Philosophy the Present Clear Makeup: A Foundation Primer that Does More

philosophy (yes, that’s lower-cased) is a cosmetics company with a growing cult following that, admittedly, includes me. I’m hooked on philosophy’s delicious-smelling bath and body products, their outstanding mineral powder foundation, and several items from their skin care line. Committed to improving the look and feel of my sensitive, breakout-prone skin, I decided to toss my traditional liquid foundations and to try aiming for the “makeup-optional skin” that philosophy promises. Not being blessed with brilliant skin tone or microscopic pores, naturally I needed a little help. Enter The Present, a so-called “skin perfector” that in many ways is similar to other foundation primers on the market, but with some interesting qualities that make it unique.

The Present is a thick, white, tacky lotion that seems to expand ever so slightly when you squirt it onto your fingers from the tube. A pea-sized amount is all that’s necessary to cover the entire face, though I found I needed to blend carefully to ensure full, even coverage. After letting it dry and set for a few minutes, my skin was subtlely, but noticeably, transformed. The smoother texture facilitated application of both liquid and powder foundation, and the end result was a slightly more perfect complexion than I would have achieved from makeup alone. A word of warning is in order here, though: without allowing the product to fully dry, applying foundation will be a considerably trickier and messier task, so be patient!

Although philosophy markets The Present to people with oily and breakout-prone skin types, I was less impressed with The Present’s oil control properties. Unlike foundation primers that are primarily meant to mattify, The Present actually claims to work as an oil-free moisturizer and to “seal in” the skin’s moisture. When used over moisturizer, the initial finish is smooth and satiny, but over the course of the day I usually find myself reaching for blotting tissues. Used as a moisturizer alone, on the other hand, I found The Present to be somewhat inadequate, although on very warm, humid days it works reasonably well for that purpose.

While some people will use The Present as a foundation primer, others will use it in lieu of foundation entirely. Indeed, my favorite use of The Present is to make my skin look smoother and more even-toned on my makeup-free days. The subtle improvement in the texture of my skin looks completely natural, just brighter, smoother, and – how to say this?? – more like those people whose skin I wish I had! After applying The Present, I add a little sheer color to my lips and cheeks, and I’m out the door. Having never, EVER considered going makeup-free a serious possibility, I now use The Present regularly without any foundation. That being said, don’t be fooled by the name “skin perfector” – although The Present does an admirable job of improving skin tone and texture, it won’t erase blemishes or any other serious discoloration. Those who are uncomfortable leaving the house with anything but a porcelain finish may be disappointed. On the other hand, The Present is a great product for people who are working to improve the look of their skin with the goal of becoming “makeup optional.”

At $25.00 for 2 ounces, The Present is a better deal than most quality foundations and foundation primers on the market. You can purchase The Present and other philosophy products directly from the manufacturer, through the home shopping network QVC, at Sephora and Nordstrom stores, or through several online retail outlets such as and

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