I’m pretty sure I mention it in every post, but I have very ruddy red skin and uneven skin texture. I used to spend lots of time googling and searching for tips and tricks on covering my skin without making it look like I piled on lots of product. There are a lot of great high-coverage products out there, but many of them are difficult to work with and if you are at all heavy-handed or not well practiced with the products, you can inadvertently make your skin look worse. Here are my tips and tricks for smoothing out skin, evening out redness, all while trying to maintain a natural finish and appearance.
First and most important is skin prep. This post is old and slightly outdated now, but the principles are the same- you must take the time to properly care for your skin, or makeup can exacerbate and exaggerate flaws and imperfections in your skin. This means your skin is exfoliated, clean, and moisturized. These steps minimize dry patches, and helps makeup sit nicely on the surface of the skin.
Mustering all the bravery I have, I’m about to show some incredibly close and detailed photos of my skin. Although I always post a bare-faced pic when I do a tutorial post, it’s a whole ‘nother level I’m about to hit, so here we go.
You can see some of the scarring from old acne issues in my teens. I don’t have any active breakouts, but the ghosts of breakouts past are still very much present in my life. Also, I was a very very freckled kid, but acne treatments bleached a lot of them to a light color, adding to the muddled complexion, as they are neither prominently freckley nor faint enough to be covered entirely. There’s one on my nose, and one on my lip line that are the most distinct.
Welp. There it is, in all it’s glory.
To touch, my skin is soft, and smooth (if I do say so myself), but you can see why the blotchy redness and hyper pigmentation can make it difficult to find foundation matches. I’m very red, but I’m a neutral undertone. If I’m matched to my jawline, it’s almost always too dark, my neck is too light, that’s why I have to mix my own almost every day to make sure it looks as natural as possible. If the foundation is too yellow, it’s obvious, and too pink just makes me look more red than I already am. Anyhoo…
One very common way I start correcting my skin texture is with a primer. A popular one is the Pore-fessional by Benefit. It is heavy in silicones, so it smooths over the skin and minimizes the appearance of pores. As a note, I don’t always use primer. Many of the foundations I use work well on bare skin, but if you really want to smooth your skin, this is the best way to start.
Use a thin layer and smooth over any trouble areas. I focus on the outer part of my cheeks where I have old acne pitting.
Next is foundation. Any foundation will work, the big difference maker is the application. I cannot use brushes to apply foundation. If you use a buffing brush and are still unhappy with the way foundation sits on your skin, I guarantee you would be happier with a damp sponge applicator. Of course, if you’ve read any of my previous posts, you know I use the Real Techniques Miracle Complexion Sponge. (Forgive me now for the grubby state of mine)
I dispense a bit of the product on the back of my hand and use it as the mixing surface if I need to lighten the color a bit. My go-to foundation is tarte Amazonian Clay 12-hour full coverage foundation. If I have to cut it, I use Maybelline’s FitME concealer in #15 (which is lighter than #10 FYI).
I put a bit of the product on my face then pounce and push the product in lightly using the sponge. There’s no wiping motion or anything. Just pushing it in. This minimizes any disruption to the skin and primer underneath and makes the product as skin-like as possible. I also squeeze as much water out of the sponge as possible (I wring mine in a washcloth), but the damp sponge helps the product have an even distribution. You can build up coverage this way, but you the product doesn’t set as quickly, giving you time to make sure everything is even.
I pay extra attention to the area between my eyebrows and I almost always add a bit more to the surface of my cheeks. After I’ve applied foundation, I decide whether or not to spot conceal any particular areas.
I have some scarring on my chin/jawline from a recent hormonal breakout, so I added a bit of coverage with some concealer and a small brush. The concealer is a bit darker than my foundation, but I cover it with powder to set and it disappears.
Next, I correct a bit under my eyes if necessary. I don’t really suffer much from dark circles, and I don’t like to look to Kim Kardashian with highlight, so I really use under eye concealer sparingly.
I pat the tiniest amount of concealer on the inner corner of my eye and pat it out with my finger. This helps me control the amount of product I put on and I don’t carry the product out very far, concentrating it on the inner corner.I set the concealer immediately with a translucent powder to stop creasing.
Next, I finish my skin by packing powder. I use the same damp sponge I used for foundation, and I load up powder on it to press into my skin. I use MAC Mineralize Skin Finish Natural because it provides a bit of coverage without looking cakey.
Here’s a before with foundation only, and an after with powder pressed into my skin.
It adds that bit more coverage that I like and sets the foundation for a long-lasting effect. If you do not need the extra coverage, all you have to do is lightly dust your skin with a setting powder of your choice.
There are higher coverage routines and techniques that could absolutely perfect the skin. I choose to let some of my unevenness and scarring and freckles and imperfections show because it looks more natural. If my face was immaculate, then all the freckles on my arms and shoulders would look odd…
Here is a complete before and after:
There it is. My skin, in all its glory. I’m proud of who I am and I embrace my flaws, but I’m glad I have makeup to help when I want it!
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