This Foundation Hack Gave Me The Smoothest, Glowiest Skin Of My Life

·6-min read

Welcome to Beauty In A Tik, where each week we put TikTok’s viral beauty hacks and innovative trends to the test.

A lot of TikTok’s makeup hacks are questionable. Take lipstick blush, for example, and the viral fake tan lip liner trick. Every now and again, though, a tip comes along that changes the game. Lately we’ve not been able to get enough of homemade BB cream (the glow is real), not to mention the one-minute smoky eye hack (it really does work). This week, TikTok’s makeup artists and beauty enthusiasts are obsessed with a smart foundation trick which will save you time and money and make your skin gleam.

What is TikTok’s watered down foundation hack and why has it gone viral?

If your foundation goes cakey or collects in fine lines and dry areas, TikTok’s ‘watered down’ foundation hack is for you. Popularised by TikToker @Milly__Chan, whose video has garnered 2.6 million views and counting, the method consists of applying primer or moisturiser as you might usually do before makeup (she uses e.l.f’s Mint Melt Face Primer, £8). The next step is diluting your chosen foundation (Milly uses NARS and L’Oréal Paris) with setting spray before applying it. The idea is that combining the two products will give your foundation base more grip, meaning it’s less likely to slip and slide. You might argue that setting spray exists for that reason but, applied over makeup, some can appear chalky or feel much too wet. Mixing the two (and applying with a sponge, which works to smooth makeup evenly) allows for a better finish.

What are the benefits of TikTok’s watered down foundation hack and how can it give you great skin?

Not only does Milly’s makeup look flawless on camera, the finish is glowy and radiant. Followers are even hailing the technique as ‘genius’. As a beauty editor, I’ve seen variations of the hack backstage at London Fashion Week — makeup artists mixing long-wear foundation with hydrating serums, moisturiser and even SPF. The resulting texture is slightly thicker than a light spritz of setting spray, which could explain the radiance.

Many TikTokers have very clear skin but the hack works well for those who want to cover up spots or skin texture (though you don’t need me to tell you that both are entirely normal). Contrary to popular belief, building foundation in lighter layers blurs texture better than a heavy helping of full coverage foundation, which can often become cakey and collect around spots or in dry patches. Even Rihanna’s makeup artist Hector Espinal prefers the lighter touch.

Powdering your T-zone like Milly is optional (avoid typically drier areas, such as cheeks). If you’re prone to oily skin, it might help to keep your makeup in place for a little longer.

Does TikTok’s watered down foundation hack actually work?

I’m disappointed with the look of my foundation lately. Perhaps it’s my post-summer blowout skin but everything I apply appears flat, pools under my eyes and slips around my greasy T-zone. In other words, I’m in serious need of a hack like this. I started with my trusty Gucci Beauty Fluide De Beauté Natural Finish Fluid Foundation, £46, which makes skin appear dewy and real rather than masked, and a setting spray I love: Lumene Invisible Illumination Dewy Glow Setting Spray, £14.30.

I’m not a professional makeup artist so I don’t have a face mixing palette. Instead, I used the lid of an eyeshadow palette, which is easy to wipe clean when finished. I mixed one and a half pumps of foundation with three spritzes of setting spray using the end of my favourite foundation brush (Clé de Peau High Coverage Foundation Brush, £60; a cheaper option would be NYX Professional Makeup Can’t Stop Won’t Stop Foundation Brush, £14.50) and got to applying. You don’t have to use a sponge (I didn’t) but lots of beauty lovers prefer them over brushes for more seamless coverage.

I thought the watery mixture would do nothing to hide a large spot I’d grown overnight, nor did I think it would blanket my dark circles, but I was wrong! Not only was the DIY product much easier to apply (it glided over any bumpy texture) but it made my skin look glowy and plump, minimised my pores and felt less heavy. I was about to go in with a second application, like Milly, but decided my skin didn’t need it. Instead, like the TikTokers trying the trend, I powdered my T-zone using Yves Saint Laurent All Hours Setting Powder, £39, to minimise shine throughout the day and boost the longevity of my foundation, and added a shimmery blush from Charlotte Tilbury’s Glowgasm Face Palette, £60. Full disclosure: it didn’t completely erase any skin bumps, as you can see in my selfie. That would be some kind of magic. But I felt as though the setting spray improved the coverage so I didn’t need any concealer to mask redness.

After eight hours my foundation was still intact and I received compliments on my skin and makeup. One beauty editor friend even called it flawless. It’s safe to say this hack delivers and its main selling point is that it makes skin look like skin. Diluting the formula works similarly to a BB cream, which lends great coverage but doesn’t look obviously like makeup. It also has the benefit of great staying power.

What is the best foundation?

If you’re after full coverage, I’d recommend NARS Soft Matte Complete Foundation, £28, or L’Oréal Paris Infallible 24HR Freshwear Foundation, £10.99, if you’re on a budget. With these, there’s no need for concealer or face powder as they tuck away blemishes and dark circles brilliantly. One pump goes a very long way.

For those keen on medium coverage, try Maybelline’s Fit Me Matte & Poreless Liquid Foundation, £5.99, or Fenty Beauty’s PRO FILT’R Hydrating Foundation, £27, depending whether you prefer things matte or glowy. If you want to go even lighter, pick up Ciaté London’s Dewy Skin Glass Glow Tint, £26, or Fenty’s Eaze Drop Blurring Skin Tint, £25, which boasts a wealth of shades to suit all.

What is the best makeup setting spray?

Setting spray can be hit and miss but here are the ones that deserve a spot in your makeup routine. First up: Urban Decay All Nighter Setting Spray, £26. The five-star reviews don’t lie: this locks foundation and concealer in place, doesn’t completely soak your face and dries invisible. Alternatively, try KIKO Make Up Fixer, £7.99. The aerosol bottle means you can control the spray and cover your face evenly. Makeup looks unchanged even after hours of wear.

Refinery29’s selection is purely editorial and independently chosen – we only feature items we love! As part of our business model we do work with affiliates; if you directly purchase something from a link on this article, we may earn a small amount of commission. Transparency is important to us at Refinery29, if you have any questions please reach out to us.

Like what you see? How about some more R29 goodness, right here?

14 "Non-Foundations" For No-Makeup Makeup

Soft Glam Makeup Is The Easiest Beauty Trend RN

Yes, Trinny London Really Is Worth The Beauty Hype

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting