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Makeup artists reveal their favorite long-wear foundations and tips to make it last

All-day events are no match for these expert-approved foundations.
TODAY Illustration / Sephora / Ulta

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For most of us, this summer’s calendar is filled to the brim with weddings and other big events that have been postponed over the last two years. While we’re busy stocking up on wedding guest dresses and the perfect sandal for every event, it can be easy to forget about the type of makeup you’re using.

There’s nothing worse than your makeup melting off in the heat or having to constantly touch it up every hour because nothing will stay in place. Luckily, long-wear foundations exist as the answer to your summer makeup prayers.

Shop TODAY sought out the expertise of three makeup artists to get the best tips on how to find the right color, when to use it and how to get the most out of your long-wear foundation.

How to find the right color long-wear foundation

Before buying any products, take some time to find the right shade for your skin tone. Makeup artists Aya Tariq and Christine Cormier recommend swatching colors on your face, neck and chest to help you decide which shade works best.

Instead of testing a color on just one of those areas, Tariq swatches the same color on several parts of the body to make sure it works everywhere and is an accurate match.

“If it matches my chest, I match it to my forehead. If it matches my forehead, I match it to my cheek…Then I would match a shade to the middle of my cheek all the way to my chin,” she explained. “If it disappears in the middle of my cheek, then that’s great. Sometimes a foundation would match but then people have discoloration, so then you need to color correct.”

She says she never does makeup with less than three foundations to make sure each area of the face is being properly matched instead of using just one color and trying to make it work everywhere. This is a technique that can also help give your face dimension, she noted.

Cormier added a few other reasons why you should be testing colors on more than one area.

“Sometimes your chin will actually cast a shadow onto your neck, making it significantly lighter than both your face and your chest,” she said. “If you’re someone who wears sunscreen (which you should be, especially today), your face is also lighter than your chest.”

She also recommends being in natural light — preferably by a window — when swatching to make sure the color you see isn’t being influenced by yellow or tinted lighting fixtures.

When to use long-wear foundation

Long-wear foundation is something that can be used daily, but is ideal for events where you need your makeup to last all day like weddings, prom and graduation. Tariq says it all depends on your needs and tolerance for makeup.

New Jersey-based makeup artist Samantha Gencarelli also likes to use long-wear foundations during especially hot and humid weather.

“I did a thing in Miami and I was like, ‘Okay here we go, I’m pulling out the long-wear stuff,’” she laughed.

Cormier calls long-wear foundations a “set it and forget it” product, making them perfect for long days where you’re taking a lot of photos because they call for little-to-no touch-ups. “It’s always good to know in your back pocket, [you] have a little bit of coverage that will last through all of these memorable photo opportunities,” she said.

Tips for applying long-wear foundation

Start with a good skin care routine

Before applying any makeup, Cormier stressed the importance of establishing a good skin care routine beyond just using the right products. “People think makeup is the end all, be all fix of everything — the magic — and it’s not. It is skin care,” she said.

If you’re wearing foundation often, she recommends regular dermaplaning because it removes the vellus hair and dry skin, which will then leave your makeup sitting on your actual skin instead of on top of a layer of hair. While there are tools available to complete the process at home, she says the best results come from seeing a professional esthetician.

“I try to get my brides to one facial a month — hydrofacial with dermaplaning — for at least six months before your wedding and you are going to have the most beautiful, beautiful skin,” she said. “I think in the longevity of everything, you can then wear less makeup, feel more like yourself, but feel like you.”

Make sure your primer and foundation base match

A common mistake that people make is mixing silicone- and water-based primers and foundations, Tariq noted.

Using a water-based primer with a silicone-based foundation or vice versa can cause your foundation to flake and separate.

“Silicone and water don’t like each other,” she laughed.

Apply a little bit at a time

Gencarelli and Tariq both suggest starting with a small amount of foundation and adding more only if you feel you need it.

“In general, less is more,” Gencarelli advised. “Start with a little bit on the cheek, work it around and if you need to add more, add it. Starting off with little bits and then adding and building from there is probably the best case.”

Once you’ve applied your initial amount, Tariq recommends walking around the house and letting it sit on your skin to see if you really need to add more coverage. For any foundation you’re using for the first time, she says to try it on a day you can spend at home to see how it wears over time.

Use the right tools

The right tools can make all the difference in the final product.

“I’m still shocked at how many people still use their hands to apply makeup. It’s fine, but personally I think you’re wasting a lot of product because it’s all over your hands and it’s just dirty/messy,” Cormier said.

If you’re looking to achieve fuller coverage, Gencarelli likes to use a buffer foundation brush, specifically the Morphe M439. For softer application and a more skin-like application, she suggests using a damp Beautyblender.

Proceed with caution with this technique if you’re using a silicone-based foundation, Cormier warned, before emphasizing the importance of knowing what’s in your products the way Tariq did. “Putting water into a product that doesn’t work well with water [is] going to immediately [cause it to] start breaking up and separating,” she said.

If your foundation has a brush that’s paired with it, it’s probably worth investing in that brush. “Some people think that’s a kitschy way to get more money, but some products are developed alongside using a specific tool,” Cormier said.

Best long-wear foundations, according to makeup artists

Shiseido Synchro Skin Self-Refreshing Foundation

Tariq loves this foundation, calling it both beautiful and buildable.

"It sits on the face. It doesn’t separate, as long as you’re wearing the right primer with it. It has a luminous finish," she raved. "It’s like a satin finish. It’s not super dewy and it’s not too matte."

Estée Lauder Double-Wear Stay-in-Place Foundation

Another recommendation from Tariq, she says this foundation is really pretty. You have an extensive shade range to choose from with more than 50 options. Plus, according to the brand, it offers 24-hour full and buildable coverage.

Make Up For Ever HD Skin Undetectable Stay-True Foundation

True to its name, Tariq says this foundation actually looks like your skin when it's applied. It comes in 40 different shades ranging from alabaster to ebony.

Nars Natural Radiant Longwear Foundation

A summer pick from Gencarelli, she likes the fact that this foundation boasts 16 hours of wear, especially when working on brides who need their makeup to last through long days of endless photo ops.

"It feels really lightweight but it’s long-wear so it’s perfect. It’s buildable coverage. It kind of looks like skin with a natural finish," she said.

Charlotte Tilbury Airbrush Flawless Foundation

Cormier says these foundations from Charlotte Tilbury are "always really beautiful." Described by the brand as a hybrid skin care foundation, they're made with key ingredients that claim to reduce the appearance of wrinkles, hydrate the skin and "provide an immediate fresh feel."

Face Atelier Ultra Foundation Pro

Cormier has recently been trying out these foundations from Face Atelier and has found them to be very buildable and versatile on everyone, when prepping the skin properly and using the right primers. She also said it's a good option to keep on hand all year long because all you need to do is adjust your skin prep for the season to get the best results.

Fenty Beauty Pro Filt'r Soft Matte Longwear Liquid Foundation

Tariq is a fan of this bestselling long-wear foundation from Fenty Beauty. It's offered in 50 different shades and touts the ability to diffuse the look of pores and sweat- and humidity-resistant.

Expert-recommended products to make your long-wear foundation last

Morphe M439 Deluxe Buffer Complexion Brush

Gencarelli likes this brush for a high-coverage look. "It goes on and it gives you enough coverage where it’s not cakey," she said.

Beautyblender

For a softer, skin-like look, Gencarelli likes to use a damp Beautyblender. Don't forget to be mindful of your foundation's base before going this route!

Hourglass Veil Mineral Primer

Cormier likes this oil-free primer in an oily T-zone and mix it with a hydrating primer in the dry areas to get the best results. While it sits at a higher price point, she says it's worth the money and a little goes a long way so you can get the most out of it.

Laura Mercier Pure Canvas Primer

This is Cormier's primer of choice to combine with the Hourglass primer. This water-based primer is formulated to provide ample hydration.

MAC Studio Fix Powder Foundation

Gencarelli likes this foundation for some additional coverage while simultaneously setting your long-wear foundation. It also boasts long-wear capabilities of up to 12 hours and oil- and shine-control for up to eight hours.

Charlotte Tilbury Airbrush Flawless Finish Setting Powder

"For someone who doesn’t need the coverage and just wants to set with powder, they can use the Charlotte Tilbury because it’s a little bit finer," Gencarelli said. This highly-rated powder comes in four shades ranging from fair to deep.

Huda Beauty Easy Bake Loose Baking & Setting Powder

For people who are extremely oily, Gencarelli likes to use this setting powder from Huda Beauty. She applies it in the T-zone, on the nose, a small amount on the cheek and under the eyes.

Fenty Beauty Pro Filt'r Instant Retouch Setting Powder

Gencarelli also likes the setting powder from Fenty Beauty, which is a perfect match for the long-wear foundation Tariq recommended from the same line. The powder comes in eight different colors and claims to "blur the look of pores, fine lines and imperfections for a hyper-smooth filter that won't flash back."

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