• Jessica

Clean Coverage: Non-Toxic Foundations with Skincare Benefits

Updated: Mar 1, 2019

How do you score the perfect base?

via Jessica Ourisman

FOUNDATION: The Blank Canvas That Determines Your Aesthetic

Up-and-coming M.U.A. Katrina Klein, first assistant to the illustrious Kelsey Deenihan, named a "clean, fresh face" as her favorite 2019 beauty trend. Her skincare-first philosophy of beauty hints at a new standard of accountability among high-quality foundations: The best modern foundations don't just provide the backbone of your aesthetic, they also offer a slew of benefits for your skin.

Whether liquid or powder, dewy or matte, foundation preps the canvas for your face of makeup. The goal is for your complexion to look smooth in texture and even in tone, but naturally so. Heavy, caked-on coverage might look great on camera, but it's neither practical nor comfortable for everyday use.

Depending on the state of your skin, you can choose between light-, medium-, and full-coverage formulas. These days fuller coverage does not necessarily translate into thicker textures or pastier cosmetics. In fact, the dualistic "powder vs. liquid" debate is, by now, somewhat antiquated. While oilier skin types tend to be steered towards pressed and loose powders, and dry skin types towards liquids, we now have countless options to choose from.

Serum-foundations, BB creams, and beauty balms offer new textures of coverage that help to streamline our regimens. While the market influx complicates our product choices, these new formulations are addressing previously unmet needs. Designed to hydrate, prime, cover, and protect, functional skincare-meets-beauty hybrids are becoming the expectation in cosmetics. In such a saturated market, how else can you distinguish your line among the many competitors?

My foundation history is pretty uneventful. I used Laura Mercier's pressed powder foundation religiously from high school and my 20s. I rarely changed my regimen to avoid skin reactions. But I always wanted to explore cleaner and non-toxic products to align with my increasingly holistic lifestyle.

Efficiency is key in our AM routines, so I aim for the least coverage necessary to get the job done. Once evening rolls around, or if you're being photographed, heavier foundations will come in handy.

In a perfect world, makeup-free selfies would not require the filter-like effects of a lasered-to-perfection complexion. Still, it feels pretty great to fake one with foundation.

Beauty-Stoned: The Foundation Edit

with an emphasis on clean + pro-health beauty


Kosas Tinted Face Oil ($42)

Shades: 2 + 3

Kosas, a Los Angeles-based clean beauty line, created the first foundation I have ever tried that truly does not feel like makeup. The mica-tinted oil glides on as easily as a serum, imparting light-medium coverage via a feather-light formulation that you can barely feel on — like skin lingerie.

As one of the first of its kind to go mainstream, beauty publication Violet Grey dubbed this revolutionary tinted facial oil to be the future of foundation.

via Kosas

The texture is impossible to envision until you've tried it. It looks like a regular pigmented foundation, just with the viscosity — and anti-inflammatory benefits — of a facial oil.

I've been asked whether using an oil foundation feels "greasy." This depends wholly on the state of my combination skin each day. I have had days where I experienced a dewey finish, with some shine. But I have also experienced it feeling matte. On days that I've wished for more hydration, I have noticed some pigment building and accentuating the flakiness on my forehead.

For me, this is a fabulous foundation when applied perfectly — but also one that is hard to get just right.


Tip: Another non-toxic, minimalist serum-foundation to try is Gressa Corrective Serum Foundation ($62). Get 15% off at Follain with the code: ref15_9s2z6o

I have heard that this is a great option for oily skin. No word on whether the mineral causes any product buildup, however.


via Jessica Ourisman

Lawless Woke Up Like This Flawless Finish Foundation ($46)

Shades: Oasis + Kalahari

Annie Lawless' eponymously-named indie beauty brand sells this non-toxic alternative to your typical liquid foundation. It is also accessible and convenient to buy, available for purchase at Sephora — with their clean stamp of approval.

Alone it provides medium coverage with a dewey finish, but you can offset shine with their talc-free setting powders — Seal the Deal ($36) — which will also keep it in place for longer. Klein advises a minimalist approach to setting powder, applied minimally in the T-zone areas most prone to oiliness — the nose, chin, and forehead.

The formula's traditional texture makes it ideal for blending your perfect shade. Using a customized shade that BareMinerals created for my skin as my guide, I was able to blend the two shades above — Oasis and Kalahari — in equal parts to get almost identical results.

Its familiar texture makes for an easy switch when going from regular to non-toxic makeup. While Lawless is clean, it is not green, which means that not every ingredient will be easily recognizable or pronounceable. But if some chemicals are ok for you, they accompany natural skin-saviors like Abyssinica oil, shea butter, grapeseed oil, and vegetable glycerin.


Tip: I just started testing Ere Perez Oat Milk Foundation ($35), which is excellent aside from the fact that I got the wrong shade. I am dying to try their Water Foundation, too. Get 15% off of Ere Perez at Follain using the code ref15_9s2z6o


via Jessica Ourisman

Kjaer Weis Cream Foundation ($68)

Shade: Silken

For full, matte coverage, this award-winning cream formula is the best I have found. It is certified organic, although not Talc-free, and should be applied atop of hydrating oil, moisturizer, or primer. As you can see below, certain of its ingredients were included for specific skin-promoting benefits: Sweet Almond for skin elasticity, Coconut and Jojoba oils for moisture, etc.

The luxury green brand seems pricy initially, but refills will only cost you $40. The higher price point comes from its gorgeous, reusable packaging, which incentivizes consumers to shop in a more earth-friendly, sustainable way.


Tip: Consider Vapour Atmosphere Luminous Foundation ($46) as a non-toxic alternative, particularly if you have an extremely pale skin-tone. Shop it here for 15% off with the code ref15_9s2z6o at Follain.


via Jessica Ourisman

Nu Evolution Camouflage Cream ($36)

Shade: Nude or Fresh

This is a truly fantastic product from a clean, vegan, and cruelty-free, green beauty line. The beauty of the camouflage cream is that you can use it as either a concealer, or for buildable, all-over coverage depending on whatever you need. I prefer to apply it with a brush, but it is soft enough that you blend and apply it on-the-go with your fingers.

Concealing balms are also one of the best ways to cover-up blemishes without causing excessive drying. If you apply a drying, topical acne treatment — which is frowned-upon, by the way — you can exacerbate the problem and even cause flaking when using a non-hydrating concealer.

via Nu Evolution

As you can see, the ingredients are clean, hydrating, nourishing, and packed with protective antioxidants. When you factor in this product's versatility, it is basically a requirement for your gym bag, desk, or pouch of go-to products to keep in your purse. It is one of my all-time favorites! The line also makes a pressed foundation powder that I would love to try.


Tip: RMS Beauty Un-Cover Up Concealer Foundation ($36) is another one of these versatile concealer-meets-foundations that I absolutely love. In all honesty, these two products can be used almost interchangeably as either concealer or cover-up. The main difference is that RMS is a bit more dense, slightly less creamy, and provides more of a matte finish Nu Evolution.


Lily Lolo Foundation SPF 15 ($22)

Shade: Blondie

The UK line offers 18 different shades of award-winning, loose powders that you will need to apply with a separately purchased brush. The non-toxic pigment comes courtesy of the mineral, mica, while SPF protection is derived from the physical blocker, Zinc Oxide. This is an excellent line to try if you are familiar with and prefer loose mineral foundations. The price point is extremely reasonable and the line also sells an excellent mascara.


Tip: I have been meaning to try Jane Iredale PurePressed Base Mineral Foundation ($44), another non-toxic cosmetics line that I absolutely love. You will also want to get the refillable compact ($18) to store it in. P.S. Jane Iredale makes another mascara I love, as well.

Wish List


Crunchi Collection Beautifully Flawless Foundation ($48)

I still need to try Crunchi's award-winning non-toxic foundation. I have tried their luxury vegan brushes, a lip gloss, and an anti-aging Smart Primer made from all natural ingredients. The line is toxin-free, leaping bunny certified, and boasts high quality throughout — all the way down to the packaging.

Skin-First Beauty

Klein's "skincare-first" theory of beauty is closely aligned with my own. But in addition to the millennial penchant for skincare as self-care, there is also a wellness component to the emerging value system. The rising cultural emphasis on inclusion, self-love, and self-care makes the beauty industry's lack of oversight and regulation untenable.

I have followed the inclusive beauty movement closely. It encourages us all to feel confident letting our uniqueness show — including our so-called imperfections — whether it be a hard-to-match skin-tone or acneic skin.

To me, self-love, wellness, and non-toxic beauty all go together hand-in-hand. Part of a healthy lifestyle is learning to care for and nurture yourself, which is hard to do when you are exposing yourself to health-harming toxins, knowingly or not. My health journey with an autoimmune disease is what ultimately lead me to make lifestyle shifts towards clean living and beauty. For years, the products I relied on daily contained carcinogens, endocrine-disruptors, and may have contributed to inflammation that actually disrupted my health.

Current regulatory laws do not keep us safe from these toxins. Because of this, I urge you to consider shopping at retailers who have banned toxic ingredients, conducting health-promoting oversight for us. Whether or not you believe it is the role of the government to keep its citizens safe from toxic ingredients, retailers like Follain, The Detox Market, Credo Beauty, and Goop do so for us, keeping our health in mind and pushing the beauty industry in a more responsible direction.

Don't forget: If you shop these foundations at Follain, you can get 15% off with the code: amb_np6r5g

Would you try an oil foundation? Tell me on Instagram!

I may receive a small commission if you shop from the affiliate links above.



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