I don’t do foundation. It’s not just that I loathe the feeling of a cakey mask smothering my skin all day, but I don’t find foundation all that helpful in the anti-aging department. From a distance, a foundation-caked face might look smooth and flawless, but check it out in a magnifying mirror or (even scarier) in High-Def, and that same face will have just gained ten years. The few foundations that I’ve tried made my skin feel heavy and my face look haggard. Instead of camouflaging wrinkles, it settled into the crevices and accentuated them. Instead of providing an extra layer of moisture, it dried out my skin. I had all but sworn off foundation for good when I met Luka Mineral Cosmetics Nearly Naked Tinted Moisturizer ($42).

While I was getting my hair styled the day before my wedding, I ran into makeup professional Kathy MacDonald in the salon and she spontaneously offered to do my makeup for that evening’s festivities. How could I resist? I was only wearing the bare minimum - moisturizer and some eye makeup - so she basically had a blank canvas to play with. Not wasting any time, Kathy dug into her Luka Mineral Cosmetics arsenal and pulled out the Nearly Naked Tinted Moisturizer.

I instinctively cringed at the foundation-like product and said that I would rather spare my skin a bedrock of gunk the night before my wedding. Kathy assured me that it’s more of a moisturizer than a foundation and compatible with all types of skin. Yet still I balked, “But I’m already wearing face cream!” I don’t think I could have been a more exasperating makeup subject if I tried. Despite my protestations, Kathy spread a thin layer of Nearly Naked all over my face, and it instantly looked more refreshed and even-toned. I couldn’t believe how natural and subtle its effects were. Were my feelings toward foundation really ready to evolve?

Kathy gave me a sample to take on my honeymoon to Bali, where it ended up being much more useful than I expected. I try to be a makeup minimalist while traveling, and spending a couple of weeks in tropical paradise was no exception. With a few quick swipes over my skin, Nearly Naked absorbed quickly and accomplished the tasks of four other products (moisturizer, powder, bronzer, concealer) combined. It has accompanied me on every trip and made a regular appearance in my makeup routine ever since.

No matter what products I use, my complexion is inherently imperfect. More often than not, my face is mottled with freckles, age spots, patches of dermatitis, and receding acne. Add to all that grooves on my forehead that grow deeper by the day and faint lines below my eyes that become more pronounced under makeup. Nearly Naked camouflages these imperfections, blending brown spots and taking the edge off inflammation. It tones down surface flaws as if you’re looking through a soft-focus lens. You don’t need invisible pores and imaginary wrinkles to make the formula work for you.

Nearly Naked does not fall prey to the common pitfalls of mineral makeup. Some mineral products are so deeply pigmented that their concealing effects are too intense for their own good. They’re well-suited to covering up acne scars, broken capillaries, and blazing rosacea, but are much too heavy for everyday makeup. Instead of draining the skin of color and drying it out - as other mineral foundations frequently do - Nearly Naked provides the subtlest layer of illuminating pigments and lightly moisturizes.

Even though skin-softening glycerin makes up the third ingredient, Nearly Naked can’t satisfy seriously parched skin as a stand-alone moisturizer. As with any tinted cosmetic, it has a tendency to cluster around dry, rough, or flaky skin. It does, however, play nicely over a base layer of lotion and would work wonders on its own with oily skin types or in humid months. My skin tends to vacillate between the lovely conditions of dry and shiny, which requires a juggling act between my moisturizer and pressed powder/bronzer compact. Nearly Naked eliminates the extra step of soaking up oil with a powder. Thanks to the absorbent powers of kaolin clay, it mattifies shiny skin while enriching with nutrients.

Nearly Naked’s formula is rooted in the super-charged succulent aloe vera, which contains 18 amino acids, polysaccharides, and nearly every vitamin. The formula also incorporates pure vitamins A, C, and D for additional antioxidants. The most heavy-hitting anti-ager arrives in the form of palmitoyl tripeptide-5 (also known as SUN-COLL). In vitro studies on this ingredient showed it to increase collagen synthesis by 119%, and an 84-day study by Pentapharm found that it significantly reduced irregularities and wrinkle depth. To boost its hydrating power, Nearly Naked joins glycerin with apricot kernel oil, sunflower oil, and shea butter.

Though an explicit SPF isn’t listed on Nearly Naked’s label, the formula does provide a modicum of sun protection with the help of titanium dioxide and benzophenone-3. Neither of these ingredients is ideal. A light-reflective mineral, titanium dioxide both deflects and absorbs UV rays, thus resulting in an increased production of free radicals and potential damage to DNA. By absorbing UVA rays, benzophenone-3 protects the skin and prevents other cosmetic ingredients from deteriorating. Despite contradictory scientific studies, it is also suspected of links to melanoma and contact allergies. Both of these sun-shielding ingredients appear to be present in a low enough concentration to minimize concerns surrounding their health risks.

Nonetheless, I wish Nearly Naked had a greater quantity of sunscreen actives to warrant a full SPF so I wouldn’t need to goop up my face with multiple layers of product. I’m sure such a change in the formulation would alter its consistency and appearance on the skin. What I soon learned after much trial and error is that a little drop of Nearly Naked goes a long way, and that less is more - meaning the less you use, the more natural it looks. I may not have warmed up to traditional foundation, but I haven’t met a better healthy alternative to foundation.

Ingredients: Aqua (purifed water), Aloe Barbadensis extract, Glycerin, Coco-Caprate, Kaolin, Titanium Dioxide, Coco-glucaside, Coconut Alcohol, Potassium Cetyl Phosphate, Cetearyl Esters, Benzophenone-3, Cetyl Alcohol, PEG-40 Prunus Armeniaca (Apricot Kernel) oil, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) oil,  Sodium PCA, Magnesium Aluminum Silicate, Acetyl Hexapeptide-8, Zea Mays (Corn Starch), Hydrolyzed Corn Starch, Cocamidopropyl Dimethylamine, Lauryl Laurate, Palmitoyl Tripeptide-5, Natural Fragrance, Lecithin Alcohol, PEG 25 Shea Butter Glycerides, Ascorbyl Palmitate, (Vitamin C), Tocopherol (Vitamin E), Retinyl Palmitate (Vitamin A), Saccharomyces/Manganese Ferment, Saccharomyces/Copper Ferment, Saccharomyces/Zinc Ferment, Disodium EDTA, Xanthan Gum, Saccharide Isomerate