Unlike lipstick, which is meant to be seen, base makeup is supposed to be your invisible ally, masking imperfections, evening out skin tone, and creating a perfect canvas for the rest of your makeup—without anyone knowing it’s actually there. Since that’s easier said than done, we’ve created a coverage guide to help you choose which formula is right for you.
Base Option: Tinted Primer
Coverage Level: Barely There
Applied after moisturizer, a tinted primer glosses over fine lines, dry patches, and rough areas. For a fresh-faced look, try Laura Geller’s Beauty Spackle® Tinted Under Make-up Primer in Bronze. The sheer bronze tint adds a subtle hint of color, while the antioxidant-infused formula hydrates thirsty skin. (Follow with actual foundation if you need extra coverage.)
Base Option: Tinted Moisturizer
Coverage Level: Au Naturel
Along the spectrum between bare skin and full-on foundation, tinted moisturizer hews closer to the former. To score this natural look, smooth on a thin layer over your face and down onto your neck, then continue with your regular makeup routine. Our entire team (minus the manfolk) is obsessed with Jouer’s Luminizing Moisture Tint. The oil-free formula feels positively weightless on, but provides smooth, even coverage and a radiant glow.
Base Option: BB Cream
Coverage Level: Sheerly Beloved
Originally designed to help post-peel patients mask redness, BB creams (which stand for beauty or blemish balms) combine the functions of a primer, antiaging serum, moisturizer, and light foundation in one product. Our current fave? Canadian import Marcelle, which infuses your complexion with just the right amount of color while antioxidants, aloe, and chamomile soothe, moisturize, minimize the appearance of pores and blemishes, and protect against aging.
Base Option: CC Cream
Coverage Level: Department of Corrections
CC Creams (aka color or complexion correction cream) are the latest alphabet-based beauty wunderkind. If you have acne, dark spots, or dull skin, a CC cream may be more up your alley. Unlike semisheer BB formulations, CC creams offer more coverage but still feel light on skin. If your skin is particularly picky, try Pür Minerals CC Cream Broad Spectrum SPF 40. Made with clarifying meadowsweet and brightening wheat germ extract, the silicone-free formula erases dark spots and evens out overall skin tone, plus protect your complexion from harmful (and aging) UV rays..
Base Option: Foundation
Coverage Level: Photoshop Finish
In our next life, we’d like to request a luminous complexion that needs nary a spot corrector. Till then, there’s nothing like liquid foundation to give you the look of perfect skin. Unlike the cakey foundations of yesteryear, Benefit’s Hello Flawless Oxygen Wow! expertly masks imperfections without feeling too heavy. A beauty editor favorite, it delivers oil-free moisture and a smooth, flawless finish that stays true to its name.
For more top-notch coverage options, check out beauty Grace Atwood’s curated shop.