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How To Apply Liquid Foundation for a Smooth, Streak-Free Finish

It’s all about that base.
  • Clare Holden
March 21, 2024

Liquid foundations are among the most popular base makeup products, and for good reason: they’re versatile, easy to blend, and can work on just about every skin type. But knowing how to apply liquid foundation properly is essential for a smooth, even-looking finish. Luckily, there are several effective ways to apply liquid foundation (some of which don’t require any tools). Here, we’ll be sharing three of the most popular methods for applying foundation evenly and smoothly. Plus, we’ll offer some tips on how to get natural-looking coverage that lasts all day. Find it all ahead.

3 Ways To Apply Liquid Foundation

The best way to apply liquid foundation depends on a few factors, including your skin type, the amount of coverage you want, and your personal preferences. That being said, the most popular methods include using a foundation brush, a makeup sponge, or your (clean!) fingers. Keep reading for a full run-down on each technique and their advantages.

How To Apply Foundation with a Brush

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Using a brush to apply foundation is a popular method for a few reasons. Firstly, the hands-off technique means you don’t have to touch your face and get makeup on your hands. Foundation brushes also don’t absorb product the way other tools (like sponges) do, which may allow you to achieve a more full-coverage finish with less product. Finally, it’s practically foolproof, so long as you have the right brush on deck. We recommend opting for a tapered foundation brush that can easily adapt to the contours of your face.

Start by dispensing two pumps of L’Oréal Paris True Match Super Blendable Foundation onto the back of your hand or a plate. Then, dip your brush into the foundation to pick up a little bit of product. From there, you can start “painting” your foundation on. We recommend starting at the center of your face and blending outward for a natural-looking, skin-like finish. Use short, even strokes and add more product until you’ve achieved your desired coverage.

If you don’t have a tapered foundation brush on hand, you can also use a stippling brush—these are rounded rather than tapered and create an incredibly smooth-looking finish. Start at the center of your face, buffing your foundation on in light, circular motions. This technique helps avoid streaking or creasing for that coveted your-skin-but-better effect.

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How To Apply Foundation with a Sponge

Applying foundation with a makeup sponge is quick, easy, and allows you to easily build up to your desired level of coverage. Start by dispensing your chosen foundation onto a plate, then dip the rounded side of your sponge in. Dab any excess product onto the back of your hand, then place the sponge onto your cheek and begin patting it on to disperse the product. As with a brush, we recommend starting at the center of your face and working your way outward for a natural, seamless finish. To get into those hard-to-reach areas (like the creases around your nose or underneath your eyes), flip the sponge over—the tapered end should be small enough to get in every nook and cranny.

While you can use a sponge to apply any type of liquid foundation, we think the technique lends itself well to buildable, medium-coverage formulas. Use the aforementioned L’Oréal Paris True Match Super Blendable Foundation for a natural-looking finish, or opt for L’Oréal Paris Infallible Pro-Glow Foundation for a more radiant look with up to 24 hours of wear.

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How To Apply Liquid Foundation With Your Fingers

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Believe it or not, your fingers are one of the best tools for applying foundation, especially if you favor a natural makeup look. Using your fingertips allows for unbeatable control, especially in areas that can be harder to reach with a brush or sponge. It’s also easy to sheer out your foundation with your fingers, which is ideal for days when you want a little coverage, but not too much.

To apply liquid foundation with your fingers, start by washing your hands thoroughly to get rid of any dirt, oil, or bacteria. Then, use your fingertips to dot L’Oréal Paris True Match Hyaluronic Tinted Serum onto your forehead, cheeks, nose, and chin, and blend the product in with circular motions, similar to how you’d apply a moisturizer. You’ll get sheer, natural-looking coverage with a radiant finish—no tools needed.

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How To Perfect Your Liquid Foundation Makeup Look

Now that you know how to apply liquid foundation, here’s how to nail your base makeup routine.

Step 1: Prime your face

Priming your face creates a smooth, even foundation (pun intended) for your makeup to adhere to and helps your products last longer. Some primers can even help counteract redness or mattify oily skin. We recommend using L’Oréal Paris Age Perfect Blurring Face Primer Infused with Serum if you’re after a smoother, matte base, and L’Oréal Paris True Match Lumi Glotion Natural Glow Enhancer when you want a more radiant finish. Whichever you choose, be sure to give your primer plenty of time to dry before moving on to the next step

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Step 2: Color correct

Concealer can go a long way in camouflaging minor imperfections, but if you’re facing stubborn dark circles or redness that won’t quit, consider color-correcting. If you need help getting started or aren’t sure which shade to pick up, we break down everything you need to know about color correcting here.

Step 3: Apply liquid foundation

Whichever foundation application method you most resonated with above, do that during this step. Make sure to use clean tools (whether that be a brush, a sponge, or your fingers) and blend the product well for a natural-looking finish.

Step 4: Conceal

Next, apply L’Oréal Paris True Match Radiant Serum Concealer onto any areas you’d like more coverage, as well as anywhere you used a color-corrector. If you need a refresher on how (and where) to apply concealer, check out our article Concealer Application 101: Where To Put Concealer.

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Step 5: Complete your makeup

After you’ve completed the above steps, you can proceed with the rest of your makeup routine, applying contour, highlighter, and blush as well as any eye and lip makeup products you like. If you’re using a mix of both powder and liquid formulas, apply the liquid ones first—layering liquids over powders can sometimes result in a patchy finish.

Step 6: Set your look

Once you’re satisfied with your look, lock it all in place with L’Oréal Paris Infallible Pro-Spray and Set Make-Up Oil-Free Setting Spray. Spritz it onto your face in an ‘X’ and ‘T’ motion then let dry for all-day wear with smudging or settling into fine lines.

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How To Remove Liquid Foundation at the End of the Day

Knowing how to remove foundation is just as important as knowing how to apply it—sleeping in your makeup isn’t likely to do your skin any favors. Take a few minutes before bed to wash your face with L’Oréal Paris Revitalift Derm Intensives 3.5% Glycolic Acid Cleanser. The daily exfoliating formula helps remove makeup and excess oil while gently resurfacing the skin for a brighter, smoother appearance. If a full cleanse isn’t in the cards, you can also use cleansing wipes (we recommend L’Oréal Paris Revitalift Radiant Smoothing Wet Cleansing Towelettes) to remove your makeup.

Whichever method you opt for, be sure to follow your cleanse with serum and moisturizer to keep your skin feeling hydrated. Once you’re done, go ahead and hit the sheets—you’ve earned it.

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