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How Not to Hate It: Foundation

It doesn't have to feel like a mask.
How Not to Hate It: Foundation
IMAGE Bacs Arcebal
It doesn't have to feel like a mask.

Welcome to How Not to Hate It, where we make serious cases for misunderstood beauty products. Here, we talk about things that: You like but find tricky to work with, don't like but everyone else loves, and products that you have no idea how to use. Basically, this is a safe, prejudice-free space for newbies, haters, and lovers alike to making a specific product work to their advantage. So sit back, keep an open mind, and scroll through for a deep dive.

How Not to Hate It: Foundation

Many think that foundation is too heavy and not good for your skin. And while those can be true sometimes, it doesn't have to be. When you wield it properly, it can make your skin look and feel great. Here's how to do just that:

1. Match your foundation with your skin tone, type, and your desired effect.

Sometimes, everything goes wrong from the moment you buy your foundation. It's not enough that a bottle promises to give you flawless skin and blur out your pores, because that's how you end up with an overly-greasy face or dry patches all over. Your priority should be making sure the product you're getting will work with you and not against you.

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First, consider your skin type. Most foundations will say what skin type they're best for, which helps, but it's good to know exactly what you need, too. For example—if you have oily skin, skip anything that's oil-based and overly creamy. You want something with a lightweight formula, preferably oil-free, that has a matte or semi-matte finish that will control your oiliness instead of make it worse.

Second, figure out what you want from your foundation. Do you need it to cover acne or just even out your skin tone a little? When it comes to coverage, decide if you want sheer, medium, or full coverage. And then pick your preferred finish—there's natural, matte, or dewy. From here, think about the kind of wear time you want: Are you buying a long-lasting foundation for all-day wear or an everyday base you want to last for half a day max? Keep a mental list of all your choices and consider them while shopping.

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Lastly, pick the right shade. Foundations are usually categorized by color spectrum (light, medium, dark) and undertone (warm, cool, neutral), so you should find out where your skin tone falls under (learn how here). It's safer to get a perfect match instead of a shade that's lighter or darker, which could look unnatural.

Check out our shopping guides below to shop for a foundation for your skin type:

Oily skin | Dry skin | Combination Skin | Mature Skin

2. Prep your skin well.

Just like how you put on SPF before going to beach, you need to prep your face before you put it head to head with foundation. Skincare is critical. You need to give the product something to stick to, such as moisturizer and primer, so the product goes on smoothly over your skin instead of looking patchy sliding right off. If you have flaky skin, exfoliate with a gentle scrub or a chemical exfoliant beforehand so product won't cling to dry patches. Your goal should be to have a naked yet smooth and hydrated base that'll receive the product well.

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Read more about skin prep tips here.

Check out makeup-artist-approved moisturizers here.

3. Only use as much as you need.

Don't make your foundation do a concealer's job. It's just there to even out your skin tone and blur any minor imperfections, not erase your entire face. Foundation isn't meant to look like a mask (unless you want it to, of course), so apply it carefully. The trick is to work in thin layers—put on a little bit first, blend it out, and then put on more if you think you need more. Remember: It's easier to add more than to remove! In fact, contrary to popular belief, you don't always need to put foundation all over your face. You can even use it as concealer when you only need light coverage—just dot it over areas that need it and blend!

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Get more tips about using minimal foundation here.

4. Mix it with other products to alter it.

You can actually DIY the foundation of your dreams by mixing it with other products. For a foundation that's too thick or too matte, mix a drop of oil or moisturizer to dilute the formula and add glow. If need more coverage, mix it with your concealer. If you accidentally got the wrong shade, adjust the color by adding a lighter/darker shade of foundation or concealer to it.

5. Choose the right tool for blending.

You have three options here: Your fingers, a beauty sponge, or a brush. Fingers are best for fast blending and a natural look, and best of all, it's free. If you're the type to accidentally overapply, use makeup sponges to soak some of the product up and get an even, seamless finish. Brushes, depending on the kind you use, are best for building coverage and having more control over where your foundation goes since it can get into all the nooks and crannies of your face.

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6. Set it.

Setting your foundation is optional, but it's a great solution to creasing and fading. The easiest way to set is with powder (either a loose or pressed one), which you can press onto the skin with a powder puff or lightly sweep on with a brush. Brushing on powder works great for minimal setting, especially for dry skin. But if you want to reduce the appearance of pores and lines and extend wear, pressing it on with a puff is the way to go. That said, you also have the option of using a setting spray, which is a kind of face mist that makes your makeup last longer. You can use both powder and a setting spray when gunning for all day wear.

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7. Remove it completely.

Truth be told, foundation is only bad for your skin if you don't take it off properly at the end of the day. The real enemy here is the leftover makeup that'll clog your pores and cause breakouts, so always cleanse your base completely. Our top recommendation for this is to double cleanse, or to have two-step cleansing routine that involves a makeup remover (cleansing oils, balms, and micellar waters are amazing for removing foundation) and a facial wash to completely get all the gunk off.

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