A Foundation Makeup Tutorial With NARS Pure Radiant Tinted Moisturizer and Hourglass Oxygen Foundation Powder

Published in: Face, Makeup Tips/How To, NARS

how to apply foundation tutorial 0

Sir, Mr. Tabs? I think I have an answer for the riddle you gave me.


Yes, well, it’s obvious, really. I mean, not at first, but I’ve given it some thought, and well…What do good houses and faces have in common?


It’s foundation, sir. Houses and faces should start with a good foundation.

“Meow! Meow!”

Thank you, sir. It was a good riddle. You’re a very clever cat.

Yup, today we’re talking faces! — namely face makeup, like the combination I’ve been lovely lately, NARS Pure Radiant Tinted Moisturizer and Hourglass Oxygen Foundation Powder.


Together, they deliver medium-to-full coverage in a lightweight blend that looks like real skin, and so far, knock on wood, it hasn’t given me breakouts.

In this tutorial, I’ll describe how I apply ’em for pictures, and/or whenever I have a good chunk of time to get ready.

Just a quick reminder, though — this is just one of many ways to apply foundation, and that includes techniques and brushes. As always, it’s all about what works for you. πŸ™‚

Before we get started, let’s gather the products we’ll need…

how to apply foundation tutorial products
From the left: Hourglass Oxyen Foundation Powder in No. 4, Tarte Foundation Brush, Hourglass No. 2 Foundation/Blush Brush, Laura Mercier Finishing Brush, NARS Pure Radiant Tinted Moisturizer in St. Moritz and Cuba

how to apply foundation tutorial swatches
Swatches from the left: NARS St. Moritz, NARS Cuba and Hourglass Oxygen Foundation Powder No. 4

And because there’s nothing else you really can do but smile when posting bare-faced pictures of yourself on the Internet…

how to apply foundation tutorial 0a

Yep, that’s me without makeup. πŸ™‚ Not a drop!

As you can see, I have a few dark spots around my chin and mouth left over from a gnarly breakout last spring and some darkening beneath my eyes… Hopefully, after we’re done here, most of it will be covered.

The first thing I like to do before applying this combination of products (or other face makeup) is take a good look at how my skin is doing. Today, it’s really dry, so I prepped it first with a moisturizer, Caudalie Vinosource Intense Moisture Rescue Cream, which should make the blending we’ll be doing a little easier.

Now for NARS!

Here I’m using two shades, a lighter one (St. Moritz) and a darker shade (Cuba), which I mix to customize my color.

Right now I have a slight summer tan, and a mix of equal parts St. Moritz and Cuba matches it pretty well. I apply both on the back of my hand, and then blend them together with a finger.

Then, with a domed foundation brush like the Hourglass No. 2 (I prefer domed brushes to flat ones for foundation, because they just seem to create a less streaky look on my skin), I apply the mix along the outer edges of my face…

…on my forehead…

…on my cheeks…

how to apply foundation tutorial 1

…around my mouth, on my chin…

how to apply foundation tutorial 3

….and just beneath my jaw.

how to apply foundation tutorial 3a

For natural-looking, even coverage, I use a combination of circular motions and downward strokes.

how to apply foundation tutorial 4

Next, I load a dash of the lighter shade, St. Moritz, on the back of my hand, and using the same brush, apply it beneath my eyes, all over my nose, between both brows and in the center of my chin.

The lighter color lifts and highlights these areas, (hopefully) making me look less tired.

Now, with a second, clean foundation brush (now I’m using Tarte’s) and using a circular motion, I buff everything down all over my face.

how to apply foundation tutorial 6

If you don’t have a second brush, no worries. Just use your foundation brush, but take extra care to really buff your tinted moisturizer or foundation to keep it from looking like it’s lounging on top of the skin.

As a side, this is usually when I apply concealer under my eyes and on any dark spots on my face — anywhere that needs a little extra coverage. For this, I like MAC Pro Longwear Concealer. Stuff covers everything and DOES NOT BUDGE!

how to apply foundation tutorial 7

To improve the coverage a smidgen and mellow out the shine from any remaining oily spots, I grab a skunk brush with a flat top, like Laura Mercier’s Finishing Brush, and use it to apply Hourglass Oxygen Foundation Powder, gently pushing the brush head into the skin, rather than swiping it back and forth.


I don’t know… I just find that pushing the brush disrupts my foundation and concealer less than swiping it does.

The Hourglass Foundation Powder only comes in to four shades, so if you can’t find a color that suits you, something like the MAC Careblends Powders (for sheerer coverage) or MAC Studio Fix Powder Plus Foundation (for more opaque coverage) should also work well.

All done! πŸ™‚ Now we’re ready to move on to the rest of our makeup.

Your friendly neighborhood beauty addict,



Like this post? Tell your friends!

So far, 55 people have commented on this article. How cool is that?

  1. Girl–you still look so fresh-faced and pretty, both with just foundation and without anything on your face! You’re obviously doing SOMETHING right! Can I ask what serum you’re using that the moment?

    And is that a bronzer in the same compact as the Oxygen Foundation Powder? It’s so pretty! I was looking for it on Sephora and Hourglass’ site but could only find the Oxygen Foundation Powder with a sponge applicator…
    Becca @ The Beauty Sample recently posted … The Sample: Kevyn Aucoin The Celestial Bronzing Veil in Tropical Days Review & Swatches

    • Karen says:

      Hi Becca,

      The thing that’s made the biggest difference for me is Skinceuticals CE Ferulic. After I started using it everything just seemed to get better. My skin was more even-toned, less flaky and I stopped breaking out.

      I also eat less dairy than I used to. I think it also makes a difference.

  2. Tracy says:

    I love that NARS TM too. It’s probably the best one I’ve ever tried. That Hourglass powder sounds great and looks beautiful on you! Might have to check it out!
    Tracy recently posted … AVON Ironman Glory For Your Athlete or Mathlete

  3. gigi says:

    as I run low on my smashbox tinted moisturizer I am now considering the nars tinted moisturizer- thanks for doing a tutorial now I can see that I will like it. I prefer a buffing foundation brush over a flat one as well. πŸ™‚ gigi. food and beauty blogger @ http://www.gigikkitchen.blogspot.com

  4. Chelsea says:

    Gorgeous! This is a really nice foundation tutorial.

    Still looking for my holy grail everyday base – preferably a tinted moisturizer or a sheer foundation. It’s really hard to match my color!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Chelsea,

      Thanks babe. I always get so nervous about posting bare faced pics!

      What base are you using now? I have a hard time finding stuff that’s my shade, too. I almost always usually have to mix. The only thing I’ve ever tried that matched perfectly was this random foundation from DuWop that’s really hard to find.

      • Chelsea says:

        The bare face picture actually reminded me of one of my neighbors up north, her skin is exactly the same! (She is also Filipina)

        I bought the Laura Mercier Oil-Free TM, but it’s quite dark and yellow in the lightest Porcelain shade. The best color match I’ve found is Makeup Forever Mat Velvet + in Alabaster 15 (lightest shade) – it’s light with relatively neutral undertones, which is best for me, however it’s fuller-coverage than I like and a bit drying. I’d like to try the MUFE HD formula, but the light shades are all very pink. I’m interested in checking out the new Naked liquid foundation by Urban Decay.

        I have very neutral undertones (when learning to mix skin-tones for portraits in high school art, my teacher told me my undertones were white -_-) and quite pale skin with freckles.

  5. I’ve been itching to work with clients who have darker skin tones so I can do this trick on them. I really love the effect it gives when you use a lighter shade down the centre of the face
    dani@callitbeauty recently posted … Skincare Week: Caudalie Vinosource S.O.S. Thirst Quenching Serum

  6. BooBooNinja says:

    I’m really enjoying the tutorials. Keep up the great work, Karen!

    • Karen says:

      Thanks, BooBooNinja. πŸ™‚ Glad you find them helpful!

    • Christina says:

      Seconded! I missed seeing your super colorful eye tutorials too! Even if I don’t try it, I always love seeing how you do your basic looks, and this one in particular was super helpful with the lighter foundation trick since I have to blend 2 foundations as it is (solidly neutral and pale…which means no foundation ever matches without leaning yellow or pink).

  7. Ilena says:

    I applaud you going all fresh faced for us on the scary world that is the internet! Keep up the great tutorials!

  8. Paris B says:

    Thank you for all the tutorials Karen and this one especially, because its so easy to over do foundation/base makeup. I’ve been curious to try the Nars TM so this was helpful!
    Paris B recently posted … Virtual Visit: Chanel Autumn/Fall 2012 and new items/brands I spotted recently at Sephora

  9. Lulle says:

    This is a great tutorial! And you look really cute without anything on your face! πŸ™‚

    I’d love to use the lighter foundation trick to highlight but being quite fair, I don’t know if it would look so good on me. I’m afraid it could make me look too pale/washed out in these areas!
    Lulle recently posted … Tarte Blushing Bride Amazonian Clay Blush

  10. Becca says:

    Good on ya for going barefaced! Drives me crazy when I see a blogger say “I’m not wearing a stitch of makeup in the first picture, please be nice!”, but I can see the lines of unblended foundation on their jawline (or some other such dead giveaway!). Makeup or no, you look great!

  11. musical says:

    Lovely post by the Lovely Lady! Love the tutorials!

    And every time i read about Tabs saying “mrrow”, i go “squeeeeeeeeeeeeee”. Those are the best kitteh lines, evah!

    • Barbara says:

      Becca- drives me crazy when I see pictures of supposedly barefaced celebs and they obviously have on neutral eyeshadow and some mascara!

  12. Melissa says:

    Thank you for the tutorials. They are my favorite thing to read on your blog. Your skin looks great. I’m currently getting tiny pimples on each side of my chin. I can’t get rid of them! They make my sad because I can’t cover them up πŸ™ Have you ever had anything like that before? What skincare products do you currently use?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Melissa,

      I had a bad breakout last spring and I think it was mostly hormone related. πŸ™ Previous to that my chin was my “good” area and never broke out. I tried a bunch of different things, but I think the thing that made the biggest difference was Skinceuticals CE Ferulic serum. I’m about halfway through my first bottle and it’s made such a huge difference. My skin is clearer, less dry and more even toned. It’s kind of pricey though…

  13. Windie says:


    Just a thought (or am I too late for the party?). How about a bare face contest? It can be called bare it all (you’re face that is.) You bared it for us πŸ™‚

  14. Miriam says:

    I never got around to saying thank you for emailing me your skincare, so thank you for that :-). This post was really helpful but I can never seem to find the right foundation color. My skin color is similar to your’s but everything I try gives me a greyish look or the color ends up looking dull and not natural looking at all. I’ve been matched professionally several times, but everytime I end up putting money into foundation, it still ends up looking terrible on me. I’ve stopped buying foundation for that reason but you give me hope to try it out again.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Miriam,

      A few things that might help:

      1) After the makeup artist tries the foundation on you, try going outside with a mirror so you can check how it looks in natural light. If you like how it looks in natural light then it might be the color for you!

      2) Keep in mind that many formulas oxidize (darken) within 10-15 minutes. If you’re torn between two shades, it’s safer to go lighter.

      3) Many counters and stores offer samples. It might help for you to live with a foundation for a week to see if you really like it, that way you don’t have to worry about returning it.

  15. Ansh says:

    i so love to see people with there bare face. and the difference makeup made is commendable. thank you..it takes a lot of courage πŸ˜€
    Ansh recently posted … Vogue Beauty Awards 2012: Makeup, Skin, Hair, Fragrance Winners!

  16. Nina says:

    I love how your routine is quite simple and easy! And I must get that Hourglass Foundation Brush!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Nina,

      It’s a great all around brush. You can use it for liquid or powder products, it’s easy to clean, and it never, EVER streaks. Kinda pricey but if you wear makeup every day it might be worth it.

      What foundation brush are you using currently? Do you like it?

      • Nina says:

        Ive been pretty loyal to my MAC 130 brush — I like how short the brush head is because it gives me better control. But im always open to new members of my brush family!

  17. indoorkitty says:

    I love this TM, I use just St. Moritz, but now I’m curious and want to try out your lighter-down-the-middle trick.

    Have you tried out Smooth Operator by Tarte, Karen? That’s my other favorite.

    You are a cutie sans makeup too doll. Me on the other hand… I frighten small childruns…

    Loved the tutorial!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Indoorkitty,

      I have! I really like it, too. The coverage is much more sheer compared to NARS, but it feels so good on the skin and doesn’t break me out.

      Tarte also has a really nice face powder called Agent Provocateur. Have you tried it?

  18. BeccaTheCyborg says:

    Love the tutorial, and wow, you look gorgeous even without any makeup!

  19. S says:

    Karen I have been loving these tutorials you are doing! They are so informative and helpful!

  20. Thank you so much for this! This is a really helpful post. I’ve noticed that my foundation looks 1000x better when I take the time to buff it out properly, so I’m glad to have you remind me to do it!
    Kate MacDonald recently posted … self-portrait

  21. Futuralon says:

    Wanted to chime in and say you look great in your bare-faced pic. I go bare-faced almost every day (it’s gonna be 100 in Chico today) and often I see uneven tone etc. You look normal. I look normal. We all look normal!

  22. Panna says:

    Hi, Karen!

    I’m Pinay too, we must be skin tone twins! I do exact same thing — Cuba on the outer edges and St. Moritz down the center of my face. I would love to know what shades you wear in other brands, as I’m always checking other foundations in my constant search for the best one. I also rotate between NARS Sheer Glow in Syracuse, MAC NW35, Chanel Mat Lumiere Soft Honey, and the two NARS TM shades above. Would appreciate any info you can share! Salamat. πŸ™‚

  23. Tina B says:

    Love your makeup-free face, woman! I found it scary but SO empowering when I posted a no-makeup photo of myself for a before/after shot. I’m thankful no one came out of the woodwork to let me know that I looked hideous or anything! The blog world has been so good to me so far :). I enjoyed seeing how you apply your foundation and I’ve never tried using two shades yet. I still just use a higlighter and concealer on top of my regular foundation. I’d like to try your method some time.
    Tina B recently posted … Review: Aveeno Positively Ageless Correcting Tinted Moisturizer

  24. Christine says:

    This is exactly what I was looking for the other day. Thank you!

  25. Wendy says:

    Thanks for the great tutorial! I’m very interested in trying the Skinceutical serum.

    I was at Sephora last week (42nd St. at 7th Ave. in NYC) and got to test out this new machine that Sephora and Pantone teamed up to create. It takes 3 pictures of your skin, the cheek, neck, and collar area. Then it gives you a list of foundation products with your match. According to the SA the machine matches by color and is not biased by brand, price, or type. They emailed me the list. I picked up Nars Sheer Glow in Barcelona, and it is perfect! I swatched a few of the other foundations on my list and so far the color match have all been on point. The SA said they are working on getting that machine to other Sephora locations soon.

  26. Gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous! It’s so cool how a little tinted moisturizer and bit of powder can give such excellent coverage. I like the idea of applying the lighter base just in the center of the face– I usually mix mine but I am going to try this idea…

  27. ashley says:

    This is great!! I’ve been struggling with foundation and my oily/parched skin. I’ve never seen that fancy trick before- buffing your face with a clean brush after application- does it remove any of your just-laid handiwork?

  28. Andrea says:

    Thanks Karen! You are gorgeous, and I found this foundation tutorial so helpful (I never thought of using a domed brush for foundation! Wha?! genius)

    What do you use to help banish dark spots? I get them too and get really frustrated with how long they take to go away

  29. Eden-Avalon says:

    AMAAAAAZEBALLS! You’re stunning anyway but your foundation technique is flawless!
    Eden-Avalon recently posted … Life, Cameras and Lacks of Posts

  30. Mej says:

    Hi Karen! This is so cool!:) It’s me makeupjunkie.tabulas.com I started blogging about makeup again after a 5 year hiatus. Been reading your blog ever since. On another note, I’m still mustering up the courage to post my naked face on the web. sigh. kudos to you!;)

  31. AmyD says:

    hi karen! ooh the hourglass foundation powder looks so tempting – i’ve lately been topping with either studio fix or studio careblend, those have been working well for me so far but i’m always interested in something different.

    question about your nars tm match – i’m nc42 also (i get a little darker in the summer), and i was matched to annapurna – i love it, i feel like it’s given me a great base color. have you tried annapurna? i’d like to try your st. moritz/cuba mix, but a) i’m a little afraid it might be too light for me, and b) aaargh these tms are expensive! πŸ™‚

  32. giu says:

    Hi Karen,

    You live in CA and it gets pretty hot in Summer. I live in a hot and humid climate too (my dry/combination skin gets very shiny)so I was wondering whether you’d recommend NARS TM or a foundation for a polished look(I see that you like Chanel Mat Lumiere and BB Foundation Stick). Any suggestions?
    Many thanks in advance and keep up with the great work!

  33. Doreen says:

    Hi Karen,
    You look beautiful bare faced! But when you put your makeup on you do such a wonderful job..you look radiant! Always looks soft and just perfect!!
    I have a question for you. I Just ordered the hourglass mineral powder in no.2.
    Im a chameleon..my skin is light to med.
    I can wear cover fx n35-40. Nar’s in sante fe also. Do you think I picked the right hourglass powder shade? Im worried..lol
    I watch all your tutorials, love them!

    Thank You,

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge