Ever have those days where no matter what you seem to do your foundation just doesn’t want to play ball? It either clings to every crater and crevice, shifts into a horrible marblised mess or magically vanishes by midday… Through major trial and error I’ve figured out some fixes – here’s what I’ve learnt.
1. You’re not exfoliated enough
When I have a bad foundation day it’s most likely because I’ve neglected my skin – specifically exfoliation. That’s usually when I have uneven application straight off the bat, followed by über unflattering patchiness within hours.
The solution is chemical exfoliants that will digest the uneven layer of dead skin cells hanging around on the surface – think of it as a lawn that needs mowing on a microscopic level. For this I use my Clarisonic with a deep cleansing oil or balm as the first step, followed by an AHA product to take care of the rest.
This can either be in the form of a mask (Rodial Hangover Recovery Mask is a current favourite) or something like Dr Dermal Texture Correction Pads (R475 for 30) which I love because because they have a bit of roughness to them which sorts out those flaky bits next to your nose. In unrelated news they’re also pretty good on areas that are prone to ingrown hairs.
2. You’re not well moisturised
A dermatologist once explained to me that if your skin is dehydrated it will try to get moisture and nutrients from the environment, which makes sense – most moisturisers contain humectants that attract moisture from the environment/air to the skin.
It gets freaky when your skin tries to get these things from your makeup – she described it as your skin ‘eating’ your products. This results in foundation that looks like it has disintegrated/broken up/separated from the skin and its most often seen on the cheeks towards the nose.
The solution is, quite obviously, to ensure that your skin is well moisturised day and night, and especially before you apply foundation. This doesn’t mean rich textures necessarily – in fact, you’re more likely to have success by layering a couple of products with thinner textures. Which brings me to my next point…
3. Your’e not layering product correctly
If your foundation looks great for 30 minutes and then turns into a mess, you’re likely not layering your skincare properly and your foundation goes to the dogs as soon as the textures start clashing underneath.
The rule is that you should start with the thinnest textures and work your way up – watery serums, then gels, followed by light oils, then thicker oils/creams. Each product and each skin is different though, so experiment if the general rule isn’t working for you. You also need to give each step enough time to settle before you follow with the next – I just give each one a minute or two but some people need more.
4. You’re using the wrong foundation formula
If your skin is spectacularly shiny by 11am you probably need to switch to something with higher coverage and more of a matte factor. Using an oil free primer also helps some, but since the majority are silicone based it seems to have a 50/50 success rate with oily skins. You can also try a setting spray, but I haven’t noticed them making much of a difference on my own skin.
You can use powder to set your foundation, but it sometimes makes things so much worse – it can create oxidation (colour changes), caking and a general dull complexion. I’d much rather recommend using blotting paper once or twice during the afternoon to take care of shine.
If you’re on the other side of the spectrum and your foundation looks dry and cakey, it’s probably time to move on to a product that’s made for dry skin. You might also be applying way more than you need, and also see points 1 and 2, obviously.
5. You’re not using the right tools
You don’t have to use tools to apply your foundation, but if you’re having issues it’s something I would look at. While I still do a quick application with my fingers when I’m in a rush (aside from being the fastest method it creates the most natural finish on me), two tools have changed my foundation game completely – the Sigma F80 brush and the Real Techniques Miracle Complexion Sponge.
The Sigma F80 is great for buffing in your foundation – you just buff and buff and buff until it looks smooth and perfect. I use the RT Miracle Complexion as a finishing touch – I dab the damp sponge over my skin and like magic it looks like I’m not wearing foundation at all (in a good way).
I would never recommend using a flat foundation brush (so many streaks) and those triangular sponges are pretty useless too.
Have any tips to share with us? Would you like to see a follow-up post with my favourite foundations in different formulas/finishes? Leave a comment below!
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