation. Do YOU have any favorites?
Photos via narscosmetics.com, bobbibrowncosmetics.com, and shuuemura.co.uk