Welcome to Deep Reviews—your one-stop destination to discover the absolute best products and brands the beauty industry has to offer. Every month, the Who What Wear staffers you already know and trust will research, test, and review the market’s most sought-after and buzzed-about products to see which formulas (of the hundreds up for consideration) are truly worth your hard-earned money and attention. You can expect honest, completely uncensored feedback and no-BS recommendations our hard-to-please testers endorse without reservations. To put it simply, stick with us, and buyer’s remorse will be a thing of the past.
While the majority of our Deep Reviews will feature our editors' honest, ultra-hot takes on wider product categories—or multiple products within a particular beauty brand—every so often we'll sprinkle in a special, single-product format called Honestly, I Love It. As the name suggests, these reviews will hone in on one standout beauty formula our editors quite literally can't shut up about. Next up? Kosas' Revealer Skin-Improving Foundation SPF 25 With Hyaluronic Acid and Niacinamide ($42).
I'm annoyingly picky about my makeup, in general, but said pickiness reaches new heights when it comes to foundation. In fact, I can name on one hand the number of foundations I've regularly worn since I first started wearing the stuff in high school. But even though I've found some great formulas in recent years, and even though I was feeling pretty satisfied with the foundation I'd been wearing pre-Kosas, the launch of Revealer immediately put all of my old standbys to shame.
From my very first application and wear, I fell in love with the look and feel of Revealer. It's a medium-coverage foundation, but the liquid consistency almost feels more like a serum, so it blends into your skin like a dream for an extremely natural, second skin–esque finish. Just like its name suggests, it's chock-full of nontoxic, skin-improving ingredients (more on those shortly), and in addition to providing weightless, buildable coverage, it instantly infuses your complexion with a dose of luminosity and glow (without looking too shiny). Last but not least, the strategic recipe of ingredients helps hydrate and plump the skin, so any pores and/or bumpy texture instantly look less noticeable. I liken it to a bottled Instagram filter.
Even though I became completely besotted with the Kosas Revealer Foundation (which isn't surprising since I've never met a Kosas product I haven't liked), what really stood out to me was the number of compliments I started getting on my skin (not my makeup, but my skin) once I started wearing it super-regularly. And, after getting flagged down and questioned by about five different beauty editors and influencers at a celebrity brand launch event in June, I started to keep track. As predicted, tons of similar "OMG, your skin!" compliments and questions ensued in the following months—spanning from Who What Wear Co-Founder and CCO, Hillary Kerr, to random cashiers at the grocery store, to a *super* well-known content creator I met during a press trip. (Who, quite literally, made me spill my exact product routine to her.)
What's funny is no one believes me when I tell them the key to my smooth, dewy skin is one sole makeup product and not an expensive 10-step skincare routine. Sure, my skin has been relatively clear as of late, but I would never say my skin is fantastic or compliment-worthy on its own, and aside from regularly incorporating Kosas's foundation (which is designed to improve your makeup-free skin as you wear it), nothing else in my routine has changed.
So, because my response all 47 times I've been complimented has simply been "It's the new Kosas foundation!" I decided it was high time to compose a dedicated ode to it. From the fantastic ingredient profile to celebrity makeup artist-approved application tips, keep scrolling for everything you need to know about my favorite foundation of all time.
Photo:Sheena Yaitanes / Felicia Abban
The inspiration behind the foundation's creation: "It all started because of the response to Revealer Concealer, Kosas founder Sheena Yaitanes tells me. "People in the office were telling me they would wear it all over their face as a foundation, which is something I also found myself doing. I loved the coverage and the super smooth finish it gave me, and my skin still looked amazing even after taking it off because of all the active skincare ingredients."
How it's different than other nontoxic foundations on the market: "The Revealer Foundation is a medium coverage, silky-finish foundation, skincare powerhouse, and SPF 25 in one," Yaitanes explains. "We packed the formula with skin-improving ingredients like hyaluronic acid, niacinamide, peptides, squalane, and provitamin B5—the stuff dream skin is made of. And it provides broad-spectrum UV and blue light protection. There are 36 shades, it's formulated without any silicones, and it’s long-wearing and transfer-resistant while still feeling comfortable."
Why makeup artists love it: "I like to describe Kosas's Revealer Foundation as liquid gold," says celebrity makeup artist Jaleesa Jaikaran. "It’s creamy and lightweight, but it's still capable of giving you coverage. My entire makeup mantra is for skin to always look like skin. What this really means is for skin to look unedited, yet perfected in any way you prefer, from freckles showing through to full coverage—it has to look real. The Kosas Revealer Foundation is the epitome of skincare marrying the complexion category of makeup. Whenever I'm on set, skin becomes the most important thing to perfect, and being able to do so in a way that looks natural (and by using products like this one) is one of the reasons I get booked often."
Expert application tips: "I like to either use clean hands or a small brush to apply the product and then a different brush to blend," says Jaikaran. That way, I can control how much is actually on my face and I'm not trying to blend with a brush that's already saturated with product."
"I also find it can be helpful to 'blueprint' your foundation before blending it all in," Yaitanes adds. "Map out where you want more coverage/less by dotting it all over the face where you’ll apply first, then blending, as opposed to applying in one area, blending, and repeating that process. I also love to actually use my fingers/hands for applying the foundation first, and then I'll use our Dual-Ended Makeup Blender ($14) to tie it all together and apply concealer."
Photo:@erin_jahns / Courtesy of Kosas
While it may seem far-fetched for a makeup product to wield skincare-caliber benefits, it's something I've 100% experienced with the Revealer foundation, and the Revealer foundation, alone. What's more—confession time—even though I wouldn't recommend it, I have *accidentally* fallen asleep with it still on my face. In the past when I'd do this with other foundations, I'd almost immediately pay in the form of congestion and painful breakouts. No more thanks to Revealer's A+ formula. Sure, I prefer to let my skin breathe at night, but wearing the foundation for extended periods of time definitely doesn't hurt my complexion like others have. I'm diving into the exact formula with Yaitanes, below.
"A key ingredient is niacinamide—a form of vitamin B3—which we use at an active level to help smooth and even the skin tone," shares Yaitanes. We also added caffeine to fight dullness, and olive-derived squalane to help balance the skin’s ideal oil and moisture levels. Arnica has been used for centuries to help soothe irritation, and when it's combined with panthenol—aka provitamin B5—you get the ultimate skin-calming dynamic duo. We added peptides to support the strengthening of the skin barrier for a plump, supple look and feel to the skin. Hyaluronic acid is the holy grail of hydration and helps retain moisture for juicy skin. Sheer non-nano zinc offers reef-safe SPF 25 broad spectrum UV protection, and last but not least, artemisia flower extract supports skin protection from the collagen degradation that can result from blue light damage."
What I truly find so wild about the Kosas Revealer Foundation is that it completely transforms my skin while still looking like actual skin if that makes sense. It truly is your skin but so much better. I like a lot of coverage, and I still feel like I can get full coverage with this product without it looking cakey or noticeable on my face. In fact, when our co-founder and CCO, Hillary Kerr, said we needed to talk about whatever it was that I'd been doing to my skin, she was unconvinced when I cited a foundation as my holy-grail secret. It really does transform your skin without looking like you have a face full of makeup on. My biggest skin concerns tend to be my dark circles, perpetual dullness, and some redness and post–acne scarring. I'm also extremely acne-prone and deal with some uneven skin texture because of it.
First things first, this is one of the only foundations I can wear that doesn't cause or exacerbate my acne-prone skin. It's noncomedogenic, and just that alone would give me reason enough to sing its praises. It also tackles redness and any type of pigmentation with ease and since it blends and layers so well, you can really customize your coverage to your heart's content without it ever making your face look like a pancake. Plus, because it's so deeply hydrating, it does plump up my skin so it looks smoother and more even. And, of course, the ethereal glow you get from this product is absolutely unreal.
I will say that I do run oily, and depending on the time of year—aka the temperatures and humidity levels—it can veer a little shiny after hours of wear. I like to use oil-absorbing sheets instead of powders to maintain the skin-like finish if I'm noticing too much shine, and I always finish off my makeup application with my favorite setting spray. Lastly, even though the formula is touted as long-wearing (and it is), you can't compare it to the bionic long-wear of some of its not clean counterparts. For instance, I've tried some more traditional long-wear, transfer-resistant formulas that are truly bulletproof and look the same on my face after 24 or 48 (don't ask) full hours. This one will still look good, but you will definitely want some touch-ups, and it won't look freshly applied the morning after if you happen to fall asleep in it like I sometimes do.
As far as my pre-foundation skin prep, I simply cleanse, and then I apply Tatcha's Dewy Skin Serum and Exa's Oil-Free Hydrating Primer. Then comes the foundation (which I apply first with my hands before blending and buffing out with a Beautyblender). I follow that up with the matching Revealer Concealer in a shade or two lighter than my foundation where I want to brighten or do some extra camouflage work. And voilà! Honestly, I love it, and I can't imagine my makeup routine without this product.
Shop the Other Kosas Products I Use Religiously
I'm a pencil girl through and through when it comes to my preferred brow product, and Brow Pop has been my obsession ever since its launch over a year ago. This pencil delivers the perfect amount of pigment, and the shape of the tip is great for definition, shading, and filling in your brows. Plus, Kosas, per usual, took its pencil to the way next level by infusing it with hair growth-promoting ingredients like castor oil and panthenol provitamin B5. Oh, and is it just me, or does the adorable packaging give off Lisa Frank/Gelly Roll pen vibes?! Super into it.
This. Concealer. Is. The. Shit. I love it, Hailey Bieber loves it, and do you even need to know anything more than that?! JK. Just like its foundation counterpart, this concealer is so rich in high-quality skincare ingredients that it's almost like a concealer and eye cream in one. It's lightweight, and it also happens to be the only concealer I've ever tried that doesn't crease—whether it's under my eyes or around my smile lines, it stays fresh-looking for on and on. I will never get over how fantastic it is.
I'm obsessive about Kosas's lipsticks. They come in the most beautiful, ultra-flattering shades, are super lush and creamy—they'll never dry out your lips—and they'll still look good after a cocktail (or three). This cool-tone pink nude called Rosewater is my ride-or-die. You can't miss!
This post was previously published and has since been updated.