Best Cream Foundation Makeup

Updated October 2020
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and all opinions about the products are our own. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

38 Models Considered
10 Hours Researched
3 Experts Interviewed
150 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Buying guide for best cream foundation

Thinking about changing your foundation? It’s a big decision, especially if you’ve been loyal to your liquid or powder foundation for years. For a silky smooth formula with a flawless finish, consider switching to cream foundation.

Cream foundation has a luxurious consistency that, when applied to your face, spreads as weightless, flawless coverage. It also stays put longer than most liquid or powder formulas, which is why it has become a preferred formula for events and special occasions. Cream foundation is also blend-friendly for easy application and, if you’re so inclined, contouring.

You may be wondering how cream foundation differs from liquid and powder formulas. It’s important to know what to expect in terms of coverage, cost, and ingredients, among other things. If you’re curious, it’s time to read our buying guide on cream foundation makeup. We cover the attributes of this cutting-edge formula and share plenty of shopping and application tips.

Your face is often a shade or two lighter than your body. Match your formula to the color of your neck or forearm to avoid a washed out look, which is magnified in photos.

Considerations

Coverage

Cream foundation typically offers medium and full coverage. Liquid and powder formulas, on the other hand, are more sheer and require considerable building to achieve heavier coverage. With that said, cream coverage can be a bit heavy for those who desire minimal coverage.

Blending

Cream foundation is blend-friendly, smooth, and luxurious for easy blending. Liquid foundations vary considerably when it comes to the ease of blending and spreading out the formula. They can also be challenging to blend with powder products, like blush or bronzer, as they can absorb particles and pigment. Powder formula requires some savvy dabbing to avoid looking patchy.

Stay-put power

Cream foundation excels as a stay-put formula. It sets quickly and requires a full face wash to remove it. In fact, many cream foundations are water-resistant. Liquid and powder formulas, on the other hand, are notorious for transferring to clothing. They smear and smudge with minimal contact, whereas cream foundation takes some tugging to remove once it has set.

Cost

Given its special properties and ingredient blends, cream foundation is generally more expensive than liquid and powder formulas. For budget-conscious consumers, that can be a deal-breaker, since it’s not unusual to spend at least two to three times more on a cream formula.

Cream foundation forms

Cream foundation is unique in the way it’s presented and packaged. Whereas liquid and powder come in one or two forms, cream foundation comes in at least four forms. This attribute opens up cream foundation to far more consumers, who can experiment to find a form that works for them.

Pump and squeeze bottles

Cream foundation is easy to dispense from pump and squeeze bottles. These formulas tend to be a bit more liquidy, though they’re far more viscous than actual liquid. It’s generally easy to control how much you dispense from these containers, though once you get to the end of them, it’s challenging to remove the last bit.

Pressed compact

If you’re used to powder compacts, you might appreciate the familiarity of a pressed cream compact. This cream foundation is solid yet totally blendable, and it’s a good choice if you want cream foundation with a quick, mess-free application. As with powder compacts, these compacts often come with dedicated sponges that swipe the formula effortlessly across your face.

Tub or jar

It’s not the most common form, but there are some cream foundations sold in tubs or jars. These vessels are similar to those that hold lotion, and they are typically reserved for luxury brand formulas. If you opt for a tub or jar, expect to spend significantly more on it.

Application can be tricky, especially since you don’t want to place your fingers or unclean brushes into the container. It’s best to remove a little bit of cream foundation with a spatula to avoid redepositing germs.

Stick

Stick foundation is also somewhat of a rarity, though loyalists swear by its easy application and notable blendability. These usually have swivel barrels similar to those on lipstick. As you can imagine, it’s a matter of swipe, stripe, and spread with a foundation brush. Stick formula has a similar consistency to pressed formula, though it can be slightly thicker.

Popular ingredients

Emollients

Emollients are ingredients that hydrate, moisturize, and lubricate the skin. They also provide a protective barrier to seal in moisture. Popular ones in cream foundation include shea butter, silk protein, paraffin, and olive oil. Those with sensitive skin should examine the emollients in cream foundation, as some of them could initiate reactions or redness.

Hyaluronic acid

Hyaluronic acid often accompanies emollients in cream foundation formulas. Where emollients seal in moisture, hyaluronic acid attracts it. It works to quench the dryness that can otherwise make fine lines and wrinkles more obvious. As a result, when emollients and hyaluronic acid works together, they’re successful in keeping skin moisturized with a supple, smooth appearance.  

Anti-aging ingredients

Anti-aging is a catch-all term in the world of beauty products and cosmetics. When it comes to cream foundation, it refers to ingredients that help minimize the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Vitamin C, peptides, collagen, tea extracts, and niacinamide (B3) are common, as they aim to restore skin’s youthful texture and tightness, and they can even smooth away dead skin cells. In fact, many of these ingredients are also found in anti-wrinkle creams.

"Close the bottle, jar, or barrel of your cream foundation tightly. Cream foundation can dry out quickly when exposed to air. "
STAFF
BestReviews

Cream foundation makeup prices

Cream foundation makeup costs between $12 and $88, which mostly depends on the formula quality as well as the manufacturer.

Inexpensive: Drugstore brands of cream foundation, which mostly include compacts, cost between $12 and $16. They’re effective, but they are not as long-wearing, nor do they provide as much coverage as premium-priced formulas.

Mid-range: For $16 to $35, you’ll find a variety of cream foundations with overall better wear. These formulas blend well and are often waterproof. They mostly come in stick, tub, and bottle forms. 

Expensive: Luxury beauty brands price cream foundation between $35 and $88. These feature the most expensive formulas, often with exclusive ingredients. The quality difference is most notable in pictures, as these high-pigment formulas photograph significantly better.

Tips

  • Get used to blending differently. Cream foundation is a totally different consistency than liquid and powder, so you’ll need to make adjustments for its application.
  • Take time around your hairline. Cream foundation can be cakey and flakey if not well-blended, especially around the hairline. Take time blending around it, and dab it out with a sponge for easy spreading.
  • Cross-reference product information. There’s a big difference between “creamy” formulas and finishes, which many liquid formulas claim to have, and actual cream foundation.
  • Opt for fragrance-free. If you have sensitive or acne-prone skin, look for fragrance-free formulas to keep breakouts to a minimum.
Consider buying an affordable cream foundation for everyday use and a top-quality formula from a luxury brand for special occasions.

FAQ

Q. Why am I having so much difficulty spreading my cream foundation?
A.
If you’re not using the right blender or applicator, you may notice streaks or blotches. Another reason could be due to the formula. It may simply be harder to blend than others, or it may have started drying out. You may find it easier to blend cream formula after applying moisturizer or primer, though these both need time to dry and absorb before you apply the cream foundation.
 

Q. Because of its consistency, will I use more cream foundation per application than other formulas?
A.
Not necessarily. With some cream foundations, a little goes a long way. With others, especially if you’re building up to full coverage, you’ll end up burning through product much more quickly. There is also a learning curve for cream foundation if you’re transitioning from liquid. You’ll need to get accustomed to the consistency to determine exactly how much is required to achieve comparable coverage.
 

Q. The manufacturer discontinued the line of cream foundation I love. Now what?
A.
Contact the manufacturer to confirm whether it has truly been discontinued or if they’re going to launch a new and improved formula. If they don’t have any plans for replacing the cream foundation, you can research its “dupes.” Makeup dupes are almost identical in formula or shade to one another. While it’s not a perfect match, it might make your search for a new cream foundation easier, as it narrows your options.

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