HOW TO DO FLAWLESS, CAKELESS SKIN
The thing that I most appreciate about makeup is its ability to improve the look of my skin. Makeup can do absolutely wondrous things to the complexion. On the flip side it can also have a horrendous effect. There's nothing worse in my eyes than seeing someone whose skin is absolutely caked in makeup. You're undoing all the natural beauty you possess! So I suppose the question is how does one perfect the skin without looking cakey? This is how I do it.
I think one of the most important things to keep in mind about foundation is that it shouldn't do everything. By that I mean if you're expecting it to cover every little flaw, you're probably expecting too much. That's what concealer is for man!
For most people I would recommend sticking to a light to medium coverage and using only a thin layer on the skin. Too thick of a layer of foundation can be noticeable.
If you have more intense hyper-pigmentation then try using a light layer of highly pigmented foundation all over the skin, rather than trying to pile on a load of medium coverage foundation.
For high coverage try: Kevyn Aucoin Sensual Skin Enhancer, Laura Mercier Silk Creme
Make sure you're using the right colour for you skin tone. Trying to go too dark can create a mask like effect to the skin.
There is no one right way to apply foundation (aside from remembering to blend it down your jaw, into your hair line and around your ears). What works for some people may not work for others.
If you have quite smooth, even toned skin you might find that really buffing and working the foundation into the skin leaves the most natural finish. Others that have little fine hairs on their skin might find that brushing only in downward motions keeps everything looking cleaner. And those that have a lot of redness or discolouration in their skin might find that pushing the foundation on with a flat top brush or a damp sponge is the most effective method.
If you're struggling with blemishes or uneven skin tone then this is where the magic happens. I like to really invest my time with concealer rather than worrying too much about foundation.
I find the best thing to cover blemishes with is a highly pigmented cream product with a fairly dry consistency. The cream texture makes it quite buildable and the dry consistency provides longevity.
How you apply your concealer to blemishes is half the battle. You want to make sure you're pushing or patting the product on and never using wiping motions. Try using a tiny detailer brush to pat the product on only exactly where you need it and then taper out the edges.
Try: Laura Mercier Secret Camouflage, Mac Studio Finish Concealer
To cover a broader area of discolouration I'd recommend finding a concealer with decent pigmentation and a creamy, liquid texture. It will be easy to blend and provide a nice even, smooth finish.
Try: Maybelline Fit Me Concealer, Nars Radiant Creamy Concealer
Try not to use a ton of pigmented powder everywhere. It can look like that little bit too much. To keep the skin looking fresh and natural try using a translucent setting powder and applying it only over any areas that you get shiny or that you've applied your concealer. Remember again to use patting motions when applying powder over any blemishes, so as not to disturb the product underneath.
If you're struggling with a particularly troublesome area try setting that area (and, again, only that area) with a powder puff rather than a brush. A puff will mesh the powder into you foundation/concealer a lot more effectively and lock it down.
Bringing Dimension Back To The Skin
Once you even out your skin tone with your ideal colour match you may find you look a bit washed out and pale. We often get used to seeing the hyper-pigmentation or a natural flush in our skin and when it's all evened out it can look peculiar. Fear not, a little bronzer and/or blush will add life back into the skin. A luminous highlighter on the tops of your cheekbones might also be a good idea if you've used a matte foundation.