Why I'm Over Foundation (and What I Use Instead)



Ironically, my trajectory into foundation-free life began in an attempt to perfect my foundation technique. After observing it in action backstage at New York Fashion Week last year, I began to adopt a method favored by makeup artists everywhere: Diluting and customizing a foundation formula with moisturizers, serums, and the like. It's essentially a way to combine your priming and foundation step into one, and has the bonus of making your finish look more natural—and preventing any 4pm cakiness.

But as time went on, I began to realize that my skincare product-to-foundation ratio was significantly widening, until I whittled my way down to just a drop or two of color. Perhaps it's thanks to my little-by-little strategy, or the fact that I've nailed down my perfect arsenal of products—I'm guessing it's a little both. But either way, while I'm using less coverage than ever, I've never been satisfied with how my skin and makeup looks. Since that's essentially the point of foundation in the first place, I'd say I've achieved my goal.

Of course, my new preferences could just be a sign of the times. I've always found the terminology of "no makeup-makeup" to be highly problematic—especially since the look, while involving a neutral palette, has historically involved contoured, highlighted, airbrushed perfection. (Which is fine in and of itself, but let's call a spade…) So it's thus been heartening to note that on the runway and even on the red carpet (cheers, Alicia Keys), a "natural" look has evolved into something aptly pared-down. What a relief—I'd almost forgotten what real, un-Facetuned skin actually looks like on other people. And for awhile, on myself.

This all being said, removing the full-blown foundation step from my routine has given way to a few others in its place—though I'm happy to put in the effort to keep my complexion looking its best. (And on that note, let's be clear that this extra "effort" still falls under my relatively strict definition of low-maintenance—especially since it's essentially my morning skincare routine, to boot.) Below, I lay out my step-by-step routine—and every product I use in place of foundation.

Are you pro- or anti-foundation? Weigh in on our discussion in the comments below.