How To

How to make your base look like real skin

Unless your initials are KK – disciples of the ‘more is more’ make up doctrine – most of us like our make up to look ‘natural’; particularly when it comes to its foundations. A ‘your skin but better’ effect is what the majority of us strive for, so here are some top tips to achieving believable, real life-ready complexion-perfection.


If your skin is parched, it will soak up moisture in your make up which can cause the pigments to settle strangely – you’ll end up with patches and nobody wants that. Take time applying your moisturiser – layer up for longevity – and massage into skin to stimulate circulation and accelerate product absorption. Even if you’re oily-skinned, a few drops of oil can help balance things out – SkinOwl’s {Lavender Beauty Drops} is a brilliant equaliser – while those with drier, more mature skins should try African Botanics’ {Pure Marula Oil}. Warm a few drops between fingertips and press all over clean, dry skin. I like to use the ‘backside’ of my {LUNA} to give sluggish cells a ‘tszuj’ and seal the oily goodness in.

Follow with your favourite day cream – Verso’s {Day Cream} combines anti-ageing retinol with protective, natural sun filters – or try something lightweight and re-balancing if skin is combination or confused (we recommend Grown Alchemist’s {Matte Balancing Moisturiser} to leave skin slightly dewy but shine free). Then finish with a skin-freshening mist – MV Organic Skincare’s {Rose Hydrating Mist} is phenomenally soothing.


Primer doesn’t need to be slapped merrily all over skin. Apply it sparingly where make up tends to slip, or equip yourself with a couple of different formulas to address the demands of your complexion. Use something mattifying on your t-zone – such as BECCA’s {Ever Matte Poreless Priming Perfector} – then something nourishing and glow-bestowing on dry areas; {Pixi}’s {Flawless Beauty Primer} grants a gorgeous, ‘glowy’ finish.


There are a lot of confusing messages concerning concealer, but many make up artists tell you to use cover up first – that way you can tell how much foundation you actually need and where, and in turn minimise the risk of overdoing things. Choose a peach/pink toned formula to neutralise blue shadows – perfect for the undereye area – then use a green coloured ‘corrector’ to tone down redness around the nose, chin or anywhere else that looks overly flushed. Studio 10’s specially weighted {Age Defy Skin Perfector} palette contains yellow, peach and green-ish cover-ups to restore uniformity of tone, while Kevyn Aucoin’s {Sensual Skin Enhancer} is seriously heavy-duty – ideal for disguising angry blemishes, scarring or pigmentation patches.


Blusher before base gives skin that enviable, ‘lit from within’ quality we all crave. Choose a vibrant, liquid, creme or gel-based formula and buff into the apples – or the high points – of your cheeks for an enviably youthful luminosity. Stila’s brilliant {Aqua Glow Watercolour Blush} is packed with pigment but diffuses effortlessly to lend skin a realistic, ‘just caught kissing’ quality. Or try Daniel Sandler’s exquisite {Watercolour Fluid Blusher} – some of which have tiny, light-reflective particles to create a gorgeous, semi-lustrous finish.


Rather than pumping a great blob of liquid, begin with a meagre-looking amount – you’ll be surprised by how much make up you’re wasting. Use a damp {Beautyblender} sponge, damp foundation- or flat-topped buffing brush and apply product from the centre of your face outwards – you’ll use a lot less product and achieve a more believable, ‘soft focus’ finish. Damp tools mean the sponge/brush will also absorb less product and help to keep things looking fresh and dewy – remember, make up is supposed to enhance not completely mask your skin.

And if you do over-do it, you can just buff a bit of moisturiser over areas which are looking a little too ‘done’. The effect is really youthful – illuminating without shimmer.


Reduce the risk of maquillage slippage with a light dusting of featherweight translucent powder. BECCA’s pressed, {Blotting Powder Perfector} is ultra-sheer so there’s no risk of tell-tale chalkiness – just use a big, powder brush to ensure even distribution. Then set everything firmly in place with a quick spritz of setting spray – Pixi’s {Make Up Fixing Mist} stars rosewater and antioxidant green tea to keep things looking pristine whilst protecting against oxidative stress.


Verity Douglas

Verity Douglas

Content Editor

Verity is our Content Editor and a Cult Beauty veteran. Currently on maternity leave, raising Cult Beauty’s honorary ‘word nerd’, Tabitha, she speaks fluent ‘beauty’ and loves nothing more than the marriage of language and lip balm (and cleanser and candles… ad infinitum). Nothing can stop her from quoting Nancy Mitford, treating herself to yet another Bella Freud candle for her desk or buying that pilgrim-esque collared or heavily fringed outfit she’s been eyeing. You can trust her to debunk widespread beauty myths and dispense invaluable advice with ease…