Here's how to get your complexion looking its absolute best.

By Rachel Wermager
Updated September 03, 2020
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Foundation is the base of your makeup look, and though some can make it look super simple to apply a full-face or product, it can take some trial-and-error to get right. The wrong shade can leave your face standing out from the rest of your skin, heavy formulas can look cakey or oily, and powdery finishes can settle into fine lines and accentuate them. Ideally, when we wear foundation, we want it to look like we aren't wearing any at all. The goal is to have skin that looks smooth, young, and flawless all on its own. We asked the experts to give their best advice on how to find a foundation that keeps your complexion looking gorgeous.

Young woman applying foundation with a brush in front of a mirror
Credit: Prostock-Studio/Getty Images

Find a Good Facial Moisturizer

Keeping skin healthy and moisturized is one of the most essential steps in making foundation look its best. "Just like you wouldn't paint on a wall that needs repair, you wouldn't want to put makeup on unhealthy skin," makeup artist Mandie Brice says.

Jeniece Trizzino, a beauty expert with Deck of Scarlet, recommends to always start with a moisturizer that is super hydrating but won't leave skin feeling greasy or oily. We recommend CeraVe Ultra-Light Moisturizing Lotion ($19, Ulta). Be thorough about moisturizing all areas of the face, and especially around the eyes, she adds.

Use Primer to Blur Out Imperfections

Next up, finding the right primer. For more mature skin (and for any skin, really), Trizzino recommends a blurring primer or one that is made to cover the look of pores (as opposed to say, a color correcting or matte primer). "A good blurring primer will ensure your foundation does not settle into fine lines and wrinkles." We like NYX No Filter Blurring Primer ($7, Target).

Trizzino also advises against any primers that are overly mattifying, as these can sometimes dry skin out. "Regardless of your age, the drier your skin is, the older it looks," Trizzino says.

Choose a Lightweight Foundation Formula

When you're picking out a foundation, avoid thick, heavy formulas because they'll exaggerate fine lines and wrinkles. Instead, look for a lightweight, buildable formula that you can layer to achieve your desired coverage. This way, you'll still maintain a natural finish, Trizzino says.

Sébastien Tardif, co-founder of Veil Cosmetics agrees. "Stay away from full coverage foundations," he says. Instead, you should turn to a sheer to medium, buildable liquid foundation that is water-based, oil-free and is self-set—this means that you won't have to add a setting powder over the top, and therefore won't make skin look dry and chalky.

And remember, mature skin tends to be drier, so always select a hydrating formula. Look for keywords like hydration, luminous, glow, and moisture, Trizzino advises. NARS Sheer Glow Foundation ($47, Sephora) is an excellent option that checks all the boxes.

Brice recommends applying liquid foundation with clean fingers or a foundation brush, such as the EcoTools Classic Foundation Brush ($6, Target).

Avoid Glittery Makeup

Finally, be selective with bronzers, blushes, and highlighters that go on top of your foundation. "I would recommend avoiding overtly glittery, since sparkle often acts as a microscope to fine lines and wrinkles," Trizzino advises. "Look for demi-matte or satin finishes in finely milled powders."

Finding the right foundation can be tricky at any age, but with these simple tricks, you can keep your complexion looking smooth, radiant, and natural all day long.


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