The Best Way to Apply Foundation, According to Your Skin Type

Your foundation application is the literal base of your makeup. Find out the best tools and application techniques to fake flawless skin.

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makeup brush set

Oily skin

Although finding a foundation that stays put is important, the way you apply it is equally critical. “When it comes to oily skin, I recommend pressing or stippling foundation on the skin to keep it from moving,” says Sanja Serwa, founder of Canadian green beauty e-retailer Vossity. She recommends M.O.T.D. Cosmetics Second Skin Stippling Brush (part of the Wanderlust Travel Makeup Brush Set, $60 at vossity.com).

How to apply foundation? "To give your makeup longevity I recommend using a good primer and a foundation with more of a matte finish," says Serwa. Dot your foundation around the face in a circular motion with a stipple brush; this helps achieve a matte finish. For oilier areas, apply a layer of powder to eliminate shine and prevent makeup from slipping throughout the day. Opt for loose translucent powders which will help absorb excess oil better than regularly pressed formulas.

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Dry skin

Because dry skin tends to have an uneven texture, applying foundation or concealer with your fingers may end up emphasizing dry patches or other uneven texture. Plus, it’s harder for your skin to absorb the product, which can result in an unnatural look. Instead of merely swiping product around your skin, after moisturizing, use a Beauty Blender or makeup sponge (Try Quo Blending Sponge, $8 at Shoppers Drug Mart and shoppersdrugmart.ca/beauty) to bounce foundation into your face. Always make sure to wet and wring out your sponge prior to foundation application to get the best finish. (You'll want to wash your makeup brushes regularly, too. This Sephora Collection Brush Cleaning Essentials Kit ($56 at sephora.com) can help.

Good skincare is always your first step to natural-looking makeup. Try these tips to multi-mask based on your skin concerns.

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All-over redness

"Redness can be corrected in a couple of ways, but starting with the right tool is key," says Serwa. She recommends a high grade synthetic fibre like Taklon over animal hair. "Taklon is hypoallergenic and anti-bacterial due to its non-porous fibres," she says. "Animal hair traps dirt and oil creating a breeding ground for bacteria which can further exacerbate sensitive skin."

For ample but very natural-looking coverage, try a stippling brush with liquid or cream foundation or a flat-top kabuki brush like Fenty Beauty By Rihanna Face & Body Kabuki Brush ($42 at sephora.com) with powder foundation. Find out the 10 gross things that happen when you don’t clean your makeup tools.

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makeup foundation

Acne-prone skin

Between the redness, unevenness, and tenderness, your sensitive skin requires a bit more attention. Because you want to make your pimples and acne scars magically disappear for the day, full-coverage concealer aimed at those spots is key. Using your fingers will be most effective at targeting localized areas and will help warm up the product to help melt it into your skin flawlessly. Blend as needed with a makeup sponge.

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ilia foundation brush for your skin type

Large pores

Fake an airbrushed look by first applying primer. Then choose a foundation brush designed for all-over coverage, says Serwa. "I like ILIA’s Foundation Brush ($54 at vossity.com) for its tapered/angled tip which hugs the contours of the face and applies foundation with precision, even in hard-to-reach areas like around the nose where pores can be larger and more prominent. I recommend applying foundation to primed areas where pores are larger in more of a ‘tapping’ motion so the product is deposited on top of the primer." Finish with a translucent powder.

Don't believe these common myths about your pores.

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flat foundation brush

Normal skin

For a natural finish, flat foundation brushes are your best friend. These have wider surface areas that make it easy to spread foundation without wasting too much product, while the rounder, fluffier design of the brushes makes even application a breeze. Try NYX Pro Flat Foundation Brush, $20 at nyxcosmetics.ca.

Of course, your brush is only as good as the makeup you’re using. Here’s how to find the best foundation for your skin type.