Beauty Lessons No. 5 - Reed Clarke

Beauty Lessons No. 5


How do you flawlessly apply foundation? I often have problems with application and staying power. Even with primer I feel like it shows off my pores/melts off in the middle and end of day. 


Ok, this is going to be a long reply so brace yourself. This isn’t a newsletter that’s going to answer your questions with one or two snappy sentences; I’m not a magazine worried about page space or word count. You emailed a question and I will do my best to answer it with as much depth as possible. 

Longevity really comes down to a few things: 

A. Is the formula you’re using the best for your skin type?

B. Use setting powder.

C. Don’t touch your face.

D. Make sure you do touch ups. 

E. Don’t touch your face. (This one is worth repeating)

Application has a lot to do with how your makeup will last. While I’m not a fan of foundation primers and setting sprays, they admittedly work for some. At work I like to apply foundation with a foundation brush and blend it out with a damp beautyblender or domed makeup sponge. When I do my own makeup I use a dense foundation brush like the one from RMS or the amazing synthetic brushes from Anisa for a seamless, buffed out application. They have many interesting shapes that really help with application. I apply my under eye concealer with the Surratt Perfectioniste Complexion Brush because the shape is perfect for laying down and blending out concealer or I’ll sometimes also use a domed eyeshadow brush so I can feather it out to whisper thin coverage. In general, using your fingers isn’t really the best way to apply foundation; it’s harder to control, can end up streaky and you can’t build it up where you need it the way you can with a beauty sponge. Using the right tools really does make a difference which is why us makeup artists use makeup sponges and an arsenal of brushes when we work. 


Surratt Perfectioniste Complexion Brush

Surratt Perfectionniste Complexion Brush


Surratt Artistique Highlight Brush

Surratt Artistique Highlighter Brush



In an ideal fantasy world makeup doesn’t need touching up. But we are human beings; we sweat, we have oil glands, our faces move and products have emollient properties so makeup is transient by nature. Go into it knowing makeup requires touch ups. 

That said, there are things you can do to make your foundation last longer. The most important thing is to make sure you have a formula that works best for your skin. The thinner or more luminous a product, the more quickly it will breakdown. The heavier the formula (most long-wear formulas are quite heavy) the more staying power they have, but this also means more coverage and most people don’t want a thick feeling foundation. 


If you have oily skin (fewer but deeper lines, large pores), your natural oils are going to quickly breakdown your makeup. Try to find foundations that are water based as they sit on the skin differently than oil based foundations. I find that they sit better on the pores, textured skin, and fine lines than other formulas when it comes to oily skin. If those formulas don’t provide you as much coverage as you like, use a concealer where you feel you need a bit more. Avoid cream/stick/powder foundations and very luminous formulations, they will not look good half way through the day when your natural oils begin to break down the products. 


If you have dry skin (fine lines, no visible pores) a luminous foundation is an excellent fit because the luminosity in the formula will add the dewiness and light reflection that is sometimes missing with dry skin. Cream foundations are also a good fit as long is your skin isn’t so dry that it’s flaky. Touch ups won’t be as necessary as long as you don’t touch your face. Depending on the level of emollience in the formula, you can skip powder, but it’s beneficial add a light dusting under the eyes so your mascara doesn’t travel. 


Setting powder is your friend. Because it’s loose, you can vary the amount you apply. When you apply powder from a compact with a puff, it’s harder to be delicate with your application and it can quickly go cakey. That said, you can use a brush with pressed powder if you like, as pressed powder is easier to carry with you and throw in your purse. Or use a product like MAC’s Blot Powder, which absorbs oils without depositing much powder, even if you apply it with a puff (it’s a red carpet secret weapon of mine). Blotting papers are also a great touch up tool and easy to carry around.  

This advice may be annoying but it’s a big one. Don’t touch your face. Just don’t. Not touching your face greatly improves the wear of makeup and will reduce breakouts and blackheads. Trust me on this. I have clients who never touch their face (minimal touch ups) and clients who unconsciously touch their face all day long (constantly chasing them to fix their makeup). 

Be prepared to adjust your makeup a bit throughout the day. Makeup is wonderful but it’s isn’t magical and does require maintenance. You can make yourself a little touch up kit to put in your makeup bag so you’re not carrying around full sized bottles or jars. I decant EVERYTHING for my kit and my personal makeup bag when possible. There are lots of places you can get mini travel bottles or tiny jars; you don’t need much, just a little to freshen up. For inspiration, check out @depotchopra on Instagram. Her depotting videos are mesmerizing and she has product links to Amazon for small bottles, depotting tools etc. She’s a terrific resource, one that us pro makeup artists rely on, so you know she’s the real deal. 

If your makeup still starts to break apart or separate during the day, beautyblender makes a tiny sponge that’s great for touch ups. Dampen the sponge and squeeze out 90% of the water so that it’s just barely damp. Dab it into a tiny bit of foundation (remember that little container of decanted foundation that’s in your purse?) and bounce it over the problem area. It’ll smooth out your foundation seamlessly with minimal effort. 

Lastly, what you put UNDER your foundation also matters. Lots of serums pill or roll when applied under foundation. Using a face oil will make a foundation break apart (I suggest applying your face oil immediately after getting out of the shower. That way it has time to absorb for a while before applying makeup. I’m also recommend blotting with a tissue before applying your foundation). So choose your skin care according to your skin type, not trends, and save the multi-layered skincare routine for bedtime. 

I hope you find these tips and tricks helpful. Finding that perfect foundation is a labor of love, but I promise it will help with the longevity of your makeup. Hopefully that, along with these suggestions will help your makeup last a bit longer throughout the day. Let me know if this advice changes things for you, I’d love to hear. 

I hope you enjoyed the latest installment of Beauty Lessons. Don’t forget to send a note to to have your burning beauty questions answered. 


Until next month,


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