The 45 Best Foundation Tips From Makeup Artists

We reached out to some of the best makeup artists in the business (including the one and only Laura Mercier and every It-girl’s go-to guy, Hung Vanngo), to find out everything we could about putting on foundation. Below, the best makeup artist tips to get you from start to flawless finish, including how to pick out your perfect shade, what tools to use to avoid streaks and splotches, how to cover fine lines and large zits, and why you might be wearing too much foundation.

  • Save Gregory Harris

    Pick Out the Right Shade and Formula

    “When you’re buying a new foundation, test a few shades in natural light, then squint. The color that disappears when you squint is your match.” — Nick Barose

    “You don’t want your face darker than your neck — test shades around your jawline, or dust bronzer on your neck to even everything out.” — Jillian Dempsey

    “Buy a foundation in two shades: one for imperfections and a lighter shade to highlight your chin, cheekbones, and the bridge of your nose. — AJ Crimson

    “If you can’t find a perfect shade, buy one that’s slightly darker than your skin and one that’s slightly lighter, then fine-tune the color yourself.” — Lora Arellano

    “For photo ops, use a primer and a sheer matte foundation. Luminous formulas look shiny in pictures.” — Nick Barose, Lupita Nyong’o’s go-to makeup artist

    “Most oil-free foundations oxidize — turn yellow or orange — on oily skin throughout the day, so test them for a few hours before you buy one.” — Laura Mercier

    Arm Yourself With the Right Tools

    “Look for rounded foundation brushes with synthetic hairs — they’re usually labeled powder brushes, but they’re the best for blending.” — Arellano

    “Small, fluffy synthetic brushes are fantastic for blending concealer over redness and imperfections on the chin, forehead, and nostrils” — Linda Cantello

    “Mist a fluffy brush with facial spray, and press it over your makeup — foundation, blush, bronzer, highlighter — to make everything look more like skin.” — Arellano

    “Buff, buff, buff foundation into the skin — quickly, like a whirlwind — with a brush. It ensures the coverage won’t look heavy-handed.” — Vincent Oquendo

    “Put on foundation, and then press it into your skin with a damp sponge until it’s seamlessly blended.”— Patrick Ta

    Or Just Use Your Hands

    “I like to apply foundation with my hands to help warm it up, press it into the skin and into the contours of the skin. I usually go in outward, circular motions. Then, I fine-tune any additional blending with a clean foundation brush.” — Joseph Carrillo, who’s worked with Alexa Chung, Portia Doubleday, and Lily Rabe

    “Use the natural warmth that emanates from your fingers to help diffuse the product, taking special care to blend well on the chin and jawline, as well as down the nose. Here is where Beautyblender (or any great blending sponge) is your best friend, as it really pushes the product into the skin and erases any ‘makeup-y’ texture — a telltale sign of badly applied foundation.” — Suzy Gerstein, who’s worked with St. Vincent and Camilla Belle

    “I love starting with a sheer, lightweight foundation, blending it all over, and massaging into my face with my fingertips. This way, all the product is being blended into your skin and not being eaten up by your sponge or brush. This should give you a smooth veil of coverage, eliminating any redness or unevenness.” —Joey Camasta, director of makeup artistry at Ready to Wear Beauty