Because all good makeup looks start with a great base
Finding the best foundation for your skin type is no easy feat. But once you find your perfect match, you’ll wonder how your make-up bag ever did without it. Whether you need the best foundation for dry skin, the best foundation for oily skin, or you’re a bit of both and need the best foundation for combination skin, there are limitless options when it comes to coverage, finish and formulation.
The best buys will keep your skin’s moisture levels in check without sticking to any dry patches, for a fresh-faced complexion overall – whatever your skin type or desired level of coverage. (If it’s the lighter touch you’re after, be sure to check out our round up of the best BB cream, too.)
But how do you find the one? Here’s the lowdown on all things flawless finish.
How to find your best match
Where once you might have been able to pop into a store and have a make-up artist match your foundation for you, these days we’re left to our own devices when it comes to shade matching. So how do you avoid the dreaded face to neck mismatch?
First off, figure out your undertones.
Undertones come in three categories: warm, cool, and neutral. While warm undertones are golden, cool undertones are pink or red, and neutral undertones are a combination of both. The colour of your veins is usually a good indicator as to your undertones – as a general rule, blue veins mean cool undertones, greenish blue neutral, and green warm.
Most foundations have been tailored to different undertones, so once you know what yours are, it makes narrowing down a shade selection to start swatching all that bit easier.
Swatching your foundation on the back of your hand isn’t going to give you an accurate shade match. Instead, swatch on your jawline, bringing the product down onto your neck and blending in fully. This will help you avoid the face three shades darker than neck effect that, let’s face it, isn’t a good look on anyone.
Should you apply foundation or concealer first?
It’s the great, age-old beauty debate – to pre-conceal, or not to pre-conceal. While there’s no right answer and it’s all down to personal preference, many make-up artists advocate for applying concealer after foundation.
Why? Because once you’ve given yourself a gorgeous base, it’s much easier to determine which areas need the additional coverage of your best concealer, and how much product you need to use on said areas.
It’s also possible that by applying foundation over concealer, you’re wiping off lots of the good work you’ve just done, not to mention wasting product. Plus, your foundation should be doing most of the hard work for you anyway – so think of concealer as an added flourish.
With all that in mind, are you ready for our pick of the best foundations? Scroll down to meet your perfect match.
Best foundation for dry skin:
Powders are great at absorbing excess oil or mattifying shine, but can cling to dry patches of skin. Opting for a liquid or cream formula is your one-way ticket to the best foundation for dry skin. Look for hydrating agents such as hyaluronic acid, which can hold as much as 1,000 times its own weight in water. If you prefer a matte look, try a liquid foundation that dries with a powder effect so as not to emphasise any dryness. Always prep your skin with your best moisturiser for dry skin before applying make-up to really nail a smooth canvas.
Best foundation for oily skin:
If you struggle with oiliness, combat shine with mattifying foundations that work to absorb excess oil. Powder foundations, like bareMinerals' Original formula, are a particularly effective choice. It may be worth looking for oil-free foundations so as not to exacerbate oiliness, but the key is a formula that's 'non-comedogenic', or non pore-clogging. This number is surprisingly glowy for a powder foundation and only has five ingredients, so it's a pretty clean buy. If you're not into powder, check out our other best foundations for oily skin. Or if your skin is very prone to breakouts, be sure to read up on the best foundation for acne prone skin.
Best foundation for full coverage:
What's the best foundation for full coverage, we hear you ask? I'd go out on a limb and say that, if they don't use it themselves, everybody knows someone who uses this next foundation. A strong contender for the world's most famous formula, Estée Lauder's Double Wear is renowned for its excellent coverage and longevity, as well as offering a broad range of 54 shades. It's a fairly thick formula, but that's definitely not a bad thing – it doesn't feel heavy or go cakey on skin, and its staying power lasts for hours.
Best drugstore foundation:
If we had to pick the budget foundation out of a line-up, this one would never be our first guess. Super full coverage with a flawless, slightly powdery finish, this bargain buy will blur pores, cover blemishes and even out your skin tone to perfection. And all that for under a tenner!
Best foundation for mature skin:
Ever the perfectionist, Charlotte Tilbury spent a mammoth five years perfecting her magic formula so that it catered for every skin type out there. It's an adaptable, one-size-fits-all foundation, hence the name 'Magic'. What makes it so good for maturer skins is its collagen-boosting properties, which help to plump and even out the skin, mushroom extract to tighten vitamin C and hyaluronic spheres to help reduce the appearance of wrinkles. For more tips and tricks on caring for mature skin, see our round up of the anti-ageing beauty products your regime needs.
Best foundation for combination skin:
The iconic Skin Foundation Stick launched almost 30 ago in 1992 and since then it's gone on to become one of the best-selling foundations on the market. The reason it's so good for combination skin in particular is that it can adapt to your skin's needs, with oil-absorbing minerals for shiny days and hydrating properties for when your skin is more on the dry side.
Best dewy foundation:
We guarantee as soon as you try this foundation, you'll fall head over heels in love with it. It's so lightweight, that you're able to see your skin's natural texture and appearance, but it can be built up if you want more coverage. With famous fans including the likes of Meghan Markle and Kim Kardashian, it's such a beautiful formulation that Armani rarely touch it. The expression 'If it ain't broke' comes to mind...
Best foundation for darker skin tones:
Rhianna almost broke the entire internet when she released her eponymous make-up line – and boy, did it live up to the hype. You'll find many of the brilliant products in Team MC's make-up bags. The Pro Filt-r foundation spans an impressive range of 50 shades, with great options for darker skin tones, and its fluid formula with a soft matte finish caters to the foundation tastes of modern women everywhere. Ri-Ri, we take our hats off to you.
Best foundation for pale skin:
Known as one of the go-to foundations for professional make-up artists who make up faces for TV cameras, this foundation is the ultimate complexion perfector with a number of great shades for fairer complexions. It's got a medium but buildable coverage and light-reflecting properties, making it the ultimate in creating a flawless base, whatever the occasion. For other excellent options for the best foundation for pale skin, read our round up of the lightest shades.
Best powder foundation:
Powder foundations are an excellent choice of formula, and the baking powders from Huda Kattan's eponymous line are an even bigger treat. Pigment-rich with an airbrushed finish on the skin, the dense formula controls shine throughout the day while keeping your make-up in place – whether you're into the baking method or not. Plus, they offer no flashback in photographs, meaning you're camera ready at all times. Genius.