How I Get a Flawless-Looking Complexion Without Full-Coverage Foundation

While I work on my skin issues, I’ve found a lightweight makeup product that looks pretty damn natural.
Publish date:
September 9, 2015
primers, foundation, no makeup makeup, sunday riley

I have to wear makeup to work, so on the weekends, brunch is usually the priority over a full face. I would love to be the type who can go foundationless without feeling self-conscious, but I’ve got a little way to go with that; there’s some relentless redness on my cheeks and nose, and I feel more confident when that’s not on display.

While I work on that long-term with skincare, I’ve found a lightweight weekend solution that lets my skin breathe and looks pretty damn natural.

The product that’s really doing it for me is the Sunday Riley Effortless Breathable Tinted Primer. I mean, effortless is probably taking it a little too far, but it’s easy to use and does all the things it says it will.

You know when you’ve spackled Revlon ColorStay or MAC Studio Sculpt all over your face and you can just kind of... feel it? This isn’t like that. It’s light and fluid and, although it contains silicones, it doesn’t have that slippy feel.

I’ve been putting it on with my fingers because I’m always in a rush, and because it melts into the skin really nicely; it feels more like a moisturiser than a makeup product. The coverage is really quite sheer, but it seems to have some light-reflecting (refracting?) properties that blur the worst of my skin complaints.

I kind of like that you can still see some blemishes and a bit of uneven-ness in tone here and there. It adds to the ~I woke up like this~ mythology. If there are no areas of volcanic activity on my face, this is where I stop.

Going in with a full-coverage routine over this primer would be like mixing your fine aged single-malt Scotch with a glass of Coke. Its success is in its subtlety. If I want a little more coverage, I find it layers well with a tinted moisturiser or BB cream. I wouldn’t go near this with a powder, though, because those dewy spots are helping fool everyone that I’m a radiant smooth-skinned goddess.

I’ve struggled to find anything quite the same at a cheaper price point, which makes me suspect there’s some expensive aspect; that, or it hasn’t trickled down to drugstore brands yet. Maybelline, can you get on it, please?

The finishing touches for me are powder in the brows, something neutral-coloured on or near my eyelids, and a tiny dab of cream blush on my cheeks. (Isn’t it weird how we spend all this time covering up redness and then go and put it right back in?)

I think this is the most successful "no-makeup makeup" skin I’ve ever achieved, but I’m still not giving up on getting rid of what it’s covering.

  • Have you tried the Sunday Riley primer?
  • Any other tips for natural-looking skin while covering up the bad bits?
  • I could also do with some tips for fading redness and blemish-scarring, if you’ve got any!