6 Ways to Make Your Foundation Look Like a Second Skin

Parisian makeup artist Violette’s top secret for how to apply foundation? Execute it without a trace. “I want people to say, ‘Oh my god, your skin looks amazing!’ not, ‘Your foundation is so great,'” she explains. And while finding the perfect formula is half the battle, once you have it, making like Houdini and ensuring it vanishes into your complexion is just as crucial. Here, three in-demand makeup artists share their fine-tuned tips for how to apply foundation and achieve that ever-elusive, second-skin finish.

Create a Glowing Canvas

Clean and moisturized skin is a no-brainer, but to really supercharge your glow, begin with a hydrating mask and follow it up with a lymphatic facial massage. When makeup artist Nina Park works with clients such as Zoë Kravitz and Bella Hadid, she begins with a sheet mask specifically targeted to their skin type, with ingredients such as rose to combat oiliness, aloe to treat dryness, and green tea to soothe inflammation. After masking, gently massage your moisturizer into the skin to boost circulation and reduce puffiness. “It creates a natural flush that makes the face look more awake,” says makeup artist Kira Nasrat, who helps give Jessica Alba that perpetually luminous complexion.

Prime as Needed

To prime or not to prime? It’s an eternal question for amateurs and pros alike. While Violette typically skips the extra base step in the interest of using as little product as possible, when applied correctly, it can prolong foundation for all-day wear. “I use an anti-shine primer for hotspots like the forehead, hairline, sides of nose, and around the mouth, and then a sheer, illuminating one for the tops of the cheekbones,” explains Park, adding that she applies each with her fingertips.

Apply From the Center and Move Outward

Only apply foundation where it’s really necessary, insists Violette, who counts Estée Lauder Futurist Hydra Rescue Moisturizing Foundation with SPF 45 among her favorites. “Start in the center of the face, on the apples of the cheeks, and slowly blend out,” she instructs, adding that another key part of the face is the area around the mouth, which is prone to yellow undertones and shadows. To ensure the foundation looks as natural as possible, Violette often skips the bridge of the nose—letting freckles show through for those who have them—and the corners of the nostrils, so the pigment doesn’t cling to dry patches.

Don’t Paint, Buff

No matter what tool you’re using—a foundation brush, a BeautyBlender, or your fingers—buff (or bounce, if you’re using a sponge) the foundation into your skin as opposed to “painting” it on to build coverage smoothly and avoid streakiness, says Park.

Strobe Wherever the Sun Hits

For dimension, blend highlighter into the high planes of the face that catch light naturally, such as the cheekbones, temples, and Cupid’s bow. “I’m not a fan of powder highlighters because it looks a bit fake to me,” says Violette. “Creamy balm textures will give you a dewiness as if you’re not wearing any products.”

Blot, Then Set

First, sop up excess oil with blotting papers. Then, look to a featherweight translucent powder to seal in foundation and prevent unwanted sheen. “Use a brush to apply it very lightly and only to the areas that get the most shiny,” says Nasrat, adding that the leftover luster is what will really drive home that second-skin guise. Silky smooth and even-toned, with just the right amount of lit-from-within dewiness, that’show you execute believably perfect skin.

VOGUE article

To Prime or Not To Prime? (Face)

The definition and meaning of makeup priming have changed overtime, in some cases to be more confusing. However, as a professional makeup artist, you have to know what it means to prime the face for makeup application, whether a separate primer is needed, what skin concerns you are trying to address, etc. 

While some makeup artists swear by skincare as priming alone to be just fine, others argue that a makeup artist should have a variety of primers in their kit to address specific skin concerns such as redness, dehydration, large pores, uneven skin tone, dull skin, oily or dry skin, sensitive skin, and more. 

In my opinion, moisturizer is non-negotiable, and has to be freshly applied before makeup application. Then, I carefully assess the client’s face by asking questions and gently pressing with my pinky finger to see the skin response. From there, I decide whether to apply a specific primer that would be beneficial to the client, and not just another layer.

That said, often times either one of these three techniques are used post moisturizing:

  1. On top of moisturizer, one primer is applied concentrating in a specific area, with purposes to smooth the skin, correct redness, provide a healthy glow, mattify, or further hydrate. The best example of this is using a moisturizer suitable for the client’s skin needs, with, for example, an oily T-zone being covered with a mattifying primer, but the rest of the skin left alone.
  2. On top of moisturizer, two or more primers are used to correct more than one concern on a client’s face. Same skin concerns as above, using specific primers in specific areas. 
  3. Lastly, as I mentioned in the beginning, some makeup artists feel as though the moisturizing step is enough to prepare the client’s skin for makeup, and if it’s still fresh and active – carry on with makeup application.

Here I’ve listed some great options for common skin concerns:

– Redness: Smashbox Photofinish Reduce Redness Primer
– Dryness: Fenty Beauty Pro Filt’r Hydrating Primer
– Oiliness: Fenty Beauty Pro Filt’r Mattifying Primer
– Roughness: Becca Skin Love Brighten & Blur Primer, IT Cosmetics Your Skin But Better Makeup Primer +
– To provide glow: Laura Mercier Pure Canvas Primer – Illuminating, Becca Backlight Priming Filter Face Primer
– To reduce pores: Smashbox Photofinish Pore Minimizing Primer
– To prolong the wearing time: MILK Makeup Hydrogrip Primer

If you’d like to read more about this topic I highly suggest reading the Adore Beauty article, and Allure article.

Tatcha Silk Canvas VS. E.L.F. Putty Primers

Beauty lovers about lost their minds when a luxury brand Tatcha released their infamous Silk Canvas primer, with claims to smooth the complexion and appear practically poreless.

At $68USD for 20g of product, this primer gained popularity very quickly. As we know, drugstore brands like to jump on the “popular” train and create a cheaper alternative.

When ELF Cosmetics introduced their Poreless Putty primer, hundreds of reviews and YouTube comparison videos emerged. Needless to say it was a success, as the company added Matte and Luminous versions of this primer to the lineup.

At $8USD for 21g of product, this primer provides the same results as its luxury counterpart, and you only need the smallest amount to give the results you’re looking for.

Purchase the Tatcha Silk Canvas primer.
Purchase the ELF Poreless Putty primer.

Have you tried either of these products? Let me know in the comments below!