The Best Illuminating Primers, Foundations and Concealers for Looking Like an Earth Angel

You simply can't look this glowy with matte, full-coverage foundations.
Publish date:
January 26, 2016
Stila, becca, foundation, concealer, primer, e.l.f., Skyn Iceland, Juice Beauty

To say that I'm a "natural makeup look" kind of gal is probably the understatement of the century. Most days, I don't wear a stitch of makeup.

Still, I LOVE makeup. I live for it, actually. I'm a professionally trained makeup artist who loves helping a bride on her big day. I could watch YouTube
vloggers all day long (especially if they have an accent!). I keep up with all the beauty antics of anyone in the Kardashian-Jenner clan.

But I honestly don't think there's anything prettier than seeing someone's natural beauty. Whether it's a completely makeup-free face or a subtle makeup look where freckles shine through and skin glows, I respect natural beauty just as much as I respect mad makeup skills. I probably feel my most beautiful when I'm wearing some mascara and a little cream blush.

When it comes to foundation, I've always had a love/hate relationship with the stuff. It started when I was a youth and didn't feel like there was a foundation out there in a shade that worked for me as a biracial woman. I could never find anything that was an exact match, and forget about complementing my undertones.

The shade selections have increased dramatically (though still not enough, in my opinion, to accommodate all the beautiful skin tones of people out there), but texture has become an issue for me as of late; I'm not into the trendy super-matte and full-coverage formulas.

Fortunately, it seems like a lot of makeup brands are introducing illuminating and/or serum foundations for spring.

Juice Beauty Phyto-Pigments Illuminating Primer and Flawless Serum Foundation

I was actually pretty surprised to hear that these makeup products were part of Juice Beauty’s new collaboration with Gwyneth Paltrow. Not that Gwyneth isn’t all about natural beauty — it’s just because I’d expect her to partner with a brand that charges $100 and up for a foundation.

This primer is ridiculously good. It’s incredibly luminous without having that silicone feeling that some primers have. The first ingredients on the label are aloe and coconut alkanes, so it’s soothing and moisturizing.

The foundation feels just as good on the skin as the primer, with all sorts of good-for-you ingredients to help keep the skin nourished.

Shockingly, I found these products to not feel the slightest bit greasy. It’s a nice medium coverage that you can build to full coverage if you need. Oily-skinned folks rejoice! You’ll probably still have to powder your T-zone, but you can still have a luminous skin product that doesn’t feel heavy or greasy.

Becca Aqua Luminous Perfecting Foundation

I have been in love with Becca for a few years now, because of their foundation shade range and because their whole beachy vibe speaks to my soul. Naturally, I was excited to hear they were on board with this
glowy foundation situation.

Interestingly enough, for a brand that carries so many shades of foundation, there are only eight shades of the Aqua Luminous colors. BUT DO NOT BE FOOLED! They’re actually incredibly versatile. The name for the darkest shade, Deep Bronze” is deceiving — it works on dark skin tones. I actually grabbed the Medium shade, because, duh, it’s medium, and was surprised at how dark it was on me when I was applying it. Then, somehow, it all kind of blended into my skin flawlessly.

You’re supposed to use one drop to cover your whole face, but I found I didn’t even need that much. I’m good with about half a drop, since this is a medium coverage, but it’s really smooth, buildable coverage if you need to use more. I don’t know what kind of witchcraft makes this work, but I definitely thought I was Beyoncé after I put it on.

Stila Aqua Glow Serum Concealer and Foundation

This foundation is more coverage than what I usually wear, but it feels incredibly lightweight on the skin. It has more of a semi-matte finish than the others on this list, but it blends into the skin so smoothly. It feels very serum-esque when applying, hence the name. Though it provides good coverage, it still looks natural and not overdone.

I love the consistency of this concealer so much. I think it’s the perfect combination of smooth enough to glide on effortlessly, but not so creamy that you fill like it settles into all the nooks and crannies — I’m 36 and starting to see some fine lines around my eyes that drive me nuts. I like this Stila concealer because it glides on smoothly like creamy formulas, but feels just ever-so-slightly tacky like it’s not going to move on you. It’s also got hyaluronic acid in it, so my wrinkly old eyes feel moisturized during the day.

e.l.f. Foundation Serum

This is actually not as new as some of the others on the list (way to be ahead of the trend, e.l.f.) but it is my favorite budget-friendly version. I keep this in my desk at work in case I need to do a quick five-minute makeup situation.

It gives a nice, matte finish, while still being lightweight. This is probably the lightest coverage of all on the list but still buildable if you need more coverage. This one is also the only one on the list that clearly states having SPF, so between the price and the SPF, you can feel good about using this every day.

The only caveat: there are only three shades at the moment, but hopefully they’ll add more to the range soon.

I wanted to show you how non-greasy these products are, as well as their coverage potential, so I used no powder and no concealer for this pic (even though I’m currently obsessed with that Stila concealer). I have combination skin, so in the summer I would 100% need to powder my forehead using these products, but in this cold weather, I don’t find it necessary.

I started with the Juice Beauty Primer over the entire face, and Skyn Iceland Under-Eye Illuminator to reduce some puffiness; it’s not a foundation or concealer product, but it’s an eye cream that illuminates (without looking ashy), so I’m using it on the daily. I covered my whole face with about ½ a dropper full of the Becca foundation in Medium, and I added a little of the Juice Beauty foundation under my eyes for some additional coverage.

Then I popped on some of my favorite blush, mascara, and lipstick (all Urban Decay) and that’s it!

These are surprisingly non-greasy for luminous products, right? And notice how there’s nothing cakey or crease-y in the under-eye area, which has the most product on it.

  • What are your favorite illuminating makeup products?
  • Do you prefer more or less coverage?