The 6 Rules Of Foundation I Live By

Something I quickly found out on the job is that I’m the sole ITG team member who consistently wears foundation. Well, not last summer—I wanted my face to feel wild and free. However since I rejoined forces with foundation in the fall, let’s just say I’m leading the pack here when it comes to usage. Not that this is a competition or anything (save that competitive spirit for your ITG March Madness bracket), but it’s just to say that from time to time, I find myself telling the rest of the team a little thing I do here, a little thing I do there, to make my foundation look better and last longer. What good is it to keep these things to myself? No good at all! So I’m doing some more sharing, this time with you. If you’re a regular foundation user you probably already know all about what’s coming at you below (and leave your own piece of advice in the comments, the more the merrier). But if you’re just OK or downright terrible, I hope this will make life easier for ya. Just six little tips to make the most of your foundation, starting with:

A clean slate

Was there anything not to love about Nam Vo’s Top Shelf? The Gucci wallpaper… the strippers… this sentence…: “I don’t put highlighter on matte, fucked up skin.” Well, the last bit’s got a little less pizzazz, but regardless, the lady’s got a point. In matters of makeup and makeup application, it’s the skin that sets the tone and direction of your foundation. Don’t put foundation on skin that’s not clean, and make a good attempt at getting it as smooth as possible. That’s one of the reasons why I always tone before foundation. Whether it’s a regular shmegular one or an acid toner doesn’t really matter—it’s the act of sweeping the toner-soaked fabric across my face that makes the immediate difference. Physical exfoliation, you know? And then you’ve got to moisturize. Right now that’s Tatcha’s The Dewy Skin Cream for me. The name reeled me in, but the hearty yet fluffy texture is what’s keeping me going.

Sunscreen smartly

It’s no surprise here that my morning skincare routine ends with sunscreen. And it’s usually some kind of chemical/mineral hybrid because I’ve never met a 100-percent mineral sunscreen that didn’t make me think, “Hmm, should’ve used a chemical.” The downside is that I am convinced that this kind of sunscreen makes my foundation color look a little off. Not exactly darker or lighter, but slightly skewed, in a tonal sense. There are competing schools of thought as to why. In one camp: foundation oxidation, which is compounded when the formula mixes with the oils and sunscreen already on your skin. That’s the argument for a buffer between your skin and makeup—a primer. But I don’t have that kind of time to work with in the morning. Instead, I just let the sunscreen dry on my face for a few minutes before forging ahead to the next step. My skin still feels hydrated, but it’s no longer wet. And that, I’ve found, makes all the difference.

Two is better than one. Three is even better.

I regret to inform you that if you really want to make your foundation look good, you’ve got to use more than one foundation shade. The logic is pretty simple. Wear one shade and you run the risk of appearing spectacularly one dimensional. Not totally cartoon-like, but too close for comfort. If I’m really on my bullshit I’ll use three shades—the lightest underneath my eyes, a darker one for my nose, cheeks, and the middle of my forehead, and the darkest for the circumference of my face. It mimics my skin’s natural shading, but at the same time it makes everything look smoother, more even. Don’t hate the player, hate the game.

Work small

For the love of God, do not squirt one huge blob of foundation on your face and expect it to blend in seamlessly. That kind of magic only happens in the movies, and on FaceTune. Instead, start super small—a third of a pea small—blend, and work up your layers from there. This is the most salient advice I can pass on after years of watching makeup artists do this on sets. Any one of them would be horrified—horrified!—if they say a humungo foundation blob getting spread across someone’s face.

Center first

You’ll find that you’ll need a lot less foundation as you make your way towards the edge of your face. I honestly don’t know why… I don’t make the rules here. But I can say from experience, there’s something about working the opposite direction—from outside, in—that makes foundation look more obvious.

Set it…. and forget it

I only appreciate setting powder after I’ve forgotten to put it on. The story usually goes like this: I put on my makeup, I’m lookin’ good, feelin’ great, and then I’m out the door. Traditional human behavior. It’s only when I walk past the Glossier bathrooms at 2PM do I notice that something’s amiss. Oil city, the slickest, shiniest forehead and nose in the game. But when I actually remember to dust my face with a setting powder it’s a totally different story. Even if you don’t have oily skin, a little powder on your T-zone makes your foundation look more freshly-applied then nothing at all. Spray if you must, if you’re repulsed by the idea of powder. Skindinavia’s will get you out the door in no time.

—Ashley Weatherford

Photo via ITG