This $11 Drugstore Foundation Makes My Skin Look Airbrushed

Photo: Karina Hoshikawa.
For me, foundations exist on a simple spectrum: They are either meh or life-changing. Many of the former don't leave a lasting impression (with the exception of that beige-y transfer on my favorite white tops, le sigh), but a select few fall into the latter camp: Giorgio Armani Power Fabric, Nars Natural Radiant, and Exa High Fidelity are among my personal all-time faves. But dear reader, notice a theme among these gold-star products? While all are incredible formulas, they're not cheap. (They retail for $64, $49, and $38, respectively.) And while I love a drugstore cheapie — you won't see me spend more than $10 on a mascara, TBH — inexpensive foundations haven't done it for me, historically. That is, until I tried Milani's Conceal + Perfect Smooth Finish Cream-To-Powder.
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My experience with powder foundations thus far has been mixed; many don't really have enough coverage and disappear within an hour. Others, on the opposite end, are cakey and too drying. But Milani's formula has gone viral for all the right reasons. First, the $11 price is right, of course. Second, reviewers swear by the buildable coverage and long-wear, satin finish. Ahead, I road-tested the stuff to see if the hype was real.
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First Impressions

Photo: Courtesy of Karina Hoshikawa
Left half of face is foundation-free, right half has Milani's cream-to-powder foundation.
Right off the bat, I was apprehensive of the creamy texture in the pan. Cream foundations are historically heavier than liquid formulations, and therefore tend to break me out. Milani's, by contrast, was silky-smooth and similar to the texture of a lightweight balm. The first time I applied it, I just used clean fingers to pick up the product and blend it onto my face. I loved the way it looked on my skin — like a slightly filtered version of my face, but still very much like myself — and how I could barely feel it on.
However, it took some time to build up even coverage, so I switched gears and used a flat-top foundation brush to buff the product on. This created more of an airbrushed finish with more coverage, but I liked being able to apply it faster.
As I kept wearing it throughout my week, I have to say: I was seriously impressed. I moved to Miami in August, and the heat and humidity here are no joke. If this foundation can last here, it can last anywhere. While I did blot my face with my trusty Revlon oil-absorbing roller (which I do basically every time I set foot outside), Milani's cream-to-powder foundation lasted pretty well on me, even without using a setting powder or spray to lock everything in.
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Final Thoughts

This foundation is a dream. I'm almost waiting for it to break me out — it hasn't yet! — because it seems too good to be true. The cream finish makes it relatively easy to apply (there's even a built-in mirror in the compact for touchups) yet it dries to a matte (but not too matte) finish, making it great for oily skin like mine. (FYI, I'm wearing the shade Warm Beige in the photos here.)
For $11, I'd say this feels like an expensive foundation — and I say that as someone with bougie taste in foundation. As you can see in the before-and-after pics below, the foundation isn't super full coverage; it simply neutralizes and evens out my skin in a natural way. Simply put: Milani. Did. That!
Photo: Courtesy of Karina Hoshikawa
Left: Foundation-free! Right: Wearing Milani's cream-to-powder foundation.
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