The Best Foundation for Freckles: Our Picks for Concealing Them—or for Flaunting Them
I have freckles, and here’s how I feel about them:
One the one hand, I love them. They’re totally unique to me, they’re sometimes-cute/sometimes-sassy, and they make me seem a little more youthful (I think). And on the other hand...
Sometimes I just want to cover them up! Maybe I want a new look, or I want to have porcelain skin for a day, or… whatever. Sometimes I just want a change.
In this post, a writer friend and I will look at both sides of the equation: we’ll discuss our picks for the best foundation for freckles—both for covering them up and for accentuating them—and then we’ll provide some details on how to use foundation, and how to use other cosmetics to conceal/work with your freckles. Here are the ones we’ll discuss, followed by our in-depth reviews.
One other thing we'd like to mentioned before we jump in: if you have freckles, you may also have textured skin. We've written a post all about that issue, and how to use foundations for textured skin. OK *now* let's get to it:
To conceal freckles…
…and to accentuate them:
Let’s jump in!
Foundations to Conceal Freckles: Our Picks
We’ve reviewed a lot of foundations, and here are the ones we think would be a match if you’re looking to mute/hide the appearance of your freckles.
Phoera Liquid Foundation
- The foundation fluid is designed to have a moderate density, to provide a buildable coverage that can give the user more control over the thickness of application;
- The formula is waterproof, formulated to help the foundation hold up against weather and sweat; and
- The foundation is made to be opaque, and can be built to cover light-to-dark freckles, general discoloration, and even tattoos.
- While it is hypoallergenic and designed for all skin types, the formula contains multiple silicone elements, which can sometimes irritate the skin of people with sensitive skin, particularly those with cystic acne. Silicone elements are used in a LOT of cosmetics, and many people don’t have a reaction to it, but some people do, so if you’re unsure if you have a sensitivity to silicone, it can make sense to perform a patch test on your skin before a broad application.
Phoera’s Liquid Foundation can be a great drugstore option if you’re looking to cover your freckles: it’s an oil-free, silicone-based foundation designed to provide buildable coverage—meaning, you can use less if you want a slightly see-through look, or you can use more, if you want to build more coverage (and the Phoera is a foundation is a full-coverage foundation). That buildability can make it a great base for more complex makeup looks, and that’s pretty impressive for a drugstore foundation.
As for finish, the Phoera Liquid Foundation is formulated to provide a matte look, which is something that freckled makeup lovers (and makeup lovers with oily skin) usually look for. It’s designed with some oil-control properties that can conceal some shininess that may occur with other foundations.
May be a good fit for:
> People with oily or combination skin—the oil control ingredients in the product are designed to help keep shininess to a minimum;
> People with uneven skin texture due to acne or scarring or discoloration. Full-coverage foundations can be a great tool when it comes to covering small- to medium-sized blemishes; and
> People looking for a range of skin-tone options. Phoera is manufactured in 10 shades that range from very pale to very dark, and while they could produce more (please!) that’s pretty good.
Catrice HD Liquid Foundation
- It’s a drugstore formulation that’s designed to provide full-coverage;
- The foundation comes in numerous shades that take skin undertone into consideration, with a helpful shade finder chart makes finding the right shade for your skin tone a little easier; and
- Vegan! Always good to see.
- It’s designed to cover blemishes and freckles for up to 24 hours, but we’d advise against that—that’s a VERY long time to have a cosmetic on your skin, and your skin might have a reaction if you keep makeup on for that long; and
- We can’t tell if it’s hypoallergenic or not.
The Catrice HD Liquid Foundation may not be as well-known as some of the other foundations on our last, and that's a shame: it's got a lot of features that you don't offer find in a drugstore foundation, and it gets our vote as "Best Foundation for Freckles" in the "Drugstore" category.
First, it's designed to feel light, which can be tricky thing for a full-coverage foundation to do. They're literally designed to be dense and cover your skin (which is probably what you're looking for if you want to cover freckles!), so we appreciate it greatly when a formula is designed to offer anything less-than-heavyweight application. Heavier foundations aren’t always a great fit for people with freckles, as they usually want to apply more layers to get the coverage they want.
As for finish, Catrice describes this as having a "matte" and "natural" finish, which can be a little difficult to interpret, but if we had to decode that, it would mean somewhere between matte (meaning not oily) but also "natural" meaning not flat (like some matte foundations can be). That can be a nice look.
Lastly, they often feature a "shade finder" that helps you pick which shade might be right for you. That can be very helpful, especially considering that foundations sometimes look differently on the skin than they do in the bottle.
May be a good option for:
> People with oily skin, normal skin, or combination skin, which means just about everybody—it’s designed to be versatile;
> People looking for a range of tones—as of the time we wrote this post, Catrice is manufactured in more than a dozen tones, which is pretty good for a drugstore cosmetic; and
> Those looking for a strong foundation that covers blemishes and freckles!
Touch In Sol Advanced Real Moisture Foundation
- Buildable coverage gives the user more control over the density of the foundation upon application—something most people with freckles look for;
- Possesses a hydrating formula that works to soothes and moisturizes the skin—a very nice touch;
- The ingredients in this product make a highly adhesive foundation that stays in place for longer; and
- SPF 30 gives skin additional protection against the sun, a feature that is particularly helpful for those with freckles. This is our favorite thing about this one—the added protection from UV rays.
- At the time of this article, this product is only manufactured in two shades: nude beige and natural beige. We want more!
Touch in Sol Advanced Real Moisture Foundation takes a slightly different approach to foundation, and includes a lot of great skincare ingredients. It’s formulated to moisturize skin—a nice touch, especially considering that a lot of foundations can mess with the moisture in your skin—and it includes birch sap, soluble collagen, and aqualyx (to promote circulation and hydration). It also features as SPF of 30, which is pretty impressive—a lot of foundations flake out around 15 SPF, which is kind of worthless, as most dermatologists recommend an SPF of at least 30. There are foundations with higher SPF, but 30 is pretty decent.
For a foundation that makes an effort to be skin-healthy, though, we also appreciate that they formulated it to adhere to the skin. If you wear cosmetics that shift or crack throughout the day, that can be very helpful.
This gets our vote for best moisturizing foundation for people with freckles, and we really can’t say how much we love the SPF factor here. We walk and talk like a makeup site, but it seems like we go on and on about skin care, so it’s really exciting for us when we see makeups that try to provide some protection from the sun.
May be a good fit for:
> People with dry skin, combination skin, sensitive skin, or acne-prone skin;
> People with pale or untanned skin—at the time we wrote this article, there are only two shades manufactured (and we truly hope Touch in Sol makes more tones!);
> Those who appreciate some extra SPF in their foundation, which hopefully is all of us; and
> Those looking for a highly functional foundation that stays in place throughout the day.
GiverNY Milchek Signature Foundation
- High-density liquid foundation, designed for full coverage;
- The formula has SPF 45, giving your face extra protection against exposure to UV rays—this is the strongest SPF foundation we have on this list;
- Hypoallergenic formula is designed to be gentle on sensitive skin.
- Only manufactured in three shades.
Remember a minute ago, when we were really impressed with an SPF of 30? Well, we’re even more impressed with GiverNY’s Milchak Signature Foundation, which has an SPF of 45. That’s a great deal of protection, and it makes this foundation very adaptable—it’s high-end and designed to hide blemishes of all kinds, from freckles to small scars to discoloration—but because of the high SPF, it can be appropriate for outdoor adventures, like trips to the beach, daytime weddings, and so on. It’s versatile.
Milchak Signature formula blends lab-tested ingredients along with some natural ones, like rose water (to soothe), aquaxyl (to moisturize), and pine (to enable it to adhere to your skin for less slippage). Whereas many foundations offer a matte foundation—that’s arguably the easiest finish for a foundation to provide—the Milchak is designed to provide a soft look—kind of dewy, almost.
This gets out vote for best foundation for freckles overall.
May be a good fit for:
> People with lighter skin tones—unfortunately, Milchak is only made in three shades—looking for a high-end foundation to cover freckles;
> Those looking for a full coverage foundation that still looks natural / dewy;
> People who really like SPF in their foundation and are looking at outdoor events.
Using Foundation to Hide Freckles: The Basics
There are a number of different things that makeup artists do to conceal freckles, but here are two of the most effective:
Find the Right Amount of Coverage
When searching for a foundation, it’s crucial to know what kind of coverage you’ll need in order to achieve the look you’re going for. There are four basic types of coverage a foundation may offer:
Light coverage. Foundations advertised as light coverage usually include tinted moisturizers or BB Creams. These are ideal for people who want to cover small blemishes but keep the natural appearance of their skin visible.
Medium coverage. Medium coverage foundations are thicker than light foundations but are still designed to feel lightweight on the skin. Most foundations are medium coverage unless stated otherwise. These are usually good for people who want to cover small to medium blemishes and discoloration.
Buildable coverage. This foundation can be the “bridge” between medium and full coverage. Foundations with buildable coverage usually have a baseline medium consistency, but can be applied multiple times to produce high and full coverage. This can be ideal for people with specific problem areas that they want to conceal, without going totally full-face.
Full coverage or high coverage. High coverage foundation is a dense formula that’s designed to conceal pretty much everything underneath it. Full coverage foundations are great to use to cover large blemishes or to create a solid canvas for involved makeup looks, but they can be kind of heavy.
Find the Right Shade
When you have freckles, there’s the temptation to go for shades that are darker than what we should go for, because the freckles can create the illusion that your skin is darker than it actually is. Take a very close look, and make sure you are matching the shade beneath the freckles—that can take some trial and error, but that’s normal even for people who don’t have freckles. Foundations can be very tricky.
To find the shade that isn’t too dark, consider swatching the foundation on your neck. The neck typically gets less sun than the face does, so it is a good spot to test a foundation for skintone accuracy.
Makeup Artist Tips for Concealing Freckles
So, now that you know the basics, here are three “insider” tips that can help you conceal your freckles:
Tip #1: Invest in a Good Primer.
Primer is a product that goes on after you apply a daily moisturizer, and before you apply your foundation for the day. It does a lot of different things, but two of the most helpful things it does are 1) help your makeup stay put for longer, and 2) improve the opacity of your foundation. For people with dark spots or freckles, a good primer can help to conceal the concentrated pigment of your face and increase the longevity of that coverage. If it helps, you can think of primer as “the foundation for your foundation.”
When it comes to choosing a makeup primer, there are a few things to keep in mind:
Formula base. Primers typically come with a water base or a silicone base (some primers are equipped with an oil base, but those aren’t too common). In most cases, you want your primer and foundation to be made with the same type of formula base (that is, both with a water base, or both with a silicone base). Foundations and primers should adhere together, and they usually do that best when they both have the same base. So, if you have a silicone primer, you should usually use a silicone foundation, and if you have a water-based foundation, you should usually use a water-based primer.
To determine what type of base your primer is, take a look at the ingredients list. For water-based primers, water is usually the first or second ingredient and silicone ingredients are entirely absent. For silicone primers, it’s a little more complicated, but look for ingredients that end in -cone or -xane, as those are usually silicones.
Effect. Many primers are advertised as producing different effects. Common ones are mattifying, illuminating, or color correcting. Ultimately these effects just change the overall look of your skin once your makeup is complete. Here’s how it usually plays out: mattifying effects will absorb light, which reduces the appearance of bumps or dips in the skin; illuminating effects increase the reflection of light, giving a “dewy“ or “glowing“ look; and color correcting effects use color tints counteract uneven skin tone, redness, or dullness.
Tip #2: Apply Makeup Strategically
When concealing freckles, there are some tricks you can use to get the best results:
Use a small brush or your fingertips. For maximum coverage, try using a small foundation brush or your fingertips to apply a liquid foundation to your face. Both of these tools give you more control over your foundation and can help you effectively apply foundation over particularly freckled areas;
Utilize lip liner. This one often gets overlooked. If you have freckles that come to the edge of your lips, using a lip liner that matches your natural lip color can help conceal them; and
Use color corrector before your foundation. If your freckles have an orange or reddish undertone to them, a green-hued color corrector can neutralize the tone and make them easier to conceal.
Tip #3: Set Your Makeup Appropriately
When it comes to full-makeup looks, consider using a setting spray or setting powder to lock in the look. Setting products go on over your makeup and can help “weatherproof” your makeup—this can help protect your look from external factors like wind, sweat, and physical contact with your skin, and can increase the likelihood that your foundation stays put for as long as possible throughout the day.
Foundations to Flaunt Freckles: Our Picks
So, you’re not in the mood to hide your freckles, and you want to show them off! That’s awesome. Here are two products that may help you do so—they’re not foundations (because after all, foundations are made to conceal, and not to illuminate), but they can provide some “dampening” qualities while also working with your skin.
Maybelline Dream Fresh BB Cream
- The oil-free formulation is designed to keep this foundation feeling light on your face and non-greasy throughout the day, while still hydrating your skin;
- It comes equipped with SPF 30, which offers increased protection against UV ray damage—and that’s pretty decent for a drugstore cosmetic.
- A limited shade range may make this product difficult to use for some people—it’s made in three (albeit broad) color tones, but that may not be enough who people fall on the far ends of the pale-to-dark skin tone spectrum; and
- It may not be waterproof.
So, first things first: Maybelline’s Dream Fresh BB Cream is not technically a foundation. It’s a BB cream—which stands for “beauty balm”—but it shares a lot of the same features of a foundation, and it can be a great option if you want the properties of a foundation, while having it work in tandem with your freckles. Here’s why:
It’s got light coverage. Regardless of the tone of the product—and at present, Maybelline Dream Fresh BB Cream is manufactured in three tones (light/medium, medium, and medium/deep)—each tone features light coverage. That’s designed to be enough to cover some blemishes, but not to cover them completely (and we should mention that this probably isn’t a great option for people with oily skin or combination skin, as it’s not designed to create a matte appearance). If you want to work with your freckles instead of hiding them, that light coverage can do the trick.
It’s got a radiant finish. Most of the foundations we recommend for people who want to cover their freckles have a matte finish (or sometimes a dewy finish). It’s kind of rare that a cosmetic that can partially conceal/work in tandem with freckles can provide a radiant finish, and if you can make it work for you, that can be a great look. And lastly…
It’s got an SPF of 30, which is very good for a drugstore brand, but also great for a sheer/light coverage formulation. Usually it’s the full coverage foundations/BB creams that offer a high SPF, so it’s nice to see this provide some decent protection against UV rays.
May be a good fit for:
> People with normal skin or dry skin looking for a drugstore option;
> People looking for a lightweight foundation with a fairly strong SPF.
> Those who want a foundation that applies quickly and evenly on the go.
GIORGIO-ARMANI Luminous Silk Foundation
- Formula is designed to be lightweight yet buildable—meaning, it’s designed for you to create your desired level of see-through-ness;
- It’s got light to medium coverage—also a nice feature, if you want to work with your freckles, instead of totally concealing them; and
- It features a natural finish, which is, again, a nice change of pace from your “usual” foundations for freckles, which usually feature a matte finish, which can sometimes turn out “flat matte.”
- Honestly, not much, other than that high-end cosmetics are… well, not as accessible as drugstores and dupes!
So we just discussed our drugstore pick if you want to keep your freckles peeking through, and now let’s take a biiiiig jump and discuss our high-end pick: the GIORGIO-ARMANI Luminous Silk Foundation.
Giorgio Armani creates high-end… well, everything, from suits to boots to leather goods to cosmetics. It’s sometimes the case that when companies expand beyond their initial product line, it doesn’t work out so well, but the Giorgio Armani Luminous Silk Foundation is actually a highly-prized cosmetic, and it was actually awarded “Best Liquid Foundation” by InStyle. So… that’s nice!
As for the product itself, it can be a great option if you want to accentuate your freckles a little bit, because it’s 1) buildable—you can develop more coverage or less, depending on what you want; 2) got a light to medium coverage, which means you having the option of not fully covering your freckles; and 3) it features “Micro-Fil Technology,” which is a fancy phrase for “is designed to be lightweight yet effective.”
High-end cosmetics aren’t for everyone, but if you’re looking for a high-end option to accentuate your freckles instead of hiding them, this may be a good option.
How to Use Foundation to Flaunt Freckles: The Basics
The natural beauty movement is gaining speed and popularity, making this one of the best times in recent history to have freckles, and let’s face it: freckles are great and sometimes you may want to just show them off to the world.
That said, it can be tricky finding makeup that lets you flaunt your freckles—while also concealing blemishes. The answer lies in finding a lightweight foundation that evens out your skin tone without covering your proud spots.
Here are some tricks and tips on how to make that happen:
Go with a Foundation, OR…
While there are many lightweight foundations and/or concealers on the market that can serve you well on your quest to accentuate your freckles, you can also explore:
Tinted Moisturizers. These are exactly what they sound like—moisturizers that are pigmented to appear similar to a traditional foundation. Tinted moisturizers tend to be very sheer, making them an excellent option for people who want to even out their complexion while letting their freckles shine through.
BB Creams. “Beauty Balm” or “Blemish Balm” creams are a makeup hybrid between a moisturizer and a traditional concealer. BB Creams usually have more coverage power than tinted moisturizers, while still remaining sheer. The draw for BB Creams are that they are a skin-first product that can offer skin benefits like SPF, hydration, toning, etc. Many people are turning to BB cream to streamline their skincare routine, which we’re very happy about.
Tinted Primers. Tinted primers are similar to tinted moisturizers: they’re a pigmented product that’s also very sheer. The benefit to tinted primer is that it often has blurring effects on uneven skin tone, which helps smooth the appearance of blemishes and freckles. Primer also tends to have more staying power, resulting in longer-lasting makeup. Tinted primer should be applied after a regular moisturizer for best results.
Makeup Artist Tips for Accentuating Freckles
And now that you know the basics, and we’ve discussed our picks for the best foundation for freckles, here are a few insider tips from our makeup artists:
Tip #1: Create a Skin Care Routine
When working with sheer or lightweight makeup, it becomes particularly critical to care for the canvas you will be working with. This means developing a good skincare routine that improves your overall skin health. A good skincare routine should include the following:
Cleanser. When it comes to fighting acne, there are two major acne-fighting ingredients available over the counter: benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid. Learn about them, and love them as we have loved them.
Toner or Astringent. Toners and astringent can help remove excess oil, makeup, or cleanser residue that your cleanser might have missed. Astringents are made of alcohol-based products, which can be great for those with oily, non-sensitive skin. Toners are milder and usually use natural ingredients, making them better for those with dry or sensitive skin. Toner or astringent is best used after a cleanser and before a moisturizer.
Moisturizer. Yes, moisturizers can be very helpful, and yes, even if you don’t have dry skin! Getting a good moisturizer is a great way to keep your skin healthy and your makeup canvas (AKA your face) well-prepped. Daily moisturizers exist for all skin types, so look for the type that’s right for you, and remember: people who are prone to freckling are often particularly sensitive to sun damage, so consider using a daily moisturizer that includes SPF to help counterbalance this sensitivity.
Tip #2: Apply Foundation Without Covering Up Your freckles
When applying foundation that doesn’t hide your spots, there are a few tricks you can use for best results:
Use a Blending Sponge. A blending sponge gives you control over the opacity of your foundation, which means that you can keep coverage light over your freckles.
Spot Application. To cover large blemishes, consider using a high-coverage concealer and precision applying it only over the spot you want to hide. Strategic use of a high coverage concealer can up your makeup game.
Try Mixing Your Regular Foundation with Moisturizer. If you have a foundation that you already really love, consider simply mixing some of that with your daily moisturizer, to produce a formula that provides sheer coverage. For best results, consider using a translucent setting powder or spray to help the staying power of your creation.
Tip #3: Use Highlighter, Blush, or Bronzer to Make Your Freckles Pop
When it comes to accentuating freckles, don’t be afraid to reach for some extra products that enhance the natural beauty of the face. Strategic use of makeup that lays on top of the foundation can frame freckles in a way that draws the eye. You can use:
Highlighter. When you want to draw attention to visible freckles, highlighter can be your best friend. Strategic application of highlighter can add depth to your face and frame your freckles, giving them a great spotlight. Some tips:
- Avoid Traditional Contouring. Contouring involves the use of many products, which ultimately assist in covering freckles instead of framing them; and
- Apply Highlighter to Cheekbones, the Bridge of the Nose, and Cupid’s Bow. This will give the appearance of glowing skin, without overtaking your freckles. Minimalism can create maximum effect, so venture forth lightly!
Blush. Applying a pink blush over the apples of the cheeks draws attention to freckles that congregate on your cheeks and across your nose. The effect is a natural flush that can make freckles visually stunning. When pairing blush with a freckles-out look:
- Use a Pink Shade and Avoid Browns. To effectively make freckles pop, the key is to show a contrasting color. Brown shades can blend in with freckles and have the opposite effect.
- Try a Cream Blush. Cream blushes blend nicely along the skin, whereas traditional loose powdered blushes can make freckles appear strangely textured. Play around with blush types to figure out which one gives you the results you are looking for.
Bronzer. Using bronzer with freckles is a balancing act. Applied correctly, the extra warmth can really make freckles pop. But when applied carelessly, bronzer can muddy freckles or make them appear ashy. For best results:
- Use a Gel, Liquid, or Cream Bronzer. Powdered bronzers have very concentrated pigment which can cause freckles to appear dull. Non-powdered bronzers give the skin a natural, sun-kissed look.
- Avoid Glittery or Sparkly Bronzers. The best finish for a bronzer is usually a matte finish, as glitter and sparkles can draw attention away from freckles; and finally
- Apply Bronzer with a Stippling Brush. A stippling brush gives bronzer a light and blended appearance, which can provide a natural finish. Lightly blend the color along the forehead, nose, neck, and cheekbones and see what works for you.
To Hide or To Accentuate…
It’s our view that freckles are absolutely gorgeous, but we get that sometimes you want different looks. With that in mind, hopefully there’s something for you here—some insights on how to cover/conceal them if that what’s you want, and how to accentuate them and make them work with whatever makeup look you’re going for, if that’s what you want. Whatever you decide, we wish you all the best, and happy makeup!