When Parisian makeup artist Violette applies foundation, it’s without a trace. “I want people to say, ‘Oh my god, your skin looks amazing!’ not, ‘Your foundation is so great,’” she explains. And while finding the perfect formula is half the battle, once you have it, making like Houdini and ensuring it vanishes into your complexion is just as crucial. Here, three in-demand makeup artists share their fine-tuned application secrets for that ever-elusive, second-skin finish.
Create a Glowing Canvas
Clean and moisturized skin is a no-brainer, but to really supercharge your glow, begin with a hydrating mask and follow it up with a lymphatic facial massage. When makeup artist Nina Park works with clients such as Zoë Kravitz and Bella Hadid, she begins with a sheet mask specifically targeted to their skin type, with ingredients such as rose to combat oiliness, aloe to treat dryness, and green tea to soothe inflammation. After masking, gently massage your moisturizer into the skin to boost circulation and reduce puffiness. “It creates a natural flush that makes the face look more awake,” says makeup artist Kira Nasrat, who helps give Jessica Alba that perpetually luminous complexion.
Prime as Needed
To prime or not to prime? It’s an eternal question for amateurs and pros alike. While Violette typically skips the extra base step in the interest of using as little product as possible, when applied correctly, it can prolong foundation for all-day wear. “I use an anti-shine primer for hotspots like the forehead, hairline, sides of nose, and around the mouth, and then a sheer, illuminating one for the tops of the cheekbones,” explains Park, adding that she applies each with her fingertips.
Apply From the Center and Move Outward
Only apply foundation where it’s really necessary, insists Violette, whose on-the-go favorite is Estée Lauder’s Double Wear Nude Cushion Stick. “Start in the center of the face, on the apples of the cheeks, and slowly blend out,” she instructs, adding that another key part of the face is the area around the mouth, which is prone to yellow undertones and shadows. To ensure the foundation looks as natural as possible, Violette often skips the bridge of the nose—letting freckles show through for those who have them—and the corners of the nostrils, so the pigment doesn’t cling to dry patches.
Don’t Paint, Buff
No matter what tool you’re using—a foundation brush, a BeautyBlender, or your fingers—buff (or bounce, if you’re using a sponge) the foundation into your skin as opposed to “painting” it on to build coverage smoothly and avoid streakiness, says Park.
Strobe Wherever the Sun Hits
For dimension, blend highlighter into the high planes of the face that catch light naturally, such as the cheekbones, temples, and Cupid’s bow. “I’m not a fan of powder highlighters because it looks a bit fake to me,” says Violette. “Creamy balm textures will give you a dewiness as if you’re not wearing any products.”
Blot, Then Set
First, sop up excess oil with blotting papers, then, look to a featherweight translucent powder to seal in foundation and prevent unwanted sheen. “Use a brush to apply it very lightly and only to the areas that get the most shiny,” says Nasrat, adding that the leftover luster is what will really drive home that second-skin guise. Silky smooth and even-toned, with just the right amount of lit-from-within dewiness, that’s how you execute believably perfect skin.
This article first appeared on Vogue.com