The Foundation Guide #3 | Brushes, Application Tips & Making It Last

It's time for the third and final part of my Foundation Guide (check out part one here and part 2 here). We're finishing up by talking how to best prep your skin for foundation, the best brushes for perfect application and how to make it last.

Prepping and Priming

Whether your skin is dry, combination, normal, oily or anything in-between; always start by moisturising. I always give it a good ten minutes to 'sink in' before priming my skin. When applying a primer, I use light sweeping motions. These things stop your primer and moisturiser separating out and 'bobbling' into little balls.

There are a few main types of primer: illuminating, smoothing, mattifying and hydrating. They all aim to provide the best base possible for your foundation to apply to and increase wear-time. As my skin is combination, I tend to use a primer that will reduce my facial shine.

Your illuminating primer is definitely more of a highlight. Unfortunately these won't do much to conceal pores or prolong the staying power of your foundation, however it's a subtle way to add a bit of glow to the skin as it comes through very naturally from beneath your base.

Mine include:

Supposedly a dupe for MAC's famous strobe cream, this is an iridescent base to go underneath foundation. 

This is a more natural peach shade that looks beautifully dewy as a primer.

This has to be my favourite, though it's a little expensive for what it is. The shade Opal is the perfect pearly shade that's not too warm or too cool in tone.

I tend to prefer matte and pore-reducing formulas. These tend to be quite silicone-based, which isn't always everyone's cup of tea.

Mine include:

This is a great drugstore option and although it could reduce the look of pores a little better, it definitely ensures my makeup lasts and stays shine-free.

This is my go-to for a night out as it feels so silky and smooth on the skin. It not only makes my foundation last but stops it settling into pores or fine lines.

Somewhere in between the Smashbox and the L'Oreal in price and with a similar concept is the Body Shop's Instablur. The texture takes some getting used-to but this is the best affordable primer at reducing the look of my larger pores.

This is less a primer to make your makeup last and more a pore-reducing balm. It smooths out the area to stop your foundation settling in and drawing attention to pores and is also nice and mattifying.

This is hands-down my favourite drugstore primer as it's so creamy and hydrating on the skin but blots away any shine. I love how long-lasting it makes my base.

Picking the Perfect Brush

Light, liquid foundations apply the best with a stippling brush in my experience. I alternate between a dotting action and circular motions. It definitely takes a bit of time but you get such a natural finish.

My Perfect Pairing: 

Powder-shaped brushes work well with just about every formula but they're especially good for quite matte bases which may not be as easily blended in.

My Perfect Pairings:

Rounded brushes are probably my most-used type of brush as they're perfect for building medium coverage foundations, which tend the be the kind I wear day-to-day.

My Perfect Pairings:
Nars Sheer Glow | £31 

I love buffing brushes for lighter bases like a tinted moisturiser or bb cream as it makes them look so natural as opposed to sitting on top of the skin.

My Perfect Pairing:
Real Techniques Buffing Brush | £21.99 (for Core Collection Set)

For a matte full coverage base, I use a flat top brush to get that totally flawless look.

My Perfect Pairings:

Tightly-packed brushes are amazing for creamy foundation formulas that come out quite thick and provide good coverage but are a little more dewy in finish. They really work the product into the skin for a natural but full-coverage look. Of course these work amazingly well for just about any other medium or full coverage base too.

My Perfect Pairings:

Although I'm not much of a fan of the BeautyBlender (it's good for making sure my concealer and foundation are seamless, but I wouldn't apply my entire base with it), I do think that some formulas really do work best with your fingers! I always have a bit of an experiment if my usual favourite brushes don't seem to be doing the trick. Also, if you're in a rush, tinted moisturisers often look just as good applied the old-fashioned way. 

Application Tips

1. I find it best to start by dispensing one pump onto the back of my hand; it's easy to build up the coverage and apply more if you need it...not so much to get it off if you go overboard!

2. Next I swipe it with my finger across my forehead, down my nose, on my chin and across my cheeks.

3. Time to blend it in with your brush. Take your time for this step, and always remember some formulas need more work than others. More watery formulas often work best with more of a dabbing motion, whereas full coverage bases often benefit from large, circular motions. Play around and see what works for you.

4. Have a proper look in the mirror and see where you're happy with the coverage and where (if anywhere) you'd like to build it up a little. Also bear in mind the parts of your face that tend to drink up your base quickly!

5. Dispense half a pump onto the back of your hand and dab with your fingers onto the areas you identified and blend again with the brush.

6. Repeat that until you're totally happy with the coverage. It sounds obvious but don't forget to take it slightly down your neck and take it right down the side of your jaw and to your hairline to avoid any dodgy tide marks!

Setting it all in Place

After you've added in concealer, it's time to ensure your bases doesn't go anywhere. Although I always prime, setting is also a crucial step in my routine.

I have combination skin so a powder is a must for me. If I'm wearing something quite matte or my skin is looking a bit dry, I reach for an illuminating setting powder like Hourglass Dim Light to stop things from sliding around without a heavy or powdery finish.

However most of the time, I go for a matte powder to reduce my facial shine without looking too cakey or adding loads more coverage. My favourite is the Bourjois Healthy Balance Compact.

Last of all, I seal my makeup in with a setting spray. If you use a BeautyBlender you can also try spritzing it with a setting spray back where you're blending in your foundation and concealer. My favourite is the Urban Decay De-Slick as it keeps my makeup in place and stops things getting too shiny. 

So there you have it; my Foundation Guide in full! I really hope you guys enjoyed this little series and found it helpful. Thank you so much for all your positive feedback on it so far.

What are your favourite brushes and top application tips for foundation?


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  1. Thank you for so many tips! I have to admit I am awful at remembering to use primer x

    Miss Kitty Kaos - Adventures Of A Riot Grrrl

  2. I'll have to try the Bourjois Healthy Mix Powder! I love the De-Slick Make Up Setting Spray - it's definitely my favourite out of those I've tried (though the 'All Nighter' is pretty good too). Which do you like better out of Nars Sheer Glow and the Nars Tinted Moisturiser? x

    Amy | The Beauty Post

    1. Definitely Sheer Glow because I love the coverage but for a lighter option I do absolutely love the tinted moisturiser! Xx

  3. I usually spray my foundation with the Jurlique mist so it adds some hydration as I apply my foundation x

    Heather | Of Beauty & Nothingness x

  4. Thank you for writing this amazing post! I learned a lot and I have to check out your recommendations!

    xx, A Little Dose of Makeup

  5. Great tips Jasmine! I need to try the new Soap & Glory primer, it sounds incredible!

    Sara - She Who Is Short

  6. Hi, Jasmine! I've really been enjoying your Foundation Guide series. I myself am not very good at doing my own makeup, but I've learned so much from your guide!
    Currently, I use Lancome's "Miracle Teint" for foundation and the RealTechniques stippling brush, and then I'll set everything with the Hourglass illluminating powder. Sometimes I'll add illuminator to my foundation to give myself a bit of extra "uumph," as I don't need a ton of foundation but I really like the look of dewy skin.
    I've learned quite a bit from your series -- you do such an excellent job at explaining things in detail!

    A Northern Light

    1. Aw I'm so glad this was helpful lovely! I really want to try the Lancome as I've heard great things! xx

  7. We share so many favourite things Jas and I like to pat myself at the back as this means I have taste after all. Also, your Foundation Guide Series is hands down one of the best series I encountered so far. Xx

    every LiTTLE thing07

  8. Loving all these tips! I'm always looking forward to trying new foundations and brushes, I still haven't tried the bobbi brown skin foundation yet but I think that'll be my next purchase.

    Perfect Shade of Mauve

  9. Thanks for this awesome post. Although I am 2 years away from my 30s I still have virtually no idea how foundation works, lol. Everytime I try to add it to my routine, my skin goes crazy and breaks out EVERYWHERE so I always just give up on using foundation all together.

    Rae | Love from Berlin

  10. This post couldn't have come at a better time, I'm looking for a new primer as my current Maxfactor one is running low. It's so hard to find prooducts when you have oily skin - always the fear that new cosmetics will cause you to break out.

    Defo a few products here to keep an eye out for :)

    – Lubna | The Digital Review

    1. I know what you mean - it can make you scared to try new things! xx

  11. What a fab post and so many great tips. I am slowly starting to get into primer but it did take me a while to get the hang of applying it properly etc. At the moment I am loving theBalm one, it's so nice for my dehydrated skin. I have actually forgot how to apply foundation with a brush haha since I just can't get enough of my beauty blender x

    Beauty with charm | AVENE GIVEAWAY

  12. I'm so jealous of how many foundations you have! The buffing brush out of the real techniques core kit is an essential for me!
    Charlotte // charlottespicks.blogspot.com

  13. This is another great, very informative post, Jasmine! I have to admit that my favourite way to apply foundation is with Beauty Blender but occasionally there is foundation which works better with a brush or even fingers, it's all about experimenting with different methods :) x

    Mummy’s Beauty Corner

  14. Nice Inspirations

    FOLLOW my Blog!!! Maybe we can follow each other!!!

  15. I've heard sooo much about the POREfessional - it seems to be a beauty blogger favorite! It's on my wishlist now, I'm hoping to get it for the holidays this year ;)

    Emily / Lynde Avenue

    1. Hope you get your hands on it! It disguises my pores like no other! xx

  16. I love the Porefessional, but I only had the travel-sized one, and I ran out! But it's ok, I have the Tarte brightening one and I love it! I usually use the orange Real Techniques sponge for my foundation :)


  17. So comprehensive Jasmine, great series! I like applying foundation with my fingers but have been using my RT sponge every day for a few months now. Have just ordered a Beauty Blender so interested to see if I can tell a difference!

    Danielle's Beauty Blog

  18. It is such an informative post and great series! Priming my skin is one of the step I keep skipping most of the time, I should really get into it and also setting spray would probably be lighter for me rather than powder. Whenever I am in hurry, sponge or my fingers are easiest way to apply the foundation however when I have some time I like using brush and a sponge, it gives flawless finish like that. x


    1. It makes a big difference for my skin so it's worth the extra few minutes for me :) xx

  19. I have Dim Light but I've never really thought to use it as a face powder before. I also don't use a setting spray but I think I might want to start using one seeing as it's coming up to summer, I don't really want my makeup sliding all over the place.


  20. I love how detailed this post is and it shows how much time you put into creating this helpful guide. I've only very recently started to use primer mainly because I am trying to get through my makeup stash and must say I don't really find it as necessary for my dry skin. Maybe I'm not paying much attention to the differences it makes?

    My favourite foundation brush is Real Technique Buffing brush, it's the best for light, barely there base.

    Shireen | Reflection of Sanity

    1. I guess it depends on your skin personally but you may find a hydrating primer helps your base sit on your skin better :) xx

  21. I have really loved these posts as they are so helpful and with so much info. :)

    Pams Stuff and Things

  22. Which one is your all time favorite primer? Is it Becca? (:
    Nati xx

    1. I tend to prefer something more matte day-to-day :) so it's between the Soap & Glory and the Porefessional for me xx

  23. Thank you for your comments and for the positive feedback on this post and the series overall :) xx

  24. An amazingly thorough post Jasmine, I love this whole series!
    I got a mini size of the Becca SSP and I am in love, definitely picking up the full size in May ^_^
    It adds a stunning amount of glow and I adore how lovely it looks warmer skintone as I always heard fairer skinned bloggers rave about it, its awesome that it works so great for a lot of us hehe
    Iqra | The Blushing Giraffe x

  25. I have the Smashbox primer and love it! I've been wanting to try that Soap and Glory one as well. These are such great tips, thanks for sharing! :)
    xo Kiki

  26. I love that you created this guide! It is so well done! As always you've done a lovely job, Jasmine! This guide will be so helpful to people getting into makeup.

  27. I love the Lumi Magique primer, it's so good! I really want to try the S&G primer too, I keep meaning to pick it up :)

    Emily // Beauty and Lifestyle Blog


  28. This post was really helpful, thank you :)


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