How to Apply Foundation: 4 Quick Tips for a Smooth Application

Posted by Joy Kakabeeke on

Foundation used to be the scariest part of my routine.

I swear, it looked different every single time I put it on. Sometimes, I’d look like a movie star. And other times, I’d look like a cakey mess.

I did everything I could think of: switched formulas, mixed in oils, bought new brushes, prepped my skin, used setting sprays…

There was no way to tell how it would turn out. And sometimes I’d have to start all over.

Whether it was discolored patches, jawline streaks, brush strokes, or stripes along my hairline, my foundation was never perfect unless I totally packed it on.

And then I was stuck with breakouts, cakiness, and creasing. It was a serious lose-lose situation. 

Until I realized the real problem — my technique

I thought I knew what I was doing, but really I had no clue. Once I figured it out, my foundation started looking like a second skin.

I know that sounds kinda gross, but that’s the look you’re going for.

Trust me. You don’t have to try every foundation brand under the sun to get a polished look. It’s all in the routine.

There are a few crucial steps to a flawless foundation application — and they’re incredibly simple. It really doesn’t take long to master them.

So, how do you apply foundation?

I’m glad you asked.

Importance of Primer

Contrary to popular belief, primer is probably the most important part of your routine.

It may look like just another time-consuming step, but it’s totally worth it — and necessary for a gorgeous finished look.

By using a makeup primer, you’re smoothing wrinkles and fine lines to provide an even canvas for your foundation. You’re also giving your makeup something to stick to, so it’ll stay put all day.

Primer also adds a protective barrier between your skin and foundation. That way, your makeup won’t clog your pores or cause breakouts. 

When you use a primer you can use less foundation — so you’re saving product in the long run and you won’t have to deal with cakiness or flaking. 

If you don’t know where to start when it comes to priming, our Pro Prep Face Primer nourishes and illuminates your skin to provide the perfect canvas for your foundation. It works beautifully with our Flawless Finish Liquid Foundation to give you the natural-looking, dewy skin of your dreams.

No matter what you do, don’t skip the primer. You won’t regret it.

Is it Better to Apply Foundation with a Brush or a Sponge?

There really is a right answer.

The most important part of the application is your tool. And listen — you shouldn’t be using your fingertips. Your hands deposit tons of germs onto your skin, which leads to future breakouts. And by applying your foundation with your fingers, you put yourself at risk for a blotchy, streaky application.

And we all know that’s not a cute look.

So, let’s go over when to use a foundation brush, and when to use a sponge.


  • Good for liquid foundations
  • Absorbs less product
  • Gives a more precise application
  • Allows for more coverage

If you’re looking for a night out kinda vibe, you’re probably gonna want to use a brush. Foundation brushes give you a thicker layer of makeup for a picture-perfect full face. My foundation brush of choice is a flat top brush.

But if you’re looking for a daily, no-makeup-makeup look, you should go with a sponge.


  • Good for cream foundations
  • Gives a natural, dewy finish
  • Deposits less makeup on the skin
  • Provides a smooth, second-skin-like application

If you decide to use a sponge, make sure to get it damp before using it. That way, it won’t soak up tons of your precious product.

And no matter which applicator you use…

Tap never rub.

Gently blend out your foundation with light taps — or bounces — to ensure a smooth finished look.

Apply Directly on Skin and Work from the Inside Out

We’ve all seen gurus and YouTubers pumping their liquid foundation onto their brushes.

It makes me cringe every time.

By putting your foundation directly on your applicator, you’re wasting so much product. Not to mention you’re basically guaranteeing an uneven application.

Instead, place a pea-sized amount of foundation on the back of your hand, dip your ring finger in it, and (with a very light hand) dot it all over your face. With this technique, you won’t be left with random foundation splotches.

And when you’ve moved on to blending, make sure to work from the inside out. 

Foundation is meant to cover areas with discoloration or redness — which are typically found around the nose and lips. By working from your nose outwards, you’re avoiding icky streaking along your jaw and hairline.

And avoid putting too much product on wrinkles, especially around the mouth and eyes.

Trust me. If there’s too much product packed into those lines, your makeup will crease every time you smile.

How to Use Setting Powder After Foundation

Powder is the cherry on top of a gorgeous makeup application.

Setting your makeup with powder gives a soft, blurred effect and an oil-free finish. It also helps lock your look in place so your foundation stays put throughout the day.

When it comes to setting powder, go for an ultra-fine, loose powder. It doesn’t settle into your pores or fine lines, so you won’t have to worry about creasing or buildup. 

And gently dust it over your skin — don’t pile it on.

We’re not looking for coverage here. We’re just trying to set the foundation you so perfectly applied.

As for the shade, go for translucent. You want your foundation to look like your natural skin, and tinted powders can clash with your foundation shade. This creates a blotchy, inconsistent overall look.

With transparent powders, the blending will be seamless and you’ll have a natural-looking, uniform finish.

That’s it! I know, easier said than done, right?

Obviously, foundation can be a beast to overcome. But once you master the right techniques, you’ll be golden. And if you start out with these tips, you’ll be way ahead of the curve.

You got this, babe.

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