The 4 Foundation Mistakes Makeup Artists Can Spot From a Mile Away


When it comes to makeup, the perfect foundation application often feels like an unattainable conquest—something we daydream about à la Cady Heron and Aaron Samuels, yet perpetually feels just out of reach. And if we're being honest with ourselves, we know the ever-so-slight misalignment can be attributed to a variety of factors like color, formula, and application. True, we may write about makeup and beauty for a living (and have, indeed, picked up quite a few tips and tricks along the way), but we're not pros on makeup application—especially when it comes to foundation. 

Thus, we're constantly referring to some of the best celebrity makeup artists in the industry whenever we have what feels like an unsolvable conundrum. And since summer is now officially here (and a flawless, practically undetectable foundation job becomes even more desirable), we thought we'd go to the professionals. Our most burning question as of late: What are the most common foundation application mistakes we need to stop making once and for all? And since we obviously couldn't leave you hanging, we also gleaned their very best solutions to counteract each misstep. Ahead, four foundation mistakes celebrity makeup artists want you to ditch once and for all. Keep scrolling!

Mistake #1: Choosing the Wrong Shade


The problem: "The most common mistake most people make when choosing a foundation is finding the perfect color match for your skin," explains celebrity makeup artist Chauntal Lewis of West Hollywood's Nine Zero One Salon. "Some people think they want to look more bronzed and tan than their actual skin tone, so they'll choose a foundation that's way too warm or dark."

Urban Decay All Nighter Long-Lasting Makeup Setting Spray $32.00

The fix: Well, there are multiple. First off, celebrity makeup artist Tobi Henney suggests mixing not one but two shades of your go-to formula so you can customize a shade that's unique and flattering to your skin tone. Then, do as Lewis suggests and add pops of color and shimmer to create more dimension (versus buying a foundation that's just too dark.) That being said, if you do go overboard, or are simply in a bind with the wrong shade in tow, here's Lewis's suggestion.

"If a foundation is too light or too dark, you can easily fix it with contour techniques without trying to wipe it off, leaving the face blotchy and uneven," she confirms. "When it's too dark, I brighten up the face with lighter concealer in the T-zone, under-eyes, and lower cheek area. This may be fuller coverage than necessary, but once a setting spray and the
correct makeup oxidizes, it works!" Conversely, if a foundation is too light, Lewis suggests adding a sweep of matte bronzer underneath the cheekbones and along the sides of the face.

Mistake #2: Forgetting to Consider Your Skin Type

La Mer The Moisturizing Matte Lotion $285.00

The problem: According to Lewis, another common foundation application mistake is simply forgetting to consider your skin type when selecting your formula to begin with. Depending on whether you veer dry, oily, mature, or combination, you'll need something different. For instance, she explains, if you're prone to midday greasiness, you'll want to steer clear of oil-based formulas that promise a dewy, luminous finish, just like if you're dry, you'll want to side-step matte consistencies which can yield that dreaded "cakey" finish. 

Laura Mercier Foundation Primer in Radiance $38.00

The fix: Apparently, it's all about how you prep the skin in addition to having that aforementioned skin-type awareness when making your foundation selection. When purchasing, Henney recommends trying a sample first and wearing it for a few days to see if you like the texture and shade.

Then, as far as your skin prep, both artists recommend doing as follows: "You want to treat the skin first, whether it's hydrating, priming the pores, taming redness, or mattifying the skin," Lewis shares. And while foundations are designed to help even out skin tone and deliver a flawless finish, she reiterates that treating any areas of concern prior to application can make a huge difference in the end result. 

"For dry to mature skin, I recommend prepping by hydrating and priming with an elixir or oil which will allow the foundation to set like the natural texture of
your skin rather than look like you're wearing a ton of makeup," she says. "And for oily to combination skin, it's a good idea to hydrate with an oil-free moisturizer or matte option like La Mer's and pair it with a silky, lightweight foundation."

Mistake #3: Using Too Much Formula

It Cosmetics Your Skin But Better CC+ Cream $38.00

The problem: When I asked Henney and Lewis about the most common foundation mistakes they witness, both artists immediately mentioned the issue of overdoing it on formula. In other words, try using a lighter hand and utilizing less product to nix that "I just painted my face" aesthetic. 

Giorgio Armani Luminous Silk Foundation $64.00

The fix: "My advice is always less is more," reiterates Lewis. "Even for my younger clientele who truly have nothing to cover and who think they want full coverage, I encourage lighter formulas like a good CC cream. That being said, another personal favorite is Armani's Luminous Silk Foundation." According to Lewis, it's an easy formula to build depending on what you want for coverage, and it also looks great (and natural!) in photos. 

Mistake #4: Forgetting to Prioritize Your Application

Beautyblender The Original Beautyblender $20.00

The problem: While many think there's a standard "best practice" when it comes to applying your foundation, Lewis shares that in general, the best way to apply your foundation will depend (much like skin prep) on your personal face—and honestly, we're not sure why we haven't thought about this before now. 

"Application is key," Lewis presses. "As a professional artist, I've never applied the same foundation the same way on the same two faces because every face should have a customized approach."

It Cosmetics Heavenly Luxe Flat Top Buffing Foundation Brush #6 $48.00

The fix: That being said, Lewis says that day-to-day, the cult-favorite Beautyblender typically delivers the most universally flawless (and "efficient") result. And Henney agrees, reminding us to ensure our makeup is thoroughly blended by utilizing either a Beautyblender (also her personal preference), a buffing brush, or even just your clean fingertips. 

Next up: take a look at these drugstore foundations that are seriously the best.

Related Stories