6.2 Creating a flawless base

With the skin prepped, it’s now ‘all about that base’! Taking the time to apply an even and smooth base will help to ensure that the makeup lasts. The first step in creating the perfect base is to prime the skin and complete any colour correcting that is needed.  

Primer and colour corrector

Primer is used to help your make up last. It is essentially an invisible barrier on the skin that allows for a smoother application of foundation and concealer. There are so many different primers on the market to suit a broad range of skin types and textures, so make sure you choose the most suitable for your client’s skin type. You can apply primer with a brush, beauty blender or your fingertips. For clients with larger pores, you might also like to use a pore minimising product. Once the primer is applied, the next step is to colour correct.

Colour correction: a method of using complementary colours (colours that are directly opposite on the colour wheel) to cancel out the look of skin discolouration.

As the definition suggests, colour correcting is where you try to cancel out certain colours and to do this, you use colours opposite on the colour wheel. As an example, if your client has red capillaries or other redness on the face, you could use a green-based colour corrector to help combat the redness. Colour correctors are used to target an array of colouring issues such as:

  • Dullness
  • Redness
  • Under-eye circles
  • Dark spots or bruises
  • Shadow beards
  • Freckles, moles or other pigmentation areas

These days there are many colour correcting palettes available that will usually have all of the colours you need, and they are usually in a concealer form. If you are in a pinch, you can use things like matte eyeshadows, although having colour correcting concealers in your kit is always advisable. You can pretty much colour correct anything!


The first step to colour matching a foundation is to identify the skin undertone. As you learned earlier, the skin undertone is the subtle hue underneath the surface (warm, cool or neutral). Once you have identified the undertone, you then need to match the tone to the chest and shoulders. A common mistake people make is to match the foundation tone to under the jawline; however, this may be quite pale compared to the chest. The following images provide examples of applicable foundation colours for different skin tones and undertones:

Every brand has different tones, shades and names for foundations. An ivory foundation from one brand can have a different undertone to another. It is always a good idea to test foundations before you purchase them. When applying foundation to the client, make sure you have checked the foundation colour in natural lighting. Many foundations can oxidize on the skin, meaning they will dry in a different shade to the bottle, so it’s important to have tested foundations prior to using them on a client!

There are a range of tools and brushes that you can use to apply foundation. Some MUAs swear by foundation brushes, and others cannot live without their beauty blender! It all comes down to preference. When you are applying mature age makeup or if your client has deep crease lines, we recommend that you use a brush to ensure the product is applied evenly.

To apply foundation, our expert recommends you do the following:

  1. Decant (pour out) your chosen foundation onto your palette, using as many shades as you need to get the perfect colour match
  2. Using your chosen foundation brush or sponge, pick up some of your foundation from your palette and start to work the product in a stippling/pressing motion from the middle of the face and blending outwards
  3. Ensure the majority of the product is placed in the central area of the face blending out to minimal product around the hairline and jaw line so we do not create harsh make up lines
  4. Avoid the eye area as we will go in with concealer with our next step
  5. Once you have built up the foundation to the required coverage you can choose to go in with a disposable sponge to really press the product into the skin and any open pores
  6. If any blemishes or discolorations are still showing, use a little product on your sponge to apply a fuller coverage to these areas

Depending on the foundation you use, you may need to set the face before moving on to the next step. Setting powders tend to work better for oily skin and setting sprays for dry skin. Many MUAs with professional training learned that ‘anything wet must be set’.

However, because of the advancements in product formulations, this is not always the case. Transfer-resistant foundations tend to have longevity without the need for setting powders, so if you use these foundations, you can skip this step! Additionally, if you use a mineral or powder foundation, a setting powder would not be necessary.  Here are a few additional tips from our expert: 

Expert tip: spray tans can often throw a lot of orange, so if you have a client throwing a very warm golden/orange tone, use a warm foundation and then use a bronzer in a golden tone to help the face blend with the body without making the skin on the face too orange. Unfortunately, it is extremely hard to colour match if your client is sunburnt on the chest and shoulders. Colour match to a part of the skin that isn’t too pink, then use a little bronzer and pink blush to add a little colour to the face.

If you are interested in learning more about colour matching and colour correcting, access the resources linked:


Once you have applied the foundation and setting powder/spray (if needed), the next step is to apply concealer. Concealer is similar to foundation, except it is usually a thinner consistency. Because the eye area has thinner skin, a concealer is perfect to cover up any circles or discolouration. Additionally, you can add a smaller amount of concealer over blemishes or other trouble spots on the face to hide any imperfections.

To apply concealer, our expert recommends you do the following:

  1. Decant your chosen concealer (ensuring it is 1 to 2 shades lighter than the foundation) and some translucent setting powder onto your palette
  2. Using your concealer brush or sponge, pick up some concealer and apply it to the eyelids to disguise any redness and veins, creating a flawless base for our eye shadow application
  3. Next, apply the concealer under the eye area in a triangle shape extending towards the end of the eyebrow bone, ensuring that you use minimal product to start with and build up only if needed to cover any imperfections
  4. Apply concealer to any other areas of the face as required
  5. Set the concealer using a fluffy brush with a light dusting of translucent powder before any product has had a chance to settle into any fine lines, ensuring that you tap off any excess

When concealing and setting the undereye area, in particular, the more product you use, the more likely you are to enhance any under eye creasing or wrinkles. Be careful not to use too much powder, especially on aged or dry skin; less is definitely more! If you are noticing creasing, use a damp sponge or beauty blender to really press the product into the skin and blend into your already applied foundation.

Before we move on to blush, bronzer, contour and highlighter; watch the video below to see how our expert creates the perfect base:

Blush, bronzer, contour and highlighter

The most common way that we can enhance facial features and characteristics is through highlighting and contouring.

Key phrase | Highlighting and contouring: Highlighting is blending a lighter shade of makeup on certain parts of your face to bring attention to them. You will usually place highlight on parts of your face where natural light will usually fall, e.g. the upper part of your cheekbones, the bridge of your nose and your cupid’s bow. In contrast, contouring defines and shapes the structure of the face by creating shadows and angles. Well placed contouring can add structure, dimension and symmetry to one’s features.

A well-placed contour can sculpt the face and can help ensure certain features are proportionate and can even slim down the appearance of the face. On the flip side, poorly placed shading or highlighting can make a face look disproportionate and unattractive. In addition to highlighter and contour, blush and bronzer are also added to the face to restore colour and to give the skin further dimension.

As you can see in the makeup fails above, poorly placed products can make even the most attractive people look unattractive. It’s all about working with the shapes and features of your client’s face and knowing where to accentuate parts and how to draw attention away from certain parts.

As an example, look at the first image (Lindsay Lohan), and where do your eyes immediately go? For most of us, we will be drawn to the bottom of the terrible contour. This is because it extends too far down the face and is, of course, the wrong tone. In the case of Nicki Minaj, the nose contour stands out – and not for the right reasons. All women are beautiful in their own way, and with correct makeup application, everyone’s natural beauty can shine! Here are some examples of well-applied makeups on these celebrities:

As you can see in the comparisons, correct and incorrect makeup placement can completely change the way we look. Of course, we do live in the era of photoshop and camera filters, so many of the photos and makeup applications we see online and in magazines have been heavily edited. In real life, our clients don’t have the luxury of being able to edit away mistakes when they are speaking with people face to face! In turn, we must understand the different face shapes and the common dos and don’ts for each. 

As mentioned earlier, placement of makeup on face shapes can either make you look fabulous or horrific. The diagram below provides a general guide for placement of contour and highlighter for each face shape:


So, once you have your foundation and concealer applied and set, the next step is to begin contouring. Once you have identified your clients face shape, you can go in with your chosen contour to create balance to the face. In terms of contour products, you can use cream or powder contour. If you are using a liquid foundation, it is best to use a cream contour unless you have applied a setting powder first. If you used a powder foundation, then you will be best using a powder contour. Put simply, liquid + liquid, or powder + powder.

In terms of the colour of the contour, you will want to use more of a taupe brown or ashy brown colour. Of course, if your client has fair skin, you will opt for a lighter brown, and if your client has dark skin, a darker brow. Also, if you remember from earlier, when selecting a contouring product, ensure that you always choose a matte product and not a shimmer product because we are trying to create the illusion of a shadow. This means no golden tones or colours that will reflect light. Using your chosen product, you can now map out where you would like to apply your contour to help create the desired face shape in accordance with the chart you saw previously of the chart below:

It is always best to start with the hollows of the cheeks, and then you can do the sides of the face, chin, jawline and nose as needed.

To apply contour, our expert recommends you do the following:

  1. Decant your contour (if cream) onto your palette
  2. Using your dense contouring brush, create the perfect contour angle according to the clients face shape
  3. Apply the product from the top to the ear extending down the face just under the cheekbone stopping at the apple of the cheek
  4. Contour the other areas of the face as required
  5. Blend the contour using a fluffy brush up on to the temples, forehead, jaw, and anywhere else  you need to contour to create the balance you desire for your clients face shape

When applying contour, be careful not to apply the product down too far – remember the Lindsay Lohan example? If you are ever unsure of where to stop, you can always use your finger to gently feel your client’s cheekbone to identify where the contour line needs to sit. If you have accidentally gone too far down with the contour, don’t worry too much. You can always blend the lines back to where they need to be with any excess foundation left on your foundation brush or sponge.

With your contour, it is important to remember that back in the early 2010s, very distinct contour lines were trendy. So if your client wants super dark contouring, that is why! Thankfully this trend has now passed, so explain to your client that it is much more aesthetically pleasing to use less product to create shadows, and a lighter contour also means less noticeable lines on the face. Harsh contouring and highlighting can be great for photography makeup but looks horrible in daylight.

You will see how our expert applies blush, bronzer, contour and highlighter at the end of this lesson, but if you are eager to see some different contouring techniques, watch the videos below:

Blush & bronzer

Once you are happy with your blended contour, it’s time to go in with your cream or powder blush or bronzer. Some people skip bronzer or blush, and others use both. It depends on the sort of look you are going for. Before we look at the application technique, let’s go through the difference between contouring and bronzing. The aim of contouring is to sculpt and define the face, whereas the aim of bronzer is to add warmth and a Sunkissed glow. Bronzers will nearly always be an ash-based colour that is matter, whereas bronzers tend to have shimmer particles (although you can buy matte bronzers!). In terms of placement, bronzer and contour will overlap.

Old school MUAs swear by the ‘backwards 3’ approach to bronzer where you apply the product in the shape of a backwards three. The examples below demonstrate the different placement for contour, bronzer, blush and highlighter so you can clearly see the difference.

A good way to remember placement is that there will be overlapping, and you are building up depth and dimension. You will apply bronzer, which overlaps the contour in the inner parts where the sun would usually hit. In terms of blush placement, it is usually just on the cheeks, although some people like the look of it swept across the nose as well.

Using a brush, apply the blush by starting on the apple of the cheek and blending out towards the ear. At this stage, it’s good to get your client to give you a nice big smile so you can see exactly where the apple of the cheek is situated. If using a cream blush, use a gentle dabbing /stippling motion to apply your cream product to avoid moving any of your foundation or contour products you have previously applied. Once you are happy with your desired colour, you can use a big fluffy brush to blend any harsh edges and ensure that the contour, bronzer and blush look seamless.


The final step is highlighting. When applying highlight, you want to be strategic and lightly dust where the natural light would hit. To apply highlight, you will want to use a fluffy non-dense brush, or you could lightly pat on cream highlighter with a beauty blender/sponge. It is important to remember with a highlighter that we never want to draw attention to any problem areas of the face  – for example, unevenly textured skin or breakouts. The aim of correct highlighter application is to analyse your clients face shape and identify where you would feature you would like to make pop. Once you have identified this, you can go in with your highlighter and fluffy brush, starting with minimal product and building up as desired. See below for an example of placement for face shapes:

Best product placement for each face shape

Once your flawless base is created, if you have chosen to use powder contour and blush products, the next step is to give the face a very light dusting with translucent powder with a fluffy brush. If you used cream products, you could use a setting spray; however, you can hold off on this step until all wet products have been used. Again when using powder remember less is more; we just want to alleviate any wetness left from the foundation. Watch the video below to see how our expert applies contour, highlighter and blush:

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