Making Foundation and Concealer Last
How to Prepare Skin for Makeup Application
Everything about how your skin looks and feels starts with how you take care of it. Your skincare routine and how you prep your skin before applying makeup has a major impact on how well your foundation and concealer applies, appears, and wears. Here's what you can do from a skincare perspective to enhance the results.
Start the day by using a gentle cleanser to remove excess oil and debris that can interfere with the performance of foundation and concealer. Think of it as a clean slate for your skin (but not so clean that your skin becomes dry and looks patchy).
Next, enhance your skin's smoothness and hydration with an AHA or BHA exfoliant. By getting rid of built up dead skin and flakiness, your makeup products will go on more evenly for a seamless appearance.
Prime, moisturize, and protect your skin with an all-in-one SPF product. They key is to find the right product that combines all these elements in a texture that complements your skin type (lightweight soft matte finish for normal to oily skin or more emollient for dry skin).
This will create a surface that makes it easier for foundation and concealer to glide across and adhere to sklin. Whether you get that from a moisturizer with SPF or primer with SPF is up to you—just make sure the SPF is 30 or higher (nothing is more important than this step).
You can find different products for each of these needs but when it comes all-in-one, you have less layers of products so makeup will be less likely to slide off or slip into lines (plus, it saves you time and money).
Types of Foundations and Concealers
Pairing the right consistency of foundation and concealer with your skin type and coverage needs is paramount to getting beautiful, long-lasting results. Here's a quick rundown to help you find your perfect match.
- Stick foundations and concealers generally provide full coverage. Some are thick and dry, while others are creamy to the point of being greasy. Stick foundation/concealers are easy to apply, but not recommended over breakout-prone skin due to the increased likelihood that they may clog pores.
- Creamy liquid foundations and concealers have the least tendency to settle into lines, although some have quite a bit of slip to them, making them a less-than-ideal choice for those with oily skin.
- Cream foundations and concealers typically provide medium to full coverage. Some can be a bit greasy, causing problems for people with oily or breakout-prone skin.
- Matte-finish liquid foundations and concealers tend to last longer than creamier formulas. They aren't the best option for dry skin, but they are ideal over breakouts and oily skin.
- Matte-finish cream to powder foundations and concealers usually come in compacts, and glide on easily because of their initial cream consistency, before drying to a matte or powder-like finish. However, the powdery finish can also emphasize lines, and so they're not the best option for dry or flaky skin.
Choosing the best foundation and concealer can take experimenting to find the best one for your skin type, but that's exactly what the cosmetic counters or cosmetic stores are for! Just keep the basics in mind, a very creamy formula simply isn't going to hold up on someone with oily skin, and an ultra-matte finish won't look good over the long haul on dry skin or the dry areas of combination skin.
Application Techniques and Setting Makeup
How you put on your makeup is just as important as which makeup you use. These techniques will ensure your foundation and concealer perform at their absolute best.
Start with a thin layer of foundation, then build more coverage if needed. A very thick layer of makeup is more prone to sliding off your face throughout the day because it just can't adhere as well to skin.
If you have oily skin, try an absorbent/mattifying shine-control primer before you apply your sunscreen and foundation. The primer can go a long way toward keeping excess shine in check, so your makeup lasts (and looks better) longer.
When it comes to concealer, application is fairly straightforward. Start out with a light amount, then build to get the coverage you want but don't overdo. Pat the concealer in place with your fingers, brush, or wand. Don't use a back-and-forth or rubbing motion, as this basically just wipes concealer away as soon as you apply it, leaving you with spotty to no coverage. Whether you apply the concealer first before your foundation or after is a personal preference so experiment with both.
Last, and most important: Set with powder. Some people prefer translucent powders, while others prefer highlighting powders, and some prefer loose powder, while others like pressed powder. No matter the type, your makeup will last longer with powder over it. We don't mean a thick layer of powder (which can emphasize fine lines and dry spots on the face); just a soft dusting brushed on areas where foundation and concealer have been applied, and you can brush on a bit more over oil-prone areas.
What about makeup-setting sprays? Although some people like these, the truth is that spraying anything on top of your makeup can cause it to begin breaking down. Some setting sprays (but not all) are similar to hairsprays, in that they contain water and/or alcohol plus ingredients that create a "seal" on skin's surface. Some may help makeup last a little longer but when they dry, these sprays tend to feel sticky or tacky, and they're often not good for skin over the long haul. Others may contain beneficial ingredients but they aren't going to get through your makeup to nourish your skin.
What to Do After Your Makeup Is On
Are there any extra steps to make sure your hard work lasts the day? Yes!
Most important, even though it sounds incredibly basic, is to avoid touching your face throughout the day or holding your phone too close to your face. We unknowingly touch our faces hundreds of times during the day and rub the phone on it as well, and each touch takes off some makeup. Try your best to be conscious of where your hands go and avoid things that could disturb your makeup, such as resting the phone against your cheek.
Carry blotting papers with you to dab off the excess oil that would normally cause makeup to slip and dissipate. Check your makeup every so often (not obsessively, but just to see how things are going after a few hours) and dust on a bit of powder where needed. It also doesn't hurt to add a touch of blush, which also tends to get wiped off as well.
The Best Skin of Your Life Starts Here: The same type of in-depth research used to create this article is also used to formulate Paula’s Choice Skincare products. You’ll find products for all skin types and a range of concerns, from acne and sensitive skin to wrinkles, pores, and sun damage. With Paula’s Choice Skincare, you can get (and keep) the best skin of your life! See Paula's Choice Makeup.