My biggest foundation woe has always been not being able to keep it on my skin. I've always (and I mean, always) had my foundation break down in the corners of my nose, the tip of my nose, my chin, and my forehead. It's pretty awkward to have everything else stay in play... and those points rub off!
A few years ago, I set out to really solve the problem. I tried every primer under the sun. I tried every method of application. I tried expensive foundations, cheap foundations, concealer only.
Finally, I feel like I've settled on a routine that at least lasts my work day (anything beyond that is a guessing game!) and I thought I'd share my method with you. You definitely don't have to use these exact products, but I'll break down why they work.
1. Start with a clean & moisturized face.
Even if you washed your face the night before, you should wash your face before applying foundation. It washes off the oil and bacteria that emerged overnight. I usually wash with my charcoal bar, then apply Pacifica's Dreamy Youth moisturizer, a squeeze of Aveeno's Daily Moisturizer with SPF 15, and two drops of jojoba oil. Let your moisturizer sink into your skin for at least 5-10 minutes.
2. Wash your beauty sponge every day.
If you're one of those people who lets their beauty sponge get super dark brown... you're not doing your skin any favors. You need to wash it to its ORIGINAL COLOR every single day. I'm serious. And it needs to be stored in a proper drying rack (you can buy them for really cheap at TJ Maxx or Marshalls), not in a closed container or drawer.
3. Apply setting powder first.
I use elf's Skin Refining HD Powder in sheer. When it comes to setting powder, you should look for: a finely milled powder that applies cleanly and makes your skin feel immediately matte. I apply this before foundation because it helps foundation both stick to my skin and absorbs any oil that pops up throughout the day.
I know this is a "controversial" step: many makeup artists contend that you just can't apply cream or liquid products (like foundation) over powder. But I've never had an issue with foundation applying over my powder. In fact, it makes my skin look better!
Another good base powder to try, if you struggle with large pores, is the IT Cosmetics Bye Bye Pores Airbrush powder. They also have a Pressed version of this powder that I quite like as a topping powder.
4. Use a matte foundation.
If a foundation is advertised as "dewy" or "glowy," it goes without saying that it probably won't work with very oily skin. (And the reverse is also true: if you have very dry skin, don't use matte foundations; they'll just dry down.) Right now, I'm using the Maybelline SuperStay Foundation, which I love, but because it's not cruelty-free, I'm looking for an affordable replacement. Some alternatives I'll be trying once my bottle of SuperStay is used up will be the FENTY foundation (notorious for drying down and being super matte) and the Tarte Face Tape Matte foundation.
You also shouldn't use a ton of foundation. If it's matte and full-coverage, I usually apply a tiny dollop of highlighting cream, as that thins it out and keeps it from being too heavy on the skin (and going cakey). If you watch MUA videos on YouTube or Instagram, it's easy to think that piling on foundation is better--but I assure you, it's not.
5. Use a matte concealer
It also goes without saying that if you use a matte foundation, you should use a matte concealer too (if you use concealer). Tarte's Shape Tape is one of the most matte concealers out there (and a little goes a long way); I use Shape Tape on my undereyes, as well as on the tip of my nose and the corners of my nose, then let it dry down for a minute or two before blending. I find this extra little step goes a long way towards preventing break down.
6. Use more setting powder
You use setting powder as a primer. Now, it's time for more setting powder. I usually use a large, fluffy brush to brush some more of elf's HD Powder over my t-zone; then I set the rest of my face with a smaller face brush with Maybelline's Fit Me loose powder. I know this seems like a lot of powder, but it will help absorb oil and keep your foundation set throughout the day.
7. Invest in a good setting spray
Setting spray is really everyone's best friend. I love the Wet'n'Wild Photofocus Matte Finish setting spray (because it's only $5!); you only need a spray or two to set your face. I've also heard great things about Urban Decay's All Nighter setting spray for oily skin. Mostly, you want to look for matte finish, again, just like with your foundation and concealer.
8. Clean all your brushes every single day.
Sorry, but remember that bit about washing your beauty sponge every day? Well, you'll be washing everything else too. If you have oily skin, the oils from your skin naturally get on your brushes, sponges, everything. To keep your makeup sanitary, and your brushes working well, give your brushes a rinse every single day, especially ones that you use for your whole face (like blush and contour brushes, face brushes, fan brushes, and more). It doesn't have to be a full scrub; just a rinse. I then lay mine flat on a towel while I'm at work. I fully wash everything with Dr. Bronner's soap on Sundays. If you aren't washing your brushes at least once a week, you need to change up your routine and start doing it. You'll be surprised at the difference it makes in your skin!