Summer is a beautiful, wonderful thing, brimming with rosé, pool parties, and dining al fresco. What's not beautiful, as I'm sure we're all aware, is mascara forming wet raccoon smudges under your eyes and foundation leaving salty, oxidized streaks down your face from the sun and sweat.
To stave off these disasters, I spent the last several weeks putting a bunch of foundations and skin tints to the test—with hours spent in my steamed-up bathroom, sweating through workouts, and suffering toe-to-toe with other commuters on non-air conditioned subway cars. While it's nearly impossible (and more than a little unnatural) to look perfectly matte in 90 percent humidity, there's still a way to have dewy, smooth, flawless skin regardless of the temperature—and the following 10 foundations are proof.
This product has won multiple Allure Best of Beauty awards, and for good reason. It’s a matte natural finish foundation and comes in an impressive 40 shades—I’m typically the palest shade in most face makeup ranges, and the fairest offering in this lineup was considerably too pale for me (which is to say, be sure to try before you buy!). It’s impossibly smooth and lasted through a long, humid walk to a very stressful vet appointment and hours spent in a hot kitchen later in the day. If you’re looking for a medium-to-full coverage foundation that lasts all day and looks great in photos, this one might be for you.
Make Up For Ever, Ultra HD Invisible Cover Foundation, $43, available at Sephora.
This lightweight skin tint smooths imperfections and blurs discoloration without heaviness or cakiness and, despite its hydrating nature, held up well during my testing. Used with a good primer, this incredibly silky foundation (truly—I was astonished at its texture) is ideal for a hot day. However, it comes in only three shades, which will likely work for most but those with the fairest or darkest skin tones; the lightest was a little too dark for me, a sad fact because it was otherwise perfection.
Laura Geller, Quench and Tint, $33, available at Nordstrom.
I admit I’m a sucker for anything with “gel” in the name, so my curiosity was piqued when I discovered this skin tint from Bare Minerals. The internet is obsessed with the light, buildable formula with sheer-to-medium coverage. Despite its slightly dewy finish, it lasts for hours in humid, moderate heat. If you’re particularly oily, though, you might want to choose something a little more matte.
BareMinerals, Complexion Rescue Tinted Hydrating Gel Cream, $29.50, available at Ulta.
My skin is pretty sensitive, so I’m always a bit nervous to use drugstore foundations—a lot of them contain fragrance, which makes my skin blotchy and red. Although this product does contain a small amount of fragrance, it didn’t irritate my skin in the slightest, and surprisingly had some of the best performance of any of the foundations I tested. It provides more buildable, sheer-to-medium coverage than your average BB cream, with a beautiful, natural finish. The biggest strike against it is its absurd shade range—although most light-to-medium skin tones will be able to pull off one of these shades no problem, those on the deeper end of the spectrum may have to look elsewhere. Be sure to use a primer with this one: It helps this product’s longevity go from 8 hours to 12.
E.l.f., BB Cream SPF 20, $6, available at Ulta.
This foundation is a cult classic, and I finally understand why. It’s a full-coverage powerhouse, firmly obliterating the appearance of any blemishes or other imperfections. And because of the clay in its formula, it’s an excellent choice for those with oily skin, who will appreciate this foundation’s oil-absorbing properties. It isn’t the lightest, most natural product I tried, but its longevity in high heat was impressive—it didn’t budge at all, and would likely last through even more considerable heat and humidity than I put it through.
Tarte, Amazonian Clay 12-Hour Foundation, $39, available at Sephora.
If you’re a beauty buff, you probably know that Laura Mercier makes the best damn face products in town. I typically wear her medium-coverage Candleglow Foundation, but this oil-free tinted moisturizer makes for an amazing option for long days spent drinking white wine and eating fresh fruit on the patio (at least, this is what I do all summer). Its sheer, natural finish is great for combination and oily skin, but even dry skin peeps will love this product with a good moisturizer underneath.
Laura Mercier, Tinted Moisturizer Oil-Free, $44, available at Sephora.
This amazing product has already become a staple in my makeup collection. It’s truly buildable with sheer-to-full coverage CC Cream that looks as natural as if you had nothing on—just gorgeous, flawless skin. It will last through most of a warm sweaty day, although if you’re really going to test it with, for example, a hike in the Grand Canyon or a few hours in the gym, you’ll be well-served with a high-quality mattifying primer to give it an extra kick.
IT Cosmetics, Your Skin But Better CC Cream, $38, available at Ulta.
A close friend, who works in the beauty industry and has endless access to as much free makeup as she wants, swears by this foundation in the summer. If you’re looking for a true matte (but still natural) finish and a super-long wear time, this product is for you. The shade range, while not extensive, is serviceable, and the price really can’t be beaten for what you get. This is the foundation you’ll want to wear on long days spent outdoors—just be sure to wear sunscreen and a setting spray for good measure.
L'Oreal, Infallible Pro Matte Foundation, $12.99, available at Target.
This little makeup pen was a surprise hit in the several weeks I spent on this story. It’s a click stick with a little cushion applicator that fills with product as you twist the end. Be careful: There’s likely more product in the tip than is obvious. It’s the most buildable and dynamic product on this list, as it’s fantastic as a concealer, sheer skin tint, or full coverage foundation. It also lasted impressively long for a product with such a silky, creamy texture. Throw it in your makeup bag when you go on vacation; you won’t need anything else.
Julep, Cushion Complexion 5-in-1 Skin Perfector, $30, available at Ulta.
I’ve been using this for years. Its sheer coverage blurs and calms my redness, and it’s survived 365 days of NYC weather. The dewy finish won’t be ideal for oilier skin in the summer, but for dry to normal skin types, you can’t get better. No one will ever know you’re wearing anything on your face; you’ll just look absolutely perfect, regardless of the weather.
NARS, Pure Radiant Tinted Moisturizer, $45, available at NARS.