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We Tried 7 Foundation Alternatives for Summer, Here’s What We’re Keeping All Year Round

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With the summer rays in full force, the last thing you want is your makeup (literally) melting off your face. Just because the temperatures are rising doesn’t mean you have to abandon your makeup look completely. By swapping out some of your daily staples (like your favorite foundation) with a more lightweight and SPF-boosted version, you can still add a bit of coverage to your no-makeup makeup look.

To see which foundation is suitable for the summer season, we had seven girls from the office swap out their regular foundation with an alternate and lighter formula. To see how these products held up, we asked the girls to wear their respective products for three to four days. While we encouraged the girls to continue with their usual makeup routine (concealer, blush, contouring, etc.) we also set in place some rules to conduct a true-wear test:

  • No baking or setting with powder
  • No mixing with other foundations
  • No touch-ups

Curious to see which of these summer-friendly foundations kept us looking selfie-ready and shine-free? Read below to see what we’re keeping for the fall:

  1. Buy now with Dermstore

    1. RMS Beauty Tinted "Un" Powder

    Reviewed By: Sophia A., Social Media Coordinator
    Experience With Foundations: I usually wear a cushion foundation like the Air Perfection Cushion Compact Foundation from PUR because it gives me a dewy glow. But with summer approaching, I want a product that will tone down my oiliness and help me look more balanced, so I was thrilled to try this one from RMS Beauty.
    How Does It Compare With Your Daily Foundation: This was my first time experimenting with a mineral powder foundation and it definitely took some getting used to. At first, I was paranoid that I would look too matte and dusty, but once the powder absorbed, my skin looked super smooth and I noticed that my T-zone looked less oily.
    The Verdict: It takes a while to absorb and get rid of the powdery effect, so having to wait 10-30 minutes for the product to sink in wasn’t ideal. That being said, I can definitely see myself reaching for this on days when my oil levels are unmanageable, especially if I’m traveling somewhere humid. I love switching up my look and this will be my go-to for when I want a more matte complexion.

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  2. 2. Amazonian Clay BB Tinted Moisturizer SPF 20
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    2. Amazonian Clay BB Tinted Moisturizer SPF 20

    Reviewed By: Kaitlin W., Content & SEO Analyst
    Experience With Foundations: Most days, I wear Laura Geller New York Baked Balance-N-Brighten Color Correcting Foundation because it’s quick and easy to apply. I tend to wear little to no makeup in the summer, so I’m likely to stick to just a  moisturizer and SPF.
    How Does It Compare With Your Daily Foundation: The coverage is light, so it barely looked like I had anything on—pretty consistent with what I usually wear.
    The Verdict: Though the shade wasn’t quiiiiite right (a little more golden than my skin tone), I think I was the only one who noticed that. It also wasn’t as moisturizing as I’d hoped for, so I still had to wear my usual moisturizer underneath. On a brighter note, my coworkers couldn’t tell I had any makeup on but said I looked like I had a little bit of a natural glow going on. That being said, this is a product I’d definitely reach for again on warmer days.

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  3. 3. COOLA Mineral Face SPF 30 Rōsilliance® Tinted Organic BB+ Cream
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    3. COOLA Mineral Face SPF 30 Rōsilliance® Tinted Organic BB+ Cream

    Reviewed By: Gabrielle O., Site Merchandising Specialist
    Experience With Foundations: I’ll usually wear some type of foundation/tinted moisturizer every single day. I have so many different ones but the one that I mainly use is Dior AirFlash Spray Foundation.
    How Does It Compare With Your Daily Foundation: So, in reality, I don’t wear much makeup or full coverage foundation ever. But this BB cream provided a lot less coverage than I’m used to. It’s definitely more of a tinted moisturizer than a foundation, so the lack of coverage was the main difference.
    The Verdict: My favorite thing about this product was how hydrating it is—especially living in a dry city like Los Angeles and dealing with hard water that makes my skin dehydrated. My skin felt moist and supple all day long after using this. For that reason, I can see myself using this product again. The only thing I would do differently is to mix it with another light foundation to get a bit more coverage.

    Buy now with free delivery
  4. 4. Becca Cosmetics Aqua Luminous Perfecting Foundation

    Reviewed By: Rahimah H., Content & SEO Analyst
    Experience With Foundations: I prefer mineral foundations (both pressed and loose formulas) since I have an oily T-zone and these formulas give me a more matte finish. My current rotation includes Laura Geller’s Baked Balance-n-Brighten Color Correcting Foundation and Bare Minerals ORIGINAL Foundation Broad Spectrum SPF 15.
    How Does It Compare With Your Daily Foundation: It’s completely different—from the look to the texture to the feel to the results. This gave me a very subtle glow that I normally can’t achieve with powder varieties. I definitely noticed a more uniform, consistent look to my skin’s appearance.
    The Verdict: For a liquid foundation, I love how lightweight it is! It offers buildable coverage, so my skin doesn’t look or feel cakey. It matches my complexion perfectly and even made me look ‘’healthy’’ when I was under the weather. Plus, it’s highly concentrated, so a little goes a looong way. On the other hand, I didn’t enjoy the initial application since it takes a few minutes to absorb into the skin. And it’s not smudge-proof, so I have to be careful when I’m wearing a light-colored top. All in all, I’d absolutely continue to use this. It’s breathable and gives me a subtle summer glow!

  5. 5. Avene High Protection Tinted Compact SPF 50
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    5. Avene High Protection Tinted Compact SPF 50

    Reviewed By: Andie T., Buyer
    Experience With Foundations: To be honest, I’m not a huge foundation person. I tend to opt for less heavy formulas like a BB cream that I can use on the daily. Interestingly enough, my current go-to foundation is actually the product that Gaby reviewed, COOLA’s  Mineral Face SPF 30 Rōsilliance® Tinted Organic BB+ Cream. I like that it provides lightweight coverage and has a natural finish.
    How Does It Compare With Your Daily Foundation: I usually go for formulas that come in a cream/liquid form or a tube/bottle so this was the first time trying something in a compact. To my surprise, the formulation is super creamy (and not powdery) so it blends well and doesn’t look cakey, which is a major plus!
    The Verdict: I love the texture and super easy application. I normally use a foundation brush or beautyblender but I was able to use the sponge that was included and blend the product into my skin nicely. Though this compact is great for touchups throughout the day, I still prefer to start my day with my usual BB cream because it’s more moisturizing. That being said, since the formula is so lightweight you definitely need to carry it around to re-apply. Without a little touchup, it’s pretty much gone by the end of the day.

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  6. 6. Dream Tint® Tinted Moisturizer SPF 15
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    6. Dream Tint® Tinted Moisturizer SPF 15

    Reviewed By: Raquel A., Site Merchandising Specialist
    Experience With Foundations: I rarely use foundation; I’m more of a tinted moisturizer kind of girl, but if I do, my go-to product is NARS Sheer Glow Foundation or L’Oreal True Match, depending on the occasion.
    How Does It Compare With Your Daily Foundation: This was definitely lighter in texture and to my surprise made my pores appear smaller. I noticed that some of the other tinted SPF or foundations made my pores appear larger so I liked that this one didn’t emphasize them. Also, my go-to foundations tend to make me look oily throughout the day, but this product gave me the right amount of dewiness to my skin.
    The Verdict: I was really impressed by the fact that although the product is lightweight, it provided a good amount of coverage and even hid some of my blemishes. I also liked the whipped texture/consistency that glided onto my skin so smoothly and effortlessly! Without a doubt, this product has earned a spot in my makeup bag. The only thing I would recommend is adding a setting or finishing powder on top to make it a bit more long-wearing.

    Buy now with free delivery
  7. 7. Juice Beauty STEM CELLULAR CC Cream
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    7. Juice Beauty STEM CELLULAR CC Cream

    Reviewed By: Annie R., Beauty Editor
    Experience With Foundations: Rain or shine, I like to wear a medium- to high-coverage foundation all year round. Since I don’t have the greatest skin, I like to conceal my imperfections with foundation and lots of concealer. My go-to foundation is MAKE UP FOR EVER Ultra HD Invisible Cover Foundation. I’ve tried many different formulas and this holy grail foundation works best with my skin.
    How Does It Compare With Your Daily Foundation: I’ve honestly never used a CC cream before so this was definitely a departure for me. Granted, I guess it’s not fair to compare a medium-coverage foundation with a lightweight CC cream, but for the purpose of this review, I will say that this product did not give me the coverage that I need. I kept adding more product to my skin but it’s so sheer that I couldn’t even really tell that I had anything on—which for some people is the desired look.
    The Verdict: If you are someone who has a naturally clear complexion, this product will do wonders for your skin! It’s super lightweight, not greasy and has SPF. More than a foundation, it’s like a sunscreen and tinted moisturizer duo. Although I can’t see myself using this again, I know some of the ladies in the office really like this product for its anti-aging benefits and natural formulation.

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Senior Editor at Dermstore

Annie Ryu

Annie is a Senior Editor at Dermstore. When she’s not writing about the latest breakthroughs in skin care or interviewing industry experts on their best beauty tips, she likes to indulge in good coffee and bad reality TV.