When you want to fake perfect skin, makeup, especially a good foundation, can be your best friend. When you find the perfect foundation formula that works with your skin type and needs, well, you've hit the jackpot. I know I've been loyal to some of my favorite holy-grail foundations for years because they never let me down and always make my skin look so dang good.
When it comes to foundations, the possibilities are endless. There are so many different types of formulas: powders, sticks, creams (like BBs and CCs), and, of course, liquids. They all serve different purposes, but if you want full coverage and want to even your tone effortlessly, a liquid version is a no-brainer.
When choosing a liquid foundation, it helps to think of the type of finish you're looking for. "Do you like a more dewy, transparent finish or a full-coverage, matte finish? And everything in between," says Mia Jones, a celebrity makeup artist whose clients include Cindy Crawford, Chelsea Handler, and Rosario Dawson. "For me personally, it comes down to weight on the skin. If I feel the base makeup is too heavy, I feel uncomfortable and that the foundation is actually wearing me."
Since liquid foundations are super blendable, celebrity makeup artist Christine Cherbonnier recommends buying a couple of shades to better customize your foundation color, especially if you have multiple tones throughout your face and neck. She buys her winter and summer shade at the same time and mixes them together throughout the year.
Even though a foundation can give you perfect skin, you still don't want to skip the skincare step. "A common mistake these days is choosing a foundation with added skincare benefits to replace actual skincare," Jones says. "The work should always start with the skin by using proper skincare products."
When it comes to skincare and skin type, you'll want to keep a couple of things in mind when looking for the right liquid foundation. Oily skin types will want to reduce shine and excess oil. Dry skin types need a little extra hydration. Those who have sensitive skin need a product that won't irritate.
"For dry skin, if the coverage is full and matte or specifically has a long-wear claim, this can exacerbate the skin condition, as would a heavy cream, in causing congestion to acne-prone skin," Jones adds.
Take a look at the formula and determine whether there are any added skincare benefits or ingredients that could help (or even harm) your specific skin type. Also, Cherbonnier recommends looking at the viscosity. "It's helpful to pick the right viscosity for your skin type," she says. "A general rule is the more oily the skin the lighter the viscosity, and the drier the heavier."
As for application, you can use your fingers or a brush. "Fingers provide a warmth, as it is skin-to-skin touch, and a sponge or brush allows more layering with the capability to blend layers with a bit more control. Fingertips are fine as long as you check natural light for areas that might not be blended," Jones explains. While some people might be used to applying foundation with a sponge, Cherbonnier says the sponge can eat up the foundation, causing you to waste product.
Take the time to layer and blend the product. "When using a liquid foundation, don't feel like you have to cover the entire face in one even coat like a mask," Cherbonnier says. "I like to start from the outside of my face with a brush and down my neck, then use the remaining foundation on my brush through the T-zone. You can also use your fingers and apply it like a concealer where you need it instead of covering the entire face." And don't just stop at the neck. Cherbonnier says that most of us have different skin tones from the face to the neck, so she recommends blending down the neck and on the ears if needed.
Take a look at some liquid foundations below.
For Dry Skin
Cherbonnier recommends this Chanel foundation. It has light to medium coverage and lasts for up to 12 hours. The formula is made with antioxidants and over 40% water, so it's moisturizing.
This foundation (which is another Cherbonnier pick) has sheer to medium coverage and is lightweight. It's great for those with dry skin because it contains ingredients like T3 oil (a blend of jojoba oil, olive squalane, and shea butter), hydrolyzed yeast, and aloe extract.
Glossier's skin tint is a cult favorite and is perfect if you're looking for something that's not full coverage. The breathable formula leaves a glowy, dewy finish. It also contains glycerin, which will give skin a moisturizing boost.
For Combination and Normal Skin
My Who What Wear colleagues Erin Jahns and Courtney Higgs both recommended this liquid foundation to me. The full-coverage formula leaves a matte finish and has plenty of skincare benefits, like reducing the appearance of wrinkles and hydration.
"I love Tom Ford foundations because of the quality, and color pigment. Tom Ford complexion products never disappoint and are a staple in my kit," Jones says.
Jones likes this tinted face oil for everyday wear because it's a clean-beauty find, and the coverage is incredible yet weightless.
You'll find your perfect match since this foundation range features 51 shades. The formula has a blurring technology to minimize the appearance of pores and soften fine lines. It's long-lasting and hydrating and leaves a matte finish. Plus, the range has six different custom skincare formulas based on skin tone needs.
This one is my personal favorite. It doesn't take much product to even out my skin tone, and it leaves a nice matte finish. Plus, it's got antioxidant-rich vitamins A, C, and E to protect the skin. I love that it doesn't feel too heavy or cakey on my skin.
Higgs also told me that Rare Beauty's foundation is a "game changer." It's a medium-coverage product that leaves your skin with an effortless, natural finish. It's also infused with a botanical blend of lotus, gardenia, and water lily to soothe the skin.
Another rec from Who What Wear's beauty editors, this one from Pat McGrath Labs is completely buildable and has sheer to medium coverage. The finish is natural and radiant.
Jahns also loves this liquid foundation from It Cosmetics. The formula will not only perfect your complexion, but it's also good for your skin. It contains nourishing ingredients like hyaluronic acid, aloe vera, HEPES (to brighten), and vitamins E and B5.
Shiseido's liquid foundation is another popular favorite. The formula has a special technology that makes the coverage look fresh throughout the day. It also has SPF 30 protection.
For Mature Skin
This is another one of Cherbonnier's foundation picks. "I have mature, sensitive, combination skin. I like to have a luminous, hydrating foundation without a lot of silicone, which can cause breakouts through my T-zone," she explains.
For Oily Skin
Made for normal, oily, and combination skin types, this foundation is buildable and has a soft-matte finish. The best part? There are over 50 shades to choose from.
With over 55,000 ratings and 4.5 out of 5 stars on Amazon, this drugstore foundation is one of the highest rated ones out there. The matte formula is best for normal to oily skin types.
For Sensitive Skin
Jahns also recommended Physicians Formula's foundation. The drugstore find is long wearing and buildable. It also has good-for-the-skin ingredients such as hyaluronic acid, vitamins A, C, and E, and SPF 20.
Here's another drugstore pick that doesn't disappoint. The lightweight product goes on smoothly and will even the skin's tone and texture. It also has skincare ingredients such as SPF 20, antioxidants, calming feverfew extract, and natural soy.