The Best Foundation

Smiling woman applying cosmetics on face with brush in front of mirror at bathroom.

Buying Guide for Foundation

A young woman applies liquid foundation on her face with her fingers in front of a mirror.

Why buy foundation?

Foundation is the base of your makeup, allowing you a smooth surface on which to apply blush, bronzer, highlighter, concealer, and even eye makeup. Many types of foundation have skin-loving benefits, improving the skin’s texture or adding a layer of protection from the sun’s harmful rays. And foundation can hide skin discoloration or blemishes, making you feel more confident and radiant.

What should you consider in foundation?

  • The Right Shade: If you don’t already know your perfect shade, there are a couple of ways to find it. One thing you can do is sample a swatch of foundation on your chest or neck. You can often order samples online or use a sample bottle in a department store if you want to try it before you buy. Or you can take an online quiz to find your best match. Many makeup companies offer shade-matching quizzes on their websites that are pretty accurate. Some people also try combining two shades to get the perfect one for their unique skin.
  • Skin Type and Benefits: You don’t just want to pick the best shade of foundation to match your skin, but you also want to think about your skin type. Do you have dry skin, oily skin, or combination skin? Do you have discoloration? Do you have blemishes or acne? Different foundations work to improve different skin issues.
  • Coverage: There are three types of coverage in skin foundation: light, medium, and full coverage. Light coverage foundations give a sheer finish, are more breathable, and are often offered in a BB or CC cream. If you love your freckles, a light coverage foundation won’t cover them up. Medium coverage foundations can be layered to cover your freckles, or you can use one layer for a more natural look. Medium coverage foundations are great if you love your skin but occasionally get a blemish. Full coverage foundation completely covers imperfections and offers an even-toned finish.

Does foundation expire?

Yes. Foundation expires after a certain period of time, and experts recommend tossing your liquid foundation after six months and powder foundation after two years (it will only last that long if you store it properly and keep it dry). If you’re using a water-based foundation and find a watery layer on the top of your makeup, toss it out immediately. Also, don’t forget to keep your makeup brushes and sponges clean!

Our Picks for the Best Foundation

Pros: Best for normal to oily skin, this Maybelline foundation refines pores for a natural-looking matte finish. It also provides coverage for a wide array of skin tones, from shades Fair Porcelain to Espresso. And their website has a shade finder, so you can be confident in your purchase. You can use this medium-coverage foundation in one layer, or you can build your coverage for a flawless finish. Made with natural clay, this foundation also offers SFP 18-level protection against UV rays.

Cons: Some buyers received the product in a pouch and others in a glass bottle. There doesn’t seem to be a choice; it seems to be based on availability.

Bottom Line: Overall, this is a great foundation for the price. It’s lightweight and helps to refine pores over time. And for people sensitive to smells, this foundation has absolutely no fragrance at all.


Pros: When they call it “your skin but better,” they’re not kidding. This CC cream has a ton of skin-loving benefits. It works beautifully as your full-coverage foundation, but it also offers a hydrating serum and SPF 50+ sunscreen for all-day protection. It also reduces the appearance of acne scarring, wrinkles, redness, dark circles under the eyes, and large pores. Plus, it gives the skin a luminous finish, unmatched by any other CC cream. Added skin-loving ingredients in this foundation include hydrolyzed collagen, peptides, niacinamide, hyaluronic acid, antioxidants, and vitamins. In fact, this CC cream has been clinically tested and shown to improve overall hydration, smooth the skin, and reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles over time.

Cons: This foundation may leave streaks on your skin after you sweat.

Bottom Line: This foundation offers fantastic coverage and all-day SPF in one great product. It has a ton of beneficial ingredients for your skin. And if you’re not running a marathon or spending hours outside in a hot climate, it will stay in place all day.


Pros: Best for normal to dry skin, this lightweight yet creamy foundation gives your skin a smooth finish. It offers medium, buildable coverage so you can show off your gorgeous skin but hide any imperfections. Also, it has built-in SPF 15 protection. This foundation hydrates enough that even if you have very dry skin, it won’t, flake, cake, or settle into creases. It’s easy to apply, easy to build, and easy to blend. And it leaves your skin with a beautiful, smooth, soft glow, so it’s the perfect candidate if you prefer a natural look with a professional makeup finish.

Cons: This foundation doesn’t last if your face gets wet, so you may need to reapply later in the day.

Bottom Line: For those who are looking for a great everyday foundation, this affordable brand-name option is on point. It’s not for people with oily skin, and it doesn’t stay in place if you sweat a lot. Otherwise, it’s great for all-day wear and has a comfortable, smooth texture.


Pros: It’s extremely frustrating trying to find the best makeup when you have acne. Many brands can exacerbate the problem, making your acne breakouts worse. But this foundation has 0.5% salicylic acid, so you can fight your blemishes while wearing your makeup. (Have your cake and eat it, too!) In fact, this foundation provides natural and breathable coverage, controls shine, and rapidly cuts through oil for fast acne relief. Not to mention, it helps to prevent future breakouts. And if you happen to have sensitive skin, this foundation is formulated to be oil-free, hypoallergenic, and non-comedogenic, so it won’t clog or irritate your pores. It’s available in a variety of shades, and the brand’s website offers a shade matching quiz.

Cons: The bottle design isn’t the best, and it can be difficult to dispense the right amount of product. Also, this product is limited in its variety of shades available.

Bottom Line: If you have acne-prone skin, this brand-name skin-clearing foundation may be just what you’re looking for. It offers light but buildable coverage, and it won’t break the bank.


Pros: This best-selling premium powder-based foundation offers medium, buildable coverage for a natural-looking finish. It offers four benefits in one great product: foundation, concealer, powder, and SPF protection. It’s available in over 20 true-match shades. Because it’s powder-based, it has an ultra-lightweight feel and doesn’t leave a mess behind. It also won’t settle into fine lines and wrinkles. And it offers skincare benefits that help reduce the appearance of dark circles, redness, fine lines, wrinkles, hyperpigmentation, and uneven skin tone. It plumps, lifts, and firms the appearance of skin as well. Best of all, this powder is hypoallergenic and made from clean, vegan, and cruelty-free ingredients that help improve your skin, including waltheria extract, a ceratin complex with retinol and shea butter, and vitamin E.

Cons: Unlike most other powder foundations, this does not come with an applicator of any kind.

Bottom Line: For those who prefer a powder foundation, this one has you covered. It has skin-loving benefits and offers medium coverage. And although it doesn’t come with an applicator, it does offer instructions for flawless application.

Final Thoughts

There’s a lot to consider before buying foundation: color, skin type, coverage, and liquid or powder base. Think about how you’d like your skin to look and feel when you’re wearing your makeup, find your perfect shade, and feel great in your new foundation!

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