When I think "foundation balm," something creamy and dewy springs to mind, but when I tried Kevyn Aucoin's Foundation Balm ($52), it was the polar opposite—though not in a bad way. Full-coverage and matte, it comes with a full-size foundation brush as well. I tested it over a 15-hour day packed full of work meetings to see if it could hold up.
Pros + Cons
- Comes with a high-quality brush
- Full-coverage, matte finish
- Works for oily, combination skin
- Not a wide shade range
- Misleading product name
- Not Byrdie Clean
- Not ideal for dry skin
The Bottom Line: Long-wearing for a cream
Kevyn Aucoin Foundation Balm is not for the dewy, no-makeup look. It's super matte and long-lasting—especially for a cream—but not overly drying. Half the magic is in the included brush that works incredibly well at applying the product smoothly across the face.
Kevyn Aucoin Foundation Balm
Best for: Heavy coverage
Star Rating: 3.5/5
Active ingredients: Hyaluronic acid, vitamin E
Clean?: No—contains ozokerite
Potential allergens: Yes—talc
Shade Range: 20 shades from deep to light
What's Included: Foundation Balm Brush
About the brand: The namesake brand of makeup artist Kevyn Aucoin contains highly sought-after products that have become cult classics—like the Sensual Skin Enhancer.
About My Foundation MO
I love the dewy, juicy coverage that It Cosmetics' CC+ Illumination yields (you can read my love letter to the It Cosmetics CC+), but I'm also ready for something new.
How to Apply
There's a reason the brand bundled the product with the brush; they work exceptionally well together. Take your Foundation Balm Brush and swirl it into the product. You don't need much—a little goes a long way. Swirl onto skin using circular or downward motions, depending on if you want more coverage or less.
The Brush: One of the best
The included flat-topped brush is not just a throw-away product. Usually, brushes that come as part of the package can be cheap. But this one is perhaps the best foundation brush I've ever used. It applies, blends, and conceals (as if wielding the blur tool on Photoshop) with unbelievable ease. It's also small enough to get the product into all the nooks of your face, like around your nose and inner eyes.
The Coverage: Heavy
Not for the faint of heart, this covers redness and discoloration extremely well. It has buildable, full coverage, and while it's more matte than I'm used to, it's not flat or dull. It does a great job of neutralizing and concealing redness and blemishes, without leaving my skin looking cakey.
Is It Drying?
It's packed with hyaluronic acid and vitamin E, so it hydrates and nourishes your skin throughout the day, rather than drying out your face. However, it is quite a thick product that doesn't go on super smoothly. It seems more suited for oily or combination skin than dry skin. Some online reviewers claim it clung to dry patches.
Shade Range: Skimpy
With 20 shades, it's not the best shade range out there—especially for deep skin tones. Most of the shades are on the light to medium side and don't have a various undertones to choose from.
The Results: Velvety-matte all-day
It's not the longest-wearing product I've ever applied, but it's got impressive staying power nonetheless.
I applied the Foundation Balm to one side of my face—it instantly evens my complexion and neutralizes redness.
I've used cream pot-based foundations before, and they can tend to disappear quickly. But, you can tell this one will last a while, especially if you are strategic with your coverage (rather than opting for an all-over blanket application).
I applied the product at 7 a.m., with a full day of work meetings ahead, and didn't remove it until 11 p.m. that night. At 4 p.m., I did notice a little extra shine on my forehead and some redness around my nose. That said, a quick sweep of the brush over those areas, and the coverage looked good as new. Being a liquid foundation lover and a fan of a dewy finish, I'm used to doing a few touch-ups throughout the day anyway, and this foundation required just the one. It's not the longest-wearing product I've ever applied, but it's got impressive staying power nonetheless.
I applied the Foundation Balm all over and then added bronzer, blush, and lipstick to finish the look.
The Value: Excellent
At first glance, the Foundation Balm seems pricey at $52. But, considering you're getting a high-quality foundation brush and 0.7 oz of product (a generous amount for a cream foundation), it's really a fair trade.
Similar Products: You have options
IT Cosmetics Celebration Full Coverage Powder Foundation: This smoothing powder foundation ($39) doesn't typically come with a brush, but it is regarded as a smoothing, hydrating foundation for all skin types. Like the Foundation Balm, it contains hyaluronic acid and vitamin E.
Cover FX Total Cover Cream Foundation: For photography or when you want to look completely pore-less, Cover FX's oil-free cream foundation ($42) boasts full coverage in 40 shades. It's also hydrating with vitamins C, E, and omega-3 fatty acids.
Our Verdict: Ideal for oily skin
I don't think I'd completely ditch my usual tinted moisturizer for the full-coverage foundation balm. That said, when I need a little more coverage and staying power (perhaps a long day or night out), I'll be reaching for this formula again. I highly recommend doing the same if you're oily or have combination skin and want full-coverage in a cream-based product.