This Is the Most ‘Breathable’ Type of Foundation, According to a Cosmetic Chemist

Photo: Stocksy / Leandro Crespi
For days when you don't feel like wearing a ton of makeup, but want that your-skin-but-better glow, your best bet is a lightweight foundation. Something with just enough coverage that feels light and airy on your skin. Ginger King, a cosmetic chemist, says you should use a water-based foundation.

"Water-based foundations are very light and natural," says King. "Just to enhance skin tone, more like a tinted moisturizer." She says foundations that aren't water based are either oil-based, which she says can clog your pores, or silicon-based, which she says are semi-occlusive for longwear. Most water-based foundations don't last very long, so don't expect to get all-day coverage.

To spot a water-based foundation, check the ingredient list. The first ingredient will be water, says King. But to get you started, here are some of our favorite water-based foundations.

5 of the best breathable foundations with water-based formulas


 MAC Studio Waterweight SPF 30, best breathable foundation
When I was in high school and couldn't find drugstore foundations in my shade, I followed the YouTube beauty vloggers straight to MAC. This foundation has an elastic gel-serum formula that hydrates the skin. Bonus points for including SPF 30.


2Glossier Perfecting Skin Tint

This product is exactly what it says it is—a skin tint. It won't mask dark spots or blemishes, but it will give you skin a more youthful, dewy glow with a more even finish.

3. Cover FX Natural Finish Foundation ($42)


Cover FX Natural Finish
I love this foundation because it provides nice medium coverage without feeling heavy. The formula is thick and creamy, but blends out smooth and weightless. It also includes good-for-your-skin ingredients like vitamins C, E and F, that hydrate and protect, and squalane which locks in moisture.

4. Too Faced Born This Way Foundation ($39)


Too Faced Born This Way Foundation
This medium coverage foundation has a natural finish that gives you that "no-makeup makeup" look. The formula is complete with coconut water alpine rose, and hyaluronic acid, which all work to make your skin look more youthful and hydrated.
Milk Makeup Blur Liquid Matte
If you're looking for a lightweight formula that isn't dewy, turn to this matte foundation. The super lightweight product contains blurring powder-filled spheres that diffuse light and give a nice glow. Vitamin E and bilberry extract give the product antioxidant properties.

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