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One of the first things you learn in makeup 101 is probably foundation and concealer. Yes, we all know how to put products on our face, and we generally all know where to put it. But why are there times that our skin just isn’t looking as smooth as it usually does without makeup? We’re going to take a deep dive into why your foundation and concealer are not lying as smoothly as they can.

This is real life, not Instagram

First, we need to all probably lower our expectations a little bit. When you see Kylie Jenner or James Charles on Instagram, just remember they have high quality cameras, artificial lighting, and an entire team to Photoshop and Facetune their selfies. Seeing this every single day can make it easy for you to expect that that’s how you should look. Remember, they don’t even look that airbrushed in real life, and that’s okay. If you’re standing within 3-5 feet of a mirror, you will be able to see some imperfections. It just makes you human.

Get rid of any facial hair

Now we’re not saying to go pick up a Gillette 5 blade razor and go to town on your face, but you should try to eliminate as much peach fuzz as possible. Makeup does not like to stick to hair; it sticks to skin.

Contrary to popular belief, shaving isn’t actually a bad idea. Finding a tiny single blade razor will do. Then gently remove any excess unwanted hair from all over your face. It’s important to do this cautiously, as you don’t want to damage or irritate your skin. But don’t be afraid to get rid of the hair.

In contrast to the common myth, hair doesn’t grow back thicker when shaved like many people believe. The tip of it is usually just a little more blunt than normal from being shaved. And these Ulta touch up razors can do the trick just fine! However, if you’re looking for more lasting hair removal strategies, consider dermaplaning or even laser hair removal.

ULTA Touch Up Razor
Photo by Ulta Beauty

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Your journey is not the same as your favorite influencers’

Yes, learning about makeup 101 from your favorite YouTube beauty guru can be really fun and educational. However, you might realize that you don’t have the same skin type as them, so the products may not work the same way. Huda Kattan loves to heavily bake her face, which is an amazing technique, but it’s not especially well-suited for drier skin. It’s first important to understand what type of skin you have, what are your concerns, and what type of look are you trying to achieve.

Makeup 101: Exfoliate and hydrate your skin

Makeup likes a very smooth and hydrated base, so it’s important to prep our skin before we even start. Remember that finding the perfect makeup products isn’t always the key. It all starts with your skin care routine.

Glamglow Supertoner Exfoliating Acid Solution Toner

GLAMGLOW - SUPERTONER™ Exfoliating Acid Solution Toner 7 oz/ 200 mL
Photo by Sephora

This is great for anyone who is looking to exfoliate their skin in a very easy way. This toner doubles as a great exfoliator. We recommend using this once a week, as it does feel very strong and tends to sting slightly when you are using it. Experiencing a slight sting when exfoliating is normal; just make sure it is not painful. If you are removing all of your dead skin cells at least once a week and eliminating excess texture, that will really help your complexion products lie smoothly on your skin.

The Tatcha Water Cream

Tatcha - The Water Cream 1.7 oz/ 50 mL Clean at Sephora Clean at Sephora
Photo by Sephora

Hydrating your face is very important no matter what type of skin you have. This easily allows products to glide onto the face. We recommend the Water Cream from Tatcha because it leaves the skin with a nice and hydrated finish. Remember, makeup loves to adhere to this kind of skin.

Makeup 101: Get yourself a gripping primer

Think of primer as your skin care’s sidekick. Once you have a nice skin care routine that works for you, it’s important to find a primer that helps that skincare routine. Find a primer that isn’t sticky but has a slight tack to it. That’s essential for helping your makeup stick to the face and ensure it will stay on all day.

Milk Makeup Hydro Grip Primer

MILK MAKEUP - Hydro Grip Primer 1.52 oz/ 45 mL allure 2019 Best of Beauty Award Winner
Photo by Sephora

This primer won an Allure 2019 Best of Beauty award. It was in almost everyone’s favorite products list at the end of the year as well. This primer is great at hydrating the skin and also adding a tack to the skin (again, essential for giving your makeup that extra grip).

Let’s pick the best foundation and concealers for you

Finding what works for your skin type is key. We’re going to dive into some of the best foundations for all different skin types below.

Dry Skin

Too Faced Born This Way Foundation and Concealer 

Too Faced - Born This Way Foundation Brulee 1 oz
Too Faced - Born This Way Super Coverage Multi-Use Concealer Caramel 0.5 oz/ 14.8 mL
Photos by Sephora

The Born This Way line is definitely a holy grail from Too Faced. This combo will give you that perfect skin-like hydrated complexion. Setting with light powders can be amazing for anyone who is struggling with dry skin. If you do have dry skin, try to do as much of your face as you can with creams. Cream highlighters, blushes, and contours will be your best friends. If you’re looking to bake, then do it very lightly. Try to find creamy and hydrating products that work for you.

Oily Skin

Dior Forever Matte Foundation

Dior - Dior Forever Matte Foundation 4 Warm Olive 1 oz/ 30 mL allure 2019 Best of Beauty Award Winner
Photo by Sephora

This is one of the best foundations on the market. It will dry down to a matter finish, but it is so skin-like and smooth. We also find this foundation to have the perfect amount of coverage. It’s not too sheer or too full. Dior’s foundations also have phenomenal undertones to help get you the perfect foundation match. This foundation comes in a dewy formula as well for all of the dry skin users out there.

Pat McGrath Labs Sublime Perfection Concealer

PAT McGRATH LABS - Sublime Perfection Concealer M17 0.16 Fl. Oz./4.7 mL
Photo by Sephora

Pat McGrath killed it with her Sublime Perfection complexion products, and this concealer is no exception. It has a lot more coverage than you would expect from a Pat McGrath product, and it has a natural finish (great for anyone with normal to dry skin). What’s amazing about this product is the blurred finish it adds to the under eye, which helps you look as flawless as possible.

So if you are having trouble with your complexion products, the big takeaway is that it all starts out with your expectations. It’s easy for us to start believing that we are supposed to look like real-life Photoshop, but that is just not realistic. It’s good to have normal expectations of yourself when scrutinizing your face or makeup.

Another key thing is that your makeup game cannot be at a “10” if your skincare game is at a “2”. You should definitely look into fixing and perfecting your skincare routine before venturing out to buy the best foundation on the market. A $50 foundation won’t be able to fix the appearance of fine lines and texture, but an exfoliating routine can. Ideally, you want to have a moisturizer, toner, serum, eye cream, face cleanser, and SPF. Once you take all of these things into consideration, then you can be on your way to having the perfect foundation and concealer application. We hope you enjoyed our makeup 101 tips. Let us know if you have any additional thoughts or questions in the comments below!