7 ways to make your foundation look like a second skin

From creating a glowing canvas to achieving just the right amount of shine, makeup artists share their game-changing application secrets
Foundation how to apply Lilly Singh
Nick Sethi

Would you like to know trade secret for how to apply foundation? Parisian makeup artist Violette's advice is to execute it without a trace. “I want people to say, 'Oh my god, your skin looks amazing!' not, 'Your foundation is so great,'" she explains. And while finding the perfect formula is half the battle, once you have it, making like Houdini and ensuring it vanishes into your complexion is just as crucial. Here, three in-demand makeup artists share their fine-tuned tips for how to apply foundation and achieve that ever-elusive, second-skin finish.

Create a glowing canvas

Clean and moisturised skin is a no-brainer, but to really supercharge your glow, begin with a hydrating mask and follow it up with a lymphatic facial massage. When makeup artist Nina Park works with clients such as Zoë Kravitz and Bella Hadid, she begins with a sheet mask specifically targeted to their skin type, with ingredients such as rose to combat oiliness, aloe to treat dryness, and green tea to soothe inflammation. After masking, gently massage your moisturiser into the skin to boost circulation and reduce puffiness. “It creates a natural flush that makes the face look more awake,” says makeup artist Kira Nasrat, who helps give Jessica Alba that perpetually luminous complexion.

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Tata Harper Water-Lock Moisturiser

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Embryolisse Lait-Creme Concentre

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By Terry Baume de Rose Hydrating Sheet Mask

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Dr. Jart+ Dermask Water Jet Soothing Hydra Solution

Prime as needed

To prime or not to prime? It’s an eternal question for amateurs and pros alike. While Violette typically skips the extra base step in the interest of using as little product as possible, when applied correctly, it can prolong foundation for all-day wear. “I use an anti-shine primer for hotspots like the forehead, hairline, sides of nose, and around the mouth, and then a sheer, illuminating one for the tops of the cheekbones,” explains Park, adding that she applies each with her fingertips.

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Laura Mercier Pure Canvas Primer

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Grown Alchemist Anti-Pollution Primer

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NYX Shiner Killer Primer

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Tula Face Filter Blurring & Moisturising Primer

Apply from the centre and move outward

Only apply foundation where it’s really necessary, insists Violette, who counts the Estée Lauder Futurist Hydra Rescue Moisturising Foundation with SPF 45 among her favourites. "Start in the centre of the face, on the apples of the cheeks, and slowly blend out," she instructs, adding that another key part of the face is the area around the mouth, which is prone to yellow undertones and shadows. To ensure the foundation looks as natural as possible, Violette often skips the bridge of the nose—letting freckles show through for those who have them—and the corners of the nostrils, so the pigment doesn’t cling to dry patches.

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Armani Beauty Luminous Silk Perfect Glow Flawless Foundation

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NARS Sheer Glow Foundation

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Estée Lauder Futurist Hydra Rescue Moisturising Foundation SPF 45

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Pat McGrath Labs Sublime Perfection Foundation

Don’t paint, buff

No matter what tool you’re using—a foundation brush, a BeautyBlender, or your fingers—buff (or bounce, if you’re using a sponge) the foundation into your skin as opposed to “painting” it on to build coverage smoothly and avoid streakiness, says Park.

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Artis Elite Mirror Oval 8

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Morphe Deluxe Buffer Brush

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BeautyBlender The Original

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Real Techniques Miracle Complexion Sponge

Add a healthy flush

If you’re going to add a swish of blush, consider the “sunburn blush” strategy to warm up the skin. “It really brings something that’s fresh and genuine to the look,” says Park of the TikTok-beloved technique, wherein blush is applied across the cheeks and the bridge of the nose. “It gives an effortless summer feeling as if you were laying out for a few hours and then quickly got changed for dinner,” adds Violette.

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Rare Beauty Soft Pinch Liquid Blush

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Westman Atelier Baby Cheeks Blush

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Saie Dew Blush Liquid Cheek Blush

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Olio E Osso Lip & Cheek Tinted Balm

Strobe wherever the sun hits

For dimension, blend highlighter into the high planes of the face that catch light naturally, such as the cheekbones, temples and Cupid’s bow. “I’m not a fan of powder highlighters because it looks a bit fake to me,” says Violette. “Creamy balm textures will give you a dewiness as if you’re not wearing any products.”

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Westman Atelier Lit Up Highlighter Stick

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Ami Colé Light-Catching Highlighter

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Saie Dew Balm

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Fenty Beauty Match Stix Shimmer Skinstick

Blot, then set

First, sop up excess oil with blotting papers. Then, look to a featherweight translucent powder to seal in foundation and prevent unwanted sheen. "Use a brush to apply it very lightly and only to the areas that get the most shiny," says Nasrat, adding that the leftover lustre is what will really drive home that second-skin guise. Silky smooth and even-toned, with just the right amount of lit-from-within dewiness, that's how you execute believably perfect skin.

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Clinique Stay-Matte Sheer Pressed Powder

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Mented Skin Silk Loose Setting Powder

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Tatcha Aburatorigami Japanese Blotting Papers

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Queen of Hungary Mist

This article first appeared on www.vogue.com