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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.
Summer is especially devious when it comes to a foundation. I’m bi-coastal, meaning I spend about a week or two per month in New York City, but otherwise, I’m home in Los Angeles. LA 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 LA; a dreaded phenomenon that J.Lo’s makeup artist, Scott Barnes, calls ‘skipping.’ The dewy coverage formulas I reserved for LA would leave me looking like a BP oil slick in New York City’s humidity. Then, it occurred to me: Why not just find a base that looks flawless in both places?
Enter sweat-proof foundation. "If you wear a great sweat-proof base you won’t need to worry about carrying around so many touch-up products," explains Tobi Henney, a celebrity makeup artist. "Although I do love Tatcha's Japanese Blotting Papers ($12) for on-the-go if you’re looking at an easy way to take away shine in the T-zone."
For an optimum, sweat- and fool-proof look this summer, try any of these tried and tested foundations.
Best Overall: Hourglass Cosmetics Vanish Seamless Finish Foundation Stick
This product is a pro at concealing annoying redness without catching any dry patches. I use a shade darker than my skin tone as a contour—I also love how mess-free and travel-friendly the packaging is.
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
According to Henney, anything matte is definitely going to help when it comes to warding off sweat in the summer. 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.
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 with SPF 50+
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 have 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.
What Our Testers Say
"I found Too Faced's Born This Way Foundation to be really impressive: it didn’t take much to achieve even coverage, the product felt comfortable on, and my skin had a natural finish that mimicked its best days." — Khera Alexander, Product Tester
What to Look For in a Sweat-Proof Foundation
Long-Wearing or Waterproof
If you want your foundation to last through the hottest of days, opt for a formula that is long-wearing or waterproof. This will help it hold, and prevent as much of the product from sliding off of your face as possible. It'll also be handy for any outdoor activities you have planned.
Opt for an oil-free formula, if possible. Oil-based makeup tends to come off easier than other formulas, which is what we're trying to avoid. Try more lightweight or matte formulas, like many of the selections seen here, as they'll last through whatever sweaty activities you put your foundation through.
Foundations are available in a multitude of coverage levels, ranging from light to full. Select a coverage level based on what you prefer. Lighter coverage will conceal or blur redness and other slight imperfections whereas full coverage has the potential to cover it all. Either way, it's truly about personal preference.
Can I use foundation everyday?
If you want to, you can. To avoid potential breakouts, make sure you cleanse (or double cleanse) to remove any and all excess residue.
Is it better to use a sponge or brush for foundation?
Either works for applying foundation. Brushes provide more concentrated coverage and generally absorb less makeup than sponges, while a damp sponge will provide the most natural finish. Ultimately, it depends on the formula of the foundation and the finish and coverage level you're after.
How often do you buy foundation?
How often you purchase foundation depends on how frequently you use it, and how much you use per application. Generally speaking, you'll need to buy foundation at least once a year. After a year, the color, consistency, and texture may begin to change.
Why Trust Byrdie?
Meet the Expert
Tobi Henney is a bi-coastal makeup artist known for creating flawless, glowing skin. Her celebrity clientele includes the likes of Megan Fox and Ashley Graham and her work can be seen across the ad campaigns of major brands and in the editorials of the top fashion magazines. She originally hails from Sydney, where she was previously the L’Oréal Paris Makeup Director for Australia.