The 5 Best Foundations for Aging Skin

At a certain stage, call it ours, skin needs more than pigment to look perfect. These five foundations blend everything mature skin thirsts for, along with tint, into one blissful formula.

By Genevieve Monsma


Why it's so dang hard to find a good foundation for us

I stopped wearing foundation in my early forties, after two decades of near-daily application. For years, I’d routinely smoothed on face base to look pulled together — and to cover acne, post-pregnancy melasma, and new-mom dark circles — and I’d been pretty pleased with the skin-improving results. But around my fortieth birthday, I noticed my complexion actually looked better before I applied makeup. Foundation made me look more tired, erasing any natural radiance I still possessed, and, as the day wore on, settling into my lines and pores. 

It turns out there is a scientific reason foundation starts to betray you. As we age, our skin gets dryer (and thirstier) and is thus more apt to slurp up anything we slather on it. Michele Gough Baril, a beauty-industry veteran and founder of Iris & Romeo, explains why this can be a recipe for makeup disaster. “In many traditional foundation formulas, there are thick emulsifiers and heavy pigments, which in young, tighter, oilier skin, sit on the surface. But dry, aging skin absorbs those ingredients, and as they sink into your skin, they stretch out lines and pores and accentuate textural imperfections.” 

With her own fortieth birthday in the rearview mirror, Gough Baril decided to draw on her years of beauty biz experience to create a foundation alternative for women who wanted some complexion perfecting but had reached an age where traditional foundations were unflattering. 

“My goal was to make something that felt more like a moisturizer going on than makeup,” she says. “So, we paid close attention to the pigment weight and used only clean ingredients to avoid irritating or drying out the skin.”

Gough Baril also determined that the 40+ set would value something multipurpose. “At this point in our lives, we don’t have time for multiple steps,” she says. Thus, Gough Baril’s goal became to turn her new foundation alternative into a makeup-skincare hybrid with weightless coverage plus sunscreen and skin-plumping/firming ingredients. The end result: Gough Baril made something for us all. She named her new formula Best Skin Days.

Fortunately, Gough Baril's isn’t the only product of its kind. We’ve noted a promising — and growing — category of aging-skin-friendly formulas. Here are our five favorites.


1. Iris and Romeo Best Skin Days Foundation

Gough Baril describes Best Skin Days as “bringing the juice and glow back to the skin” and, as a new devotee to shade Light-Medium, I couldn’t say it better than that. The formula has an almost yogurt-like consistency, goes on like a gel, and provides a dewy but not overly-shiny finish. It also makes my skin look fresh all day — for a super-light formula, it’s surprisingly enduring. Available in four suits-most shades.

2. Chanel Les Beiges Water Fresh Tint Foundation

This liquidy formula is similar to a cheek stain, but with a tad more drying time. Because it absorbs pretty quickly, Water Fresh Tint is best applied with its companion brush (if you were to use your fingers, you might end up with more product on your fingertips than your face). The finish is sheer (one notch above a tinted moisturizer), and it leaves skin feeling hydrated but not greasy. Best of all, it stays put for hours and won’t burrow into your pores or fine lines. Available in six shades.

3. RMS “Un” Cover-Up Cream Foundation

A creamy formula that feels like rich night cream, RMS’s newest“Un” Cover-Up Cream foundation provides more coverage than Best Skin Days or Water Fresh Tint, and yet doesn’t get cakey. It’s an excellent option for those who want a super dose of moisture and/or more opaque coverage. Like all of RMS’s products, this foundation is free of harmful chemicals, synthetic preservatives, and genetically modified ingredients. Available in sixteen shades.

4. Stila Lingerie Souffle Skin-Perfecting Color

Close in feel and finish to Best Skin Days, Stila Lingerie Souffle Skin-Perfecting Color foundation’s goof-proof formula provides light, dewy coverage. If you’re seeking an easy-to-wear, sheer foundation sans SPF, this is a terrific option. Available in eight shades.

5. Vapour Soft Focus Foundation

Vapour’s Soft Focus Foundation blend boasts skincare ingredients to soothe and calm the complexion, in addition to providing natural coverage. The finish is satiny and you can adjust the formula’s opacity with a light (or heavy) application. Like all of Vapour’s products, Soft Focus Foundation is made of naturally derived, organic, minimally processed ingredients. Available in nineteen shades.

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