As we emerge back into the world after a rather bare-faced year, it’s a worthy time to track down an old friend: foundation. The reintroduction to makeup might be an adjustment, but the wisely chosen formula should do its work by stealth, evening out the complexion while letting your natural radiance shine through.
There’s an art to finding the right foundation. First, consider the amount of coverage you usually prefer. Then, factor in the conditions. “If you’re going through a spell of extremely dry skin due to weather or other circumstances, opt for lighter coverage,” says makeup artist Jaleesa Jaikaran. “Or, if you live somewhere with changing seasons, like summer and winter, that can also help you make the decision.” Warmer months typically call for featherweight, sweatproof tints, whereas creamy foundations with more coverage are best left for winter.
The correct shade can also fluctuate throughout the year. Instead of testing a formula in a single spot, “I recommend trying the color on multiple parts of your face, including your jawline, as most people have varying tones in the center and perimeter of the face,” says Jaikaran. “Additionally, be sure to test it in natural light, as different lighting can alter the look of the foundation dramatically.”
Once you have your formula of choice, it’s time to apply. “Start by prepping with moisturizer, then primer,” advises makeup artist Daniel Martin, who is the global director of artistry and education for Tatcha. Together, the two can extend the wear of your foundation and ensure that it blends seamlessly onto skin. More traditional formulas, be they light- or full-coverage, are best blended with brushes or sponges. For tinted moisturizers, Martin recommends applying simply with your fingers. This imparts a “light amount of pigment coverage while still giving you the moisturization and [breathability] you want,” he says. With that in mind, here are some of the best versatile options to best suit your skin needs.
Fenty Beauty Eaze Drop blurring skin tint
Rihanna’s beauty brand broke the mold with its huge range of inclusive foundation shades. This new launch does the same for those who prefer tinted moisturizer. It offers 25 shades—an unusually thorough offering for a lightweight skin tint—and unlike others, it’s resistant to both sweat and humidity.
Saie Slip Tint tinted moisturizer SPF 35
For a clean formula that does it all, consider this sheer tint. It delivers a nourishing combination of hyaluronic acid and argan oil, along with just enough coverage to see you through the day. Plus, the mineral-based SPF 35 ensures your skin is adequately protected.
NARS Pure Radiant tinted moisturizer SPF 30
One of Jaikaran’s go-tos, this product touts itself as a moisturizer first, with humectants alongside vitamin C for added defense against damaging free radicals. “Water-based formulas and tinted moisturizers keep the skin hydrated as the day goes on,” she says.
Armani Beauty NeoNude foundation
If you’re a devotee of the brand’s cult classic Luminous Silk foundation, meet its sheer, nourishing sister. Infused with hyaluronic acid and glycerin, two gold-standard moisturizing agents, it leaves skin soft and smooth, even for those prone to dryness.
Merit The Minimalist Perfecting Complexion foundation and concealer stick
Merit, the new makeup line from WhoWhatWear founder Katherine Power, is all about convenience, and this complexion stick is no exception. It serves as a medium-coverage foundation or concealer, depending on how you apply it, and the solid format makes it portable enough for travel or on-the-go touch-ups.
NYX Professional Makeup Total Control PRO Drop foundation
Designed to offer customizable coverage, this buildable foundation makes it easy to do just that: Try two drops for a tint, three drops for light coverage, and so on. It’s also vegan and feels practically invisible on skin.
Clinique Even Better Clinical serum foundation SPF 25
This serum foundation reads like a greatest hits of skin-care ingredients, complete with hyaluronic acid, salicylic acid, vitamin C, and the brand’s proprietary dark-spot corrector. The formula can also withstand up to 24 hours of wear without caking, settling into lines, or losing luster.
Patrick Starrr Turn Up The Base powder foundation
Powder foundation can have a throwback feel, but leave it to YouTube phenom Patrick Starrr to create one that redefines a classic. This formula evens out skin texture as much as it does tone, and it imparts a matte, oil-absorbing finish designed to last all day.