How to Choose and Apply Men’s Foundation (Men’s makeup)

By popular demand, I will break down the basics of Makeup for Men. I want to help normalize men's cosmetics and help you love them as much as I do. This is a great way to do something that will make you look and FEEL better about yourself. There is nothing to be embarrassed about to buy a powder or a concealer. Beauty isn't masculine or feminine.

When I go to Ulta to test out products, I usually go to Cover FX. They have great colors that go deeper than most brands. In addition, they have been dedicated to inclusivity for more than the past year and have some really great products.

So, let's get to it, and let me show you how to choose and apply concealer and foundation for men of color (or anyone looking for a really natural look)

Let me start by saying, I started in makeup 25 years ago because, as a model, they would never put the right color makeup on me. They often didn't even have colors for people of color and would use White makeup, turning my skin grey and ashy. I couldn't believe they got away with doing this!

I then went to the department store, thinking it would be easy to find a foundation for my skin color and skin type. It was nearly impossible. Even the "black" makeup lines didn't have good colors or products for my skin. I was amazed at how difficult it was to find makeup for my skin color. I then found the Bobbi Brown counter. They actually had colors that worked!!! They were in nice glass jars and superb packaging. The woman at the counter made me feel welcome and "normal." She then offered me a job with Bobbi Brown. I had zero experience in makeup. NONE!

This is why I'm doing my youtube videos, helping others who may have this type of problem, to help make sense of cosmetics in a simple, fundamental way.

How do I choose a Concealer as a man?

The most significant barrier to entry is finding the right concealer for you—especially with the number of options out there and the very chaotic retail environments where they're shelved. Before you go shopping (online or in-store), there are a few things you should be aware of. But if you are going to try it in-store, have some idea of what you are looking for. 

Salespeople are usually really good at helping men sift through what would suit them. They aren't going to make you feel stupid, I promise. But I will say in my sales days, we rarely had a man come in to get color tested. So I wonder if that is changing?

The choice of foundation is purely yours. There is no "right or wrong" here. It's what works for you. It will take a little trial and error before you are a pro.

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Here are my basic guidelines:

  1. In general, stay away from formulas that say "brightening," "illuminating," or "highlighting." While these words all sound fantastic, it's actually beauty marketing that speaks for "shimmer"—generally, these kinds of products have enough of a tiny glitter (also known as mica)  to catch the light. While that's an effective tactic for makeup, "they can look cosmetic and shiny and glitzy, not undetectable,"
  2. Second, the texture is essential. "You want a formula that's moisturizing, with healthy ingredients, to promote skin health. Also, make sure it won't cause acne by saying "non-comedogenic."

Many men's formulas are a basic recipe, with nothing special. I always like to go for as many "natural" ingredients as possible and avoid anything that will clog pores. It should say "non-comedogenic or non-acnegenic" as a general rule. Many people like to use "oil-free" formulas, too, since they tend to be lighter and less likely to clog pores. The bottom line of formulas is that you want your makeup to also be skincare—They should be interchangeable. that way, you are working on skin health while covering up. When buying makeup, Don't go cheap, but don't go really expensive (that doesn't mean it's better….just marketed more). And look at online reviews. They can be beneficial.

As a pro makeup artist, I always recommend getting two similar shades, and I say this for two reasons. One, your skin color changes. This way, you will always have a perfect match. And two, this is a foolproof way to match the color. If the original color is a little "off," counter-balance it with a different hue.

And finally, make sure you're selecting the proper texture. Steer clear of phrases like "full coverage." "Sheer to medium coverage is ideal." Anything more than light coverage will require better blending,

Tip: You can add moisturizer to your foundation to make it less "heavy." This is another excellent option if the color is a little off.

How do I find the right shade of foundation as a man?

Think of shopping for the best makeup for men like shopping for a suit: instead of knowing your measurements, you need to know the exact shade that's going to suit you. And just like our bodies, which tend to give a little and take a little depending on the season, your complexion changes based on your sun exposure. This means you may need to go and get "matched" at a department store, Ulta (my preference over Sephora). The problem with drugstores like CVS, you can't test it in-store, and you can't get samples to take home. So this means buying the products, taking them home, and returning them if it doesn't work. What a pain!

"You'll get more one-on-one help in-store, so they can assist you by trying on a few shades to make sure it's right for you. "Just make sure they apply it directly on your face—not on your arm or elsewhere." Bear in mind that sometimes it is difficult to find help for a color matching foundation.

After that, go take a walk outside or go up to the nearest window with natural light. Pull out your phone, put it on selfie mode, and take a picture. How does it look? Can you see a stripe of makeup, or does it mostly blend into your skin? You should be able to pick the right shade from there. (And then stock up. "Invest in a couple," Sir John advises. "In August, your complexion is different than in January, so the key is to have more than one color.”)

If you'd instead shop online, most sites will have a good enough swatch system for you to guess your best shade. And since you're buying two, go for the shade you think you are right now and then also purchase one step darker—you can always return it.

Or get samples at a store like Ulta, and test it out at home. Then buy it online. This is usually what I do—I run in, ask for three different shades of a product I think I'll like, then go try it out.

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How do men apply foundation?

men's foundation

I'm a big proponent of "less is more" Don't go all in. Just remember you will be applying minimal amounts, so do so in the store (even if you applied too much on your hand). You can always apply more! Many people find that using a brush gives you better control of the amount you apply. But this is all up to you.

The best way to keep your concealer...concealed…is to prevent it from settling into fine lines or creases or getting "cakey" throughout the day—and the best way to accomplish that is by taking care of your skin. "You always want to make sure you moisturize before applying concealer— If you moisturize, the product will apply to the skin more smoothly, and therefore, look more like your actual skin."

The moisturizer you use depends on what your needs are. If you're using concealer to cover up under-eyes and look more well-rested, you'll want a rich, hydrating formula (try Tatcha Silk Peony Melting Eye Cream, $60). Tap just enough product to coat the pad of your ring finger under your eyes, starting outside near the crow's feet and moving inwards. When you apply your concealer, you should still feel or see the product sinking into the skin (this helps it glide and absorb better for a realistic finish).

If you're masking blemishes, be aware of flakiness and dryness around the general area of the breakout. Plenty of folks with acne are cautious about adding any oil to their skin—but properly hydrating during your routine can actually help repair your face without causing an overdrive of your sebum (or oil) production. Plus, a nice, silky oil formula is an excellent aid for blending and applying concealer so it will look natural all day. Sunday Riley UFO Face Oil ($80) contains salicylic acid and tea tree, which moisturize and help prevent ingrown hairs.

And if it's redness you want to hide, you need to first make sure you're using the right product to calm the area down. (Makeup may actually aggravate the situation without a good base of skincare.) For me, Hyperpigmentation is my biggest issue (along with acne)—these are the dark spots you get after you have acne. They can take up to 1 year to fully fade, so in the meantime, I cover them up with a lighter concealer, then a skin-colored one, to blend it.
Immediately after moisturizing, apply your concealer. I use it to cover up any blemishes, redness around my nose or chin, or darkness under my eyes, precisely where it is needed." Use a brush, finger, or sponge, whatever you like best. Take your product and gently place dots of concealer on blemishes (right on top), under the eyes (try three dots—outside, middle, and inner), or redness (one dot on each side of the nose, two dots for each cheek and the chin). Afterward, use your freshly-cleaned ring finger to gently pat the product into the skin until it disappears. Patting along the eyes using repeated motions will help cover the whole area, while consistently patting the blemish area should give you enough coverage.

Before adding any more product than that, it's wise to step away from the mirror. The pro moves here: move into a room with different lighting, take out your phone's selfie camera, and assess your work. Remember that you want to look like an improved version of yourself—not like you've just come from a daytime television appearance. "If you're nervous, take a photo with flash, "That will show you how it translates during the day."

To get even more advanced, you could invest in a sponge-like Beautyblender Pro ($20), which you simply wet, wring out, and then tap it into the product to do the blending for you. This is easily the most foolproof way to look like you're wearing nothing at all—if you've got the time or patience for it. (It should be noted that, for those guys with consistent ingrown hairs, troublesome pimples, or rosacea, a Beautyblender will provide your most even coverage and is well worth the extra step.)

"If you do it right. you'll look great like your skin was given a little extra help." And I don't know about you, but when it comes to my looks, I'll take all the help I can get.

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