My relationship with makeup started when I was around 12 years old.


I was cycling around my neighborhood with my older sister when I crashed into a metal bin, went flying and landed on the ground with a black eye and 2 halves of a bike. She convinced me that my parents would be furious so after walking back up the road, with a piece of the bike in each hand, I raided my mother’s cosmetic cabinet to find something to conceal the evidence on my face.


Long story short, my concealing job was lacking, but what began was the appreciation for what foundation could do.


In the almost 2 decades that have passed since my first brush with foundation, I have experimented with countless brands, products, and shades, but I was never happy enough to call one my perfect natural look foundation match.


What I was after, and what I have come to realize that most women are after too, is a foundation that gives us the skin we wish we had.


And so began my obsession to try out every foundation available. My goal was to find the best natural look foundation on the market (specifically available in South Africa) that not only looked like real skin but felt like real skin too.


I didn’t try out EVERY Foundation available but after 21 tries I learned that one foundation can’t do it all and rather found my best picks for every scenario.


To find out why, learn about my best picks for a natural look foundation and read about the ones that didn’t make the cut, continue on…


My Best Picks

The Best Natural Looking Foundation

Best Natural Glowy Face

MAC Face and Body

R450 (50ml), Available in 13 shades at all MAC stores


MAC Face and bodyThis liquid drippy Foundation has a delightful light fragrance which reminds me of coconut. It has a very thin consistency and spreads far but sets very quickly. I didn’t love the thin “watery” feel when applying it, but the results won me over every time. It provides a sheer light coverage which builds well when you tap it into place. It sets to a dewy finish which is possibly the most natural I found. This foundation is waterproof and long- wearing and is uniquely available in a 120ml size.


What I loved about it


I loved the scent and how it felt like a second skin. Despite its lighter coverage and how thin the foundation felt while applying it, it gave me an evened out complexion and a beautiful natural looking glow. On days I wanted a more matte finish, it worked exceptionally well with a powder dusted over it.


What it’s good for


This is the ultimate every day lightweight natural look foundation. It doesn’t cover everything but unless you are using a thick full coverage foundation you are going to need to bring concealers into your routine on bad skin days.


Best BB Cream

Smashbox BB Cream

R510 (30ml), Available in 8 shades at Red Square and Woolworths stores


Smashbox BB CreamSmashbox’s BB Cream has SPF 35, is said to be a 5-in-1 miracle worker and is cruelty-free. It is very thick and creamy and has a light fragrance which reminded me of oats. It gives a sheer light coverage and matte finish. Once applied, it leaves your face with a moist feel, but within a minute it sets. It has a Soft satiny feel which resembles the feeling of Smashbox’s primers.


What I loved about it


It felt great on my skin, like a balm or tinted moisturiser, and didn’t feel like I was wearing any coverage product. It illuminated my complexion while maintaining a natural look and at the end of the day I didn’t want to take it off. I was also on the verge of a chin break out the morning I tried this out but the next day my skin looked better, making me feel like it was good for my skin too.


What it’s good for


Smashbox’s BB Cream is great for days when you want very light coverage, to even out your skin tone and brighten your complexion.


Best Full Coverage

MAC Studio Fix Fluid

R450 (30ml), Available in a whopping 44 shades at all MAC stores


MAC Studio Fix FluidMac’s Studio Fix Fluid offers broad spectrum UVA-UVB SPF 15 protection. This liquid creamy foundation has a light fragrance. It applies really easily and smoothly and has a fantastic stretch and enough setting time to get a small amount across the face. It provides full coverage and a matte finish that manages to look natural, perfect and radiant.


What I loved about it


I loved this look instantly and was particularly impressed that a “heavier” fuller foundation looked so natural and felt so good on my face, no matter how long I wore it for. I also adored the application of this foundation, as I tend to favor creamier consistencies.


What it’s good for


This is great for when you need full coverage or are prepping your face for an event where you want to look naturally perfect without looking too airbrushed.


Best Nothing but Something Product

pHformula CC Cream

R506 (50ml), List of Stockists below, Available in 3 shades


pHformula CC CreampHformula’s CC Cream is SPF 30+ providing UVA & UVB protection, while including the anti-aging ingredient, retinol, in low (safe for daytime) concentrations.


I’m currently having a love affair with everything pHformula and their CC Cream is at the top of my list. It’s unscented thick creamy consistency glides over your face and feels like a treatment balm.


What I loved about it


I love how it feels like a treatment when applying it and like you’re wearing nothing. It adds a perfectly subtle pop of color that evens out your skin tone and brightens your complexion. It also has SPF 30 in it, making it the perfect nothing but everything pick for your face.


What it’s good for


This is the best off-duty “Foundation” product. When you don’t feel like wearing anything but you need a little pick me up, this is a perfect choice. It was first used on me after a treatment session with pHformula and Skinsense (subscribe if you want to stay tuned when we publish the results) and it was incredibly soothing and non-aggravating, making it the perfect post salon/beautician visit coverage. Think, I just had a facial/ peel, am red, need to protect myself from the sun and still want to look good. It was formulated for ideal use after dermatological procedures.


pHformula is stocked in Johannesburg at Pamper Perfect in Linden 011 888 5826, TUSC Medical Aesthetics Sandton City 011 884 6577, Viso Bello Grayston Shopping Centre 011 883 8046, Urban Escape Bryanston Hobart Centre 011 463 5951, Fashion Squared Dainfern Valley Shopping Centre 011 469 4953. Or contact for Pretoria, Bloemfontein, KZN and Cape stockists.


Best All Rounder & Budget Buy

Revlon® ColorStay® Liquid Foundation

R325, Available in 27 shades at Redsquare and most pharmacies


Revlon® ColorStay® Liquid foundationRevlon’s Colorstay Liquid foundation comes in two formulas to address skin types and has an SPF of 15-20 (SPF 15 in combination/oily). This soft Liquid creamy foundation has a light pleasant fragrance which amplifies on application. It feels like a primer, gliding over your skin in one luxurious swipe. It gives a medium to full coverage with a matte finish and feels soft and silky to the touch.


What I loved about it


I love how it easy this was to apply and how good it felt, looked and smelled. It smoothed out imperfections while still providing a very natural look. I also love how it comes in 3 variations, Normal/Dry, Combination/Oily and Colorstay active. I tried all 3 and despite having an oilier skin, my preference and this review is based on the Normal/Dry. The Combination/Oily, however, controlled the oil in my skin exceptionally well and remarkably better than any foundation I have tried and lasted very well.


What it’s good for


This is a great all-rounder budget friendly option that is a natural look foundation. It works for both a lighter coverage, heavier coverage with building and is extremely wallet friendly.


Best Natural Beauty Buy

Physician’s Formula Nudewear Liquid Foundation

R274.95 (30ml) Available at Dis-chem


Physician’s Formula Nudewear Liquid FoundationPhysician’s Formula products are free from harsh ingredients and allergens found in makeup. They are Cruelty-free, non-comedogenic, gluten free, oil free, fragrance-free, paraben free, hypoallergenic, clinically tested and dermatologist tested. They have also been ophthalmologist tested and are safe for sensitive eyes and contact lens wearers. This liquid drippy Foundation has a very strong smell which was surprising for such a natural brand. It stretches well and feels like you are applying a thick face oil. It gives a medium coverage with a matte glowy finish.


What I loved about it


I loved how good it felt on the skin and how well one pump of foundation spread across the face.


What it’s good for


This is a great option for those looking for natural makeup that is dermatologist approved and cruelty-free. The only downside with this foundation is that it is only available in a few shades and comes packaged in boxes making it quite difficult to test out a shade beforehand.


Best Complimentary Foundation Products

The Revlon® ColorStay® Range

Revlon® ColorStay® Pressed Powder, R230, Available in 15 shades

Revlon® ColorStay® 2-in-1 Compact Makeup & Concealer, R325, Available in 14 shades

Revlon® ColorStay® Concealer, R205, Available in 4 shades


When I set out to look for the perfect natural look foundation, I was looking for one product that could do it all but I quickly learned that although there are products that can do a lot, there is a time and place for powders and concealers too.


Revlon’s Colorstay pressed powder quickly became a favorite to either mattify dewy foundations, add an extra layer to set the foundation for longer wear days, or to swipe over shiny skin on mornings that I didn’t want to wear foundation. It is silky and ultra-fine, keeping you looking natural and shine-free for hours. It’s such a versatile product that I now keep in my bag.


Likewise, Revlon’s Colorstay liquid concealer wand and concealer inside the 2-in-1 Compact makeup do a brilliant job of concealing while blending into the skin instead of looking like an additional caked on layer.


The best thing about these is that the price point makes it easy to add them to your foundation arsenal without you feeling like you’ve just broken the bank.



What didn’t make the cut

Clinique Even Better

This scentless liquid foundation has a creamy feel which smooths onto the skin nicely. It provides a medium coverage and is dewy to the touch right after application, taking a few minutes to set.

What I loved about it

It did a great job at smoothing the appearance of my acne pitted scars, it almost felt like they were gone. Visually my face looked amazing.

Why it didn’t make my best picks list

Although the Pigment did not settle into my lines or become cakey, it did gather in spots making foundation look visible up close. I felt like I was wearing foundation and by the end of the day, I was eager to remove it.



This thick creamy liquid foundation has a very light and pleasant fragrance. It Smooths on very nicely and evenly, a little goes far. It provides full coverage and sets quickly, but gives you enough time to spread it first. It gives you an airbrushed smooth satin finish.

What I loved about it

When applying it, it melted into my face like a balm. It lasted well – a good 18h later I still had a decent amount of coverage.

Why it didn’t make my best picks list

My face felt uncomfortable and it looked too much like foundation.


Naturalamente Liquid Foundation

This creamy liquid natural foundation, which we have previously reviewed, has a very strong scent which reminds me of yogurt. It blends really nicely, almost like a moisturiser. It sets very quickly, but if you spread it fast enough, a little goes far. Once set, it feels slightly tacky to the touch but within a few minutes, it dries to a smooth matte finish. It gives you light to medium coverage which looks incredibly natural.

What I loved about it

It looked incredibly natural and felt like my skin.

Why it didn’t make my best picks list

Although the scent dissipates once it’s on your face, in its liquid state it was too strong for my liking. I also noticed my skin was prone to breakouts the next day, despite no proof that it was the foundation and could have easily been a number of other factors I decided to err on the side of caution and refrain from making it my go to foundation.


Smashbox BB Water

This BB Water from Smashbox is the exact same product as the Smashbox BB Cream that made my top picks. Instead of a creamy feel, the BB Water has a light liquid consistency, which dries quickly once applied and sets to a matte finish.

What I loved about it

Like the BB Cream, it gave my face a soft and silky feel and felt more like a treatment than a foundation

Why it didn’t make my best picks list

I favor creamier feeling products that glide over the face and spread easier than a drippy liquid, so for me, the BB Cream won. However, this is a personal preference and it gives the exact same result.


Clarins Everlasting Foundation

This thick creamy foundation has an amazingly fresh scent. It applies on thick, giving full coverage in one swoop and blends nicely. As soon as it is rubbed in, it sets to a soft silky finish.

What I loved about it

It smelled so good and I really enjoyed the application.

Why it didn’t make my best picks list

Despite it lasting long, the perfect finish look did not. As the day wore on my fine lines seemed to be intensified. I felt the color match was 1 shade too dark which definitely did contribute to me not loving it.


MAC Match Master

This thick creamy liquid foundation has a light delicious fragrance that reminded me of café latte. It spreads easily and sets quickly. It gives full coverage with a cashmere feel and matte finish.

What I loved about it

I loved the smell, the application and that at the end of the day it still looked good.

Why it didn’t make my best picks list

This one was so close, it felt good on my skin and it looked great but ultimately the finish tilted more to the airbrushed makeup look than natural.


Clarins True Radiance

This liquid drippy foundation has a pleasant fragrance and incredibly good stretch. It covers really well and sets to a dewy finish.

What I loved about it

I loved the creamy feel and the stretch when applying it.

Why it didn’t make my best picks list

It looked way too makeup-y and I felt it emphasized my pores.


Dr Hauschka Foundation

This liquid foundation is so thick that it felt like a smooth putty. Inside its bottle, the fragrance smelled light but once you apply it, it became potently spicey, almost like cloves. It spread easily and evenly, almost melting into my skin but it settled darker in parts making my skin look dirty. When I tried to rub the darker patches, a residue formed making it difficult to clear off the face. Once settled, it set to a beautiful dewy matt finish.

What I loved about it

This foundation became a love/hate because the elements it did well, it did really well. For starters, it was the best foundation I tried that perfectly combined a matte yet dewy finish. Once I was able to rub in the dark patches, it looked incredibly natural and one of the most skin-like. Once it settled into my skin, it gave me a tanned glow and did not rub off easily. It also controlled my forehead oil decently and I so badly wanted to choose this as my top natural pick.

Why it didn’t make my best picks list

Ultimately the smell when applying and the general application process worked against it.


Elizabeth Arden Flawless Finish Perfectly Satin 24H

This Liquid creamy foundation has a light fragrance. It provides full coverage and has a great stretch giving instant blendable cover. It has a matte finish that feels soft and silky to the touch.

What I loved about it

I loved the easy and great coverage that looked good and not cakey.

Why it didn’t make my best picks list

It was close but it set too quickly and looked too much like makeup to make the cut.


Pysicians Formula Super CC

This very thick CC Cream is unscented. It glides on to the skin easily giving full coverage and a dewy-matte finish.

What I loved about it

I loved the moisturising feel of this and the even glow it gave to my face.

Why it didn’t make my best picks list

The color was too dark and I was using the light/medium shade. With such limited color choices and no way to test them out, this CC Cream is too much of a gamble.


The Best Natural Looking Foundation

What I learned about Natural Look Foundation


Some formulas really are better than others at appearing natural, but, almost more important than formula, is color matching and application.


1. I found that formulas that were even a half a shade darker or lighter than my skin tone made my skin appear unnatural.

Investing your time in finding the best color pick is so important and most times this needs to be done in natural light, in your own environment to really tell.

Brands like MAC will spend time testing shades on you in their stores and will decant a small amount into a bottle for you to test at home. Jess at the MAC standalone Sandton store explained to me that when her customers purchase a foundation, she’ll still decant some in a bottle and tell them to use that first to make sure before they un-package their purchase.


2. Unless you are a pro at applying makeup, brushes and sponges can work against you. I found smoothing on a foundation with my hands as if it were a moisturiser worked best with every variation and was quicker. (With exception of the powder which needs to be dusted on with a brush or the sponge applicator it comes with).


What are your tips for the best natural look foundation and what brands and products get your vote?

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  • Kelly Kidgell
    August, 28, 2017

    I love physicians formula-huge tip is to use their primer before applying foundation and I use a silli sponge to make it blend and last xx awesome article

    • Feige Lewin
      August, 29, 2017

      Thanks for your comment and awesome tip 😀 I will give it a try!