There are more choices than ever when it comes to foundation. Here's how to choose the best formula for the look you're going for.

By By Kate Sandoval Box
Updated: January 19, 2018

Velvety, bronze, or glowy and sheer-whatever skin effect you're after, the key is finding the right foundation. (A solid skin-perfecting primer helps too.) These next-gen formulas have you covered.

The Look You're After: Flawless But Also Completely Natural

Photo: Peter White / Getty Images

The new fluid formulas are stocked with pigments to fully hide blemishes, yet they feel and look like nothing. Built-in powders act like light diffusers that distract from imperfections, while polymers absorb oil so makeup lasts longer. "You're left with a finish that's fresh and matte enough that you don't need additional powder," says Peter Philips, the creative and image director for Dior Makeup. To apply: "I dot foundation on different areas of the face with a finger or a brush, then blend it all in with a slightly damp makeup sponge, which creates the most seamless result," says makeup artist Gita Bass, a brand ambassador for Simple Skincare.

Go for full-coverage liquids:

  • Nars Natural Radiant Longwear Foundation ($49; narscosmetics.com)
  • Dior Forever Undercover 24H Full Coverage Foundation ($52; dior.com)
  • Fenty Beauty Pro Filt'r Soft Matte Longwear Foundation ($34; fentybeauty.com)

The Look You're After: Bronzed with a Healthy Vacay Vibe

Photo: Brian Dowling / Getty Images

To make skin look believably sun-kissed, apply bases in very sheer layers. First up is a tinted primer, which warms skin and fixes unevenness in one pass, says Maybelline global makeup artist Erin Parsons. Smooth it all over with your fingers, then add a second layer to cheekbones. "This time use an angled blush brush to better target the area," Parsons says. For more luminosity and to conceal blemishes, layer on a medium-coverage moisturizing foundation. It's still sheer, but it has enough pigment to hide blemishes plus hydrating ingredients for a natural dewiness. (If you decide to go for a more drastic color change, read everything you need to know about self-tanner before you swipe some on.)

Combine a bronze primer like Gigi Hadid x Maybelline New York Tinted Primer ($12; ulta.com) with a hydrating foundation like CoverGirl Vitalist Healthy Elixir ($9; target.com).

The Look You're After: That Just-Worked-Out-Superglow

Photo: Anthony Harvey / BFC / Getty Images

If your goal is simply to even out your complexion, you can now do it while creating a radiant finish with a new skin-care–makeup hybrid called a skin tint. "These formulas contain moisturizers for a hydrated glow but are translucent enough that they won't cover up that added dewiness," says Ashlee Glazer, a makeup artist in NYC. Apply with your fingers just as you would any skin product. Now tap on a medium-camouflage liquid foundation to any spots that need extra coverage. Then amp up your glow with a moisturizer (or a bit of Aquaphor Healing Ointment, $7; target.com). "Put it on top of your foundation for a natural, no-shimmer sheen," Parsons says. (Apply a highlighter on top for an even more intense glow.)

Try a skin tint like L'Oréal Paris Visible Lift Luminous Serum Tint ($15; ulta.com) or a liquid foundation like Rimmel London Lasting Finish 25HR Breathable Foundation ($15; asos.com).

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