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Through a long-suffering process of trial and error in regard to streamlining my makeup routine, here is a thing that I have learned: For most of us, a good foundation is the most crucial component of any reliable regimen. It’s the one-step path to looking more put-together in, like, two minutes. Tone down redness, conceal any blemishes, hide dark circles and spots—whatever you need, your foundation should do it, end of story.
As someone who, given a natural inclination toward lateness, has only a few precious moments to slap something on most mornings, I rely on foundation to cover all the bases. More specifically, I want high achievers that eliminate the need for concealer. I know this is a tall order, but these foundations are out there, and I’ve been alternating among four of them—all new!—for the past couple of months, depending entirely on what kind of coverage I need and what finish I’m looking for. If you want it all, and of course you do, get out your beautyblender and roll some dice to find the one you need the most. (Spoiler: It’s all of them.)
This is one of the few “radiance”-enhancing foundations that I like—it doesn’t turn my face into an oil slick at any point during the day, but it does give me a very pleasant, toned-down glow. Plus, it has a lightweight finish that effectively evens out my skin without being too thick or makeup-y. The water-based formula, which also includes hyaluronic acid, likely has something to do with it. It is quite dewy, so I top it off with a little bit of powder and I’m good to go. It’s perfect for every day, but I’m especially indebted to it on days when I look alarmingly tired and/or hungover.
When they say full-coverage, they mean full-coverage. With that said, it certainly doesn’t feel terribly heavy, as many full-coverage situations do. This is my go-to when I’m breaking out, which is basically my only real skin issue, so I can’t personally attest to its rosacea- and melasma-concealing properties. It’s great for covering up acne, though! This one also has hyaluronic acid, which means it does a really good job of not enhancing dryness or fine lines. I can say that it makes my skin look perfect, which frightens me and definitely has something to do with why I only wear it for special occasions or when my face is losing its shit.
I’ve never had much success with Chanel foundations—so much fragrance!—but this one is just delightful. It goes on so smoothly, contains SPF 25, and has a fresh finish that’s neither dewy nor matte. My painfully chic step-grandmother definitely wears Chanel foundation, and she definitely always looks like she’s caked in dust or something, but this is a really flattering, modern formula that I recommend to everyone who wants something sheerish for soft-focus skin. I wear this when I need to look beautiful, like when I go to parties that my boyfriend’s ex might be at.
I know it says it’s a skin tint, which generally means a formula that barely does anything except “tint” already-perfect skin for … skin that is even more perfect. This one does nothing of the sort—in fact, I think the coverage is pretty substantial, but it has a tinted moisturizer-like texture that makes it feel weightless while smoothing everything out. It’s also not nearly as matte as you might imagine; it’s not glowy, but it’s also not at all chalky or dulling. Also, SPF 30!