Donni Davy, the “Euphoria” makeup artist, does not use foundation or powder on the cast. And when she introduced her own beauty line earlier this year, Half Magic, she chose to focus on eye shadows, lip liners and lipsticks, hybrid highlighters and stick-on crystals – but no concealer or foundation. For the line’s ad campaign, she used minimal diluted foundation for spot treatments, and she insisted that the images show pores, texture and bumps in the skin.
“It’s been my personal preference for a long time,” Ms Davy said. “Also, a lot of these directors these days, at least the ones I’ve worked with, want the real skin texture. In fact, they hate foundations. Instead, Ms. Davy opted for fair shades or foundation mixed with moisturizer or highlighter, except for Maddy, as her character has a more polished look.
“It was a little shocking at first,” she said. “When I was watching the monitors on set, it was a little uncomfortable, although I really like that look. But I actually think it adds to the glamorous makeup and makes it more approachable and unapologetic.
In April, makeup artist Bobbi Brown introduced a tinted moisturizing balm called What the Foundation for her beauty brand Jones Road. Unlike a typical foundation, her new product comes in a jar and needs to be mixed and then applied sparingly so skin texture is visible. Ms Brown, who is 65, stopped wearing foundation three years ago and is using it less and less on her clients.
“I realized that I really liked how I looked better without foundation,” she said. “I just started reinventing how I saw myself and how I felt. At the same time, things were changing in the beauty industry. It was a more casual look. Girls wore messy buns at parties.
In June, Rhode Skin, the Hailey Bieber line, introduced a peptide glazing fluid, which the company says has sold out multiple times. It’s a lightweight, fast-absorbing gel serum that plumps, hydrates and brightens – and is promoted for the way it makes skin look immediately after application, much like foundations are marketed.
The beauty world has been moving towards lighter products for some time, with the introduction of tinted moisturizers and water-based tints, not true foundations. Ilia presented Super Serum Skin Tincture in 2020, and before that, Chanel released The Beiges, “water-fresh” shades composed of 75% water for the lightest coverage. The acne positivity movement started before the pandemic, but now, it seems, many women across generations are opting for alternatives or tossing their foundation bottles for good.
“After getting so used to wearing masks for two years, it’s become almost impossible to wear foundation and not feel extremely uncomfortable,” said Colleen Gwen Armstrong, a publicist, 45. years old, who wears products for the eyebrows, eyelashes, concealer under the eyes. and either lip gloss or lipstick without foundation.
Tanya Trevett, 52, stopped wearing foundation about four months ago. “I have vitiligo and have three teenage daughters, and I’m a mental health advocate,” she said. “I want to be a role model for my daughters so they know you can still be beautiful with imperfections.”
Lauren Fritsky, 40, a content marketer and writer, described the rejection of her weighty foundation as a “liberation.” “It’s liberating to go through my day and go out in public without it,” she said.
Ditching foundation comes at a time when skincare knowledge is increasing. While many women go bare or touch up spots with concealer, others have found foundation alternatives that act as a complete skincare wardrobe in one go. These products offer a slew of ingredients – vitamin C, hyaluronic acid, niacinamide and sunscreen – to rival traditional serums, and the glossy finishes can give users enough confidence to do without heavier coverage.
“I consider skincare to be part of the makeup application process,” said Kerrin Jackson, makeup artist. Ms. Jackson focuses on concealing spots with products containing ingredients like vitamin C to even skin tone, applying them only to areas that show redness or discoloration, leaving the rest of the skin bare.
The foundationless movement is also about inclusivity and acceptance. As Ms. Davy said, “How do we normalize real, real skin and still feel really good and still feel glamorous and still feel like you’re using your makeup to make you feel like the version the most badass of you.”
Some makeup artists say that going without foundation or wearing light coverage works best for skin of all ages. “Full-coverage foundations tend to settle into fine lines and can feel cakey or heavy on the skin,” said one such artist, Monika Blunder. “It’s so nice to see blemishes or texture show through makeup.”
For some women, giving up full coverage comes with emotional baggage. “I think it’s really important to think about why there’s this tendency to use really heavy foundation to give us that filtered look in person or for our social media,” said Ms. Davy, who is 34 and used to use full coverage foundation everyday to cover up cystic acne. She now thinks of the concept in terms of junk food — as in, it’s so satisfying but, ultimately, can cause harm in more ways than one.
“It doesn’t do much for our self-esteem and body image,” she said. “And, like, I’m sorry, but unless you’re a newborn, you have texture.”
It’s easy to try a nude look without completely ditching the traditional foundation. “Gradually start minimizing the amount of foundation you use,” Ms. Jackson said. “You will slowly begin to see that, yes, you can look and feel great without heavy concealment or foundation.” Many tinted moisturizers provide good coverage, she said, and will make you look like you still have your full face.
Ms Davy added: “I would suggest taking some foundation or concealer, diluting it with a liquid highlighter or tinted moisturizer and applying it all over.” If you have acne that’s red or scarring, she urges you to let it show through a bit or gently dab on some pigmented concealer.
It’s important to recognize that some people may want to use a full-coverage foundation as a means of expression, and there’s nothing wrong with that. But in many ways, the new era ushers in a wave of self-acceptance.
“I used to think I couldn’t wear bold makeup because I had terrible acne,” Ms Davy said. These are small steps, she says, toward normalizing the texture of the skin we have.