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How To Make Foundation Sheer

How-To: Seven Ways to Lay Off the Foundation

With warm weather just around the corner, perhaps you're thinking about laying off the foundation to let your skin shine through. So, how can you make your complexion look nice and even — without a cakey effect — while allowing your natural skin to peep through? It's all about formulation and technique, my friend. Find out my tips on achieving a sheer finish when you


  1. Sheer genius: It might seem obvious, but try a sheer finish foundation. If you're in the market for a new one, try Jemma Kidd Light-as-Air Liquid Foundation ($40) or Mark C-Thru-U Beautifying Sheer Tint ($8).
  2. Brush it on: In a technique straight from Kristen Stewart's makeup artist, apply foundation with a brush for a softer effect. Monika Blunder, who did Kristen's Twilight premiere makeup, used
    Dior Airflash Spray Makeup ($60) with a brush.
  3. Thin it out: Do the old standby trick of diluting your foundation by mixing it with moisturizer to create your own sheer, tinted moisturizer.
  4. Water it down: Spritz a makeup applicator wedge (the sponge kind) with water or toner, then use it to apply your foundation. This gives a lighter application, and refreshes the face, too.
  5. Make a mist: Apply makeup as you normally would. Next, spritz a makeup applicator wedge with water or a toner, and lightly dab all over the face. This helps soften the appearance of your makeup, and is great for fixing mistakes.
  6. Apply only where needed: Simply use concealer or foundation only where needed, as opposed to all over the face.
  7. Tinted primer: For minimal coverage with a natural, smooth looking finish, you can always go with a tinted primer, such as Laura Geller Spackle Tinted Under Makeup Primer ($23).


Join The Conversation
PeachyKeen19 PeachyKeen19 8 years
thanks these are great tips! :)
Mojo-Jojo Mojo-Jojo 8 years
I have been using Mark C-Thru-U for years and I love it! I only apply it where I need it and it never comes off on my shirt or my hands. A touch of blush and I am ready to go!
a_mama a_mama 8 years
I love the Paula's Choice foundations (and pretty much everything else ;) ) because it is very sheer. I have great skin normally, so I just need to cover up a little redness. Also philosophys clear makeup is fabulous!
CoronaLove CoronaLove 8 years
Me too alyssajoelle. I love Estee Lauder Day Wear Plus with tint. It has that fresh cucumbers scent.
bigestivediscuit bigestivediscuit 8 years
I'm going to have to try Clinique Almost Makeup b/c I wear my Clinique foundation every day (applied with a brush no less!) but am really looking for something lighter in the summer that's not as greasy as moisturiser.
TammyO TammyO 8 years
I used to pile on the foundation cause I had such horrible skin. But now that my skin is clear and much healthier looking I barely wear it. A touch of bronzer or blush pretty much makes my skin glow. I used to HATE the way foundation would just slide off my face whenever I touched it too, so I'm happy to be rid of it.
fleurfairy fleurfairy 8 years
I don't wear foundation. I favor heavy eye makeup so I compensate with a fresh face.
bella85 bella85 8 years
I always apply my foundation only where needed, simply because it looks more natural!
Beauty Beauty 8 years
My thanks to Advah for the post suggestion. :-)
Advah Advah 8 years
Thanks Bella, I seriously needed these tips!!
emalove emalove 8 years
I hate most foundations! I have always been a tinted moisturizer girl--I love the one Elizabeth Arden makes. It's great for my dry skin, and it provides just enough coverage.
cptnruthless cptnruthless 8 years
I've been thinning my foundation with a bit of vanilla moisturizer - I like the way it smells, and it doesn't make me break out like my foundation does (added bonus: foundation lasts longer this way, and you can control lighter/darker depending on the season ;))
Francoisehardly Francoisehardly 8 years
I was thinking of getting a tinted moisturizer myself. I don't normally wear any type of foundation or anything like that, even when my skin isn't perfectly clear. I think I'd like something lighter.
verily verily 8 years
I just use tinted moisturizer or nothing at all. I only seem to break out when I wear foundation.
doogirl doogirl 8 years
I was born with really great skin, so I don't normally wear foundation at all because I just don't need it. However, for the times when a little makeup is necessary, a tinted moisturizer works perfectly!
alyssajoelle alyssajoelle 8 years
I LOVE Estee Lauder Day Wear Plus with tint, its great. I have very dry skin and have a hard time finding foundation that doesn't make my skin super dry, so i tried this and been hooked since.
aimeeb aimeeb 8 years
I don't really wear a lot or even a full face all that frequently but these are great tips. I've been thinking of finding a good tinted moisturizer for spring/summer but I don't want something TOO sheer.
OHmeetsBK OHmeetsBK 8 years
I love Clinique Almost Makeup. It evens out my skin tone, covers any redness or blemishes, but doesn't look like I'm wearing foundation. Some days I use it with a little pressed powder if I'm feeling oily. It's great.
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