Makeup Basics: How to Apply Foundation Step by Step Guide

Foundation is a skin-colored cosmetic that is used to even out your skin, cover blemishes, and provide a uniform color to your complexion. But how the foundation works on ...

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how to apply foundation

Foundation is a skin-colored cosmetic that is used to even out your skin, cover blemishes, and provide a uniform color to your complexion. But how the foundation works on your skin depends on your skin type, type of foundation used, and tools used to apply foundation. If you have got everything right, the foundation will lift your face and stay for long. But if not done right, it can crack up your skin and make you look patchy or discolored. So, apart from choosing the right foundation, it is important that you know how to apply foundation perfectly.

In this post, we will cover:

• Basic steps to follow before applying foundation
• How to apply foundation with a brush
• How to apply foundation with fingers
• How to apply foundation with a sponge or beauty blender
• Special cases: How to Apply Mousse, Serum and Stick Foundations
• Commonly asked questions about foundation application

Basic Steps to Follow Before Applying Foundation

1. Apply cleansing milk and toner on your face: Start by pouring cleansing milk on a cotton ball and pressing it over your face. Then, dab on some toner to ensure your pores don’t get blocked when you start applying foundation.

2. Use pore filler: If you happen to have large pores then it’s best to apply some pore filler cream to prevent an acne breakout post makeup.

3. Apply a primer: This is perhaps the most important step to ensure you apply foundation flawlessly. A primer helps in creating a barrier between your skin and foundation, offers a clean slate to start with and increases the stay of the foundation.

How to Apply Foundation with a Brush

Brushes are best suited for liquid, stick, cream and serum foundations.


foundation application brushes


1. Take out a small amount of foundation on a steel palette or the back of your hand instead of directly placing it on your face.

2. Take a flat brush to spread the foundation across your forehead, bridge of your nose, cheeks, under eyes, above your lips, chin and neck.

3. Using a foundation blender brush or stippling brush, blend the foundation uniformly across your face. Move the brush in clockwise or anti-clockwise motion (don’t mix the two, stick to one type of movement).

4. To set the foundation, apply anti-shine or translucent powder in the end.

Advantages of using a foundation brush:

a) As brushes come with different types of bristles and thickness, you get to choose the kind of finish you want. Thicker brushes with closely placed bristles will give you more coverage than brushes with lesser bristles.

b) When getting someone else to apply makeup on you, brushes help in maintaining hygiene.

Disadvantages of using a foundation brush:

a) Brushes end up applying more product on the skin, making you spend more time in blending and grading foundation.

b) Brushes need to be cleansed regularly to ensure germs don’t start to develop.

c) Foundation applied using brushes needs to be blended thoroughly so that no harsh lines are visible on the face.

[Also Read: Types of Makeup Brushes]


How to Apply Foundation with Fingers

Fingers are best suited for liquid foundations.

applying foundation with fingers

1. As before, take out small amount of foundation onto a palette or the back of your hand.

2. Dot the foundation on your face using you your fingers – two dots on forehead, one on nose, one on chin and a couple each on your cheeks.

3. Blend the foundation on your face using your fingers in tapping or patting motion. Move your fingers in circular upward motion.

4. Fingers usually offer a light coverage as the heat generated from them melts the foundation even before it touches the skin. For a greater coverage, you will have to apply more powder on your face.

Pro tip: Don’t move your fingers in downward direction as it can cause your skin to sag.


Advantages of using fingers to apply foundation:

a) Always available! You don’t have to scout for brushes or sponges when in hurry, simply use your fingers for a quick application

Cons of using fingers to apply foundation:

a) Fingers are not a hygienic tool for applying foundation. They carry germs and can cause acne breakout on your face. Wash your hands properly or carry a sanitizer before starting out.


How to Apply Foundation with a Sponge

Sponge or beauty blenders are egg-shaped and are best suited for cream and liquid foundations.

foundation application using sponge
1. Dampen the sponge in a stream of running water. Squeeze out the water and wrap it in a tissue paper or clean towel to remove excess water.

2. Take some foundation on a palette or the back of your hand. Dip the pointed end of the sponge into the foundation and collect the product on the tip uniformly.

3. Dab the foundation on forehead, chin, nose tip, cheeks and neck so as to cover your face with the product.

4. Start pressing the larger, rounder portion of the sponge on your face to help spread and blend the foundation evenly.

5. Once your foundation dries up (usually takes 2-3 minutes), apply anti-shine powder to lock it in.


Pro tip: If you don’t want to use a sponge because of hygiene and over consumption of production, opt for silicon-based blenders. They don’t absorb product and are easy to clean, making them ideal for blending.


Advantages of using sponges or beauty blenders to apply foundation:

a) They provide a natural effect to the foundation

b) As sponges are dabbed and pressed, they ensure foundation doesn’t float on your face but offers an even finish.

Cons of using sponges or beauty blenders to apply foundation:

a) They absorb foundation during application, leading to higher consumption of the product.

b) They are easily stained, and you never know if they are 100% clean

c) They need to be air dried before storing away

How to Apply Mousse, Serum and Stick Foundations

Mousse, Serum and Stick Foundations

How to Apply Mousse Foundation

Mousse foundations are creamy foundations with powdery texture. They are very light weight and blend easily. They are best suited for oily skin. Given their texture, mousse foundations are best applied using a beauty blender. Take the foundation and dab it on your face. Then using a damp (but not wet) sponge, spread it out evenly across your face.

How to Apply Serum Foundation

Serum foundations are the lightest foundation in terms of consistency and coverage. They are very liquidy in texture and are applied the same way as liquid foundation. However, we recommend you apply serum foundation using a traditional flat foundation brush.

How to Apply Stick Foundation

Stick foundations are essentially cream foundations in cylindrical shape. You can directly apply it as strokes on your forehead, nose bridge, cheeks, chin and neck. Now using a stippling brush or a beauty blender, spread the foundation evenly across your face. Once done, let it dry for a couple of minutes and then apply some loose powder to lock it in.

[Also Read: Common Foundation Mistakes To Avoid]


Commonly Asked Questions About Foundation Application

1. When and how to use compact powder?
Compact powders are meant for touch ups. If you are going to attend a long-duration event, say a wedding, and would need your makeup to stay put, then carry a compact powder with you. Anytime you feel your makeup is becoming runny or coming off, dab some compact powder. The powder will absorb the sweat or oil and let your makeup stay as is.

2. What to apply before makeup?
Before applying makeup, it’s important to cleanse your skin using cleansing milk. Dab some toner on your face and once it dries up, apply moisturizer. You must also apply primer on your face before staring with makeup. Also, depending on how large your pores are, we suggest you use a pore filler as well.

3. How to apply powder foundation?
For powder foundations, it’s important to have a layer of cream or liquid foundation first. It is never applied directly on the face as it can dry up your skin and make you look patchy.

4. Can I just wear foundation?
Yes you can! While you are at it, apply some blush or bronzer to complete the look.

5. Do I need foundation?
If you have an even, blemish-free skin then you don’t really need a foundation. Foundation covers skin discoloration, redness, acne patches and dark circles, so if you don’t have any of these, you can completely skip it and opt for a BB or CC cream.

6. What can I use instead of foundation?
If you don’t want to apply foundation, go for a BB or CC cream of the same skin color as yours. These will work just as well.

7. Will foundation give me a dewy look?
The final look that a foundation gives you depends on the type of makeup foundation you have applied. A cream or stick foundation will give you a matte look, while a sheer or serum foundation will give you dewy look.

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