Beauty 101: Your Foundation And Concealer Concerns, AnsweredS

Yesterday, as part of our ongoing Beauty 101 series, you asked for foundation and concealer advice from your fellow commenters, and, as expected, they delivered:

Hundreds of comments and tons of emails came pouring in, offering tips on everything from finding the right color for your skin tone to getting concealer to stay put all day. While I appreciate every response, due to space constraints, I can't list all of them here, so if you don't find the answer you're looking for in the highlighted tips below, be sure to check out the original foundation query thread, which currently has several hundred super helpful responses from your fellow commenters.

And now, the tips!

Consider Using Primer To Help Make Your Base Last Longer
From Lauren, via email:

You put it on after moisturizing and put your foundation over it. When you first put it on it makes you skin look a little oily and feels super silky. It makes yours foundation go on evenly, and keeps it there for a long time. Basically anything that foundation does, it does better and for longer when you put a primer on first (and it keeps your skin super moisturized).

From commenter GherkinFiend:

For applying foundation, one of the best tips is to let your moisturiser soak in well first. Try and leave it ten minutes at least before you start doing your face. This means the foundation is far less likely to slide off during the day. You also don't need to apply moisturiser everywhere on your face if you don't need to during the day, especially on your T-zone. As long as you're using a night cream, you shouldn't be dry.

Primer is amazing. If your skin is dry it adds an extra layer of moisture to stop your skin sucking up the moisture in your foundation leaving you dry and patchy. If your skin is oily, it'll help stop foundation just sliding off as it cushions the skin and absorbs oil.


On Skin Tone Issues:

From commenter Madeofawesome:

To choose the right foundation for your skin tone, you need to apply it directly on your face. Some people say to apply it to the side of your hand to see, but your hands are rarely the same color as your face. The easiest way to do this is to go to a makeup counter in the mall. Just tell the ladies you need help finding your skin tone in foundation. People seem to always be scared of makeup-counter ladies, but if you tell them upfront what you're looking for, they're usually nice and helpful.

From commenter Ahn Nguyen:

1. How do I pick the right foundation for my skin tone?

-Pick three shades that you think are the closest to your skin color.
-Using a brush, color a swatch along your jawline.
-Wait for a couple of minutes for the foundation to dry. The color will change slightly once the foundation is dry.
-Choose the one that matches best with your skin. When in doubt, choose the lighter color. (Your face is usually lighter than the rest of your body so it's less noticeable if you go a tiny bit lighter rather than darker.)


On Applying Liquid Foundation:

From Nikki, via email:

There are several ways to apply liquid foundation; fingers, sponge or brush. I almost never use a sponge as it is easy to wipe most of your foundation off again with it, defeating the purpose. If you do use a sponge, don't apply foundation directly to it. This soaks up a lot of product and uses it up 3 times faster. It also means you start too heavy and end up very light which can look blotchy. Dip the sponge into the foundation which you have put on the back of your hand and stipple or lightly press the sponge to your face to get even coverage. Either wash and dry your sponge at least every other day or use disposable wedges. Build up of product means uneven coverage and bacteria, so keep them clean!

No matter whether you are using fingers, brush or sponge, I find it is best to start applying at the side of the nose and work outwards so that you get even coverage and end up with very little product left as you reach the jawline, making it less likely to end up with an unblended tide mark along there that screams foundation. If you are using a brush, use it flat for larger areas and the tip for nooks and crannies around the nose and jaw etc. Try to avoid getting foundation in your eyebrows or wipe them over with a Q-tip to clean them off.

If you are using your fingers to apply liquid foundation, use the first two fingers and use a press and roll motion with them, rather than just smearing the product around. It's as easy as it sounds and allows you to blend easily while building up coverage if needed. If the product looks visible around areas that tend to have more noticeable hair like tthe upper lip or between the brows, take your ring finger (which has the lightest pressure) and buff the product lightly in a circular motion to blend without lifting it all off again.

Once your liquid foundation is finished, apply your concealer over the top otherwise you usually wipe the concealer back off as you apply the foundation. Applying concealer second also means you can see what coverage your foundation has and you are less likely to over apply concealer and give a cakey look on spots or lines.

From commenter Sir:

Do apply liquid foundation with a good-quality foundation brush. Pick up a small amount of foundation on your brush from a palette or the back of your hand. On one side of your face: apply foundation to the centre of your face (cheeks near nose) in short strokes. Then, with short, light strokes, sweep the foundation from the centre of your face outwards toward your ears. Repeat for the other side of your face. Use same technique for your chin, working the foundation across your jawline and blending into your neck. Then, use a fluffy, soft, small brush (like an eyeshadow brush), to dab a small amount of foundation under your eyes and over any major blemishes. Work the foundation around these areas with feathery circular strokes until the colour seems even and blended. If the coverage is too sheer, wait for the layer to dry and then build another layer of foundation over the first one. Repeat until you are satisfied with the coverage.

On Applying Concealer:
From commenter Margeh:

A helpful hint a friend of mine once shared about applying concealer under the eyes: The skin under the eyes is extremely delicate, so always use your ring finger (the weakest finger) when patting down concealer.

I always apply three or four small dots of concealer stretching from the inner part of the eye to the outer part and very gently blend by stippling* (not spreading) the concealer.

From Nikki, via email:

It is almost always best to use concealer after your foundation. This stops you wiping it all off again when apply foundation and means that you can see the coverage of the foundation better, so you are less likely to use too much concealer by accident, so you won't look cakey.

Concealers can be tricky as the texture and shade needed for under-eyes tends to vary from that needed for spots and blemishes. You will probably need two separate products if you cover a lot of blemishes or have a problem with dark circles. But if you only need a bit of help, you can probably get away with one product. As a rule though you shouldn't use light reflecting concealers on spots as it actually makes them more obvious so bear this in mind when buying your product.

Undereye circles tend to be blue based so more pink/peachy tones are useful to neutralise them. (They can be inherited or due to lifestyle. Vitamin K based creams can work wonders if used at night). Touche Eclat is not actually a concealer, it is a highlighter, so don't be surprised if you don't find it covers your circles well enough on its own (if of course you suit the limited shades available.) You might find it works better when mixed with a concealer.

I prefer to use a liquid concealer under the eyes, creams are too likely to crease and show up any lines near the eye. A lot of the the light reflecting concealers specially for undereyes have a brush to apply them. I find this too heavy and likely to cause creasing. Instead dab a twist of product onto the the back of your hand and apply with a separate brush. This should be synthetic and very smooth in texture to allow the product to go evenly.

Look down when applying concealer as this adds a little extra shadow to your face and means you know exactly where to apply the product to lighten circles or shadows, otherwise it is easy to miss bits. I usally start at the corner of the eye and use the brush to press and roll the product on to the skin downwards. The make the other half of a V and go up toward the outer corner. Use any remaining product right under the lash line if needed. Then apply a little dot of product to the inner corner at the bridge of the nose where there is a natural shadow. This opens the eye up immediately.

On Covering Redness/Blemishes:
From Sally, via email:

If redness and blemishes are a problem I suggest a mask with green clay. Whole Foods sells powdered green clay. For just redness just mix with water into a paste. For blemishes mix clay with a little water and lemon juice. For makeup do not cake on concealer, that can make the problem worse. Use a light mineral foundation all over the skin and dust on dry green clay afterwards.

From commenter footnotegirl:

Again, this depends on how severe the redness is. If you're dealing with a strawberry birthmark or rosacea you might want to get Dermablend, which is just the very best for covering absolutely anything and everything.
If it's just ruddy cheeks, a mint-green undertone corrective (which many brands make) might be useful. Apply it with a Very Light Hand. Otherwise, using a heavier layerable foundation should suffice.
For ruddiness, using something with AHA's can help even out skintone if you're not sensitive to them.
When applying concealer to blemishes especially, remember to tap, not stroke. Because blemishes are raised, stroking will simply remove the concealer on top and leave it around the lower skin, highlighting rather than concealing the blemish.
Actually, it's best to not cover blemishes, as even non-comedogenic cosmetics can make already existing blemishes worse.

On Applying Powder:
From commenter ChessieCat:

I tap my powder into the lid, then press my powder puff (note: NOT a big glamorous fluffy thing; you want the thin, almost-terry-cloth-like disc that comes with the powder) into the powder; I then tap off the excess. I pat the powder on with quick little patting motions (basically just like you'd imagine). Then I take a powder brush and quickly brush off any excess powder off of my face in short but gentle downward strokes. Downward because if you go in any other direction, you are liable to ruffle up some peach fuzz; that's a situation best avoided.

Before Your Leave The House, Give Yourself A Natural Light Check:

From commenter Squabble:

It's been said a lot already, but it bears repeating: Always check your makeup out in NATURAL LIGHT. Get a mirror and go outside or check yourself next to a window. Makeup that can look perfect in the rosy glow of your bathroom lighting or even under the bright florescent in a store will suddenly look wrong when viewed in daylight.

Really look at your neck and hairline to make sure you don't have a line of demarcation between your uncovered skin and foundation. It sucks to wear a foundation for weeks, thinking you look flawless only to find out it looks obviously painted on from angles and lighting you don't see in the mirror in the morning.

On Covering Undereye Circles
From commenter GoldenRatio:

a. First, make sure the area around your eyes is well-moisturized. I use the very fancy (ha) Aquaphor at night as an eye-cream.

b. It's impossible to cover under-eye circles the same way you'd cover a blemish with concealer. Even using a yellow-tinted concealer, you just draw more attention to the problem area.

So this is what I suggest: If you're wearing foundation, put a thin layer around the eye area first. *Then* use a powder/product that is reflective and light-colored, which will make you look more "awake." I'm not a fan of their foundation powders, but I like Bare Minerals "well-rested" for under and around the eyes. I start from the inner under-eye, then sweep out, and circle around the eye, blending it in with my foundation. I also sweep down from the inner eye and apply it along the base of my nose.

Practice Makes Perfect:
From Julia, via email:

My best advice - educate yourself. Read the magazines - with a grain of salt. Ask for help and samples at the makeup counter. Go with a friend, who will not only tell you the truth but not try to sell it to you either. Mix and match. Remember, makeup is supposed to be fun!

General Advice Echoed By Many:

1. Be sure to keep your brushes clean and free of bacteria by washing them.
2. A good skincare routine can help cut down on the overall need for foundation and concealer.
3. Visiting a makeup counter or artist might be helpful in order to find the proper shades for your skin tone.
4. A lot of this comes down to trial and error; brands that work for some might not work for you. The trick is to keep trying until you find the right products.
5. If you get frustrated, you can always powder your nose with a marshmallow a la Ramona Quimby, and then eat said marshmallow, even though it's kind of gross (ok, that's my advice, but I'm sticking with it).

Didn't get the answer you were hoping for? Check through our original foundation thread, which is filled with excellent advice. See an answer you don't agree with? Feel free to set them straight in the comments.

As always, you are welcome to add more tips in the comments below. And if you have an idea/question for next week's Beauty 101, feel free to add that, as well.

Earlier: Beauty 101: Operation Foundation, "That Shit Just Slides Right Off
Beauty 101: Your Eyeliner Woes, Solved
Beauty 101: Which Basic Beauty Skills Did You Never Quite Get The Hang Of?