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The 6 Rules for Using Foundation

The 6 Rules for Using Foundation

We'll never forget our favorite moment from HBO's recently departed Girls. While smack-talking Hannah behind her back (seriously, how were they even friends?), Marnie and Jessa both agreed that Hannah's biggest offense wasn't her ego or her messy love life, but rather the fact that she would wear mascara and lipstick without applying anything to the rest of her face.


"Like, finish the look," Marnie snarked.

Sorry Hannah, but we have to agree with Marnie here. No makeup application is complete without a good base. They call it "foundation" for a reason; indeed, it should be the foundation for everything else you apply. To ensure that you never "pull a Hannah," here are our six rules for using foundation.

Rule One: Always Prime

Primers weren't really a thing outside of the professional makeup world a few years ago, but they've thankfully made their way into the mainstream. This is a good thing for a few reasons. 

First, using a primer typically provides a nicer foundation application. Second, using a primer creates a barrier between your skin and your makeup. While most foundation won't necessarily cause acne, having a layer between your skin and any product with pigmentation is usually a good idea. 

Rule Two: Color Matching Is Key

We usually don't like to judge when it comes to makeup, but it's hard not to when someone has that tragic "foundation line" along their jaw. The wrong colored foundation can completely ruin an otherwise great makeup look. When it's too dark or orange, you get into Snooki territory. When it's too pale, you're suddenly goth.

Take time to find a foundation that really fits your skin tone. If you want to be extra safe, be sure to always blend your foundation into your neck. This will ensure that even if there's a slight color difference, it won't be as noticeable.

Rule Three: Understand That Different Formulas Require Different Techniques

We've all been there. We find an Instagram or YouTube video where a stunning makeup guru blends her foundation beautifully using the latest sponge or brush. We attempt to replicate her look using the same tool, but the result is a total disaster.

One key foundation rule to remember is that different formulas lend themselves to various application techniques differently. For example, you've probably seen the trend of adding a drop of face oil to your foundation. When this is done with a BB cream or a dewy finish foundation for a simple look, this gives the skin a beautiful glow. However, when you do this when attempting to contour, the oil can cause the different tones you're using to blur. It can also react really strangely with matte formula products.

Understand that some foundations really seem to disagree with the 
Beauty Blender. Others apply strangely with a brush. When you get a new foundation, play around with it until you figure out the ideal way to apply it.

Rule Four: Seal It In

Sometimes you can apply a tinted moisturizer or BB cream and call it good, but for most foundation applications, sealing it all in is non-negotiable. Any liquid or cream is going to want to move around as the day progresses and your skin naturally produces oil. This is why it's essential to finish with a no color powder.


If you're going to be dancing or wearing your foundation for a long period of time, you can take some extra steps to keep everything sealed in. Long ago, there was an old actress trick of spraying your face with hairspray to keep everything locked in place. Hairspray is not very complexion-friendly, however, and we've luckily figured out some better techniques for keeping makeup in place. Try a setting spray, like Ben Nye Final Seal.

Rule Five: Be Ready For Maintenance

Even the most well-prepped and well-sealed makeup application can be susceptible to budging and sliding a bit, especially in the hot summer months. This is why you should keep a few handy tools in your bag. If you find yourself getting shiny, using blotting papers will suck up excess oil without removing your makeup.

A pressed powder is also a great way to re-seal your foundation on the go. A good one will combat oil and shine and keep your foundation in tact.

Rule Six: Never, Ever Sleep In Your Foundation

Like so many makeup lovers, we're low-key obsessed with Dita Von Teese's glamour guide Your Beauty Mark. One of the biggest beauty tips that Dita stresses throughout the book is to never, ever go to sleep with your makeup on. "I’m really good at making sure that I always have my makeup off," Dita told Vogue. "Not only is it important for the health of the skin, but I also sleep better."


While most foundations won't necessarily cause acne on their own, any cosmetic on the skin becomes comedogenic when left on for too long. So become religious about removing your foundation every single night. 

Our favorite method at the moment is the double cleanse. Start with a makeup removing cleanser then follow up with a foaming cleanser that gets deep into your pores. This 1-2 punch method gets literally everything off, leaving skin primed and prepped for skincare products.

Yes, we all occasionally have those boozy or lazy nights where we can't be bothered to meticulously wash our faces. On nights like those, take thirty seconds to rub a makeup removing wipe over your face. It's better than nothing!

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