F That: Foundation—seven products to use instead if you’re over 50

Last Updated on May 19, 2021 by Kristen

Tracee Ellis Ross

Photo by Erik Melvin

When I was younger—honestly even as recently as my 40s—I was prone to breakouts, which made me both dependent on and afraid of foundation. I needed it to cover up my acne and resulting scars, but it clogged my pores and sometimes caused more breakouts.

As a 50-something adult, I don’t break out much anymore, or at least I didn’t before all this mask-wearing. But when I do get a blemish or two, it’s not the cystic nightmare of my youth, just a small spot that’s easily covered with a bit of concealer.

This is all to say that one of the unexpected perks of getting older has been not feeling the need to wear foundation. I rely on good skin products, a tinted oil, and occasional concealer to keep my skin and my lazy self happy and looking somewhat like a live human.

As does Tracee Ellis Ross, apparently—in the below video, she describes her skin, makeup and hair routine, which, notwithstanding a tremendous number of face oils and skincare concoctions, is pretty simple, especially in the makeup department.

Below is my slightly toned-down version of an easy, everyday no-foundation makeup routine. All of the products are cruelty-free and free of harmful ingredients, and most of the products have soothing, nourishing ingredients that will likely improve the quality of your skin.

NuFace platinum trinity

NuFace Trinity toning device, $299

This thing is expensive, but based on personal experience and many online reviews, it works to tighten and lift the skin on the face, particularly, I found, along the jawline. Perhaps you don’t care about your jawline and you probably shouldn’t. I’m still over here thinking about it and while surgery is not something I’m interested in, this thing has just enough effect to make me want to buy another one after I dropped mine on the tile floor and it stopped working. I do want to point out that several amazon reviewers complained that their device stopped working after a short time and that the customer service wasn’t great. I will say mine worked for a good three years before I dropped it, and a new one will be a holiday gift to myself. Pro tip: you do not have to use the expensive gel they sell with the product. Any gel will work—I use an aloe one.

Lesse face oil

Lesse Ritual  Balancing Turmeric & Sea Minerals, $70

If you start with the best skin possible, you don’t need a lot of makeup. Use this light, gentle face oil after cleansing and your skin will be nourished and ready for what’s to come. It hydrates, evens tone and reduces sun damage with turmeric root extract, calendula flower extract, algae (seaweed) extract and many more all-organic ingredients.

Peter Thomas Roth eye gel

Peter Thomas Roth Hyaluronic Cloud Hydrating Eye Gel, $42

Now that I’ve entered my fifth decade, my eyes are crazy puffy in the morning. Eye gel, which I apply first thing whether I’m leaving the house or not, helps.

Kosas face oil

Kosas tinted face oil, $42

So they actually call this product a foundation, but I promise you it is not a foundation. It’s unique in that it is an oil that dries a bit like a powder. It provides some but not a ton of coverage, and the fact that it’s actually an oil make it not really a foundation in my book. It will even out your skin tone, but it won’t completely cover more pronounced pigmentation or acne scars. Another aspect that makes it not a foundation is that it doesn’t play well with other products. You can’t really build on it like many people like to do with foundations.

But it’s nourishing, organic and cruelty free, so if you’re going for a natural, almost no-makeup look, I recommend giving it a shot. I apply it up to my eye area so it also covers under-eye discoloration and I usually don’t bother to use a concealer except for maybe in the inner corners of my eyes. I also use it with a touch of cream blush—it won’t work great with a powder.

I haven’t yet tried Kosas’ main competitor, Ilia tinted face oil, but I plan to and will update you on how it goes.

Kosas Revealer Concealer

Kosas Revealer Concealer, $28

If you need extra coverage under your eyes or to cover a blemish, use a dab or two of this.

Ilia multi stick

Ilia Multi-Stick, $34

A touch of this on the apples of your cheeks, lips and eyelids is all you need to finish off a no-foundation look.

supergoop defense refresh

Supergoop Defense Refresh, $14

Since the Kosas face oil doesn’t contain sunscreen, it’s important to apply sunscreen separately (the Ilia version has sunscreen, so I’m eager to try it). But since, like I mentioned, the face oil doesn’t play well with other products, this spray is the answer. It’s not just SPF 50, but also a makeup-setting spray. I tried my sister-in-law’s over the summer and was immediately sold. The scent is divine, it’s easy to apply, and it doesn’t leave a residue.

Do you have any favorite products for a no-foundation makeup look? We would love to hear about them in the comments.

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