I’m willing to bet you have two or three lip products with you right now, and even more than that at home. They’re impulse purchases—whereas buying foundation requires a lot more intent. You want one that falls in the triple venn diagram of not too expensive, the right shade, and wears how you want it to. Oh, and plays nicely with your skincare. And doesn’t break you out. That’s a lot of pressure for one bottle of flesh-toned liquid! If you’ve found one you love, I salute you. But for all that loyalty, you might be missing out on new, cool stuff happening in the foundation aisle—and, I assure you, there’s lots. Unexpected textures, extended shade ranges, and surprising budget wins. Here’s a rundown, if you want to branch out.
The Lightweight Ones:
Coverage: Ashley had been talking about this foundation for a while, and with good reason. It wears like a heavy-duty foundation, but feels like a tinted moisturizer—that’s because the formula is thin and water-based, like a face and body foundation. Use one drop for a tint, or two to build up to medium coverage where you need it.
Finish: A dewy finish that lasts—it’s just as suited for everyday use as it is for special occasions.
Shades: 18 from pale to very deep
Best for: Those who don’t want to get foundation all over their hands. What I like to call the butt pump (sorry) is a little squishy pad on the bottle’s base—all you have to do is press it for a measured drop of foundation. Feel free to use it straight on your face.
Coverage: You can build it to medium coverage, but it looks best and the least streaky when you just wear it sheer. Realistically, they’re translucent enough that you can use something that’s not your exact match and it’ll blend in just fine.
Finish: Lightweight, pore-smoothing, and matte—a tinted moisturizer that’s more tint than moisturizer, if you know what I mean.
Shades: 16 from very pale to deep, with fewer options for dark tones
Best for: When you want powder coverage but hate the feel of wearing powder.
Coverage: Despite being very thin and facial oil-y, surprisingly high!
Finish: The formula is super thin, and it dries to a satin skin finish—not too dewy, not totally matte where it’ll emphasize dry parts.
Shades: 28. La Mer recently (quietly) extended its shade range—but we should talk about it, because it’s still rare that a luxury, heritage line like La Mer caters to all colors on the shade spectrum. (Looking at you, Armani Maestro.) La Mer took a step in the right direction with eight new shades to build out the ends and olive-y middle of their range.
Best for: When you want lightweight coverage plus the skincare benefits of La Mer (hello Miracle Broth and SPF 20) and you don’t care how much it’ll cost you.
The Ones In A Pot:
Coverage: It looks like a tiny version of Soleil Tan de Chanel, but don’t let that (or the name) fool you: this foundation is full-coverage and more of a whip than an oily balm.
Finish: It’s totally matte and full-coverage. Applied with a brush, the fluffy texture sits on top of skin without settling into fine lines or dry patches. Moisturizing well brings the texture down to a satin, if full-on matte doesn’t do it for you.
Shades: 16 shades, which is standard across Kevyn Aucoin foundations.
Best for: Those who have been turned off by full-coverage matte foundations and don’t feel like they have a way in. Also, frequent travelers who want something solid.
Coverage: Well, well, well! It seems like RMS finally got word that people were using their concealer as foundation. And instead of re-potting it into a larger jar, they whipped up a full-face version that feels like their original coconut oil based concealer and Kevyn Aucoin’s Sensual Skin Enhancer had a baby. It has a comparable coverage level to their concealer, but more comfortable for all over.
Finish: The super creamy, thick texture (chalk it up to jojoba, castor, and meadowfoam seed oils as the top three ingredients by volume) might be intimidating to foundation newbies, but it actually works in your favor: applied warmed up between fingers or with a damp sponge, has a bouncy, flattering skin finish.
Shades: 16 shades with varying undertones that sheer out on skin—you’re bound to find one that works.
Best for: When you want an even, dewy complexion but aren’t quite ready to go concealer only.
The Full-Coverage New Classics:
Coverage: Full-coverage, like the original Pro Filt’r foundation.
Finish: This is the hydrating formula, but the website states clear as day that it’s not dewy. If you were hoping for a dewy version of the classic matte Pro Filt’r, this ain’t it. It is a satin finish foundation that matched my skin tone perfectly.
Shades: The most impressive part of this foundation is not that it comes in 50 shades, but that I was able to match mine perfectly just by using the quiz on Fenty’s website. I mean, !!! If shade matching is the most torturous aspect of foundation shopping, Rihanna holding your hand and whispering soothing words like, “Shh, it’s OK” and, “You’re 185” sure does make it better.
Best for: Rihanna stans who wanted to buy into Fenty but weren’t quite ready for full-coverage matte. Also great to have on-hand for special occasions.
Coverage: Full coverage!
Finish: You should know that there are two versions of this foundation, one for normal/dry skin and one for combination/oily skin, and Revlon made the formulas totally different. The oily one is SPF 15 and has a texture that’s more like a creamy, traditional foundation—the dry formula has SPF 20 and feels thinner and oilier. Personally I, a haver of dry skin, think the oily skin version is better. I found the dry formula actually gripped onto my driest, flakiest parts a little bit more, and just preferred the blendability of the oily version more, too. The fact that it comes with nearly double the shade options can’t hurt either, but heck, try both! They’re only $15.
Shades: The dry skin version comes in 24 shades, and the oily skin version comes in 43. And while the undertones are robust, there could be more dark options.
Best for: Let’s just say this: I put this on one half of my face and Fenty on the other, and my coworkers couldn’t tell which was which. Sounds like a budget dupe to me?
Photo via ITG