Makeup Artists Cringe When They See These Common Foundation Mistakes

Updated 11/15/19

Foundation is a topic that never loses its appeal. You'd think that having discussed everything from the most photogenic formulas to which drugstore picks experts rate, we'd have run out of things to talk about. But no. In fact, the more stories I write about all things base, the more questions I get. The funny thing is, most queries are still fairly basic. "How do I choose the right color for my skin?" or "How do I shop for foundation online?" And the big one: "How do I apply it like a makeup artist?" To me, this says that though we've collectively read a million tips and tried out plenty of advice, we still aren't sure we're nailing it. To help, I reached out to my favorite pros for intel on the most common mistakes they see, and how to correct them. What follows is a hit list of missteps and blunders the majority of us are guilty of at one time or another. 

Blonde with light, shimmery makeup
Emily Abay / Fashion Gone Rogue

Wrong Color or Tone

"The wrong color foundation is always an off-putting mistake. Women tend to make this error around the time of change of season. If you are unsure of which to buy, ask for a sample and test it out away from the makeup counter—it will look different under natural light. This way you'll get a clear understanding of what it looks like during the day to day wear." —Victoria Baron

"There are so many different skin tones, but the main two are pink and yellow. Identify which you are and keep this in mind when selecting a foundation. The easiest way to match a foundation is to select three shades that you believe are closest to your skin. Apply a line of each one to your skin and chose the color that blends best with your natural skin tone." —Georgia Hull

"Some people do not have a standard skin tone and require professional help when selecting the correct shade of foundation. I've been known to mix up to three shades to get a match for some of my clients! If you have this issue, my recommended foundation range is Make Up Forever's Ultra HD ($67). It has 40 different tones to choose from and undetectable buildable coverage." —Kellie Stratton

"Don't match foundation to just your jawline or cheek as those areas are often lighter than your body, and you'll end up looking much paler—especially in photos. Use your collarbone as a color reference and you'll get a true match and seamless finish." —Nicole Thompson

Too Much Product

"I often see women wearing too much product on their skin, especially when they have a beautiful complexion underneath. If you use a light foundation or tinted moisturizer and focus coverage only on areas of need (e.g. under the eyes or on blemishes), your overall look will be flawless and natural." —Tobi Henney

"We all need a little extra coverage every now and then, but that doesn't mean you should pile on foundation everywhere—it's not flattering. Instead, apply a base layer of foundation, then use a little extra concealer only on spots that need it." —Nicole Thompson

"When applying foundation, less is more. I aim to enhance the skin and create a veil effect as opposed to a mask. Not only does this technique make you look years younger, it instantly freshens up your entire makeup look. Also, foundation should always be blended down the neck to avoid any obvious lines." —Kellie Straton

Foundation in the Hairline

"My greatest pet peeve is seeing foundation in the hairline. This is most obvious on women with blonde hair, but it can happen to brunettes, too. To prevent this, focus foundation application at the center of the face, then blend outwards. By the time you get out to your jaw, ears, and hairline, there should only be minimal product left on your brush. If you do accidentally get product into your hairline, grab a baby wipe and wipe it out." —Jasmin Lo

Poor Blending

"Bedrooms often have warm, romantic-style lighting, which is lovely, but horrendous for good makeup application. Do your makeup in the brightest spot in your house—natural light helps you to see what you're doing so you can apply and blend foundation perfectly." —Nicole Thompson

Yves Saint Laurent Le Teint Touche Éclat $54
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Giorgio Armani Luminous Silk Foundation $64
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Chanel Vitalumiere Satin Smoothing Fluid Makeup $91
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Nars Sheer Glow Foundation $47
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MAC Face And Body Foundation $31
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