| June 7, 2013

When it comes to makeup, nothing creates a flawless face like foundation. But sometimes, the idea of piling on too much product can feel, well, suffocating.

Fortunately, makeup artists insist it's possible to get all the benefits of foundation without any of that uncomfortable, caked-on feeling.

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“The purpose of foundation is not, in fact, to cover up every square inch of your face,” says makeup artist Laura Geller. “It’s really only supposed to be used on the areas where you need it, such as the redness around your nose or chin, the darkness underneath your eyes or the random rogue blemishes you’ve been fighting by night, but trying to conceal by day.”

“Just as a filter on Instagram smoothes out flaws in a photograph, the right foundation adds a sweep of smoothness to your complexion and anchors your makeup,” adds beauty expert Hilary Kennedy.

Sounds great, but how can you make it work for you?

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"Before you pick up the foundation, you need to identify what is right for your skin type,” says Geller. “If you’re oily, look for words like ‘oil-free,’ ‘oil-control’ or ‘mattifying.’ Dry skin? Go for moisturizing foundations that are ‘hydrating’ or ‘moisture-rich.’ For combination skin, determine if you’re more oily or dry and go from there. Cream-to-powder foundations work great for this type of skin. And mineral foundations work well on all skin types, especially for those with sensitive skin.”

One common mistake women make is picking the wrong shade. The key is finding a color that’s as close to your actual skin tone as possible.

“Use the back of your wrist as a barometer for how light or dark you should go,” says Kennedy. “If purchasing from a makeup counter, don’t be afraid to ask the specialist to help you pick out the right shade. They’ve seen the products on countless women, and may know exactly what you need. Finding the right shade is another way to keep it looking more natural and reflect the beauty you already have.”

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While liquid foundation can provide maximum coverage during the brisk months of winter, you may not want to slab on "goop" on your face during the steamy season. During the warmer months,  B.B. and CC creams are ideal alternatives. Experts also say to look for tinted moisturizers, especially for dry skin sufferers. Even classic powder foundation can provide the coverage needed, all while blocking oil.

Perhaps the most important tip?

“Blend, blend, blend,” says Kennedy. “To get a very smooth finish, I recommend The Beauty Blender. This sponge helps control the amount of product that goes on the skin, and blends in crevices, which tend to allow product to settle into creases and age you. A good sponge or foundation brush is key to getting a natural finish."