That's not the case anymore, says Courtney Hart, a makeup artist in Los Angeles. "Foundation formulas have made big strides the last few years," she notes. Smoother and more pliable textures, plus foundations with ingredients formerly found only in skincare, have made it easier than ever to to create the appearance of a perfect complexion that looks not like makeup, but like skin.
Still, Hart points out that even the best foundations need a skin-care assist. "Skin prep before applying foundation is the most important step when doing your makeup." Applying moisturizer first (yes, even for oily types!) helps foundation glide on smoothly, and well-moisturized face needs less makeup overall. And as always, the better you take care of your skin, the less foundation you'll want to wear.
On that note, Hart advises using a smaller amount of foundation than you might think you need. "The biggest mistake people make is using too much product," she says. "Apply it in thin, breathable layers until you have the coverage you want." Try a soft, fluffy brush such as Real Techniques setting brush or a Beauty Blender. Start small, then build up to your desired coverage. With these foundations, selected specifically for their your-complexion-but-better qualities, you won't have to worry about a heavy, obvious finish -- so don't be surprised when people compliment your "flawless" skin.
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For Oily Skin
Yes, this Rihanna-backed foundation sold out almost immediately -- but this full-coverage liquid formula has more going for it than star power alone. Available in 40 shades from fair to deep, it stamps out shine, giving oily complexions a mattifying boost all day long. One caveat: The formula can cling to dry patches, so combination skin types may want to use a primer.
For Hard-to-Match Medium and Dark Tones
If most foundation appears too pink or orange on your skin, this lightweight liquid is worth a look. Developed to match skin with yellow undertones, it provides satiny, medium-to-full coverage while smoothing over pores with an airbrushed -- but never masklike -- finish.
For Hard-to-Match Fair Tones
Hart, the makeup artist, raves about the way this liquid adds instant radiance. Its thin consistency makes it easy to apply with a brush or Beauty Blender, and the finish creates a subtle (not sparkly!) glow. It's available in 12 shades ranging from fair to medium tones.
For Dry Skin
Another go-to product in Hart's makeup kit, this CC cream addresses a list of complexion woes without caking or creasing. Its buildable coverage camouflages hyperpigmentation and moderate blemishes, while SPF 50 and anti-aging ingredients (including peptides, hyaluronic acid, and niacin) hydrate and brighten.