Among the sea of female faces we see every day, it seems like there are two types of women: the ones with an inborn knack for makeup and the ones who couldn't tell foundation from concealer if their lives depended on it. But even if you're a lip-balm-only kind of girl, there will probably come a time in your life -- a black-tie party, perhaps, or a job interview -- that will compel you to put on some makeup. But where on Earth do you begin? Moisturizer, concealer and foundation, that's where -- the essentials for a natural looking, put-together face.
But the selection of foundation alone could be enough to make you throw in the towel right off the bat. What kind do you need? How do you put it on? Does concealer come before foundation, or after? What about powder? Or primer -- what is it, anyway, and do you really need it?
We won't claim that this article will automatically make you look beautiful and your skin look flawless, but it should be enough to get you started -- and help you have some confidence in the makeup aisle.
Act I: Moisturizer Shopping
Moisturizer is the key to a flawless face. In fact, the first step in your makeup routine should always be a freshly washed, moisturized face. Why? You want a smooth, clean surface so your foundation will work correctly. Dry or oily patches could create an uneven, discolored look.
Even if you're not a makeup expert, you probably use a daily moisturizer -- and if you don't, go out and get one already, for heaven's sake! What you buy will depend on your skin type. For example, people with oily skin should steer toward light, oil-free products, and if you have dry skin, you'll want a more intense moisturizer.
And if you don't have an under-eye moisturizer, now's the time to add one to your arsenal. In the same way a facial moisturizer readies you for foundation, a good eye cream will make concealer look better.
Act II: Selecting a Foundation
Selecting a foundation can be a little overwhelming, but it doesn't have to be. Basically, the choice depends on your skin type and how much coverage you want. There are four main types of foundation, from sheer to opaque:
- Liquid foundations are usually water-based and come in lots of formulations for all skin types.
- Powder foundations are best for oily skin because they control shine and have a more matte finish. (Mineral foundation comes in powder form.)
- Cream foundations are good for dry or mature skin that needs a little extra coverage.
- Stick foundations can double as concealer. They're often in cream-to-powder form and provide full coverage for many skin types.
Now that you've picked your foundation, you can move on to concealer.
Act III: Cover Charge
If you've been under the impression that all concealers are created equal, prepare for your world to be rocked. You actually need two concealers -- one for the under-eye area and one for blemishes. And if you're sporting particularly dark under-eye circles, you're going to need corrector, too.
Experts say your under-eye concealer should have yellow undertones (yellow counteracts blue) and be one shade lighter than your skin. But if you have more severe under-eye issues, you'll want some corrector to go under the concealer. Corrector is more peach-pink in color and works against the green and purple tones in big-time under-eye circles.
Your blemish concealer, on the other hand, should match your foundation exactly. Using a light colored under-eye concealer on a zit you're trying to hide will just make it stand out more.
You've waded through all the choices and finally have your moisturizer, concealer and foundation in hand. So, what do you do now?
Act IV: Moisturizer First!
Moisturizer, as we mentioned, is the first step in any makeup application. It creates a nice, even palette for your foundation. If you have oily skin, you might want to apply some astringent before your oil-free moisturizer. Dry-skinned ladies, of course, should be using a more intense moisturizer. And don't forget your under-eye cream. Regardless of your skin type, wait about 10 minutes before the next step -- you want the moisturizer to fully soak in before you apply any makeup.
Speaking of the next step -- if your skin has any texture issues, you might want to consider using a primer after you've moisturized your face. Some women claim that primer is a do-or-die item, but it's really most useful for people with very oily skin or heavy scarring says makeup artist Molly Stern.
Act V: Concealing the Truth
Here's the first rule of concealer: Apply under-eye concealer before foundation and blemish concealer after foundation. The starting point for your concealer routine is the innermost corner of the eye. If you're using a corrector, apply it now, with a brush or your ring finger. Then, again with a brush or your ring finger, apply thin layers of concealer outward. You don't want to go past the middle of your eye -- that inner corner is where the most discoloration is, and concealer that extends too far out can look unnatural.
After you've applied foundation, which we'll discuss on the next page, it's time to make those blemishes disappear. Using the concealer that matches your foundation, cover up any problem areas and blend well.
Act VI: Foundation Application
So you have some foundation that seems to match your skin tone reasonably well but how should you apply it? Brush, swipe or sponge? The rule of thumb for liquid or cream foundation is -- sponge or fingers for sheer coverage, brush for heavier coverage.
Speaking of heavy coverage, foundation doesn't have to be spackled over your entire face to be effective. Sometimes all you need is some strategically placed concealer and a few dabs of foundation in problem areas. If you're going for a full-face application, start in the middle of your cheeks and forehead and blend outward. Never stop at the jaw line -- that will give you the dreaded makeup mask. Apply the foundation all the way onto your neck, using a damp sponge or your fingers to clean up any unevenness.
Finally, set your foundation with powder. If you have dry skin, dab some loose powder onto your T-zone only. Those with normal to oily skin can be more liberal with the powder, but if you tend to be oily, pressed powder will do more to control that shine.
There, you're done! Check out the next page for more information on how to complete your perfectly made-up face.
More Great Links
- Allure.com. "10 Beauty Mistakes that Add 10 Years." (Accessed June 17, 2010) http://www.allure.com/magazine/2010/04/aging_beauty_mistakes#slide=1
- Bellasugar.com. "Five Ways to Prevent Caked-On Foundation." (Accessed June 17, 2010) http://www.bellasugar.com/How-Prevent-Cakey-Foundation-8244684
- Bellasugar.com. "How to Stop Concealer From Creasing and Caking." (Accessed June 17, 2010) http://www.bellasugar.com/How-Prevent-Concealer-From-Creasing-Caking-8254701
- Bobbi Brown. "The Secret to Perfect Skin." (Accessed June 17, 2010) http://www.bobbibrowncosmetics.com/learn/perfect_skin.tmpl
- Bobbi Brown. "Covering Circles and Blemishes." (Accessed June 17, 2010) http://www.bobbibrowncosmetics.com/learn/covering_circles_blemishes.tmpl
- Bobbi Brown. "Choosing Your Ideal Shade and Formula." (Accessed June 17, 2010) http://www.bobbibrowncosmetics.com/learn/perfect_match.tmpl
- Carmindy. "Carmindy's Makeup Tips." (Accessed June 17, 2010) https://tlc.howstuffworks.com/style/carmindy-makeup-tips.htm
- Cover Girl. "Concealer 101." (Accessed June 17, 2010) http://www.covergirl.com/makeup-tips/face-makeup-tips/concealer-101-tips/
- Cover Girl. "How to Apply Foundation." (Accessed June 17, 2010) http://www.covergirl.com/makeup-tips/face-makeup-tips/how-to-apply-foundation/
- Cover Girl. "Liquid vs. Powder." (Accessed June 17, 2010) http://www.covergirl.com/makeup-tips/face-makeup-tips/liquid-vs-powder-makeup/
- Kolich, Heather. "10 Common Makeup Mishaps." (Accessed June 17, 2010) https://health.howstuffworks.com/skin-care/beauty/skin-and-makeup/10-common-makeup-mishaps.htm
- Quinn, Erin. "How to Wear Winter Makeup." (Accessed June 17, 2010) Allure.com. http://www.allure.com/howtos/2009/11/wear_winter_makeup
- Saint Louis, Catherine. "Tips for Applying Foundation." New York Times, June 9, 2010. (Accessed June 17, 2010) http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/10/fashion/10SkinSide.html?scp=5&sq=makeup%20foundation&st=cse
- Saint Louis, Catherine. "Makeup to Help Flaws Disappear." New York Times, June 9, 2010. (Accessed June 17, 2010) http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/10/fashion/10Skin.html?scp=3&sq=makeup%20foundation&st=cse
- TotalBeauty.com. "Makeup Primer: Worth the Extra Step?" (Accessed June 17, 2010) http://www.totalbeauty.com/content/flash/c_primer