Posted on: January 9, 2024 Posted by: Comments: 0

I don’t like foundation. Never have, never will. As a beauty editor, it’s safe to say my gripes with foundation cause me some issues. Because while I hate the way it makes my skin feel greasy and appear two-dimensional, a huge number of people wear it every single day. And the most confusing part of it all is, I love the way certain formulas look on other people—I just can’t stand them on me. If I could have it my way, I’d never wear foundation ever again. However, in the name of research and being a good beauty editor, I’ve tried virtually every foundation and base product out there.

And while I know my disdain for foundation is particularly extreme, I also know that there are a lot of people out there who share some of my views. The truth is foundation simply doesn’t look like natural skin, and I don’t think it ever can. I feel confident enough to say this because, as someone who has tried all of the best and most luxurious foundations on the market, I have never found a formula that isn’t visible on the skin (or the screen of my phone after I’ve taken a call). And it is this basic issue that has natural-looking-makeup lovers distancing themselves from foundation.

You see, we foundation haters all share the same makeup ideal: We want fresh, radiant, natural-looking skin that’s clear, even in tone and smooth to the eye. Is that really too much to ask?

Well, for the most part, I’ll admit that yes, it is. But there are some foundations and bases out there that deliver as close to natural-looking results that can possibly be delivered. I’m talking fast-absorbing formulas with skin-like finishes that don’t pool, crease or turn patchy. If you want a subtle veil of coverage that helps even skin out while ensuring it still looks like yours, here are the 13 best natural-looking foundations out there.

A recent discovery, this is without doubt the best base product out there for those who don’t like wearing foundation. The coverage is light, so if you prefer a fuller-looking face, it won’t be for you. However, if you’re in the market for a sheer skin perfecter that’s ideal for daily use, this is the best I’ve ever tried. It’s lightly hydrating, doesn’t sit on the skin’s surface, and takes down redness and discolouration with concealer-like ease. If you haven’t found the perfect no-makeup-makeup base product yet, I can assure you it’s this.

The aforementioned Summer Fridays skin tint is more of an invisible veil, whereas this stuff is creamy, hydrating and beautifully cooling. While the coverage is lightweight (making it pretty undetectable on the skin), it delivers a skincare-like glow and dewiness that sticks around all day, making it a delight for those with drier skin.

According to Who What Wear UK beauty editor Eleanor Vousden, this is one of the best natural-looking skin tints around if you want a dewy finish. “I now can’t live without Ilia’s Skin Tint,” she says. “The serum texture melts into the skin and offers impressive coverage that doesn’t look heavy. Instead, it imparts a healthy, dewy glow, while the additions of niacinamide and squalene genuinely leave my skin looking better as I wear it.”

Don’t be fooled by the bottle of this stuff—it is a foundation through and through. It has an impressive amount of coverage (one layer will deliver medium coverage, but it can be layered for more) and delivers a true glow. Formulated with a plethora of hydrating skincare ingredients, it’s the sort of foundation that really works with skin rather than against it. 

Oily people, if you don’t like having to use powder over your foundation, keep scrolling—this stuff will likely need a dusting of something mattifying if your skin is already oily. It is almost impossibly lightweight and invisible on the skin, delivering a truly stunning, dewy finish, which is perfect for those with dull or dehydrated skin.

When Chanel first launched this product (albeit with a different name and formula) a few years ago, I’ll admit I didn’t really get it. However, the brand gave things an update, producing something that is nothing short of perfection. Containing spheres of pigment that are suspended in a skin-loving, gel-like concoction of water, antioxidants and hydrating emollients, this formula delivers whatever your skin needs most at that time. Plus, the cooling gel consistency makes it beautifully glow-boosting for winter months.

If I could have any beauty wish granted, it would be for this foundation to be cheaper. However, it is without doubt the best true foundation I have ever used. With a beautifully buildable medium coverage, it becomes one with the skin in a way that, in my opinion, no other foundation can. It just leaves skin looking healthy. Considering the price, I really don’t like shouting about this foundation too much, but I can’t bring myself to round up the best natural-looking foundations out there and not include this. If you have £108 going spare or are looking to invest in your beauty regime, it’s a magnificent buy.

Dior’s Forever foundations are a real hit amongst foundation lovers, so I’ve surprised myself by including this product. If you love a totally blurring, fully disguising, skin-smoothing foundation with impressive coverage, Dior Forever foundations are absolutely magnificent. However, if, like me, you prefer your complexion to look as though it can breathe more, the Natural Nude range is a great option. It still packs a hefty amount of coverage, so personally, I’d use this just in the evenings. With that being said, however, it has a much lighter, skin-like finish that doesn’t possess a hint of cakeiness.

If I could only buy one evening-ready foundation for the rest of my life, it would be Yves Saint Laurent Touche Éclat Le Teint. With a very subtle, candle-lit luminosity, this foundation has a skin-like finish unlike any other medium-full coverage foundation I have tried. 

Nars is famed for its excellent foundations, and its latest base launch, Light Reflecting Foundation, is no exception. Unlike the brand’s cult Sheer Glow, which has a relatively full-coverage, satin finish, this stuff puts glow first and has a buildable medium coverage that allows you to tailor your results. I find it a little too glowy in the summer, but it’s ideal for colder months when skin is a little drier.

One of the best launches of recent years for those who don’t like the typical foundation look, Hourglass Ambient Soft Glow Foundation is a feat. Not dewy but not matte either, it has a true skin-like finish that is convincing enough to make people question whether you’re wearing foundation at all. The glow in this formula is subtle, unidentifiable to the eye, and beautifully natural.

When fellow foundation-sceptic Who What Wear Editor in Chief Hannah Almassi messaged me asking after the perfect base product for her, Rose Inc Tinted Serum was one of the first products that came to mind. The coverage is light and barely there, but the gel formula leaves skin looking plump, happy and hydrated, while the pigment spheres deliver a very slight blur.

For when you need a slightly fuller coverage and don’t want to break the bank, this foundation is the one to go for—particularly if your skin is dull and not majorly oily. It’s creamy, packs a blemish-disguising punch and leaves skin looking like skin. If there’s only one drugstore foundation you give a try, make it Born to Glow.

I genuinely could not believe just how much I fell in love with this stuff. In fact, I love it so much that after trying it for the first time, I wore it every single day for a month, which is entirely unheard of for me. The finish is somewhere between satin and matte. It doesn’t dull the skin at all but doesn’t leave it looking greasy or dewy either. The coverage is relatively full, but you can just use less if you want to sheer things out. The most impressive thing about this foundation though is the way it doesn’t scupper the skin’s natural radiance or glow. Whenever I wear it, I’m guaranteed compliments on my skin (not my foundation)!

Next Up: I’m a Beauty Editor—This Is My Ultimate List of the Best Foundations

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