The ULTIMATE Foundation Guide – Avoid These 6 Common Mistakes!

how to apply foundation

I’ve always struggled with finding the best foundation guide out there. Foundation is the base of every makeup look and without it, the final look just doesn’t feel right. You can get away with a BB or CC cream, or even just concealer, but the truth is… The right foundation does make a difference in your look.

Now let’s talk about the mistakes I know most of you are probably making on a daily basis – and how to fix them! This is The Ultimate Foundation Guide!

ATTENTION! This is an extensive in-depth article. But trust me, it’ll be eye-opening.


Although it’s obvious, most people get this wrong. Choosing the wrong undertone can end up making you look terrible! But what is an undertone anyway? As far as I know, we have three types of undertones – Cool (pink), Neutral and Warm (yellow). The easiest way to find your undertone is to think about the jewelry you usually wear.

If you wear mostly silver, it means you’re most likely to have a Cool undertone. If you tend to wear only gold, it probably means you have a warm undertone. Now if you can get away with both colors, you have the Neutral undertone in you. There’s also the vein test but this can be a little bit tricky.

Another simple way to find your underton is to simply compare your skin color to other people’s skin. If you’re Warm and you compare your skin with a Cool undertone, trust me, you will see the difference. I know that because I am Warm and my husband is Cool, and he is basically pink compared to my olive-yellow skin. If you have dark skin, you can still test the same way. Warm dark skin tones tend to look more orange/golden than Cool dark skin tones.

foundation undertone how to

Now that we know what undertone is, let’s talk about picking the right color.

The number one rule is: don’t test your foundation color on your face! And this may sound crazy, but it’s true. If you wear sunscreen or hats and are constantly protecting your face from the sun, chances are that your face is at least one or two shades lighter than your body. If you match your foundation with your face, you’ll end up looking really pale compared to the rest of your body. The best way to pick the right color for you is to test the foundation on your chest. Shoulders are usually the darkest part of your upper body, which will make you pick a foundation that’s too dark for you.

Number two: don’t rely on artificial light to pick the right color. Some store lights can make you look gray, dull, too yellow, or make you look too meh. The best way to choose a foundation is to go out in natural light (try to avoid direct sunlight) and see if the color fits you. If you’re at Sephora, Nordstrom, or other department stores, they will happily provide you with a sample to take home. Now if you’re at MAC or other stores that won’t give you a sample but will apply the foundation on you to test out, just thank the store associate and go outside to see if the color is right for you. No shame in that, just explain to them why you need to step outside for a while, they’ll understand.


Now that we know your undertone and color, let’s talk about the finish of your foundation. Before we go into details regarding each type of finish there is, let’s talk about YOUR skin type. Are you oily, dry, normal or combination (oily on the T-Zone and dry everywhere else)? Do you have acne? Is your skin sensitive and reactive? Do you suffer from rosacea? Do you have texture, large pores, wrinkles? There are so many types of skin that it can be overwhelming! But let’s narrow it down to two main types to determine the kind of foundation will suit you the best.

A – oily, combination, normal, dry.

B – acne prone, dark spots, wrinkles

To make things easier for you, I’ve created this chart to help you find the perfect foundation for your skin type. Please remember that this is a guide and you are FREE to purchase whatever foundation you think it might look good on you. This is not the rule, this is not mandatory, this is just a guide. Now let’s keep going…

It’s really simple to use this chart: just match your skin type with the concerns you may have. If you don’t fall into any category, you can still pick between different finishes to suit your main concern. Let me explain what each finish means.


  • MATTE – it means a flat finish, without any luminosity.
  • DEWY – luminous finish.


  • LIGHT – skin type finish, it looks very very natural and it doesn’t cover a lot of spots or blemishes.
  • MEDIUM – it covers most of the imperfections and sometimes can be built up to a full coverage.
  • FULL – this foundation type covers every imperfection and it looks flawless. However, if can look cakey if applied too much.

Now that you know your undertone and the type of finish will probably look the best on your skin type, let’s talk about the tools you use to apply your foundation.


You already know your undertone, how to find your perfect color AND the finish you want. Now it’s time for the perfect application. If you’re skin is dry or you happen to have some dry patches on your skin (Retin-A users will know this well), applying foundation with fingers or a buffing brush can make things worse. The same goes if you’re using a foundation that’s too matte (use the guide above to remember which foundation might be the right for you). The best option is to apply your foundation using a damp Beauty Blender or a Beauty Sponge (we recommend the Real Techniques or Eco Tools from the drugstore).

sponge or brush foundation

For a smooth finish, we highly recommend using a sponge, but you can always use a buffing brush that will give you a flawless finish and blend your foundation beautifully. Fingers are not usually the best option.



Even when you pick the perfect foundation color, we have to think about one thing: the top of your neck barely sees any light (your jaw and chin are to blame!). Which means, if you blend your foundation only on your face, it can end up looking like a mask that will not match part of your neck, or even your neck at all (especially if you are a sunscreen over). Blending your foundation down your neck will make things more harmonic and you will achieve a more natural look.


I know, you want to cover all those imperfections, especially if you are acne prone or have dark spots on your face. But when you apply way too much foundation, you can look very fake, cakey and unnatural. You are wearing makeup to enhance your beauty and not to cover it! If you have concerns and spots you want to cover, use a high-coverage concealer on those specific areas. You don’t need 3 layers of foundation on your entire face if you have only one or two zits to cover. The same principle applies if you have rosacea around your mouth or nose. Spot conceal those areas and leave the rest of your face with less foundation. When it comes to foundation, whether it’s a light or full coverage, you have to apply just the right amount to even your skin tone and look as natural as possible.


HELLO, my dear oily and dry skin types, I am talking to you! If you’re extremely oily, a matte zero-shine primer will be your new best friend. Apply this primer on your problematic oily areas (usually it’s the T-Zone) and you’re good to go! It will control the shine and make your foundation last longer. Now, if you’re dry, a dewy hydrating primer will help you keep your skin moisturized and those dry patches under control.
The same goes for the final touch. If you are oily, a mattifying setting spray will lock everything in place, but if you’re dry, a dewy setting spray will keep things fresh and looking hydrated all day long!


There you go! That’s the ultimate foundation guide, showing you the six most common mistakes and how to avoid/fix them! Let us know other mistakes you see people making on a daily basis – and how to fix them!

We’d love to know. I hope you like this foundation guide, and if you do, share it with your favorite person in the world!


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