How to ace your base for the perfect make-up application

This celebrity make-up artist reveals her secrets to a flawless finish

Do you ever look at celebrities or influencers and wonder how they manage to get it their foundation looking flawless? Us too. That’s why we sought advice from top celebrity make-up artist and author Lan Nguyen-Grealis to give us the 411 on how to get your olive skin glowing every time.

It’s all in the prep

According to Lan the trick is all in the prep, “Preparation is key when it comes to ensuring your foundation sits perfectly on your skin,” she explains.

“If your face is dirty or greasy the make-up will just slip off and become patchy. That’s why when I am working on a celebrity client or teaching a masterclass at Studio One Makeup, I really focus on educating and ensuring the canvas is clean before applying any products.”

Lan recommends using a two-step cleansing routine – follow our guide here – before exfoliating.

Create a clean canvas

“If you have time, it is best to prep the night before with a deep exfoliating treatment.” This is especially important if you suffer from enlarged pore or greasy skin – a common complaint for those with olive skin.

One of the best exfoliating treatments we’ve tried is Kate Somerville ExfoliKate Intensive Exfoliating Treatments, £74, apply for five minutes to wet skin and you can actually feel it tingling as it removes the dead skin cells and clears the pores. Once you rinse it can leave skin a little bit red that’s why it is best to do this the night before a big event to allow skin to calm down.

If you haven’t got time, or you have last minute plans, Lan recommends using an exfoliating pad like First Aid Beauty Facial Radiance Pads, £30, or a glycolic toner like Pixi Glow Tonic, £16.20.       

Avoid using serum

At this point, rather than slapping on your serum which depending on the consistency can cause your make-up to lift, Lan recommends using a primer. This is especially important if your olive skin is oily or has enlarged pores. Depending on the individual needs, this will depend on the primer you require. If you are looking for a glowing hydrated finish opt for one that offers moisture, if matte is more your thing - then you need to go for this option instead.

Lan recommends using one with silicone if you want to blur the skin and give that flawless finish.

Add your highlighter first

Now, before you go full throttle with your foundation, Lan is a big fan of using a liquid highlighter or glowing BB cream as the first step. “ This is the trick to giving skin that coveted A-list glow,” she reveals. “It also gives the foundation something to grip on to which will make it last longer.”

For olive skin, go for a highlighter that has gold pigments rather than pearl. This will warm up your undertones and give your skin a natural sunkissed glow.

When it comes to application, Lan recommends your fingers if you’ve got good skin and only want to enhance rather than cover skin or a brush of you want to high any marks, scars, and blemishes.

Only conceal where necessary

Once this is complete, Lan recommends only using concealer where you need it and building up the coverage slowly to ensure it doesn’t look too cakey. “Less is more is my mantra, it is far better to add than try and remove so build up slowing depending on the coverage and finish you desire.”


“If you want a flawless finish then you need to try EX1 Cosmetics. I use it on all my clients and always have a bottle in my personal make-up too. It looks so good on camera, doesn’t give any flashback, and gives skin a golden glow.”


“I have olive skin so I really wanted to try EX1 Cosmetics, as I had no idea what shade I would be. I tried the match me tool, thinking it was a bit of a gimmick, but it got my shade spot on. For someone will yellow or green undertones these products are amazing!”


“Before I used EX1 Cosmetics I tried EVERY premium foundation on the market. Some were ok, but most left me feeling disappointed and underwhelmed. I didn’t have much hope for a foundation costing £12.50, but I was SO wrong. The medium coverage looks like your skin but better and it doesn’t oxidise.”


“I’ve always been told I have warm or medium skin tone, but every foundation I ever tried was either too pink or too orange. After trying the skin classification tool and realising I have warm skin with green undertones – everything makes sense! Now, I look for make-up aimed at olive skin – like EX1 Cosmetics – and I have never looked back!”


“I used to mix at least two different foundations to create the right shade for my skin – until I found EX1 Cosmetics. The shade match is spot on and the formula blends perfectly into my skin. I love it.”


“I had seen that loads of celebrities using EX1 Cosmetics Foundation and I was intrigued to see if it lived up to the hyp e. It blew me away. The formula feels so premium for £12.50. I recommend it to everyone.