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Best Foundation Makeup

Updated July 2018
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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.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.
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.
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We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

  • 18 Models Considered
  • 8 Hours Researched
  • 1 Experts Interviewed
  • 165 Consumers Consulted
  • Zero products received from manufacturers.

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

    Why trust BestReviews?
    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.
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.
    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.

    Shopping guide for best foundation makeup

    Last Updated July 2018

    When it comes to flawless makeup, it all starts with a good base. That’s why finding the right foundation is so important. It’s also the makeup product that’s the trickiest to get right, which is why shopping for foundation makeup is such a challenge.

    Not only do you have to figure out the right shade – which is a struggle in its own right – you have to choose the best formula, finish, coverage, and ingredients for your skin type and concerns. When you consider just how many foundation makeup products are available, finding the right base can feel like finding a needle in a haystack.

    If you’re on the hunt for the perfect foundation makeup, our top recommendations are in the matrix above. If you want general advice on choosing foundation makeup, our shopping guide is full of helpful tips.

    When you’re choosing a foundation makeup shade, apply it to your jawline and look at it in a mirror in natural light to make sure it matches your skin tone.

    What can foundation makeup do?

    Foundation makeup is the base for your makeup look. Because it’s applied to your entire face in a shade that matches your skin, it evens out your skin tone and minimizes any discoloration. Depending on its texture, foundation makeup can even smooth out your skin by filling in pores and fine lines.

    In addition to making your skin look more even, foundation makeup can help oily skin stay shine-free all day or give dry skin a healthy glow. You can also use foundation makeup to color correct skin tone issues, such as sallowness or redness.

    EXPERT TIP

    Some people change their foundation makeup formula depending on the season. In the summer, you may prefer a light, matte option, while cold winter weather calls for a heavier, moisturizing formula.


    Types of foundation makeup

    Liquid

    Liquid formulas are the most popular type of foundation makeup. As the name implies, these foundations have a liquid consistency. Liquid foundation can be applied with your fingers, a brush, or a makeup sponge, and it typically comes in a bottle with a pump or dropper.

    Powder

    Powder foundation makeup is similar to face powder except it contains more pigment, so it provides additional coverage. It comes pressed in a compact, making it very easy to take on the go, and it can be applied with a brush or makeup sponge.

    Mineral


    Mineral foundation makeup is usually a loose powder that’s made mostly of natural minerals. It’s a good option for anyone who prefers natural or organic makeup, and it typically comes in a sifter container similar to those used for loose face powder. Mineral foundation is usually applied with a makeup brush.

    Cream

    Cream foundation makeup is thick with a creamy texture. It typically comes in a compact or jar, and it usually offers the fullest coverage, which is why it’s often used for stage makeup. It’s best applied with a makeup sponge or brush.

    Stick

    Stick foundation makeup is essentially cream foundation in a convenient stick form. You can apply the product directly to your face from the stick, and then blend it out with your fingers, a brush, or a makeup sponge. The stick form makes it very easy to take the foundation on the go.

    Spray

    Spray foundation, also called airbrush foundation, is liquid foundation makeup that comes in an aerosol can, which emits the product in a fine mist. You can apply it directly from the can or spray it on a brush, sponge, or your hand for application. Spray foundation is known for its natural look and long-lasting finish.

    Multi-tasking foundation that’s good for your skin

    The Christian Dior Capture Totale Triple Correcting Serum Foundation SPF 25 isn’t just great makeup for dry or mature skin. It contains Dior’s Longoza-Cellular Complex and other skin care ingredients that can help smooth fine lines, reduce dark spots, and instantly give your skin a radiant glow. This luxury foundation not only helps your skin look flawless when you’re wearing it, but after you’ve washed it off, too.

    Features to consider when buying foundation makeup

    Formula

    When it comes to choosing a foundation type or formula, it’s best to use your skin type as a guide.

    • Liquid: Liquid foundation makeup is a good all-around option no matter what skin type you have. If you have oily, acne-prone, or combination skin, choose a non-comedogenic formula that doesn’t contain any oil. Dry and mature skin benefits from an oil-based formula that delivers moisture to the skin. If you have normal skin, you can usually use any type of liquid foundation makeup.

    • Powder: Powder foundation makeup is very effective at absorbing oil, so it’s an ideal option for oily skin. It doesn’t work as well with dry or mature skin because the powder can cling to dry patches and fine lines.

    • Mineral: Mineral foundation makeup is an ideal option for most skin types. In particular, it works well for sensitive and acne-prone skin.

    • Cream: Cream foundation makeup usually contains moisturizing ingredients, making it a good fit for dry, mature, and normal skin. It’s not the best option for oily or acne-prone skin.

    • Stick: Stick foundation makeup is usually a lighter formula of cream makeup, so it can work for most skin types. Those with oily or acne-prone skin should look for an oil-free formula, though.

    • Spray: Spray foundation makeup is extremely lightweight, so it’s an ideal option if you have sensitive skin.

    Finish

    Foundation makeup is available in a variety of finishes, which also correlate to your skin type. The most common finish options are matte, satin, and radiant.

    • Matte: Matte foundation makeup has no shine at all, which makes it an ideal option for oily or combination skin. Some formulas are actually oil-absorbing, so they prevent your skin’s natural oils from breaking through the makeup during the day.

    • Satin: Satin foundation makeup is sometimes referred to as demi-matte or natural. It falls in between matte and radiant foundations because it’s not completely flat like matte makeup but it isn’t as glowy as radiant makeup either. The end result is foundation that has a natural, skin-like finish, which makes it ideal for normal skin.

    • Radiant: Radiant foundation makeup is sometimes referred to as luminous or dewy. That’s because it imparts a healthy glow to the skin that is ideal for dry and mature skin.

    Coverage

    Coverage refers to how opaque a foundation makeup is. The more opaque, the more coverage it provides. If you have a lot of discoloration or other imperfections you want to hide, choose a foundation with more coverage.

    • Sheer: Sheer-coverage foundation makeup doesn’t cover much, so it works best if you only want to even out your skin tone and don’t have any breakouts or other imperfections you want to cover. It can also be a good choice for warmer weather.

    • Light: Light-coverage foundation makeup covers up minor discoloration and small blemishes.

    • Medium: Medium-coverage foundation makeup is a good choice for most people. It covers up uneven skin, discoloration, and moderate blemishes.

    • Full: Full-coverage foundation makeup is the best option if you want a completely flawless look. It covers up most discoloration and breakouts, but it can feel fairly heavy on the skin. Most people save full-coverage foundation for special occasions, but if you have severe acne or other discoloration, you may prefer it for everyday.
       

    Keep in mind that many foundation makeup products are buildable, which means you can use two or more layers to build coverage. For example, you might prefer two layers of a light-coverage foundation to cover up your breakouts than a heavier, medium-coverage product.

    Shade

    Foundation makeup should match your skin as closely as possible, so you don’t wind up with that telltale line of demarcation between your face and neck. Most brands divide their shade range into light, medium, and dark.

    In most cases, it’s getting the undertone right that’s most difficult when choosing foundation makeup. Foundation shades either have warm, cool, or neutral undertones. Warm foundations have yellow undertones, cool foundations have pink undertones, and neutral foundations have an equal balance of pink and yellow undertones.

    A quick way to figure out whether your skin leans warm or cool is to look at the veins on the inside of your arm. If they’re greenish, you have warm skin. If they’re bluish, you have cool skin. Look for a foundation makeup shade with yellow undertones if you have warm skin, or choose a foundation shade with pink undertones if you have cool skin. If you can’t tell whether your skin is warm or cool, a neutral foundation makeup shade is your best bet.

    DID YOU KNOW?

    If you use a sponge to apply your foundation makeup, dampen it lightly first. This prevents the sponge from absorbing too much product, so you don’t waste your foundation.

    Mineral foundation that goes the distance

    A little bit goes a long way with the BareMinerals Original Foundation SPF 15, which means you can get serious coverage from just a small amount of product. Because you need so little, this inexpensive foundation will last you a long time, so you really get the most for your money. The mineral formula also contains natural ingredients, making it an excellent choice for sensitive skin.

    How much should you pay for foundation makeup?

    Foundation makeup varies in price based on the type and quality of the ingredients. In most cases, you can expect to pay between $5 and $120.

    Liquid

    • Drugstore: Liquid foundation makeup made with lower-quality ingredients typically costs $5 to $20.

    • High-end: Liquid foundation makeup made with good-quality ingredients typically costs $20 to $50.

    • Luxury: Liquid foundation makeup from designer brands typically costs $50 to $120.

    Powder

    • Drugstore: Powder foundation makeup made with lower-quality ingredients typically costs $5 to $15.
    • High-end: Powder foundation makeup made with good-quality ingredients typically costs $15 to $35.

    • Luxury: Powder foundation makeup from designer brands typically costs $35 to $70.

    Mineral

    • Drugstore: Mineral foundation makeup made with lower-quality ingredients typically costs $7 to $15.

    • High-end: Mineral foundation makeup made with good-quality ingredients typically costs $15 to $25.

    • Luxury: Mineral foundation makeup from designer brands typically costs $25 to $45.

    Cream

    • Drugstore: Cream foundation makeup made with lower-quality ingredients typically costs $6 to $18.

    • High-end: Cream foundation makeup made with good-quality ingredients typically costs $18 to $36.

    • Luxury: Cream foundation makeup from designer brands typically costs $36 to $55.

    Stick

    • Drugstore: Stick foundation makeup made with lower-quality ingredients typically costs $6 to $15.

    • High-end: Stick foundation makeup made with good-quality ingredients typically costs $15 to $40.

    • Luxury: Stick foundation makeup from designer brands typically costs $40 to $85.

    Spray

    • Drugstore: Spray foundation makeup made with lower-quality ingredients typically costs $10 to $20.
    • High-end: Spray foundation makeup made with good-quality ingredients typically costs $20 to $40.

    • Luxury: Spray foundation makeup from designer brands typically costs $40 to $62.
    Having trouble getting your foundation makeup to stay in place all day? Apply a foundation primer first to create a barrier between your skin and the makeup to prevent it from breaking down.

    FAQ

    Q. Does foundation makeup go bad?
    A.
    Like most makeup products, foundation makeup does expire. Liquid, cream, stick, and spray foundations typically expire in one to two years, while powder and mineral foundation formulas are usually good for two to three years. Consult the packaging for the expiration date.

    Q. Does foundation makeup clog pores?
    A.
    Heavy foundation can clog your pores. If you’re concerned about breakouts from your foundation makeup, choose an oil-free, non-comedogenic formula. Non-comedogenic makeup and skin care products are designed specifically not to clog pores.

    Q. Should I apply foundation makeup before or after concealer?
    A.
    If you’re using a liquid, cream, stick, or spray foundation, it’s really a matter of personal preference. Most people prefer to apply foundation first, because once it evens out your skin tone, you often don’t need as much concealer. If you’re using a powder or mineral foundation, though, you should always apply a cream or liquid concealer first. Otherwise, your makeup can look cakey.

    The team that worked on this review
    • Alice
      Alice
      Web Producer
    • Eliza
      Eliza
      Production Manager
    • Enid
      Enid
      Editor
    • Jennifer
      Jennifer
      Writer
    • Katherine
      Katherine
      Editor
    • Melinda
      Melinda
      Web Producer
    • Stacey
      Stacey
      Writer