How to Apply Foundation For the Most Even, Blended Finish

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Close up of a woman with a dot of foundation on her cheek, getting ready to blend it with a makeup brush

Ashley Rebecca


In the age of social media, it can feel like there’s always a new, better way to apply foundation—and that can leave many of us feeling a tad overwhelmed. But trust us when we say: When you get the hang of it, applying foundation isn’t daunting at all.

Whether you’re seeking the tiniest bit of coverage or need something full that will last through the day and night, we’ve rounded up some expert tips from two makeup professional makeup artists—Natalie Gee and Mimi Tran—that will have you applying foundation like a pro. Read on for our definitive guide to correctly applying foundation. Your skin will be glowing in no time.

Meet the Expert

  • Mimi Tran is a professional makeup artist specializing in editorial and bridal makeup in Washington, D.C.
  • Natalie Gee is a professional makeup artist and co-founder of Gee Beauty Studio and Gee Beauty.

Selecting a Foundation

A critical first step when applying foundation is identifying which formula works for you. Some prefer sheer, buildable coverage, while others gravitate toward powder or full-coverage matte formulas. Your skin type can help you determine which formula is right for you. For example, if you have dry skin, you’ll likely want to opt for a hydrating formula; if you have oily skin and seek a matte look, go for a formula that will curb shine while keeping your complexion refreshed. Knowing your skin type and the level of coverage you want will help you choose a formula that best suits your needs. Stop by a department store or beauty retailer to get samples of different formulas. That way, you can experiment with formulas and determine which ones work best for your skin and routine.

Once you’ve picked a formula, Tran recommends keeping more than one shade on hand. «Be open to investing in two different shades of your foundation, like one lighter shade in the winter and one darker shade in the summer,» she advises. «You can always use the darker shade as a light contour and the lighter shade as a natural highlighter on certain parts of the face. Also, mixing the two shades will help you transition from season to season.»

Picking the Right Tools

Once you’ve settled on a foundation, you’ll want to decide which tools will best help you apply it. «Knowing the texture (liquid, cream, powder) of your foundation and the finish and coverage (sheer or full) will help you select the best tool that suits your application needs,» explains Tran. «If the foundation is liquid but thick, then a damp Beautyblender Sponge ($20) may help thin it out to look more even. For powders, you can use a brush for more sheer application and a sponge for more coverage.» Check out some of our favorite foundation brushes here.

«You always want to think about the type of brush you use when applying different formulas of foundation,» adds Gee. Her go-to brush for liquid formulas is Gee Beauty’s Base Brush ($45); for thicker, cream formulas, she prefers the Multi-Skin Brush ($45).

How to Apply Foundation

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The Prep

model is posing with a red light solawave wand on face

Byrdie / Ashley Rebecca


Before applying your foundation, there are a few things to note about prep. Tran emphasizes the importance of a consistent skincare routine. «Taking care of your skin is very important in achieving a flawless finish,» she says. «It doesn’t matter how [many] blurring primers or powders you use. If your skin has an uneven texture from not exfoliating or moisturizing enough, no product will sit on your face well.» She recommends not applying foundation to bare skin that hasn’t been prepped or moisturized.

To prep my skin, I used the Solawave 4-in-1 Radiant Renewal Wand ($1690) and applied Augustinus Bader’s The Cream ($185) for hydration.

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The Product

model is posing with a bottle of chanel foundation

Byrdie / Ashley Rebecca


Since I like my foundation to have natural coverage with a glowy finish, I used Chanel’s Les Beiges Healthy Glow Foundation Hydration and Longwear ($65) in shade B20. The formula goes on light and can be built up if you prefer more coverage. Click here for our favorite foundations.

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Apply and Blend

model is applying foundation using an artis brush

Byrdie / Ashley Rebecca


When applying a liquid foundation, Tran likes «using an angled flathead brush that is dense but not too compact» for gentle stippling and buffing. If your foundation is thicker and trickier to blend, she says you might want to go in with a Beautyblender since «it is absorbing some of it as you dab into your complexion.»

Gee also recommends applying liquid formulas with a foundation brush. Her pro tip? »Avoid applying foundation directly from the bottle onto the skin,» she says. «Instead, I suggest applying it to the back of your hand and then picking up the product with a foundation brush.» If applying the makeup to the back of your hand isn’t your first choice, you can add a few drops of foundation to a stainless steel makeup palette and pick the product up with your brush.

model is applying foundation with an artis foundation brush

Byrdie / Ashley Rebecca


I used Artis’ Elite Mirror Oval 7 Brush ($75) to apply my foundation, as it’s dense and soft, seamlessly blending the foundation into the skin. I lightly buffed the foundation until it was fully blended and looked natural, using circular motions all over my face to ensure an even finish.

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Final Look

model posing with a face of natural makeup

Byrdie / Ashley Rebecca


Once you’ve blended your foundation, you can apply the rest of your makeup. I added Chanel Beauty’s Les Beiges Water-Fresh Blush in Deep Apricot ($50) for a pop of color on my cheeks and some concealer under my eyes. I wanted a fresh, natural look, and this combination of products worked out perfectly.

The Final Takeaway

Overall, applying foundation should be more fun than stressful. Once you’ve narrowed down which formulas and finishes work for you, (more than) half the battle has been won. Blending slowly and well using your preferred tools—be they brushes or sponges—will result in an even, radiant complexion.



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