Luminous or matte? BB or CC? Liquid or powder? Complexion products can be confusing, so we’re making it easy to find the right one for your skin.
Sephora beauty director David Razzano says the general rule for choosing the right liquid finish is based on skin type. “Those with drier and/or mature skin are better off with luminous formulas; oily and combination skin types typically benefit from a matte finish to minimize shine.”
Expert tip: Celebrity makeup artist Lisa Eldridge suggests applying a little at a time, even if you want full coverage. “It’s amazing how much longer thin layers last, and how much better they look. Apply from the center of the face toward the hairline to make the edges imperceivable.”
Two to try: Luminous: Giorgio Armani Neo Nude Foundation ($40); Matte: Clé de Peau Beauté Radiant Fluid Matte Foundation SPF 20 ($130)
“Many powder formulas contain light-reflecting particles that give the illusion of smoother skin without the weight of liquid foundation,” explains Armani Beauty celebrity face designer Tim Quinn. Razzano says those with “extremely oily skin would be doing themselves a huge favor to try powder.”
Expert tip: Some formulas are designed to be applied with a wet brush or sponge so it goes on like a liquid but dries into a powder, Razzano adds.
One to try: Shiseido SYNCHRO SKIN Self-Refreshing Powder Foundation ($45)
Cream-based sticks may be one of the oldest forms of foundation, but they’re still the preferred choice for many makeup artists. “Creams are the most buildable, so you can go all the way up from sheer coverage to concealer-strength,” says Quinn.
Expert tip: Sticks are also great for dry skin: “When skin is really dry, it can absorb a lot of the hydration from liquid formulas, leaving only the pigment behind, which can then begin to flake and create patches in the foundation,” says Razzano. “Sticks will stay creamy longer on dry skin.”
One to try: Huda Beauty #FauxFilter Skin Finish Foundation Stick ($39)
Hailing from Korea as a lightweight alternative to foundation, “Beauty Balms” offer more coverage than a tinted moisturizer. “They’re typically sheer-to-medium and contain light-reflective particles to give skin a radiant glow,” Eldridge explains. They’re also infused with skin-care benefits, such as SPF, antioxidant protection and acne-fighting properties.
Expert tip: Quinn says many BB creams can also function as daytime moisturizers, which combines two steps into one for those looking to save time in their routines.
One to try: Pūrlisse Radiant Glow Illuminating BB Cream SPF 30 ($35)
“Color-Correcting” creams use pigments to even skin tone and alleviate concerns like redness or sallowness. They also tend to feature more coverage than BB creams, and “are ideal for someone who wants more coverage, but doesn’t want to feel or see heavier foundations on their skin,” says Razzano. Quinn finds that many of his clients who would normally wear a color-correcting primer to neutralize redness or rosacea enjoy the perks of a CC cream.
Expert tip: “CC creams tend to come in a smaller range of shades than foundation, so for those having trouble finding a shade, you can create a similar effect by using a color-correcting primer under your regular foundation,” says Eldridge.
Straddling the line between makeup and skin care, tinted moisturizers hydrate skin while masking minor imperfections with a subtle hint of color. Most formulas have a comfortable, second-skin feel—many come infused with SPF, too. “They’re great if you want something really lightweight and gently perfecting for wearing around the house,” suggests Eldridge.
Expert tip: They’re the ultimate go-to for the person who wants the ‘no makeup makeup’ look,” says Razzano. “They won’t cover acne or hyperpigmentation.”
One to try: Smashbox HALO Healthy Glow All-in-One Tinted Moisturizer ($36)