We’ve managed to quickly fix that botched eyeliner and even that smudged lipstick, but if there’s one step in your makeup routine you really don’t want to mess up, it’s foundation. One mistake and you’ll have to start all over again. To make sure your complexion always looks perfect, here’s how to apply foundation.

Step 1: Start with a smooth canvas.

If your skin is peeling, flaking or oily, you can’t expect the primer application to go on smoothly. To prepare the skin before applying the primer, make sure to exfoliate once or twice a week. This will remove dry patches, dead skin cells and excess sebum. For a gentle exfoliation, try the intensive glycolic acid serum Revitalift Derm Pure from L’OrĂ©al Paris.

Step 2: Moisturize your skin.

Regardless of your skin type or the type of primer you choose to use, moisturizing before applying makeup is key to an even application. It’s important to create a moisturized canvas so makeup doesn’t fly off. For a soft, rosy glow, try Garnier Green Labs Hyalu-Melon Plumping Serum Cream SPF 30.

Step 3: Allow your skincare to seep in.

It’s just as important to let your moisturizer and skincare dry as it is to apply it initial. If you apply a liquid, gel or powder primer before your moisturizer is fully absorbed, your makeup may become streaky or blotchy. Try to wait five to ten minutes before applying your makeup.

Step 4: Don’t forget your foundation.

Do you want your foundation to look as good in the afternoon as it did when you initial applied it? Make sure you use a primer like the Giorgio Armani Beauty Moisturizing Luminous Silk Primer. This step will help you lock in foundation, create a smooth base and make your makeup last all day long.

STEP 5: Find the right formula.

Primers are available as liquid, gel, powder and cream. So try different foundations to find the finish and texture that best suits your skin. For example, you should not apply a compact powder if your skin is extremely dry. And if you have oily skin, it’s probably superior to avoid thick cream foundations.

STEP 6: Find the right shade.

When choosing your makeup primer, try to match the color to your skin tone. This way, the primer will look natural on your skin. As a rule of thumb, people with pink tones should go for cool primers, people with yellow tones should go for heat primers and people with mixed tones should go for neutral colors. We love cosmetics for your skin, but the best primer + skincare because it has shades available for every hue so you can find your perfect color match.

Step 7: Use the right tools.

You can use your hands, a beauty sponge or a makeup brush to apply your primer, but the tool you use can play an important role in the look of your primer. A beauty sponge is ideal for a natural second-skin finish, while a makeup brush usually offers greater coverage. However, if you’re using a tinted moisturizer, you can also use your hands – just make sure they’re clean.

Step 8: Apply your color corrector.

If you’re trying to cover a red pimple or dark circles under your eyes, try a color corrector (we like NYX Professional Makeup’s Color Corrector Palette) to neutralize dark spots or redness. In general, green tones eliminate redness, while red or yellow tones conceal sapphire or purple under-eye circles.

Step 9: initial the foundation, then the concealer.

This step can be confusing, and although different techniques work superior for some people, concealer should be applied after foundation. Not only will you use less product, but the concealer above can brighten your entire complexion.

Step 10: Define it.

Just as a primer is meant to hold foundation in place, a setting powder holds it in place. Once you’ve applied the primer and concealer, apply a powder like NYX Professional Makeup’s Can’t Stop Won’t Stop Mattifying Powder (match your skin tone or try the translucent shade) to create a flawless finish in an instant.

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