There's no doubt about it: "clean beauty" and shade inclusivity are top concerns for today's makeup consumer—and rightfully so. No one likes the idea of toxic ingredients lurking in our beauty products and we demand shades that go beyond light, medium, and dark. And while brands are (thankfully) starting to catch up with the times, one, in particular, has actually managed to stay ahead of the curve all along. Enter: Cover FX.
Since it got its start over 20 years ago, go-to makeup company Cover FX has been invested in delivering high-quality, safe, effective products to consumers. Victor Casale, the brand's chief chemist and co-founder, claims he was probably one of the first to use anti-inflammatories to reduce redness. To this day, Cover FX prides itself on steering clear of the "inflammatory five": parabens, fragrance, gluten, mineral oil, and talc. Instead, the line of products boasts redness reducers, emollients, and vitamins. "We're known as a healthy brand that's good for you," he says. We caught up with Casale to learn more about the beloved brand and its multipurpose beauty products.
Founded: Victor Casale, 2000
Based In: New York, NY
Best Known For: Creating customizable beauty products that balance safety and performance
Most Popular Products: Total Cover Cream Foundation, Custom Cover Drops, Luminous Tinted Moisturizer
Fun Fact: The brand's name references the company's formulaic beginnings. "The idea was coverage, and F stands for foundation, and X stands for unknown," Casale explains. "Like in mathematics, X can be anything."
Other Brands You’ll Love: Clove + Hollow, Lilah B, W3llpeople
When recounting the company's beginnings, Casale admits, "We never really intended to start Cover FX." A founding partner of MAC, he had been helping Lee Graff (his eventual Cover FX co-founder) formulate makeup for patients with skin conditions. His formulations helped cover up rosacea, psoriasis, vitiligo, eczema, and even burns and were carefully matched to the skin tone of each patient. "I did it as a service and really appreciated what it did for the patient as a person."
With roots in giving back to the community, Cover FX blossomed into a successful beauty brand because people wanted more of it, and not because it was a brand from a multinational marketing company. "At MAC, I formulated product to make mostly good-looking people look even better. At the lab, I was formulating product just for people to feel good about themselves." Casale was especially careful with his formulations to make sure they were safe and good for the skin. "As a science guy, as a chemist in the industry, I had a lot of insight as to what I wanted to do as far as performance and color, but working with dermatologists I learned how to manage safety, toxicity, what to put in, and what not to put in."
Drawing on his years of color matching, Casale created a collection that spans the lightest to the darkest shades he's ever matched. Every shade in between is a step down by three percent. Casal jokes that he would personally get angry with himself if someone couldn't find their foundation shade out of the brand's 40 color offerings. "We're about complexions and that's why we started." A few years ago, he reformulated everything, changing the shading system to neutral, gold, and pink. "You can buy liquid foundation, pressed mineral foundation, and cream foundation in the same shade," Casale says. "So if you're N30, you're N30 across the board. You can buy every product we have in N30, and it's for you." On top of Cover FX's extensive shade offerings, their products are formulated to mix and blend, meaning: whether you're looking to lighten or deepen your concealer, tint a moisturizer, or create your own personal foundation, the multifunctional products offer a truly customizable experience.
Read on for our favorite FX products and links to our full reviews.
If full coverage is the name of your foundation game, then this oil-free cream foundation deserves your attention. According to Casale, it was Cover FX's hero product and remains one of their bestsellers. Honestly, it's not hard to see why: a little goes a long way in offering all-day coverage. It's formulated with phytosphingosine, which, despite its complex name has a clear and simple aim: to calm redness and promote a healthy skin barrier. Although the stuff is marketed as a foundation, you can also use it as a concealer. Just apply it using either a sponge, brush, or your fingers. It blends like a dream.
Shopping for a foundation can be overwhelming. With all the options out there—not to mention, what's trending on TikTok—how can you be sure what's right for you? Well, for starters, it's worth considering your skin type. This pressed mineral foundation is ideal for those with oily or combination skin thanks to its powder formula. And since it comes in a convenient compact, it's great for on-the-go touch-ups (read: no excess shine here). Apply with the included sponge to get medium to full coverage. If you're looking for anything more, simply wet your sponge first; anything less, use a powder brush instead.
We're often skeptical of foundations that label themselves "natural finish." After all, wouldn't that just make them glorified bb creams? Still, as beauty editors, keeping an open mind is essential because you never know (as was the case here) when you'll strike foundation gold. Apart from offering a flawless base, this Natural Finish Foundation worked double-time to both moisturize skin and protect it. It's packed with ultra-hydrating emollients including antioxidant squalane and Vitamins C, E, and F. Those with acne-prone skin will give it two thumbs up for its water-based, oil-free formula. For your preferred coverage, layer as desired.
You may have already heard about the benefits of a microbiome diet, but what about microbiome skincare? Byrdie contributing writer Tanya Akim, a self-proclaimed "probiotic nut," was over the moon when she discovered that the living, gut-friendly bacteria had made its way into beauty products. In her review of Cover FX's Tinted Moisturizer, she lauds the product for giving her "filter face." Formulated with prebiotics and probiotics, it blurs pores and strengthens the skin’s natural moisture barrier to give you a flawless, radiant complexion. Try it out in the summertime or any time that you're going for that "no makeup" makeup look. "If you’re looking to heal your skin from a year of stress and resurrect your glow, this is definitely for you," writes Akim.
If your made-up face is looking like a shiny mess, you know the woes of having oily skin. Fortunately, setting powder can help to absorb excess oil and as its name suggests, set your makeup so that it won't budge. This illuminating number goes a step further by promising a radiant glow, as well. That's all thanks to the ethically sourced mica found in its formula. What else can you find in its ingredients? A host of antioxidants including green tea, which works to soothe and protect the skin. For best results, we like to use this powder post-foundation, applying it to our T-Zone and other areas where oil is a concern.
Looking to keep your makeup in place but oily skin isn't a concern? Then it's time to consider the powers of setting spray. This one by Cover FX comes with the promise of that dewy skin that we're all after (of course if you prefer a matte finish, they have a spray for that too). The formula is alcohol-free, so it won't dry out skin; in fact, it does quite the opposite: shea butter, hyaluronic acid, and prickly pear cactus extract hydrate and nourish. The result? Hello, glow.
Thanks to Cover FX's safe formulations and natural palette, many of its products are multipurpose. One of its bestsellers, the Custom Enhancer Drops, can be used to transform a number of other beauty products. "You can put them on straight, you can put them in your foundation, you can put them in your moisturizer, and in your sunscreen," explains Casale. He even recommends putting a bit in the middle of your lip for added dimension to your lipstick or lip gloss.
Another one of Cover FX's core multifunctional products is its Custom Cover Drops. Need some ideas for how to incorporate them into your beauty routine? Great, we've got three: For one, blend them with your favorite cream or oil to create a tinted moisturizer; you can also concoct your own personal foundation by mixing with primer; and finally, they're foolproof in adjusting the shade of your concealer or foundation depending on the time of year. In case you're not quite sold, key ingredients include skin saviors like jojoba, mimosa, and sunflower complex. Honestly, what's not to like?