What Are Your Favorite . . . Foundation and Base Products


I thought I’d round up my favorite foundation and base products as the next part of the “What Are Your Favorite” series!

I’m constantly trying new things, especially new products that just hit the shelves, so I have quite the variety here to choose from. These are my most favorite foundations and primers that I’ve ever tried. 

Daily, I use the Laura Mercier foundation primer (I tried it when my Arbonne primer ran out and I’ve really enjoyed it), and the Arbonne liquid foundation.

1. Revlon Nearly Naked foundation ; if you are looking for a good drug store foundation, I’d recommend trying this. It’s not too heavy but will give you fairly decent coverage.

2. Mac Studio Fix Fluid ; I used this foundation for years, before I discovered Arbonne. I like the coverage, it’s not too oily, and comes in a large variety of colors.

3. Mac Studio Fix powder ; I use this daily to set my liquid foundation. I just use a light dusting, but if you wanted more coverage you could use this alone as your foundation. Grab a buffing brush and really press it into the skin for a beautiful, full finish.

4. Arbonne Perfecting Liquid foundation ; I’ve used this foundation for a few years now and it’s the best liquid foundation I’ve ever used. 

5. Arbonne Makeup Primer ;  I really really enjoyed this primer. The only reason I stopped using it was because I ran out and before I could order another bottle I grabbed the Laura Mercier one to try. If I notice my skin to start breaking out, I’ll resort right back to this perfect primer.

6. bare Minerals Touch Up Veil (in pressed) ; My only beef with bare Minerals is that up until recently they only sold loose powders. I really dislike dealing with loose powders. As soon as they released the pressed Mineral Veil, I went out and bought it. I love the Mineral Veil. It really softens your whole face and sets your makeup beautifully. 

7. Laura Mercier primer (oil-free) ; I really love this primer. I use it alone or sometimes over my moisturizer on days when my skin feels drier. It provides a perfect base for liquid foundation. 

8. Revlon Photo Ready BB Cream ; I’m not a huge, huge fan of BB creams like some women, but if I had to choose one it would be this one. Love the finish, no extra oil, and it wasn’t too warm (orange). 

9. Revlon Nearly Naked pressed powder ; A logical follow up to the Nearly Naked liquid foundation, this powder is the closest I’ve ever seen to the Mac Studio Fix powder. I really enjoy it. 

10. bare Minerals original foundation ; Like I said, I sort of dislike using this because it’s a mess, but I love the finish it gives my skin. It’s a great alternative for breathable, light foundation that will even out your skin tone. 

11. bare Minerals Prime Time ; A few years ago I was almost exclusively using bare Minerals products. I used this primer and really liked it. It didn’t wow me as much as the Laura Mercier or Arbonne primer does, but it works beautifully. 

12. Benefit Stay Flawless ;  If you don’t want your makeup to budge, use this. I’ve been wildly impressed with the staying powder of this primer. It’s fantastic. 

13. Smashbox Liquid Halo ; I tried this a few weeks ago and if I wasn’t a full-coverage kind of gal, I’d love this foundation. It’s a really lightweight, sheer to medium finish. The formula feels like a dream to apply. 

Frequently Asked Questions:

1. Do you use primer instead of moisturizer or both?
When it’s humid outside, I just use primer on my skin. On days when the air is drier, and therefore my skin is drier, I’ll hydrate with a moisturizer and then top that with primer. Experiment with your own products to see which combination works best for your skin type.

2. What do you think about makeup setting sprays?
They don’t blow me away. I find it’s more important to start with the proper base, instead of trying to create the “staying powder” from the outside of your makeup. Skin issues, including oiliness, lead to makeup wearing off, so I’d recommend finding the right primer instead of focusing on a setting spray. Think of it like this : if you want to have smoothness in your hair, apply smoothing products when it’s wet, before you work on your hair. 

3. How do I figure out what color I am?
Talk to a consultant at a counter or beauty store to get “color matched”. If you are going the drugstore route, buy two foundations you think you are, and then return the one that doesn’t match. I always lean towards a lighter foundation if you are on the edge because you won’t have the dreaded makeup line. Add depth and darkness with bronzer or blush instead of choosing a makeup shade that’s too dark. 

4. What brushes should I use?
I wrote a little post about that here, but I’d also read this too. Typically I use my fingers to apply foundation, but if I want a more flawless finish, I’d grab a flat foundation brush.

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Comments (66)

  1. Ashley says
    Posted September 24, 2013

    I love to try new products also and get a million samples from Sephora lol! I love using my Origins tinted moisturizer, it’s light and gives the perfect glow with SPF 🙂

    Sincerely Miss Ash

  2. Posted September 24, 2013

    I ordered the Arbonne products last week after seeing you review them. They are supposed to be here today so I’m excited to try them out. I have oily acne prone skin so I’m hoping they have the same effect for me. Thanks for the great advice.

  3. Posted September 24, 2013

    I wear #10 Bare Minerals. I really like it because it gives really great coverage but doesn’t look like you are wearing a lot of makeup! I love their bronzer too “warmth” because it looks really natural!

    The Style Storm
    xo, Christina

  4. Posted September 24, 2013

    This was fun to read! I am a bit of a foundation addict. I love trying new ones. This week, I started using the Tarta Amazonian Clay Smooth Operator Powder. I love it so far, but it’s a loose powder. They can be so messy when you’re in a rush!

  5. Posted September 24, 2013

    I have tried a ton of American BB Creams – and NONE of them match up to the original ones from Korea. I order them online from Amazon (best brand I think is Skin79) and SERIOUSLY. They blow me away! Everyone needs to try them. I use the SKIN79 Intense Classic Balm and LOVE it! Check it out!

    I will post on them soon…


    • Lisa says
      Posted September 25, 2013

      I agree, love Skin79!

    • Missy says
      Posted September 26, 2013

      I’ve looked into these before but just couldn’t decide, do you use gold or pink one?

  6. Posted September 24, 2013

    I tried Arbonne primer and foundation from your post earlier this year and haven’t looked back. LOVE it, the best coverage I’ve ever seen and I to used to use Mac.

  7. Posted September 24, 2013

    I need to try the Benefit primer. I have insanely oily skin AND I live in Alabama so it’s beyond humid. I am willing to try anything!

  8. Posted September 24, 2013

    Which do you use under your eyes? Thanks for sharing.

    • Kate says
      Posted September 24, 2013

      None of the above. I use concealer under my eyes. A combo of Bobbi Brown’s corrector and Make Up Forever concealer

  9. Katie says
    Posted September 24, 2013

    I really like the L’Oreal True Match foundation too.


  10. Posted September 24, 2013

    What is the difference between a primer and a BB cream?

    • Kate says
      Posted September 24, 2013

      A primer has no color, it’s simply a serum or some sort of formula that’s sheer. A bb cream is like a tinted moisturizer with extra skin benefits. You can google it for more info!

  11. Melissa says
    Posted September 24, 2013

    I tend to stick with what works for me and rarely change it but recently I switched things up and I’m loving it! I’d been a devoted Pur Minerals user for a while – I would use the liquid foundation and cream concealer, and then buff on a layer of the pressed powder. Awesome coverage. But extremely expensive. Then I did something a little crazy and started selling Mary Kay. So I started using Mary Kay. And I actually really love it! It doesn’t break me out, it costs less than the Pur Minerals, and gives fantastic coverage. The MK highlighting pen is one of my favorite things ever – bye bye dark circles! 🙂

  12. Emily says
    Posted September 24, 2013

    Kate, what shade Arbonne do you wear? I’d love to try it; I’m in desperate need of a new foundation and I think our coloring is fairly similar.

    • Kate says
      Posted September 24, 2013

      I wear Buff

  13. Posted September 24, 2013

    I love the Revlon Nearly Naked powder! I use it everyday!

    xx- missmacbeauty.blogspot.com

  14. Carly says
    Posted September 24, 2013

    Stay Flawless is one of my favs!!!


  15. Posted September 24, 2013

    Great post! Love that you are giving options for both price range ends. I was at target last night and noticed the No. 7 brand, have you heard anything about the night creams??
    I saw they won Good Housekeeping’s seal of approval; wondering about Kate’s seal of approval? 🙂

  16. Angela says
    Posted September 24, 2013

    Arbonne all the way! Love their foundation and tinted moisturizers! (As well as just about everything else they have to offer!

  17. Posted September 24, 2013

    I’m not sure if you’ve answered this before, but do you use anything on your eyelids? All of a sudden my eyeshadow has starting clumping into lines by lunchtime; I’ve never had this problem before, and it’s not like I even use a lot of eyeshadow either. Would some kind of primer help?
    Thank you!!

    • Posted September 24, 2013

      Until Kate can weigh in…here’s a comment…I have been using the Benefit eyeshadow cream in Birthday Suit…recommended here on TSTB in a previous post. Its awesome. I seem to be allergic to primers so this really helps set my eyeshadow…lasts all day without creasing. I also finish with bare Minerals mineral veil…that works great too. 🙂

    • Posted September 24, 2013

      Until Kate can weigh in…here’s a comment…I have been using the Benefit eyeshadow cream in Birthday Suit…recommended here on TSTB in a previous post. Its awesome. I seem to be allergic to primers so this really helps set my eyeshadow…lasts all day without creasing. I also finish with bare Minerals mineral veil…that works great too. 🙂

  18. Posted September 24, 2013

    Love bareminerals & smashbox foundation! I just hate how it covers up my freckles in the summer – I look totally different! They’re definitely more winter staples for me. Great roundup!!


  19. Posted September 24, 2013

    I have always been a loos mineral powder kind of gal. I started with Bare Minerals and have tried just about everything until I settled on the Neutrogena mineral powder. I love the buildable coverage. I always loved how light mineral powders are, but my skin started to become super dry, and the mineral powder felt very tight and heavy. I recently switched to liquid foundation, and I am loving the Loreal Lumi foundation. It has great reviews all over Youtube, and I am really loving it. Great coverage without feeling cakey at all. It even feels lighter than my mineral powder. I highly recommend! I pair it with the Loreal truematch concealer crayon. I have yet to purchase some good-quality brushes, but have heard great things about Sigma. I’m happy to see they’re not too terribly expensive! I may just have to invest in some.

  20. Jaclyn says
    Posted September 24, 2013

    Foundations always make me break out…I’ve never found one that doesn’t. I really like the soft sheerness of the mineral veil, but again…I break out. Any idea why…or suggestions on a foundation (that is light) that you’ve heard is good for sensitive/breakout skin? Thanks!!!!

  21. Posted September 24, 2013

    Love that you use Arbonne. I’m an Arbonne consultant and LOVE their products 🙂

  22. Posted September 24, 2013

    Can you explain Why it is that you love Arbonne so much? What is it like, what does it do that others don’t, what can you compare it to, etc… thanks!

  23. Posted September 24, 2013

    What do you do for SPF protection?

  24. Posted September 24, 2013

    Do you know of any primers that won’t break out my skin? I have fair, sensitive skin, but break out once in a blue moon. Every primer I have tried causes breakouts.

  25. Becky M says
    Posted September 24, 2013

    Very informative post! Love it!


  26. Emma B. says
    Posted September 24, 2013

    Two questions if you have a moment, Kate:
    1. Since you prefer pressed powders, do you still apply those with a powder brush?
    2. Have you ever tried Revlon Color Stay foundation? It’s what I currently use, and I would equate it to Estee Lauder’s Double Wear foundation. (I try to find long wearing foundations because I feel like it absorbs into my skin.) How does it compare to Revlon’s Nearly Naked foundation?

  27. Posted September 24, 2013

    Mineral veil now comes in pressed powder! ?!? Who knew! Does it seem to work as well??

  28. Posted September 24, 2013

    How do you feel about mixing different brands of makeup on your face? Mary Kay has a new pitch about not creating “chemical warfare” on your face by using only products from the same brand. I’ve always used different brands, but the “chemical warfare” thing got me thinking…

    • Leah says
      Posted October 9, 2014

      That’s the silliest thing I’ve heard. I think they’re using that as a marketing tool. I’m pretty sure even Mary Kay consultants done use EVERYTHING Mary Kay. I use their liquid foundation and creme eyeshadow. Everything else is other brands. You’re putting chemicals on your face regardless of the brand.

  29. Posted September 24, 2013

    Right now I’m using the Mac Studio Fix. I like the coverage, but wish it were more velvety in texture. During the crazy hot summer months, my go to was Garnier BB Cream. It gave a beautiful, glowing finish, without being too heavy. I am a full coverage kind of gal, so with the BB Cream, just use concealer under the eyes, and voila!, perfect skin!


  30. Abby says
    Posted September 25, 2013

    I am totally that girl who’s constantly on a new foundation hunt, never totally satisfied with what I’m currently using. Maybe my holy grail foundation isn’t even out there… who knows! haha But for now I’ve enjoyed using Bare Minerals and It Cosmetics.

    xo, Abby @ Always, Abby

  31. Posted September 25, 2013

    Hello Kate!!
    I live in a tropical island where it is always hot and humid. I like full coverage on my face, but as you state oily skin tends to rub it away. I use Chanel Lift Lumière, would you recommend something different??

  32. Posted September 25, 2013

    I have recently became an Arbonne consultant, but haven’t gotten to try tok many products yet. I’m glad to see others enjoy them! Have you tried any of their other products (shampoo, face washes, nutrition products, etc)?

  33. Heather says
    Posted September 25, 2013

    I used to use the Bare Minerals mineral powder foundation but I never really thought it did much for my skin. I recently switched to the Laura Mercier mineral powder foundation and OMG! it is amazing! I’ll never go back to Bare Minerals again the LM was a game changer for me. In fact, I’ve been giving away my other BM products to friends because I’ve moved on from them. Btw, did you know Shiseido now owns BM? I recently found out.

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  35. Shelly says
    Posted September 25, 2013

    I LOVE LORAC Breakthrough Performance Foundation. It has a perfect match for my skin, but the shade range is limited. I sometimes set with the LORAC Baked Porefection Powder. On days I just want a BB cream I really like Dr. Jart Black Label BB. I still want to try the LORAC CC. Can you tell I like that brand?

  36. Posted September 25, 2013

    I love your website I am always using different kinds on foundations, right now I’m using mac foundation but i want to try something new.

  37. Posted September 25, 2013

    I love the MAC foundation, my only probably was the break out I had after using it. I do love the powders that were put on here. Great chose of selection!!(:

  38. Posted September 25, 2013

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  39. Posted September 26, 2013

    I’m beyond excited about this post!!!! I recently contacted the Arbone consultant you spoke about in a later post and she sent me samples of the foundation (because I live in the middle of no where in southern Illinois and your consultant was sweet enough to send me the products by mail!! ) . I’m excited to get it ordered. I loved the samples and I found a great shade! My biggest struggle is coverage! I’ve had years of cystic acne that came to a stop after giving birth to my first daughter. But the scars are still there. And at 32 two age spots have recently appeared an i’m at a loss as to what to do with them. I also recently found myself at sophora and purchased the primer you suggested and have had great results with it!! Thank you for sharing your opinions and suggestions! It’s very much appreciated!!!!

  40. Brooke says
    Posted September 27, 2013

    CoverFX foundation is awesome too. Definitely recommend it!

  41. Matt says
    Posted September 27, 2013

    Have you ever tried glo minerals or Jane Iredale, if so what were your thoughts on those?

  42. CC says
    Posted September 28, 2013

    Do you have any opinions on the Physician’s formula pressed and loose powders?

  43. Unknown says
    Posted October 15, 2013

    I am trying the Arbonne foundation for the first time. I was surprised they don’t have a lot of colors to choose from. I am also fair skinned. Which shade do you wear, Kate?

    Thank you bunches!!!

  44. Posted October 15, 2013

    I LOVE the Smashbox Liquid Halo HD Foundation. I’m normally not a foundation kinda gal because it usually causes me to break out, but so far I have not had any issues with this foundation. And it makes me skin look flawless! However, I do use my MAC Studio Fix powder for a little bit more coverage and to set the foundation. The price tag is a little scary, but other than that I have no complaints.

  45. meg says
    Posted October 31, 2013

    I love this post! I love Studio Fix and have used it for a while now but you’ve given me a few new things to try, especially the Laura Mercier! Thank you xx

  46. Posted November 8, 2013

    Product is very good, worth sharing, but also to share our

  47. Posted November 19, 2013

    Thanks so much for listing your favorites – I’m really curious about Airbonne. 🙂

  48. Ashley says
    Posted May 22, 2014

    Katie: I wanted you to know that the search feature on your site works outstanding!! I was able to find an awesome foundation that I now loooove all because I found this post from months ago. Kudos to you!

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  51. Posted September 25, 2014

    Je n’aі pas eu l’occasion de finir de regarder par contre je repasserai plus

  52. Kerry says
    Posted September 29, 2014

    Love my arbonne foundation bought after a previous post u did and have used for 2 yrs. need to order more last time I posted a comment your lovely consultant contacted me and I placed an order and had it mailed to me am hoping to get in contact with her again if you could give her contact email would really appreciate it. Thanks!

  53. Posted February 11, 2015

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  54. Posted February 24, 2015

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  55. Michela says
    Posted July 28, 2016

    Hi. I currently use MAC Pro Longwear NW20 and I want to switch to Arbonne but I don’t know which color will match the one I use. Any suggestions? Thank you

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    Thanks for the post.

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