Gone are the days when the only options for face makeup were thick, chalky, and wholly uncomfortable to wear. Now, brands have begun to formulate their offerings around different skin types, concerns, and preferences. For those with dry skin (me), or even those who prefer a dewier finish (also me) or want their makeup to act like skincare (me again), there are a ton of options out there.
Below, we round up our favorite hydrating foundations, the ones that use hyaluronic acid in their formulas or create products with a water (rather than oil) base. They use antioxidants, argan oil, and other nourishing, moisturizing ingredients while still focusing on the look, feel, and effectiveness of the foundation. It's a whole new world when it comes to makeup, and we're here for it. Keep scrolling for foundations that give you a good glow.
After a facial that left me covered in scabs for seven days, I opted for this BB cream out of necessity before an industry event. When I arrived at the event, hoards of editors approached me about my skin. As the weeks went on, the comments kept rolling in. It's enriched with rose water for long-lasting hydration, soothes your skin with lavender oil, and provides shockingly lightweight color-correcting coverage (that even has an SPF of 40). It glides on so easily, looks dewy all day long, and covers any redness or lingering discoloration I've come to accept as permanent on my face.
Neutrogena's Hydro Boost Water Gel is an industry favorite (everyone from professional dermatologists to celebrities like Kristen Bell to Byrdie's managing editor Lindsey have professed their love for the stuff), so when the brand launched a Hydro Boost foundation, I was sure it was a keeper. The weightless, water-gel formula plumps up your skin and boosts hydration, all while covering whatever skin things you'd prefer stay covered. It doesn't settle into fine lines either. It's a genuinely great drugstore product that offers oil-free, non-comedogenic coverage throughout the day.
Tarte's Shape Tape Hydrating Foundation ($39) is perhaps the first-ever formula to check all my immaculate-looking-skin boxes. It features collagen and hyaluronic acid (my two favorite hydrating, plumping ingredients) to keep your skin smooth, moisturized, and firm throughout the entirety of the time you wear it. The finish is luminous and buildable, so the coverage can be pretty customizable based on your needs (for me, it's usually whether there will be natural light or not). So it's dewy but not shiny, covers discoloration but doesn't cake, and includes vitamin C to protect against sun damage and aging.
Sulwhasoo's cushion compact is a favorite among editors. It offers a dewy, satin finish with medium to full coverage and never leaves your skin cakey-looking or dry. "I loved the actual application process. The sponge applicator makes it easy to build coverage exactly where you need it and feels more sanitary than using a brush or your fingers if you're on the go," our editorial director, Faith, said of the product. "My skin looked like my skin, only a better, less splotchy version."
This hydrating, oil-free foundation by Smashbox is a blend of flexible, breathable polymers that "move with your skin." It offers a diverse shade range, is totally transfer-proof, and allows your skin to breath and stretch as it would without anything on at all.
I'm pretty floored by the texture and color payoff this product yields. Think light, moisture, and weightless coverage with every drop. The water-based serum foundation works to blur and hydrate your skin with highly refractive, multi-reflective color pigments which reduce the appearance of pores, lines, discoloration and the like. But there's more. It's also formulated with hyaluronic acid and essential minerals, ingredients that help nourish your skin and increase that elusive healthy glow.
This sheer, deeply hydrating formula uses zinc oxide to soothe and protect your skin; as well as black currant, peony-root extract, and vitamin C to brighten; and tons of moisture. It is super translucent (this is not a full-coverage product), but it really does melt into your skin and add a little extra something when you're trying to keep it natural.
Benefit's first stab at foundation, in my opinion, is a wild success. It's called Soft Blur, and it does exactly that. The formula is light and serum-y, kind of like a summer version of whatever medium- to full-coverage product you're using now. It still offers a perfecting, blurring effect for all those annoying things like dark spots, redness, or uneven skin tone. Rather than using a sponge or traditional foundation brush, I buff it on with a fluffy concealer brush only in the spots I really need it (a little trick I picked up from makeup artist Katie Jane Hughes). The result is a natural matte finish (not dry, but not slick either) that is both sheer and easily buildable in the spots you need it to be (for me, that's around my nose, cheeks, and chin). It feels really weightless and super hydrating at the same time.
According to celebrity makeup artist Chauntal Capri Lewis, La Mer's cult-favorite foundation is a given if you're in want of a flawless, silky-smooth foundation with extra moisture. "Infused with the brand's signature Miracle Broth, it offers the skin SPF coverage, antioxidants, and a virtually poreless finish," notes assistant editor Erin Jahns. "Plus, the foundation's Color Capsule Technology keeps the color static throughout the day—regardless of heat or humidity."
Make Up For Ever's Water Blend Foundation is created with 80% water, so yes, it's über-hydrating. It's lightweight, offers a natural finish, and just feels good as you blend it on. It's cooling and glowy and everything else you want from a skin-friendly foundation.
Josie Maran's hydrating, medium-coverage foundation fluid employs the use of a cold-pressed process in order to preserve the ingredients in each batch. Plus, it's dermatologist tested and clinically proven to hydrate and smooth even the most sensitive skin. Seriously, the clinical studies for this product proved 100% of subjects experienced a significant increase of skin moisture by 106%, and 98% of subjects experienced a significant increase of skin smoothness and softness by 111% in just four weeks.
"If you're asking what foundation to buy, I'm automatically suggesting Koh Gen Do's impossibly lightweight, buildable, and newly formulated Aqua Foundation," gushes features editor Amanda. "Basically, every makeup artist I know is obsessed with this, and so am I because better than any other product, it conceals blemishes, darkness, and unevenness while genuinely looking like real skin. I wish it came in more shades, but folks who work for the brand recently told me they're coming, so stay tuned."
Kevyn Aucoin is known for that etherial glow. Such is the result from this foundation, The Etherealist, as it sets with a satin, shine-free finish and feels very comfortable and hydrating on the skin (courtesy of our favorite, hyaluronic acid).
It's a full-coverage formula (which isn't my go-to, but just wait) that feels light, whipped, and pretty much like bare skin once it's applied. It blends like a dream. It's so silky and melts into your skin once you hit it with a damp Beautyblender and offers a velveteen-matte finish (healthy, dewy, but not shiny). I applied it without primer and didn't dust powder over top, and it stayed perfectly on my face all day and into the night.
This matte-finish foundation glides on so easily and immediately smoothes and hydrates your skin as it covers. It has a high water content for extra moisture, though it easily nixes and absorbs sweat and offers a medium coverage that neutralizes discoloration and redness.