This $7 Foundation Is My 2021 Secret to Dewy, Clear Skin

We're not even halfway through the first month of 2021, and I already know which foundation I'll exclusively be reaching for the next 11 months: the new Essence Pretty Natural Hydrating Foundation. As a beauty editor whose primary job responsibility is to test out copious amounts of new makeup, this isn't the most realistic New Years' resolution, but this illuminating, lightweight formula sure makes me want to stick to it. 

Although Essence is known for its iconic Lash Princess Mascara, the beloved drugstore brand hasn't really ventured into the complexion category before — well, until now. The Pretty Natural Hydrating Foundation is kicking things off with a luxurious liquid that only rings up at about $7. 

Consider Essence's new launch a foundation serum. Allow me to explain why: The more you blend the ultra-thin liquid into skin, the more it melts into it like a serum. The foundation's medium, just-enough coverage ends up becoming so discreet, everyone will think your complexion is that clear, even, and bright at all times. (If you need some extra help with coverage, though, I suggest tapping on the Uoma Beauty Stay Woke Concealer or Monika Blunder Beauty's Blunder Cover because they both have a similar finish to the foundation. ) 

The foundation is also spiked with soothing and hydrating ingredients usually found in serums: glycerin, aloe vera juice, and sodium hyaluronate, which is a form of hyaluronic acid found naturally in your skin and helps plump lines, according to cosmetic chemist Kelly Dobos. 

For application, I turn to my trusted highlighter brush technique. I start off by dabbing the foundation onto the four quadrants of my face with my finger before buffing it inward with the Real Techniques Setting Brush. By the time I'm done blending, my skin looks gorgeously dewy, and dare I say, happy

My complexion falls into the oily, acne-prone category, and it typically despises foundation. So many formulas just uncomfortably sit on top of my skin like wet papier-mâché and beg pools of oil to form. Foundation tends to annoyingly crease up in every nook and cranny of my face and emphasize any lines or marks. 

With Essence's new oil-free foundation, though, I forget I'm even wearing any complexion products. It only looks like my usual skin-care lineup and eye makeup are in action. And if all of this weren't enough, the foundation stays put — even in my sweltering, ancient radiator-heated apartment and after filming a TikTok with my sister. See, how could I possibly want to use any other foundation? 

Starting today, January 13, you can shop the Essence Pretty Natural Hydrating Foundation in 16 shades for $7 on You'll have to wait until February 2 all 31 shades it comes in will be available on 

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