Foundation for the makeup rookie
February 13, 2023 7:51 AM   Subscribe

I'm 40 now. My old makeup routine isn't working on my aging skin. Looking for recommendations for a very light foundation/CC cream/tinted moisturizer, I think.

I'm cis 40 year old white woman.

My skin:
-Fair/medium fair. Not the palest, maybe three shades up from the palest.
-Prominent freckles -- I love my freckles, I don't want them to look 'muted' or muddy under a lot of makeup
-Combination skin (oily T, dry patches elsewhere, have mostly under control with a good moisturizer)
-Hormonal acne around jawline (this has only been in the last two years [thanks aging!] but I'm currently on a treatment plan with a dermatologist that I think is working)
-Crows feet, crepe-y under eye skin, uneven skintone/some redness (not rosacea)

I've been using a sheer mineral powder on top of light concealer (for darkness around eyes and blemishes) for about a million years now. I have never used any kind of foundation or CC cream or tinted moisturizer ever, but I feel like with the kind of skin I have now, I should be moving away from powder bc it just settles or cakes into the crevices of my face.

Everytime I've ever tried a sample of anything (Ilia, Fenty, some others I can't remember) it feels too heavy or too tinted (makes my freckles look muddy). I really just want something light that will even my skintone and not settle into my nooks and crannies and not make my acne worse. I do NOT want super-matte, nor do I want super-dewey like the youngs. I just want some regular-ass lookin skin.

Are you me? Did you find something that works for you? I don't wear full makeup too often so willing to explore different price points, but will need to either be able to get a sample first or have a good return policy on used product. I'm in New York, so can access basically any kind of makeup in person if that's helpful.

Thanks in advance!
posted by greta simone to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (25 answers total) 40 users marked this as a favorite
I use Laura Mercier’s tinted moisturizer and I think it’ll hit all your marks. It doesn’t hide my freckles or actual pimples, but it evens my skin tone and covers any emerging or healing blemishes. It doesn’t worsen my acne (I actually think it improves it, but any effect is mild.)

You can get samples but not, I believe, in the full range of shades.
posted by punchtothehead at 8:06 AM on February 13 [4 favorites]

I'm your age with a similar skin tone (but drier than you) and I really like this tinted moisturizer from Neutrogena. Light coverage but it never pills or flakes, and my skin absorbs it nicely. Also keep in mind that you might want to step up your moisturizing game as you hit 40 and beyond, and that helps makeup sit better on your face.
posted by cakelite at 8:11 AM on February 13 [1 favorite]

I did. I have similar skin/colouring and am late 40s so crows feet are a big issue! The best thing I've found is Zo Skin Health Sunscreen+ Primer Broad SPF 30. It is (to me at least) very pricey but 30ml lasts me three months and I use it every day. It says to apply every two hours, but I don't need it for sunscreen so just use once a day after washing/moisturising in the morning and it stays put til bedtime.

It feels gorgeous, it's very, very slightly tinted and it evens my skin out without making me chalky or powdery.

I'm not a make-up type really, I just go with this, a bit of blush, basic cat eyeliner, masacara and lip gloss.
posted by freya_lamb at 8:13 AM on February 13

I’ve found using one of the teardrop-shaped makeup sponges (Beauty Blender is the big brand, generics are totally fine) really helps with liquid foundation. You wet it first with cold or warm water, then squeeze it out as much as possible to be only slightly damp, so that the water stops product absorbing into the sponge. Apply foundation to back of hand then pick it up from there on the sponge to apply to your face, dabbing the whole time, not swiping.
posted by lokta at 8:18 AM on February 13 [3 favorites]

Seconding the Laura Mercier moisturizer. Glossier's Perfecting Skin Tint is also great. Glossier put me off initially because its branding is very much "super dewy like the youngs," but it turns out it's perfect for middle age.
posted by Mavri at 8:22 AM on February 13

I think I mentioned this IRL (and I know that we have different skin types) but I'm pretty fond of this Urban Decay tinted moisturizer, which is one of the only tinted moisturizers/foundations/etc that has worked for me in all seasons (in general, I have to switch between winter/summer coverage round about October/April). A little goes a long way. It doesn't cake up my pores (which is more of an issue for me than you) and it provides real deal moisturizing.
posted by thivaia at 8:22 AM on February 13

I love the Typology Tinted Serum - it's similar to the Glossier Skin Tint linked above but IMO better. I am super oily so I do usually set it with a bit of powder but if you're not you can probably wear it alone. The Glossier Skin Tint was a bit too watery for me - even though I love a bunch of their other products - I honestly couldn't really tell a difference after applying. This is more pigmented but still sheer enough to show freckles/beauty marks. I have rosacea and the most sensitive skin on the planet and it's non-irritating as well which is a bonus.
posted by sparkling at 8:34 AM on February 13 [2 favorites]

I have similar-ish skin, and cycle between a few options. My old reliable was Paula's Choice, though be aware that the coverage is relatively pretty light. I've used and liked the Ilia drops, but usually mixed them with something untinted (usually another sunscreen/moisturizer) to keep it from being too heavy. Right now, thanks to the season and what I have to hand, I mix this EltaMD sunscreen (which also come pre-tinted) with this NARS tinted moisturizer (which I find too heavy on its own, but YMMV) to get the coverage I want.

Adding more an more products can be really annoying/expensive, but I find combining products gives me the coverage I want without being too heavy or settle-y!
posted by quatsch at 8:35 AM on February 13

I'm also a pale, freckled person in their 40s, and I've fully converted to using Bare Focus Wet 'n' Wild Tinted Hydrator. It's affordable, comfortable to wear, and very buildable for areas where you need extra coverage.

I used to apply foundation with a damp Beauty Blender as lokta describes, but with the Wet 'n' Wild I actually prefer using these AOA Studio "Wonder Blender" sponges dry. I swipe a bit of foundation onto my chin, cheeks, and forehead, and then blend it all out with a dabbing motion.

If you do need a little extra coverage or a touch-up, the NYX Can't Stop Won't Stop Mattifying Pressed Powder is shockingly good. I just pat a little on with a soft synthetic kabuki brush.
posted by neushoorn at 8:37 AM on February 13 [2 favorites]

Nthing what people say about moisturizing. When I was playing around with my skin care to find something my more middle aged, still acne prone, skin feels and looks nice with I was surprised to find that there is a new generation of sunscreens, at least in Europe. My skin can get oily so I get a lot of mileage out of Nivea Sun UV face sunscreen. It's not exactly matte but looks more like a primer with some nice filters than the nasty, greasy shine some suncreens leave behind. And it doesn't get any more shiny throughout the day. So it seems to do a lot of the things primers do and it plays nicely with any colour correcting products I may wish to layer over the top.

I also find Nu by YSL to do a stellar job of evening out skin tone without adding noticeable coverage. The downside is that you'll still want some kind of colour corrector for any dark circles and some kind of concealer for any spots/dark marks because it will not cover that kind of thing in any meaningful way. But it will leave you with what looks like very natural but more even skin.
posted by koahiatamadl at 9:25 AM on February 13

I'm similar, and agree that moisturizing is actually what's going to help the most. That being said - - I'm into the Bare Minerals Complexion Rescue and LOVE Lancome "Skin Feels Good" tinted moisturizer. Lancome may be too heavy for you, I thought it was for me, but I ended up loving it. If I'm feeling extra dry, even though it is tinted moisturizer, I may add some The Ordinary High Adherence Silicone primer.
posted by fillsthepews at 9:51 AM on February 13

Ill add that I like the Laura Mercier moisturizer mentioned above, but the sunscreen version makes me break out
posted by raccoon409 at 9:54 AM on February 13

Response by poster: FYI, appreciate the moisturizer suggestion, I have a great moisturizer I'm happy with, but there are certain aspects of my skin, especially around the eyes and overall skintone, that no amount of moisturizer will reverse. Age is inevitable and that is okay with me. Just trying to figure out what works best with my new normal.

Appreciate the suggestions so far.
posted by greta simone at 9:57 AM on February 13 [1 favorite]

Cheapskate Yankee option: I have been using CoverGirl's Fresh Skin Milk Foundation. Love it.
posted by theredpen at 10:18 AM on February 13 [1 favorite]

Jones Road What the Foundation is pretty awesome. You can put it on with your fingers, a brush, a sponge, whatever. It's totally buildable - I usually leave it quite sheer (it takes a while to really soak in and set), so it evens everything out. Once the foundation is set, you don't feel it at all. The only place I've noticed rub off is on the nose pad of my glasses, but that may just be because I layer some powder on top and maybe isn't quite set in that spot. I'm blinder than a bat and can't leave the bathroom without them on.

Bobbi Brown started this new line after she sold off the original "Bobbi Brown Makeup" to Estee Lauder. There's only one actual store. It happens that it's located in Montclair, NJ (less than an hour from NYC). Otherwise, everything is by mail (great exchange and return policy!). The store is less than a block from the Chestnut Street train station if you're willing to go on a bit of weekend adventure, with a parking lot if you have access to a car. The people that work there are wonderful and absolutely no heavy sales pushing.

I'm a little past 10yrs older than you and we are the demographic, for sure. Check it out! :)
posted by dancinglamb at 10:24 AM on February 13

I also like Fresh Skin Milk -- partially because it's cheap, yes, but I find the light coverage is great.
posted by edencosmic at 11:11 AM on February 13

I wanted to recommend my foundation as I cannot stand the feeling of makeup on my face, and for me it's very light feeling in texture, doesn't cover my freckles or beauty spots, and doesn't give that semi-sweaty-look ("glow") that some foundations can lend to combo skin.

HOWEVER I paused because when I was going to link it, some of the reviews are basically the opposite of my experience! It's also, frankly, kinda expensive.
(FYI, it's Armani Luminous Silk).

I will say that anything marketed as "long-wear" IMO has the tendency to look and feel like spackle on the face.
posted by sm1tten at 12:53 PM on February 13 [1 favorite]

First, I wanted to suggest that you might not have as oily a T-zone as you think. Apologies if that's just annoying or not helpful because you know your skin, but I found that I regarded my skin as oily long after it wasn't, so I was missing products I could have been using. I could have been using heavier moisturizer everywhere.

Next, I wanted to suggest going to a beauty store and just trying to a few different products, either with the person or on the back of your hand with a sample, because it's hard to tell how heavy something is going to be and feel online.

Further, it sounds like you have a moisturizer you like. You can get tint that you add to your own moisturizer.

Finally, I have also found something that's made a huge difference: foundation primer. If I put on concealer or foundation over just moisturizer, it often looks cakey (I'm in my late 40s). However, I can use those same products if I first apply pore minimizer or foundation primer. I got a few foundation primers in small bottles as samples, and they've been great. So maybe get some foundation primer and then apply your powder and see if that can work.
posted by bluedaisy at 1:27 PM on February 13

Supergoop's Glowscreen. I get compliments all the time when wearing this. "You are glowing!" I don't use any other foundation. I'm 53.
posted by poppunkcat at 3:35 PM on February 13 [1 favorite]

MAC Face and Body is lightweight, sheer, transfer-proof, and you can easily get foundation matched in person either in freestanding stores or department store counters. I really like it—very natural looking, slightly dewy.
posted by music for skeletons at 5:57 PM on February 13

Our skin and ages are similar: I’m 48 with light, combination, sensitive skin and some redness (mine is rosacea). No freckles though! I use Elta MD’s mineral-based, tinted sunscreen. It’s very lotion-like, not oily. It covers barely at all - the tint is there to take the white cast off the zinc oxide sunscreen component, the effect is like a very subtle tinted moisturizer. It’s not matte, not dewy. I do moisturize before I put it on, as it’s not a moisturizer in its own right.

The zinc oxide may not be what you’re looking for, e.g. if your moisturizer already has sunscreen in it. But I would recommend perusing EltaMD’s offerings in general, as everything seems to be very thoughtfully formulated (and the brand is highly dermatologist-recommended).
posted by marlys at 6:37 PM on February 13

haha sm1tten I was also going to recommend Armani Luminous Silk and felt somehow embarrassed to do so! But OP if you ever want to treat's great.
posted by Mrs. Rattery at 4:58 AM on February 14 [1 favorite]

When I was having issues with powder settling into lines, crepe-y skin and large pores, I started using tretinoin and it reversed/solved a lot of those issues. I stopped using it during the pandemic and it definitely shows.

I also got a good foundation brush. Apply moisturizer of some kind before applying powder, cream or liquid foundation and then use the foundation brush to blend like crazy. I basically make my own tinted moisturizer by blending Born This Way into whatever moisturizer I'm using at the time, again applied over a layer of the same moisturizer. I know that sounds weird, but hydrating your face before applying anything with pigment helps to spread a fine layer of pigment all over and have it not settle as much- like the difference between wetting paper before you apply watercolor, or applying the paint to dry paper.
posted by oneirodynia at 2:25 PM on February 14

I'm 36 and have similar-ish skin. I really like the Tarte tinted moisturizer, on top of a regular non-tinted moisturizer. It just has a little bit of SPF so up here in the north I figure it's fine for winter, but I put more sunscreen on top in the summer. I have freckles that definitely show through, but it does a nice job evening out the redness and discoloration, and you can always layer it in areas that need more. It's light enough that people think I don't wear makeup.
posted by goodbyewaffles at 6:22 AM on February 15

Looks like you have a lot of good suggestions but I didn't see what I use with similar skin - Clinique Moisture Surge Sheertint Hydrator Broad Spectrum.
posted by wannabecounselor at 6:38 AM on February 17

« Older Tramadol in the anxious dog   |   How do I gamify my office job? Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments