The Makeup Lover’s Guide To Flawless Foundation

Enhance your natural complexion by finding the best foundation coverage for your skin type.

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The Best Foundation Makeup

Foundations have come a long way. Many are now formulated to be oil and fragrance-free, so your skin isn’t irritated and, therefore, requires less makeup. They’re also becoming supercharged with skincare ingredients, so applying a full face works for you instead of against you. “Foundation should be light as air and blend in seamlessly for natural-looking coverage rather than a heavy, cakey formulation that sits in lines and pores,” says Charlotte  Tilbury, a London-based celebrity makeup artist who works with celebrities such as Kate Moss and Penélope Cruz. “You need to look for one that glides on like a new skin, enhancing and perfecting your natural complexion.” 


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Hard Sticks and Cream Compacts 

Try them if: You have normal to dry skin and want marathon coverage.

Our picks 

  • Revlon Colorstay 2-in-1 Compact Makeup & Concealer, $20 at mass merchandisers.
  • CoverGirl + Olay Simply Ageless Instant Wrinkle Defying Foundation, $19 at mass merchandisers

How They Work: 

Cream compacts have more emollients and conditioning agents, which translates to buildable coverage that can take you from sheer to full coverage, depending on how heavy-handed your application is. “The emollients and skin conditioners are more comfortable to wear and provide acute improvements in your skin’s appearance,” says Beth Twohy, a research fellow in cosmetics research and development for Procter & Gamble. “Sticks tend to have a higher concentration of pigments and can be used on all skin types, but they’re generally most useful for those who want more concentrated coverage for any imperfections, such as sun or acne spots.”

All of these harder-textured foundations contain various types of waxes to help solidify the formulas, so they won’t melt away by midday, which can sometimes happen with sheer, liquid formulas. “Many cream compacts also contain elastomers, which make them very easy to blend and can help pigment stay suspended over fine lines and wrinkles,” says Twohy.

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Liquid Foundation


Try Them If: 

You have aging skin and don’t mind spending time to apply them for a flawless finish.

Our Picks: 

  • Make Up For Ever Water Blend Face & Body Foundation, $54 at 
  • Charlotte Tilbury Magic Foundation, $49 at Holt Renfrew, Nordstrom

How They Work: 

Liquids are emulsions of water and oil, the latter of which could be a type of silicone fluid or a plant or mineral oil. The water portion is what feels light and refreshing on your skin, while the oil is what leaves you feeling moisturized. Liquid foundations tend to have a higher level of emollients, which makes them more sheer and easier to smooth over your skin with your fingers or another tool. Since aging skin is dry by nature, formulas that contain extra humectants, such as glycerine, are especially helpful to achieve a fresh, glowing appearance.

Liquids that are specially labelled for oily or acne-prone skin tend to contain more powders and medicinal ingredients to help absorb sebum and keep breakouts at bay. “As you become older, your skin becomes lacklustre and begins to sag,” says Tilbury. She formulated her latest Magic Foundation formula, which is especially flattering to aging skin, with hyaluronic filling spheres to help plump up the appearance offine lines, along with antioxidant vitamin C to help rev up dull and tired complexions.

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Powder Foundation

Cushion Compacts 

Try Them If: You have no specific skin concerns but like to go for easy touch-ups throughout the day.

Our Picks: 

  • TheFaceShop Oil Control Water Cushion, $29 at 
  • Lise Watier Lumière Cushion Compact Liquid Foundation-to-go, $46 at or Shoppers Drugmart 

How They Work: 

All the rage in Korea and Japan, cushion makeup compacts have taken the beauty world by storm by providing skin-tone-evening makeup in the convenience of a sponge, which goes on super-sheer and feels light and refreshing. The composition of the makeup found in a cushion compact is similar to a traditional liquid but is even thinner, so it can be easily held in a sponge. Thin fluids are usually composed of fast-evaporating ingredients, such as alcohol, water and very lightweight silicone oils, which would be too thin to be able to dispense from a standard bottle. “In general, this type of makeup doesn’t have as high of a concentration of pigments or powders as other formulas, so it provides less coverage and shine control,” says Twohy.

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BB cream

Tinted Moisturizers and BB Creams

Try Them If: You have normal to oily skin and prefer light coverage, with the option of skipping a day cream or layering right over your SPF.

Our Picks: 

 How They Work:  “In general, these lighter liquids and creams contain additional skincare ingredients to provide the benefits of a moisturizer and a cosmetic foundation in one product,” says Twohy. They also usually have less pigment, providing more lightweight, sheer coverage than standard foundations. This can be ideal for those with freckles who prefer to avoid masking them but still need a bit of coverage to hide other imperfections.

If you have oily skin, look for matte-finish formulas that contain more powder to help absorb midday shine. Those with dry skin don’t have to rule out this category completely but will probably have to skip out on their multi-tasking benefits and layer themover another moisturizer.


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