15 Ways To Make Your Skin Look Great Without Foundation

If you’ve been noticing a lack of contouring and eyeliner tutorials on your feed lately, you’re not the only one. Skincare is the new makeup (at least, this is what every single beauty blog has been trying to tell me lately), which means that lots of people are investing in a skincare routine and ditching their foundation–and, possibly, you’d like to as well.

Now, to be clear, you do not have to stop wearing foundation just because doing so is technically “cool” now. Most of us do not have perfect Glossier model-type skin that looks flawless with or without foundation, so it’s unfair to hold yourself to a standard you know you won’t be able to achieve–I, for one, had truly terrible late-onset acne that started when I was about sixteen and lasted until I was twenty-two. It didn’t go away until I visited a dermatologist and got a spironolactone prescription, and, during that time, you couldn’t have paid me to leave the house without foundation. Makeup is also a genuine form of self-expression, so if your preferred method of self-expression involves foundation, full contour, and fake lashes, you should feel free to continue to do this.

But if you’re looking to build a makeup routine that’s separate from foundation–or just stop wearing makeup altogether–there are some things you can do to make that happen for yourself.  So, check out these foolproof ways to make your skin look great without dipping into your foundation stores:

1. Double-cleanse your face:

A photo posted by Issy (@theissyedit) on

Want great skin? Wash your face twice. To do this, start with an oil cleanser (I like this one) to remove the first layer of makeup and/or pollutants that could be on your face, then follow up with a micellar water (Like this one) to remove any extra particles from the pores. It sounds like a lot of work, but it’s really not that bad once you get the hang of it–plus, once your skin starts looking the way you want, you’ll be happy.

2. Exfoliate at least once a week:

A photo posted by @glamglowfrance on

In addition to washing, you’ll want to exfoliate once or twice a week (no more than that, though, since over-exfoliation could irritate your skin) to get rid of dead skin cells. Try a mask, like the Glamglow one above, which contains ingredients that help remove dead skin cells from your face without feeling like you’re over-scrubbing.

3. Look into serums:

A photo posted by Kayla Lebenbom (@kaylajaeleb) on

A serum is a skincare product that you use after cleansing and before moisturizing. It can contain a number of properties–everything from moisture to acne treatment to brightening–so using one can be a great way to speed up your desired skincare results.

4. Use an oil-based moisturizer:

Oil-based moisturizers sound counterintuitive–oil? On your face?–but they’re actually a great way to get a dewy, effortless glow without foundation (or highlighter, for that matter).

5. Or an “essence:”

A photo posted by Chanelle (@chanlandriault) on

An essence is a Korean moisturizer that sends moisture into the skin without leaving much residue. This means that it’s a great option if you’ve got oily skin, live in a humid climate, or just want a moisturizer that’s a little lighter.

6. Wear sunscreen:

A photo posted by Heyday (@thinkheyday) on

Even when the temperature drops, sunscreen is so, so important–it prevents premature aging, sun damage, and skin cancer.

7. Get some exercise:

A photo posted by Tone It Up (@toneitup) on

Exercise increases blood flow and collagen production in the face, which, in turn, flushes out toxins and makes the skin look healthier. Just make sure you wash your face afterwards if you’re wokring up a sweat–otherwise, the sweat will get absorbed into your pores again and could potentially cause breakouts.

8. Limit your sugar and dairy:

A photo posted by Ice & Vice (@iceandvice) on

I know. Sorry. But sugar and dairy are some of the only things that are scientifically proven to have links to bad skin–dairy can make your face look puffy and bloated, sugar can make your skin look pasty, and both can lead to breakouts. So, try to reduce your consumption of both for a month or so and see what happens to your skin–you might be pleasantly surprised.

9. Stop touching your face:

A photo posted by Annie (@annieokay) on

Seriously. Stop it. You have oils on your hands and fingers that, while perfectly fine for your hands, could cause breakouts if you’re picking at your skin too much.

10. Drink lots of water:

A photo posted by Detox Water (@detoxwater) on

I know that “drink water” is, like, the herpes of skincare advice (in that you see it everywhere. Not because it’s actually like herpes) but that’s because ti really works. Drinking lots of water can help increase blood flow to the skin, reduce inflammation, and make it look better overall So, try to drink about eight ten-ounce servings of water a day, and see where that takes you.

11. Get an occasional facial:

I got a facial at @thinkheyday yesterday– can you tell? #facelifefresh

A photo posted by | N A N A M E N S A H | (@officialnanamensah) on

This is something you can skip if you don’t want to spend a ton of money on your skin, have super sensitive skin, or just don’t feel like having a stranger poke around at your face. But lots of people swear by facials for clear, glowing complexions, so it might be worth trying one out.

12. Brush your brows:

A photo posted by By Yvonne Parrish (@v.p.brows) on

Keeping your eyebrows groomed (and filled, if yo’re into that kind of thing) is a good way to make it look like you put some effort into your appearance without actually exerting much effort. Just don’t go for a full-on Instagram brow–instead, look for a brow gel that you can easily swipe over your eyebrows to add a little definition and keep them in place.

13. Invest in a good concealer:

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Hey, no foundation doesn’t mean no concealer. If you’ve got a spot here and there that you’d rather not be here or there, there’s no shame in using some concealer to cover it up. (You can get this Tarte one–which I love–here.)

14. Or BB cream:

A photo posted by Erina (@erina_hrn) on

Same goes with BB cream. (And tinted moisturizer. And face tint.) It won’t provide as much coverage as foundation, but it can help even out your skin tone while providing moisture and SPF.

15. And highlighter that doesn’t need foundation to “stick:”

A photo posted by Milk Makeup (@milkmakeup) on

You don’t have to do this. But, if you’re a fan of having a little extra targeted shine, giving up on foundation doesn’t mean that you have to give up on highlighter too. You just need one that doesn’t rely on foundation to look good–for this, try Glossier’s Haloscope or Milk’s Face Gloss.

Do you wear foundation? Why or why not? Let us know in the comments!

You can reach the author, Sara Hendricks, on Twitter and Instagram.

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