The Foundation That Does Everything But Pay Off My Student Loans

Don’t sleep on ILIA’s True Skin Serum Foundation

by Hafeezah Nazim

Friends don't let friends miss out on all the cool, under the radar things they know about, like where to buy ultrafashionable clothes at decidedly non-runway prices or which little-known beauty brand is low key making the best highlighter around. And because we consider our readers to be like friends, we decided to gather together all our best tips in a new series: Don't Sleep on This. Check in every week to see what things we can't wait to share with you.

Growing up, my mother always advised me to never look, in her words, a "hot ass mess in these streets." Ever the perfectionist, I'd watch her in my youth (and to this day!) unapologetically put on a full face of makeup to do menial tasks, which often included things like retrieving mail from the mailbox (which, might I add, was just at an arm's length reach from our front door), going on a quick trip to the grocery store, or doing chores around the house. It wasn't that she was insecure—makeup just made her feel beautiful. And who doesn't want to feel good all day long?

But of all the makeup I watched her put on, the most alluring item of her collection was her foundation. She never went without handfuls of the stuff, buying it in bulk as if there were a global shortage of her tan flesh in liquid form. I'm not sure whether it was her initial advice to my younger self about always looking my best, or witnessing her transformation as she put her look on for the day, or the fact that applying makeup became therapeutic for me, but something along the way kick-started my own foundation addiction, and I've never really looked back.

However, unlike my mother, I have moments where I feel deeply insecure about my skin. I'm a pretty hairy woman, and I accept that for the most part—but the hair on my face, in particular, makes me feel insecure. This anxiety was exacerbated by years of picking, poking, prodding, and, yes, shaving the hair off my face. A lot of my methods were not done with a particularly gentle hand and often left me with redness, welts, and even scars, all of which resulted in a lack of confidence in my skin. 

This insecurity means that I rely pretty heavily on having foundation on me at all times—like mother, like daughter, I guess. But it's a little bit more complicated than just smoothing on some makeup in the morning, and then forgetting about it until I wash it off at night. The summer is an especially difficult time of year to wear foundation—I've had nightmarish experiences in the past that made my skin not only appear yellowing, dry, and cracked, but also caused me to break out profusely due to the overwhelming amount of dirt, sweat, and cosmetics that had seeped into my pores. 

All of these woes changed, though, when I came across a new foundation that not only makes my skin look kissed from the high heavens but has helped to heal it. Unlike foundations that I've used in the past, ILIA's True Skin Serum Foundation actually does what it says it's going to. It's noncomedogenic, meaning it won't clog your pores (which in the summer is a life-saver), vegan, gluten-free, and cruelty-free. And not only does the foundation look like my actual skin but glow-ier, but it contains ingredients that help repair the damage done to my skin by years of picking. Thanks to the soothing properties of the aloe leaf, rose hip, jojoba, and marula oils, my skin instantly appears less red upon application, meaning that it's basically a semi-natural color-corrector as well. Praise be!

Aside from doing everything but paying off my student loans, my only gripe with this foundation line is its lack of skin tone shades. But hopefully, ILIA will hop on the inclusive beauty bandwagon soon, so we can all glow on together.

ILIA, True Skin Serum Foundation, $54, available at Sephora.