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Image / Style / Beauty

7 helpful steps to making your foundation look its best

by Melanie Morris
19th Oct 2020

How to make foundation look better? The answer lies beneath the surface. As winter approaches, Melanie Morris has some extra-beneficial solutions.

More than any other category, when it comes to foundations, finding The One is truly the holy grail of make-up. Colour, coverage, finish, lasting power… We want to get the balance just right, so we can face the world with confidence, whatever the occasion. But really, the answer to getting your foundation right doesn’t just lie with what bottle you choose, and what’s in it – there’s a whole lot more to consider.

It was Hollywood-based, Japanese make-up artist Shu Uemura who, in the 1950s, proclaimed that the secret to good make-up was great skin. He spent almost as much time preparing the face with thorough cleansing (with oil, which he first used on Marilyn Monroe), softening (rather than toning), and gently locking in natural hydration with a light moisturiser. Fast forward nearly 70 years, and the world’s best MUAs still prep squeaky clean skin in this way, ending with a nourishing moisturiser before applying any base products (I saw Mario Dedivanovic using Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Cream at a recent masterclass).

If you have oily, dry, or ageing skin, or if your make-up has to endure long, gruelling hours, a good primer is an essential ally. Smashbox and Laura Mercier are two brands who own this category; the former has literally dozens of options for every skin type, dilemma and solution, while the Laura Mercier Foundation Primer, €41, is still an industry hero. For those with a bit more cash to splash, the Sisley Instant Perfect primer, €54, is an excellent option for blurring fine lines and keeping shine at bay. Primers such as Charlotte Tilbury’s Wonderglow, €49, offer luminosity as well as longevity to foundation, while I adore a layer of her Hollywood Flawless Filter, €40, (not necessarily a primer) on its own, or mixed in with foundation to bring life to my look.

Keeping the skin glowing, and free of dry, dull, dead cells can be as easy as substituting a multi-step overnight routine once or twice a week for a layer of Alpha H Liquid Gold, €37.50. This non-sticky, colourless formulation is magic, making skin super-soft and radiant with zero effort and maybe just a touch of tingle. Foundation will go on easier, deliver a more even colour pay-off, and last longer too.

A more thorough option for gleaming, exfoliated skin, with a more even tone is through regular salon facial peels. My current favourite is the Skeyndor Pro Timeless Derma Peel, €99 for 45 minutes at Edvard & Pink, Dundrum Town Centre, Dublin 14. It combines glycolic, lactic and mandelic acids in a highly effective, but ever-so-gentle treatment that results in glowing, youthful skin, yet eliminates downtime, which means no tomato-red face afterwards, and no subsequent skin flaking (both trademarks of previous generation peels). A perfect midweek lunchtime fix before a weekend of special occasions when great, lasting make-up will really matter.

More and more women are finding that fine, “peach fuzz” facial hair is causing their complexion to look dull under make-up. The 21st century solution is dermaplaning, €80 from Kerry Hanaphy, 27 South William Street, Dublin 2. Dermaplaning is where the epidermis (outer layer of skin) is swiped with a fine, sharp blade to remove face fluff before a hydrating hyaluronic serum is applied to plump and feed fine lines. The perfect scene-setter for fabulous foundation.

So much of how your foundation looks also relies on the correct method of product application. Throwing on make-up in a rush, on the move or without good light is never going to deliver MUA looks, so learn from the pros. Once the skin is cleansed, hydrated and primed, apply foundation with fingers, a brush or Beauty Blender (your choice), but then be sure to buff with a brush before then layering on concealer, buff again, and then once finished, roll on the lightest layer of setting powder (I love Laura Mercier’s Invisible Loose Setting Powder, €42, or Charlotte Tilbury’s Genius Magic Powder, €42) with a different, clean, oversized brush or puff. Powder won’t make the complexion chalky if applied sparingly and in this way.

Finally, to keep your hard work in place, use a fixing spray like Urban Decay’s All Nighter Setting Spray, €31, MAC Prep + Prime Fix+, €22, or the divine, botanical Caudalie Beauty Elixir, €13.21, all of which can also be used to freshen make-up during the day or night. The trick is to spray, leave to dry, then finish with a super-light kiss of powder.

Photography by Jason Lloyd Evans.

Read more: The best new make-up primers

Read more: Meet Cohederm, the ingredient hyaluronic acid wishes it was

Read more: The ten best make-up palettes of 2019 so far

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