CIRCUS spoke with more than 20 women about their makeup routines and looked at countless different products. Though each woman was uniquely different, certain steps and products were consistent. Before brows, lips and liner–almost every woman builds her base. Using what we learned from our readers, in addition to a good deal of research, we were able to narrow an ever-lengthening routine down to eight basic steps–we then tried and tested the regimen on our naturally gorgeous model, Lexy, who let us experiment on her face for a good hour or two (thanks Lexy!). Below you'll find CIRCUS' eight-step guide to creating a foolproof foundation routine.
Even though we used moisturizer on Lexy, we were divided regarding including moisturizer in this series of steps. If you think about it, your moisturizer isn’t really makeup. But there is nothing more important when building a perfect base than the health of your bare skin. Here we used Aveeno Positively Radiant Daily Moisturizer Broad Spectrum SPF 15.
You wouldn’t paint a wall without priming it first, would you? The same goes for your face. A facial primer serves as the base coat before applying any type of makeup. It will give your foundation a smoother appearance and keep it lasting longer. On Lexy we used Pro Prime, an oil-free face primer with SPF 15 by NARS.
We all could use a lighter hand when applying our foundations. Covering blemishes is a job that both foundation and concelear do together. It’s okay to use a few layers, but don’t overdo the process. Invest in a foundation that will even out your skin tone, and if you’re worried about blemishes, find a complimentary concealer. On Lexy, we used Cover Girl TRU blend in soft honey.
If you make only one big investment in your makeup routine, make it here. Your concealer is your ultimate base perfector. The better quality the concealer, the less makeup you’ll need to create a flawless canvas. Or rather, the less tempted you will be to double up on layers of powder and foundation to cover your blemishes and dark circles. Lexy already has impeccable skin, just a light dab of concealer under her eyes and on small areas she felt she needed more coverage did the trick. In order to create the perfect color for Lexy’s skin, we mixed together two concealers: Physicians Formula in natural light and Kat Von D’s Lock it Tattoo Concealer in Deep.
A contour acts as a defining process to emphasize bone structure and definition. We contour our faces in the same way an artist defines areas of a picture by making heavier strokes with his or her pencil. A good contour shade is only slightly darker than your natural skin tone. We decided on a liquid contour for Lexy and used MAC Matchmaker foundation with SPF 15. It’s perfectly fine to use a foundation for your contour, just choose a shade or two darker than your skin tone. And remember to use a light hand. You can always put more on but you can’t always take it off. Blending is the only thing you really can do, short of taking off all your makeup and starting over.
Blush is always optional. You can find the product as a cream, liquid or a powder and any of them will work—depending on the look you’re going for. The reality is our cheeks simply don’t blush the perfect color. Our lives would be far easier if our cheeks reddened and oiled in all the right places. When we couldn’t find the perfect neutral blush shade, we started digging through our eye shadow palettes. We decided on the shade Thank You by Bare Minerals, a pale rose eye shadow color with a soft shimmer.
Contouring and highlighting go hand in hand. A highlighter will help accentuate features by brightening the high points on your face. Highlighter will also give you a more youthful glow. Marilyn Monroe was known for applying a layer of Vaseline instead of a moisturizer because the “glow” it gave her. When highlighter is used correctly, it will appear as though the light has caught the high points of the face. Here we applied highlighter on Lexy’s cheekbones and beneath her eyebrows. Here we used Benefit Whatt’s up soft focus highlighter.
Cosmetic powders come in all different formulas—there are powder foundations, powder concealers, powder bronzers, setting powders, etc. We chose a translucent powder, or setting powder by Mac. Finishing powders are used to set makeup into place. The powder itself is white, but rest assured the formula goes on without a trace. We applied a very thin layer of powder, solely to set the foundation and complete the look. Mac’s Prep and Prime works as the perfect everyday finish to complete a beautiful base.