When it comes to creating flawless complexions that look like they were blessed by a choir of heavenly angels, nobody knows more than celebrity makeup artists. They can get creative with a cat-eye, or craft a killer oxblood lip, but the foundation (pun intended) for it all is perfect, natural-looking skin.
With the help of their holy-grail foundation (and a few insider tricks), these seasoned makeup artists are able to mask redness, conceal blemishes, smooth uneven texture, and induce glow where there once was none—and all without skin looking overly “done.” Which is why we asked six top makeup artists to reveal their all-time favorite foundation. These are the foundations they cannot work without, that have changed their game, and flatter a variety of skin tones. Keep scrolling to see their picks!
Makeup Artist: Carl Ray
Clients: First Lady Michelle Obama, Natalie Portman, Claire Danes
Favorite Foundation and Application Tip: “One of my favorite foundations that can always be found in my kit is Make Up For Ever HD Invisible Cover Foundation ($43). It's oil-free and has a medium to full coverage. The formula covers all your skins imperfections, while remaining invisible on screen and in real life. It comes in 26 shades that are easy to mix and match to make the perfect shade for any skin type. I use a blender sponge for a flawless finish, and always use a moisturizer and a face primer before applying foundation.”
Makeup Artist: Kate Lee
Clients: Keira Knightley, Anne Hathaway, Rooney Mara
Favorite Foundation and Application Tip: “Chanel Vitalumière Aqua Ultra-Light Skin Perfecting Sunscreen Makeup SPF 15 ($47) is my cannot-live-without product for life. The formulation is so light and luminous, and it’s easy to use. This foundation just looks like a more perfect version of your own skin. You can apply with your fingertips, but the most flawless way to apply is to place dabs of foundation in the larger areas of the face, starting with cheeks, then forehead and chin, and then take a Beauty Blender ($20) dampened with Chanel Hydra Beauty Essence Mist ($90) and gently blend till the product is invisible.
You are left with a radiant complexion, and a little protection from harmful UV rays.”
Makeup Artist: Beau Nelson
Clients: Nicole Richie, Kristen Stewart, Nina Dobrev
Favorite Foundation and Application Tip: "A lot of people love Armani Luminous Silk foundation, which is amazing, but I love Giorgio Armani Designer Lift Smooth Firming Foundation ($67) even more. It provides even, adjustable coverage and a natural matte finish that looks flawless and natural to both the human eye and the eye of the camera. I apply with a synthetic brush like the It Cosmetics Foundation Brush ($48) or tap it on with a damp Beauty Blender from the center of the face outward—and if anywhere needs more coverage, I do a second layer.”
Makeup Artist: Tamah
Clients: Alexa Chung, Allison Williams, Elisabeth Moss
Favorite Foundation and Application Tip: "My holy grail foundations are the Koh Gen Do Maifanshi Moisture Foundation ($62), and the Koh Gen Do Aqua Foundation ($62). When it comes to foundation Koh Gen Do can do no wrong! I have never met a foundation that enhances skin as perfectly as these gems. Not only do I use them on my clients, I use them on myself. Both are luminous without being shiny, and have enough pigment to conceal without blanketing the skin in makeup. I usually don't need to use any additional concealer when I use these—they do it all!
They’re also great if you want to just spot conceal—they’re great alone under the eyes, around the nose, etc. The Moisture formula is a bit creamier in consistency, while the Aqua is more of a traditional liquid formula. I usually apply them with a soft brush, but they are easily applied with fingers or a sponge as well. A little goes a long way, so start small; a mini squeeze or one or two pumps usually do the trick."
Makeup Artist: Nick Barose
Clients: Lupita Nyong'o, Uzo Aduba, Lena Dunham
Favorite Foundation and Application Tip: “The look of the new Lancôme Miracle Cushion Foundation is really natural and easy to apply; it gives good buildable coverage that can be really sheer, or you can layer for medium coverage. The cushion compact makes it easy to travel with, and you can use it to do spot coverage. It's perfect to carry around in your bag, easy to use, and not messy. It also comes in a range of shades from fair to deep dark. After applying moisturizer and letting it set, I apply the foundation with the sponge puff that comes with it, gently padding it starting from the center of the face and blending outwards."
Makeup Artist: Quinn Murphy
Clients: Lily Aldridge, Kate Upton, Nicola Peltz
Favorite Foundation and Application Tip: "My go to favorite foundation is Giorgio Armani Luminous Silk Foundation ($62). To date, I have not found a prettier, smoother, and more realistic foundation than this. Also it has the best shade range, and the shades cover a large range of skin tones, so most people can find an exact match. The foundation is sheer and dries down to a glowing, slightly matte skin-like texture. It is easily blendable on the skin. I like to play with the coverage. For women who only need a tiny bit of unification on the skin, I will add a drop of a dry face oil (Nuxe Multi-Usage Dry Oil, $29 or Tarte Maracuja Oil, $46) to sheet it out.
For those needing a bit more coverage, the formula is buildable and mixes well with other fuller coverage foundations."
Have you tried any of these foundations? What’s YOUR holy grail foundation? Tell us in the comments!