The $4 Foundation That Saved My Butt (Or Face, Rather)

When I left my favorite BB cream at home, I discovered a drugstore foundation that will now be a staple in my makeup routine.
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When I left my favorite BB cream at home, I discovered a drugstore foundation that will now be a staple in my makeup routine.

This week, I took a road trip across Alaska and parts of Canada to make the annual pilgrimage to the Alaska Folk Fest. It’s my first holiday in almost a year, and I’ve been meticulously planning it for months, deciding on everything from outfits to pack, to which places I wanted to eat at along the 1,400-mile journey. You could say I’m a bit of a planner.

Naturally, I planned out which makeup to bring, based on how well it held up to both the rainy conditions of Southeast Alaska and hours of sweaty bluegrass dancing, which, honestly, are kind of the same thing.

I decided to go basic, with just my trusty Garnier BB Cream, some Maybelline Full 'N' Soft Waterproof Mascara, and my 100% Pure Cheek Tint in cocoa berry. And brow powder of course--I’m not an animal.

A no-foundation selfie for baby seals.

Except when I woke up from the grueling journey, it seemed that my BB Cream was nowhere to be found. I scoured my hotel room, and it simply wasn’t there. Then I saw it--in my mind--on the bureau at home, because I used it right before I left.

Damn damn damn damn.

I know I’m always trumpeting how fancy and clear my skin is. That’s because after an entire adolescence with creamy, lovely skin, I was hit with wicked adult acne right about the time I turned 25, and I had no idea how to deal with it. I still have scars from it, as well as from my horrific face burns from last summer. Add to this the broken blood vessels around my nose, and the bags under my eyes, and yeah, I might be a little dependent on my BB cream. It evens everything out just enough, even if it doesn’t really cover things up as well as I’d like.

I made a run to the cute little drugstore here to see if they had any, and sure as God made little green apples, they had it.

For $18.

Did I mention I’m a bit of a cheapskate?

Before the BB craze, I’d been making my own ramshackle version of tinted moisturizer since I was a teen; I have pretty tricky skin to match, and it was hard to find a foundation with light coverage that wasn’t too pink or orange. I use about a drop of foundation to four drops (is that a "dab"?) of SPF moisturizer, and it evens out my skin tone nicely, without looking cakey or chalky, but it doesn’t really last longer than about four hours. I spring for Clinique or NARS when I can, but neither brand is readily available where I live--also, expensive--so it’s kind of a treat when I can get ahold of it.

I hunted through the racks of NYX and Revlon, hoping to find a cheapie I could mix with my moisturizer, to no avail. Nothing but pink-toned foundations for miles.

Then, like a beacon, the Wet n Wild display. So affordable! I spied the Coverall Cream Foundation, in a convenient tube. Bingo.


My son had started to deconstruct a shelf of knock-off perfumes, so I grabbed the most yellow-y looking one and made a break for it. At $4, even if it was close, it would be good enough for a few days.

It’s a match!

After spreading some Alba Coconut lotion on my face, I applied some of the Coverall straight from the tube. Maybe I’m a product nerd, but right away something was off...

Instead of the watery, lotion-like consistency I’d come to expect from drugstore liquid foundation, this was a thick, velvety formula. It blends like a dream, has a dewy, translucent, satin finish, and after it sets, you can build coverage in crap areas, like around your nose or under your eyes.

Surprisingly better.

Is there anything better than finding a drugstore formula that compares to pricey department store brands? I think not.

While it may not be the best for people with really oily skin, I love the formula. The label touts something called "Visibright," whatever that is. All I know is that it makes me look like some forest nymph that just happened upon civilization.

My rain-proof look.

It’s dewy without being shiny, and stays where I put it without settling into my fine lines. And for the love of all that is good in the world, it’s only $4. You can barely get a gas station burrito for $4 these days.

Because I’m a cynical old harpy, I didn’t get too excited until I wore it for at least 8 hours.

8 hours with no touchups and some rain!

OK, I’m sold.

I know that not every Wet n Wild product is a hit, but this one is now a staple of my makeup bag (read: Ziploc). The major drawback is that it’s really only available in medium skin tones. Hopefully they’ll expand the line to fairer and deeper tones, because I feel like a jerk basking in the glory of this great foundation all by myself.