Most of us learnt how to apply make-up at the same time we were also swotting up for double French and mastering a parallel park - and just like our French is now rusty and we get taxis everywhere, there's no shame in asking for a little refresher course.
The old adage 'if you do what you've always done, you'll get what you always get' is true both in life and in beauty. If you feel your base is lacking and your skin is dull, nothing's going to change unless you step up your technique a little. But don't worry, we're not talking about coursework or exams. In fact, all you need is an intensive course to help you move up a grade or two. Pencils at the ready…
1. Skin Prep 101
Flawless foundation starts with healthy, happy skin. No matter whether you're using powder, cream, or liquid, foundation always applies most evenly and easily onto well-hydrated skin. Take your time to really work your moisturiser into your skin - take a little bit between your fingertips, rub them together and press into your face, massaging as you go. Not only will your skin feel soft and supple, but the gentle massaging will encourage blood flow to the area and make your skin look radiant. When you get to the under-eye area, tap gently around the orbital bone with your fingertips to avoid pulling the delicate skin there.
2. A primer on primer
Primer might be swiftly dismissed by many who don't fully appreciate the role it plays but, in reality, it's the difference between your foundation lasting a long time, and lasting a really long time. Also, depending on your skin type, you can choose a primer tailored to your needs. Dull skin? There's a radiance primer for you. Oily skin? Go for mattifying. Concerned about dry skin? Apply a pea-sized amount of hydrating primer after your moisturiser, while - you guessed it - massaging it in. Your skin will take on an ever-so-slightly tacky quality, meaning make-up will adhere to it perfectly.
3. A class in coverage
Thinking your foundation needs to be applied evenly is a rookie mistake. Don't get us wrong, we're not encouraging you to go for a patchwork effect. It's just that foundation looks healthiest and most natural when it's applied just where it's needed. Take a good look at your face in the mirror and see what you feel needs most coverage. For most women, starting in the centre of your face at your nose is a good idea, because lots of us have redness there. Maybe you have some hyperpigmentation on your forehead, or a little breakout on your chin. Look closely and take it from there, applying first to those areas and then blending out as and where you need it. Laura Mercier's new Flawless Fusion Ultra-Longwear Foundation is the perfect choice - it has a totally weightless formula that uses specially coated pigments to glide onto the skin without caking or pilling. It also contains silky fine powders to diffuse the light for a truly natural, radiant finish.
Laura Mercier's Flawless Fusion Ultra-Longwear Foundation, Dhs168 from Selfridges.com
4. Design technology
One common mistake made with foundation is trying to use it to create a totally blank canvas. In fact, foundation's true purpose is to even out your skin tone - rather than covering everything. So when you're applying, you don't want to keep going until your skin looks mask-like. No-one's skin looks good all one colour - it looks flat and dull. You can always add warmth with bronzer and blush later. Don't worry about trying to cover up imperfections too heavily either - focus on unifying your skin tone, and then you can add concealer on top later if you want. Plus, if you're using Flawless Fusion Ultra-Longwear Foundation, the natural resin that coats the pigments will stop it building up too much in any area, and it'll lock into all-day wear without going flat.
5. Tools of the trade
Preferring a foundation brush, sponge or fingers is as personal as how you take your tea. There's no real right or wrong answer - it all comes to what you find easiest and best. There's something to be said for the precision and blendability of a sponge, and the warmth of your fingers for gently dispersing product, but if you've always loved a foundation brush, don't panic. Whatever tool you use, always dispense foundation first onto the back of your hand and pick up a little with your brush/sponge/fingers. This will ensure your foundation doesn't build up too much in one area, and will make it easier to blend. Dispense, dab, diffuse - go little by little for the most natural effect.
Say hello to flawlessness with Laura Mercier's Flawless Fusion Ultra-Longwear Foundation, available here.