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How I Apply Liquid Foundation for a Flawless (and Natural) Finish!

How to Apply liquid foundation

Now that I’m a “little” older (not really that old, I’m 35), it is definitely harder to get a great finish with my foundation. I don’t have wrinkles, but I swear it’s like a foundation can settle into every little dry spot or imperfection. Just by applying via my “old” way (aka- my young self just slathering on with fingers and maybe blending a little by the nose with a sponge) can result in disaster. Truly. And it isn’t even the fault of the foundation, it’s me!

After reading some online about foundation application, watching a ton of YouTube videos and breaking out my old Kevin Aucoin makeup books (the man was a master), I’ve tried out a ton of different foundation techniques. This is what I’ve settled on as the quickest and best method for a flawless foundation application. And really, it isn’t that quick. Sigh.

Apply liquid Foundation

I prep my skin with a lightweight moisturizer (or BB cream that doesn’t have much coverage, I like the Stila 10 in 1) and an eye cream. I wait a few minutes for it to sink in and then start on foundation. I apply a little to the back of my hand, if I need to mix other shades in then I do it there.

I use a dense brush. This is an IT Cosmetics foundation brush, but I also really like the Urban Decay Optical Blur Brush. I know there’s great love for the MAC skunk brush here, but I’m just not really a fan for some reason.

I dab a little onto the brush and then put that onto the areas I’ll want to cover with dotting. I put it on my nose, the middle of my forehead, chin and cheeks, though really very close to my nose. I apply most of my foundation to the center of my face and use less as I get to the edges, so I have almost none really on my actual cheeks and on my forehead.

how to apply liquid foundation

Once I have my foundation roughly where I want it, I stipple the area to spread out the foundation into an even application. I let that sit for a minute or two, and I wipe off any excess foundation from my brush onto a kleenex. Then I go back with the same brush and go over the areas with small round circles. If I’m applying concealer, this is when I do it (I apply in a less exaggerated triangle that is suddenly all the rage. More details in my how to use concealer post.)

Apply liquid foundation for an airbrushed finish

Next I grab my Beauty Blender sponge. And yeah, it kind of does need to be the Beauty Blender. None of the “dupes” have quite the right consistency, so they don’t have the same results. I bounce the sponge all over the place, using the smaller end around my eyes and nose and the wide end on my forehead and cheeks.

Then I wait a few minutes. If I haven’t done my eyes, this is a good time to do it. But if my eye makeup is a bit more intense, I usually start with my eyes (so I can wipe off any fallout without messing up my foundation) and then do my face. So, I’ll go and do my hair now.

blotting foundation with a tissue

I think the real secret to why this look works is the kleenex. I learned this about 5 years ago from Elke Von Freudenberg, and I had stopped for a few years, but now I’m obsessed again! Take a kleenex and gently blot your face. Be gentle, you don’t want to remove the pigment, but instead you’ll take out some of the oil and “liquid” of the foundation. I usually don’t blot my nose much, somehow that seems to mess up my nose. But this is a must for my chin, cheeks and forehead.

Finally, I apply a very lightweight powder to set everything. I put it under my eyes and in my t-zone only. Lately I’ve really been loving this Aqualillies for tarte Amazonian clay finishing powder. It’s lightweight like the MUFE HD, but more mattifying. It’s apparently limited edition, but I hope Tarte sees the light and keeps it around!

Pin now and read later: How I Apply Liquid Foundation for a Flawless (and Natural) Finish!

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About Me

Iā€™m a doctor, a mommy and a bit of a beauty addict. If you let me, I can take 2 hours to get ready in the morning. Really. I'm on a quest for faster beauty that works!

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  1. 4.12.13
    Aimee said:

    I don't think the Tarte Amazonian Clay Finishing Powder is really limited edition, I think just the the packaging is. I think it's the same as this, just with the pretty package: http://tartecosmetics.com/tarte-item-Amazonian-clay-finishing-powder

  2. 4.12.13
    Amber said:

    This is a great post! I'm going to try the Kleenex trick. šŸ™‚
    I have major brow envy right now!!

  3. 4.12.13
    Deb said:

    What a great post with really good tips! Thanks for doing this. Never knew of the Kleenex trick but you can be sure I will be trying it.

  4. 4.12.13

    @Aimee- looking at it further, I think (and hope!) that you're right! I don't know why they'd make a regular powder LE. I love it though!

    @Amber Thanks šŸ˜€ I have pretty thick brows, I have to have someone help me with them every couple of weeks, they get unruly quickly!

  5. 4.12.13

    We do it the same way, even down to the brush! I'll have to try your kleenex idea. I don't do that! You look great!

  6. 4.13.13

    I do it all except the Kleenex – who knew!! And it does need to be the Beauty Blender but I think that It Cosmetics has come out with a sponge and they are such a great company that I bet it would rival the Beauty Blender.

    • 2.22.18
      Dara gunstone said:

      Quick newbie question, does the beauty blender need to be wet? Also it was very difficult to put this routine together and incorporate your concealer post. The concealer post mentions adding specific layers to under eyes prior to application. But I had already applied foundation in the order you mentioned above? I’m 45, using Tarte products, and lately everything settles. I end up with creases under my eyes. Makeup settling into pores despite primers. And setting sorry, don’t even get me started. It seems to make me glow in the dark ! Well, more like super shiny. Augh. It’s gotten so bad I’m considering not using foundation anymore, despite years of taking care of my skin. Thanks for listening ladies.

      • 2.22.18
        15mins said:

        So many answers for you!

        1) I frequently use my beauty blender dry. It really depends on which sponge consistency is best for you.
        2) So I wrote this foundation post 4 years ago when I was just 36, and I think the concealer post you’re talking about is this one, my concealer over 40 post. I didn’t mention foundation at all in there, and I should probably write a post about how I put it all together. I’ve been doing eye cream, corrector, then foundation (and I avoid the undereye area as it’s yet another layer) and then concealer and light powder last. I hope that makes sense.
        3) You mention that you’re currently using Tarte products. I have to say, I’ve found their concealers (in particular Shape Tape) are too thick and definitely settle into my undereye area very easily. I have an entire post on best concealers over 40, but my favorite is the NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer, which is just a little bit less pigmented than the Tarte but also easier to blend and I think less likely to crease. My Tarte sits in the drawer and doesn’t get used because of that.
        4) I should write a whole post about lighterweight foundation options as you get older. I AM HAVING THIS SAME ISSUE. I am definitely going for more liquid foundations, and it is helping with the settling a lot. My favorites to help with this are the Lancome Miracle Cushion, the drugstore dupe from Maybelline, and today for the first time I’m using this one from Chanel, and OMG I’m dying. It’s amazing. I also bought the new “lightweight” skin finish one from Bobbi Brown. It has settled beyond anything I’ve ever used, do not waste your money!

        I hope all of that helps and makes sense? Let me know and I will write some posts addressing these issues, my friends and I have been talking about this a lot and sharing tips with each other.

  7. 4.13.13

    This is exactly the tutorial I need. Thanks for putting this up.

  8. 4.13.13

    Do you use a brush or a puff to apply the powder?

  9. 4.13.13

    It depends on which powder I'm using, but I go back and forth. That doesn't seem to really matter too much, though whether I apply it with a puff or brush, I take a brush and buff in small circles quickly once it is applied.

  10. 4.13.13
    Jennifer said:

    I have such a difficult time finding the right foundation and applying it in a way that looks natural. I know that may seem contradictory but it's upsetting when you can obviously tell your wearing foundation. There is a "cakey" look that I have difficulty avoiding. After reading your article I realized I am using the wrong brush and application techniques. I have harnessed your advice and will use it to help improve my make up experience. Thanks so much!

  11. 4.14.13

    I see you're using the CG Outlast Stay Fabulous Foundation. What do you think of it? I'm interested in trying it bc the Kat Von D I'm using is starting to oxidize on me (it didn't do this before when I first started using it a few months ago–wondering why it's doing it now). I'm worried about finding a good match though–I'm about NC 20 and CG tends to run more pink.

  12. 4.14.13

    I do really like it. It's a little fuller coverage, in theory it is a primer and concealer as well (and it probably is for most people, I need to add a little concealer over a visible blood vessel I have under 1 eye). Anyways, I do like it a lot, and it doesn't seem to oxidize on my skin at all. It is less yellow than other foundations, though I don't think I'd call it pink, maybe more beige? Other foundations are definitely too yellow on me, I'm a bit more porcelain.

  13. 4.15.13
    Starsky99 said:

    Christine, a couple questions: have you ever used Ecco Tools brushes& if so do you like any for foundation application? About your hair – what are you using to hold it back here & how did you create your curls (it's so pretty!). Thanks.

  14. 4.15.13
    Amelia said:

    Thanks for this amazing post. I never thought of this possibility. Will try this today. The pictures are well done too šŸ™‚

  15. 4.16.13

    @Starsky99: I have use Eco Tools, though not for a couple of years. At the time none of the shapes were quite what I liked, though the brushes were really nice. Looking their website, the buffing brush looks like it would work well for this if the brush is dense enough.
    This was a "lazy" day at home, my hair was curled with a BeachWaver (1 1/2 inch curling iron that turns on its own.) I have a review here somewhere but can't find it for some reason. I just have it pulled back with a barrette to keep it out of my face so you can actually see what I'm doing. I probably should have just "faked" doing it, but instead I'm applying without a mirror in front of the camera… šŸ˜€

  16. 8.8.13
    Anonymous said:

    From the look of the pictures, it looks like the foundation is a little too dark/warm for your skin.

  17. 8.8.13

    It's the lighting, in person there's no line and no change, though my neck is quite a bit lighter than my face

  18. 2.24.14
    murt said:

    hmm – this could very well be my computer monitor, but the foundation looks a bit too dark/warm/mask-like/cakey for my taste. I love your blog though!

  19. 2.24.14

    I think the match looks much worse on certain monitor calibrations.

    When I took these pics I used only natural light, though it was slightly overcast and I had to correct a little to remove a green tinge from the pics. On my monitor (which is super calibrated a'la graphics artists), it was about a 95% match, I could barely see a problem (though yes, my neck is super light, I've been told by MUAs like Jake Bailey to leave it alone though, just match between my neck and my face). So, I debated but didn't have time to retake pics so I posted this anyways.

    But, on some people's computers, especially if you just left the monitor calibrations as they were when you bought it, I guess it looks orange. I don't know, I haven't seen it!

    In person the foundation match looks good. In pics on my computer it's about the best I can do, almost no issues. I do have to say though, there have been threads about my foundation match on places like Makeup Alley and the personal attacks are a bit… crazy? What's wrong with people? First, it's a stranger's foundation match. There are more important things in life. Second, it does depend on your monitor from what I've been able to tell, maybe something's a bit up on your end? Third, really, just calm down and move on??? Sigh.

  20. 2.24.14

    Also, there's no concealer here because it was about foundation. I usually do wear concealer!