Our editors independently research, test, and recommend the best products; you can learn more about our review process here. We may receive commissions on purchases made from our chosen links.
Everyone falls into a foundation rut sometimes (see: photos of me with a ghost-white face and tan neck circa 2010—kidding, they’re nowhere to be found). Foundation—the meat and potatoes of any makeup routine—creates an even and uniform complexion, covers blemishes and hyperpigmentation, sometimes acts as a sunscreen or moisturizer, and can even give you a tan (yes for me, please). Foundation has always been my favorite product, even though most people would say I never look like I’m wearing any. And that’s how I like it: my skin, but better.
My version of good foundation changes, like all things, with the seasons, but especially in the summer. I’m bi-coastal, meaning I spend about a week or two per month in NYC, and otherwise I’m home in LA chasing my next cold-pressed juice (I see the cliché here). Being bi-coastal can be a real pain for packing toiletry bags and for home storage. My foundation drawer has grown significantly over the past year as I’ve filed away and collated the best base products for each respective city to a point that would make Extreme Hoarders look like a few amateur collectors. Then, it occurred to me: why not just find a base that looks flawless in both places?
Summer is especially devious when it comes to a foundation. L.A. is dry and really hot. NYC, meanwhile, can be as sweaty and humid as a Moroccan hammam (I’m normally into that, but not when I’m outside or wearing clothes). The sweat-resistant foundation that worked for me in NYC would get dry and patchy when I was in L.A.; a dreaded phenomenon that J.Lo’s makeup artist, Scott Barnes, calls ‘skipping’. The dewy coverage formulas I reserved for L.A. would leave me looking like a BP oil slick in New York City’s humidity. At this time of the year, everyone should be a little shiny. But for an optimum, sweat and fool-proof look this summer, try any of these tried and tested foundations. Wherever you are, you won’t be disappointed.
Best Light Coverage: Chatecaille Just Skin Tinted Moisturizer
Holy pickle shoots, this thing is dewy. It couldn’t be more aptly named because it looks just like skin (but better). It’s kind of crazy how well this wears through heat and humidity. Even people of the lowest maintenance can attest to this tinted moisturizer’s supremacy. I apply it with my fingers or with a rounded concealer brush shaped like a cat’s paw for all-day, even coverage with a controlled level of glow.
Best Matte: VDL Perfect Lasting Foundation
I don’t normally lean towards foundations labeled matte coverage, which is why I think this brand should rename their formula “perfect porcelain coverage”. Made in Korea, this is one of my new ride-or-die favorites, and from any beauty provenance (not just those starting with a “K”).
Best Full Coverage: Oxygenetix Oxygenating Foundation
I have literally been to a hot yoga class with this foundation on, and I didn’t look sweaty—nothing budged, nor did any of my pores get clogged. Formulated specifically for skin to breathe through makeup, this highly pigmented formula gives amazing coverage you can wear literally anywhere. As an added bonus, it’s also insanely good at covering redness. (You can read a more in-depth review here.)
Best Long-Lasting: Marc Jacobs Shameless Youthful-Look 24H Foundation
The Medium R300 is a perfect color match for me. Make sure you shake this foundation (like a Polaroid picture!) before applying it. It’s medium coverage with a velvety matte, clean finish. The added flashback-free SPF benefit is a great perk. It dries so well; I can barely feel it on my skin. I’ve given this a solid 12-hour wear test and did not need to touch up. I’ve grown out of all-nighters (mostly) but if anyone wants to test the full 24 hours, please let me know.
Best Stick: Westman Atelier Vital Skin Foundation Stick
This foundation stick is definitely a desert island product. For summer makeup, I really love a cream formula, mostly because of how nicely it blends with skin while managing oils and without catching dry patches. This foundation glides on so easily and literally never looks heavy. The warmth of your skin marries the product with your face quickly and it conceals spots without looking oily or like you’re wearing product. Also worth mentioning: this baby is TSA-friendly and so easy to travel with.
Best Hydrating: Koh Gen Do Maifanshi Aqua Foundation
Koh Gen Do recently changed the formula and packaging on this best-selling blend, and oh boy, does it deliver. It’s so silky and hydrating, but doesn’t slip off the face in the summertime. This brand is one of my favorites for all things—what can I say, I’m obsessed with Japan.
Best Natural: Tarte Babassu Foundcealer Skincare Foundation
Category is: buttered honey pancake realness. Score? 10s across the board. The newest foundation/skincare product from Tarte Cosmetics shook me to my foundation core (pun intended). It comes in 30 shades and gives medium-full coverage, meaning I can wear less of this while still looking even.
Best SPF: IT Cosmetics CC+ Cream
I love this foundation. It never looks dry, it doesn’t transfer, and it has a high SPF+, making it ideal for summer application without any pilling from sun protection. Don’t be fooled by the CC cream name—this base has coverage. I also trust the skincare aspect of this, mainly because its second ingredient is snail serum. This is one of the only formulas I wouldn’t be afraid to fall asleep in accidentally (I actually have before).
Best for Combination Skin: Too Faced Born This Way Foundation
A favorite among beauty insiders and fans alike, I haven’t found a climate that this foundation doesn’t look amazing in. I think this is especially good for girls prone to dry patches on their cheeks, but an oily T-zone. It’s oil-free, and the finish allows for light to hit in all the right places—aka it photographs so well.