What To Wear Instead Of Foundation If You Still Want Coverage
I was 14 when I decided that I needed to wear a full face of makeup to be mature. Granted, I didn't suffer from terrible acne, but my uneven skin tone bothered me. Plus, wearing makeup as a teen seemed like the appropriate rite of passage for my freshman year of high school. I just wasn't savvy enough to know what to wear instead of foundation — so I was hellbent on finding the heaviest, full-coverage base that I could get my Hard Candy-covered fingertips on.
So after a summer of begging, taking on extra chores, and saving up allowance money, my Aunt Lisa took me to a makeup counter (that shall go unnamed) at the mall. I was so excited. This brand was one that models and celebrities wore, and was way fancier than the drugstore stuff that my friends carried around in the back pockets of their Limited Too jeans. After being color matched, I walked out of the department store with a sleek little black bag, and my head held high.
Turns out the confidence was short-lived. Within a week, I had the worst acne of my life. I'm pretty sure that the oil in the foundation irritated my sensitive skin... and the fact that I'd go to sleep with my face on likely didn't help, either. After that, I started to invest in my skincare routine instead of my makeup bag, and haven't looked back since. Well, kind of.
Being in the beauty industry means that I'm fortunate enough to try some of the coolest innovations in the market. And now that we're in the post-Fenty Beauty era, there are a ton of foundations that flatter my dark brown complexion. I'd just prefer not to wear them. Unless I'm doing a complicated eye makeup look or I really want my highlighter to stand out — like if I'm spending a day a festival — it's just not necessary. I'm in a good space with my skin, and don't want a repeat of the ninth grade. But if a situation calls for coverage — like if I'm on camera — then I do like to hide my under-eye circles and spots as much as I can.
Want to know how? Read on for my favorite tinted moisturizers, concealers, and powders that give me coverage... without the caking up.
My favorite Instagram filter is Oslo. Just one swipe, and all of my flaws melt away. Velvet Matte Skin Tint gives me the same effect without the aide of my phone and front-facing camera. It's oil-free, has SPF 30, and blends right on in with the help of my fingertips.
Admittedly, it takes a little work to warm this potted concealer up. But oh baby, when it melts... it's magic. I suffer from ingrown hairs and scars on the sides of my face, and a few taps of the Dark Coffee shade erases those instantly. Oh, and fun fact: Makeup artist Francelle Daly used this concealer as a nude "lipstick" backstage at 3.1 Phillip Lim Spring/Summer 2019.
Okay, okay... last NARS product, I swear. But I can't talk about no foundation-foundation without giving Radiant Creamy some love. It's true to its name, and never fails to give my complexion a boost when I'm not getting enough sleep or drinking enough water. It's the number-one selling prestige concealer in the U.S. (according the The NPD Group, Inc) for a reason.
Any makeup product that I can integrate into my skincare routine is a friend to me. Kosas' newest base product contains avocado, jojoba, and rosehip seed oils that — weirdly enough — don't *feel* oily. After moisturizing, I smooth this all over to lock in that hydration and even my tone out.
Yes, I know that this is technically a foundation. But you honestly don't feel a thing once dusting it on with a big, fluffy brush.
It Cosmetics is one of the buzziest brands on the market... but before this year, It wasn't the most inclusive. I had so much FOMO at every industry event, where editors would go on and on about how good the products were. Now, I can join in on the conversation — Bye Bye Under Eye comes in 30 shades, and the darkest (Deepest Deep 30) is great for evening out the discoloration around my mouth.
Shape Tape is another product that I couldn't embrace until this year. But now with the recent shade expansion, I'm shaping and taping everything. 57N Rich is especially good for highlighting and reverse contouring.
I was late to the party with this one, but I'm glad that I arrived. Laura Mercier's moisturizer is another option with lots of SPF and fast, smooth coverage.
Iman's cosmetics line offers a great drugstore alternative to my prestige favorites, with just as many shade options.