picture-339Your skin is the canvas for your makeup, and there is nothing more important then getting a flawless canvas so that your paint goes on just right.

“If you spend the time and energy it takes to make sure your skin is right your foundation looks better. If you spend the time to make sure your foundation is right all your makeup will look better,” says Melinda Elbright, a freelance makeup artist in N.Y.C. “I would take the time to get the right products and learn how to use them. It’s a worthwhile investment that makes all the difference.”

For a long time I believed that if you weren’t born with flawless skin, you had to pile on a ton of makeup or just be resigned to the fact that you weren’t one of the “lucky” ones. I spent countless hours standing in front of a mirror with the wrong tools, potions, and foundations, trying to get my canvas ready for paint. I wasted money on cheap and expensive primers, brushes, and foundations that didn’t work and, in some cases, left me looking worse then before I tried them.

Something was wrong with the equation, but I couldn’t pinpoint it. Was it the brushes I used? The foundation I bought? The way I applied the powder? But with no guidance, I just keep stumbling my way through it hoping to one day find the key.

Then one day I did find the key—only to realize that the key was actually several different ones. Creating a flawless face is a process and one that takes the right tools, products and techniques. And while the process may feel intimidating at first, once you get the hang of it there’s nothing to it.

picture-257In this first part of the series, “Prepping, Priming and Tools,” we will explore everything you need to get the process started. You want to start the process by cleaning your face. The skin should be as clean as possible in order to allow skin to absorb your moisturizer and to help your makeup go on evenly. Impurities and dirt should be cleansed from the face with a gentle but effective cleanser.

Noah’s Naturals Milk Cleanser is a wonderful choice to gently clean, hydrate and protect your skin ($7.99, noahsnaturals.com for a store nearest you). With ingredients like Jojoba Seed Oil, Aloe Vera and Sap Wart Extract, your skin will be left looking cleaner, more refreshed and renewed. A great way to start the process.

_5819721Next you want to moisturize and/or prime your skin. Find a moisturizer that isn’t heavy and is created specifically to be worn under foundation. The moisturizer will keep skin smooth and hydrated. A primer will help the foundation to stay on your face longer and makes the foundation application smoother.

M·A·C Prep + Prime Skin ($23, maccosmetics.com) is perfect under any foundation. It is an ultra-fluid lotion formulated with special-effect silicones that calm and soothe skin, blot away excess oil, and even out skin redness. It improves the lay down and application of foundation or powder. If you have never used a primer, try this one. You won’t believe the difference a primer makes to the look of your foundation.

Now that your skin is clean, moisturized, and primed you should make sure that you have the tools for proper application of your foundation. You want to make sure that you have everything you need in order to get that professional-looking makeup application. The tools can make all the difference.

The correct beauty tools help makeup go on smoother and faster, and results in a more professional-looking makeup application. Melinda agrees, “Having the wrong tools to do makeup is like cutting your grass with a paint brush. Why spend your money getting products and then not have the right things to apply it with.”

Even if you are convinced that you need the tools, you might not know which ones you need to get.

There are tons of different brush types and options on the market. What tools do you really need? Which ones are essential for a flawless face?

The choice of tools depends on what type of foundation you are using. With some products you can use a sponge, with some, a big fluffy brush, and with some you need a flat foundation brush. It’s a good idea to stock up on the following tools so that you are covered no matter which makeup you choose.

Foundation Brush: You want to look for a large, wide, tapered, flat head. This type of brush is perfect for liquid or cream foundations. They come in all price points and brands.

Suggested Brand: Dior Foundation Brush ($32, nordstrom.com) This deluxe professional makeup artist’s foundation brush is the perfect tool for applying cream or liquid foundation. Helps to create a natural-looking effect.

Large Powder Brush: You want to look for a large, full, soft, rounded brush that is in a dome shape. Great for loose powder and pressed powder.

Suggested Brand: Bare Escentuals Full Flawless Application Face Brush ($28, bareescentuals.com) A plush, full-tapered brush that delivers the ultimate complexion luxury when applied in broad sweeping strokes all over the face. It is a soft, semi-round medium brush that will deliver perfectly for a flawless application.

Bronzer Brush: A great brush to have to sweep color not only on your face after your powder, but all over your body. This should be a big, soft, versatile brush that applies bronzer evenly across the face and body.

Suggested Brand: Prescriptives Bronzer Brush ($32, perscriptives.com) This award-winning brush is the best at what it does. It delivers bronzer perfectly all over the face and body. An advanced brush that gets it right every time. A must-have for your bronzer application.

Blush Brush: You want to look for a full, large head with slight tapering. It’s not as big as the powder brush. Find one that is designed to create a natural looking color on cheeks and cheekbones.

Suggested Brand: Blush Brush by Nars Cosmetics ($46.00, narscosmetics.com) This brush is made from pony hair that is perfectly domed for smooth application and control. It is designed with only the finest quality of hairs, and has a delicately weighted handle to provide the necessary balance for professional and precise makeup application.
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Sponges: Sponges are a great tools for applying cream and liquid. A great tool for blending makeup into skin. Every beauty kit should contain several makeup sponges.

Suggestions: Make Up For Ever Ellipse Sponge ($11, makeupforever.com) Created for the professional artist to ease the smooth application of liquid makeup, this smooth silk and latex sponge has a unique shape that enables a thorough, flawless and streak-free application.

If this all seems like a little much for you to handle, a good way to go is to get a high quality set of brushes that contains several brushes you can use in one kit. Beauty Addicts ($40, beautyaddicts.com) contains a set of 6 portable size brushes packed in a sleek black clutch. Although the brushes are portable, the brush heads are full size and really deliver. The set includes Angled Blush Brush, Domed Powder/Bronzer Brush and a Concealer Brush. Each brush is designed for a perfect and effortless application.

After you invest in quality tools, you want to keep your investment clean and safe so you can get as much life as possible out of them. You want to clean makeup brushes and tools regularly. Makeup brushes can harbor lots of dirt and bacteria, but washing them helps to keep them clean, and helps to keep your face safe from bacteria. There are brush cleaners made to clean your brushes quick and effectively.  M.A.C Brush Cleaner ($11, maccosmetics.com) cleans, disinfects and conditions brush fibers so that brushes will last longer. It helps to extend the life of high-quality brushes. However, a gentle shampoo and some water is a perfectly fine way to get the job done. Once brushes are clean, make sure you store them in a clean, dry area where the bristles won’t become bent up or damaged. Proper care will ensure that the brushes stay at their best.

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Now you’re ready to move on to foundation. More to come in Part 2 of the Flawless Face series.

– Nicole Misch

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  • binks

    Great article, can’t wait for part 2. I’ am a firm believer you don’t have to spend an arm and a leg for great brushes, their are so many good brushes right in the local CVS and Target or online companies that revival their expensive couterparts by a fraction of the price.

    • hehe

      I agree Sonia Kashuk has some of the best affordable brushes.

  • DaniB

    Primers: Laura Mercier and Smashbox makes some of the best foundation primers for the skin ESPECIALLY if shine/oil control is your daily demon.

    Brushes: Ever heard of A Design brushes? Google will bring you into the light!

    Sponges: Be sure to read the fine print. Latex vs Non-Latex can be the go between radiant skin and a rash. Read the ingredients before testing ladies.

    Happy Testing!