Max Made

Ace Your Base: How To Achieve Face-Tuned Looking Skin Like A Pro


Your MM-approved guide for navigating the latest skin releases and leveraging beauty classics for an always-flawless base…. no filter needed.

Of late, there’s been an extended focus on different finishes to the skin: dewy, matte, luminous, cream, and powder. All of these, however, are majorly dependent on your skin type to assess whether they wear as intended.

For me, it’s about using products that give me choice on the type of finish I want for my model’s or client’s skin, which is influenced by their condition on that day or the overall look I’m going for. I also want to be able to change it throughout the day with a minimal amount of products. Just like being spoilt for choice with coverage, it’s imperative for me to have this flexibility and not feel trapped into a certain result (or schlep around a million products).

Thus, this story is about creating the ultimate complexion that’s not exactly dewy or matte, but simply youthful. It’s the skin that glows from within (like the benefactor of a real-life Facetune) and have all those beauty Vloggers thinking you have stolen their ring-light!

Here is how NOT to use 72 filters – and still make your skin look as good as any close-up.


The key to both good skin and creating the ultimate professional foundation is exfoliating. In my eyes, exfoliating is the true hero when it comes to skin. It smooths the skin’s layers, making the complexion thinner and, therefore, younger. When there is one even texture from one side of the face to the other, the skin appears more even in tone. It’s able to absorb moisturise and stay better hydrated, therefore producing less oil. As a result, you get more mileage for your foundation as it wears longer and you need less of it.

I have two go-to products that, depending on the skin type, I use before major shoots and events to help maximise my makeup on the skin. The first is skinstitut’s Glycolic Scrub 14% which is basically an exfoliating cleanser. As many of my beauty therapist friends will attest, it’s awesome.

Use it in the shower 3 times per week, massaging only lightly in an even but gentle circular motion. Make sure to cover every inch of your face and neck with the buffing action of your fingers. I use this product on anyone that has a ‘thicker’ skin type, such as a dryer skin that feels really dense, or an oily skin that has large pores. It could also be a combination skin type that looks really dull from excess dead layers. It’s about looking at the texture of your skin and recognising if there is a lot of variety on the surface. Most people suit this product, yet it’s good practice to recognise your skin type and action it with a product to even the surface and help your complexion stabilise itself.

The other product I use is Kate Somerville Exfolikate. It’s a treatment exfoliant that is awesome pre-makeup, as you can paint it on and let it sit while you multi-task. Meanwhile, the lactic acid and natural AHAs dissolve dead skin. Start by leaving on for 30 seconds and build up to 2-3mins for a maximum result.


Step 1

Prep skin with a moisturiser for instant hydration. When skin is completely flush from side to side, the face instantly looks more youthful. This already allows us to use one less layer of foundation or concealer and makes it easier to get a more even coverage. I am devoted to Charlotte Tilbury’s Magic Cream. It leaves the skin with such a beautiful texture and glow, making it the perfect skin kick-starter. Tip: really massage the product into the skin using your fingers and hands to get into the contours of the face and enhance the shape by pushing any fluid up and off the face. Imagine you’re sculpting your face out of clay!

Step 2

The simplest, yet most vital step to faking (or enhancing) that inner-glow is the Laura Mercier Radiant Primer. Think a metallic gold fluid with the shimmer so fine it makes the skin illuminate even under foundation. Apply it like you would a moisturiser, massaging it across any and all skin surfaces, including your neck and décolletage. In most cases, little to no foundation is needed after this beauty.

Step 3

A multi-functioning foundation is a must-have for me. That is, it needs to work on all skin types and have flexibility in both its coverage and finish. Thus, I’m a die-hard fan of Giorgio Armani Beauty and their luminous silk foundation for its luminous matte finish and versatile coverage. However, this season I’ve been experimenting with Fenty Beauty’s Pro Filter Soft Matte Foundation and I’m really enjoying it! I use a foundation brush to apply an all-over coat, then warm the product in the skin using my fingertip in a dabbing motion to melt the foundation into the skin for a seamless effect. Any areas that need extra coverage can be filled with a sponge to build up the intensity.

Tip: I strongly advise never to use a foundation sponge to apply a matte, or even a ‘soft matte’ foundation to the entire face unless you genuinely like a heavy or more cake-y finish! I also find that unless you have perfect balance in your skin texture, your complexion will look dry. The sponge absorbs any oils or nourishment of the foundation, leaving you with a drier product to actually put on your face. A sponge application also makes the foundation sit on top of the skin, which further adds to that “makeup-y”, artificial look.

Step 4

I use concealer as more of a highlighter for the skin, choosing one that works on the basis of reflecting light to strategically ‘blow out’ and even the skin tone, rather than masking it with a heavy product. I luurvve NARS Creamy Concealers for this result, as well as for having adequate coverage if I choose to cover a spot or skin discolouration.

Choose one shade lighter than your natural skin tone to blur out under the eyes and across the top of the cheekbones, while creating a shape to the face. A little dab of concealer down the centre of the nose and around the nostrils can also contour and counteract redness, while a touch at the centre of the chin and under the lip is imperative to complete the look. Tip: Define your jawline and blend a little along the top of your jaw to define the shape. I apply concealer with a brush and, like my foundation, blend with the warmth of my fingers so the natural texture of the skin comes through.

Step 5

Usually, we’d be powdering, but both these products don’t need to be powdered when used together, unless you built up coverage in any large spots that are oily. That being the case, I’d still use the Armani Pressed Luminous Silk to avoid skin looking overly dry.

Step 6

Contouring for me, whether I’m using a cream-like foundation or straight up bronzer, is an essential part of achieving the perfect skin. I’m obsessed with both shades of Victoria Beckham x Estée Lauder’s Bronzers. I used shade Java Sun (the more terracotta colour) under the cheekbones, around the temple and up the hairline to not only contour but give a more sun-kissed effect to the skin. Tip: Blow excess colour off the brush and sweep just under the jawline for definition, and up each side of the nose for a youthful, flushed look.

Step 7

To make the cheekbones pop in the most dramatic way, I used Charlotte Tilbury’s Beauty Light Wand Highlighter. Rather than dabbing the sponge tip applicator directly to the face, I prefer to apply it with my fingers in a dabbing motion so as not to use too much and get the perfect blend. Dab it across the top of the cheekbones, down the centre of the nose and in the V or Cupid’s bow of your lips to give your skin the ultimate dewy finish.


Product Reviews

Charlotte Tilbury Magic Cream is for all skin types, particularly dry and or dehydrated skin. It’s packed with beautiful oils like rosehip and camellia that nourish the skin and give you a more youthful appearance. This wonder-moisturiser also works harmoniously with any finish of foundation to get the most even coverage, where you can get away with using minimal coveragr due to the even texture of the skin – Boom!!


The Laura Mercier Radiant Skin Primer is ideal for all skin types and works to improve wear throughout day or night. It’s designed to attract and reflect light off the skin for a more even and bright complexion.

Fenty Pro Filt’r Soft Matte Foundation has a versatile coverage, enabling you to blend where you don’t need extra product, while building fuller layers where required. I would best describe this soft matte finish as a second skin effect. It’s the perfect base to add a liquid luminizer and give you an all over, all-day glowing look that doesn’t get greasy. What I love about this foundation is you don’t need a powder to set it, as the formula already does all that for you.

I do, however, recommend a powder throughout the day to dab away any unwanted shine. I use Armani’s Luminous Silk Pressed Powders, as they have a still-matte finish that never makes the skin look ashen or dull. With 40 shades that cover the full gamut of cool, natural and warm skin-tones, it’s one of the most inclusive colour ranges on the market. Finally, it’s great for all skin conditions when applied correctly – but like with any matte foundation, women with super-dry skin types should ensure to prep their skin properly with the appropriate hydrating moisturiser.


 Victoria Beckham Bronzers are the pinnacle of luxury this season, excelling in both the formula and packaging. Coming in two delicious shades, one cool tone and one warm tone, you will be set no matter what look you like. Both shades suit all skin tones and both have a semi-matte finish, making them the perfect contouring aides, as well as straight-up bronzers to sweep all over the face for a warm, tanned glow. I’m yet to come across a skin type that these bronzers don’t blend beautifully across – or a girl who’s eyes don’t pop out of her sockets once she gets a glimpse of the Art-Deco inspired packaging!!

Like the highlighter, CT’s world-famous Film Star Bronze and Highlight her Hollywood Beauty Light Wand has a more neutral pinky-beige undertone, which makes it easy to blend into most skins and is one hundred times more reflective. Plus, with the added value of its cream-to-powder-like formula, it’s the silver bullet for all skin types, adding light to even medium and darker skin tones.



Styling Credits

Model Wears: Pearls from Harlequin Market /  Pink Blazer – Miss Crabb




Hair & Makeup/ Product Review: Max May | Words: Alina Berdi | Photographer: Bonnie Hansen / Stylist: Molly King | Graphic designer: Jake Stollery | Model: Helen Bouchard @IMG

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