When you stop to think about it, foundation might just be the most accurately named beauty product. It’s the very base of your makeup and if your foundation doesn’t look good, neither will anything you put on top of it, from highlighter to blush. That’s why using just the right one is crucial, no matter if you’re all about the no-makeup makeup look or sport a full face for high impact.
Foundation has come a long way in recent years. Now many formulas are infused with skin-care ingredients to improve your complexion over time. Hyaluronic acid for hydration is a popular go-to as well as antioxidants to boost skin health. The latest launches do so much more than just even out your skin tone.
The best foundation will deliver that your skin but better look. Luckily, there are formulas out there for every skin type, whether you’re dry or oily or somewhere in between, or looking for a liquid, powder or stick. Then there’s the question of deciding between a dewy or matte finish, and just a hint of color or full coverage. Since options abound, the tough part is narrowing them down. That’s why we’ve rounded up the best foundations in every category.
1. Tom Ford Traceless Soft Matte Foundation
Tom Ford’s brand new launch has everything needed for a flawless looking complexion, making it one of the best foundations out there. The full-coverage formula is long wearing and humidity-resistant, so it won’t budge on even the steamiest summer days. Delivering medium coverage, it looks and feels just like real skin with a matte finish in 40 shades. Its light-diffusing microspheres blur out imperfections. It improves the appearance of skin instantly and over time, thanks to the perks of ingredients such as hyaluronic acid to boost the natural moisture barrier, antioxidants, vitamins C and E, and caffeine.
2. Charlotte Tilbury Airbrush Flawless Foundation
BEST FULL COVERAGE
Heavy coverage doesn’t have to mean a heavy face of makeup, as this Charlotte Tilbury foundation proves. It covers everything you want it to, delivering full coverage with a matte finish, without ever looking cakey or mask-like since it’s super hydrating. The foundation has staying power to last all day and it’s transfer-resistant as well as sweat-, humidity- and waterproof. Infused with skin-loving ingredients, it’ll improve your complexion over time.
3. exa High Fidelity Semi-Satin Foundation
Brand new line exa saw a gap in the market for a foundation that was completely clean but still delivered the performance of traditional formula, so the brand spent nearly two years creating one. This cruelty-free foundation is made with gluten-free ingredients and has a buildable semi-satin finish in 43 shades. Founded on the principle of inclusivity, it works for all skin types, including dry, mature, sensitive, blemish-prone, combination and normal. Packed with anti-pollution actives, it’ll keep the skin barrier safe from environmental stressors. It merges skin care with makeup with ingredients like aloe vera juice, plumping peach fruit extract, hyaluronic acid and maqui berry to soothe.
4. IT Cosmetics Your Skin But Better Foundation + Skincare
BEST SKIN-CARE HYBRID
The makeup wish list has always included a foundation that’s your skin but better in a bottle and IT Cosmetics, founded by Jamie Kern Lima, just delivered that with their new launch. The buildable coverage is like a filter for your face, blurring imperfections and minimizing pores without sinking into fine lines. Forty shades are on offer and the formula’s clever pigment technology allows it to blend right in for a natural finish. On the skin-care end, it’s clinically tested to improve tone and texture in just two weeks. There’s hyaluronic acid and aloe vera to hydrate and smooth, vitamins E and B5 to fight free radicals and boost the skin barrier, and hepes acid to delicately exfoliate for brighter, smoother skin.
5. Armani Beauty Neo Nude Foundation
BEST LIGHTWEIGHT COVERAGE
Armani Beauty is no stranger to incredible foundations, and its Luminous Silk Foundation is one of the best foundations of all time, a consistent presence in makeup artists’ kits. When the brand announced a new foundation was on the way, the excitement was palpable—and Armani didn’t disappoint. Neo Nude Foundation is incredibly lightweight, ideal for those seeking minimal, natural coverage. The perfect no-makeup makeup foundation, it has hyaluronic acid and glycerin to keep skin comfortable all day and glowing.
6. Shiseido Synchro Skin Self-Refreshing Foundation SPF 30
BEST WITH SPF
Shiseido’s game-changing foundation features its ActiveForce Technology that keeps it intact through sweat, oil and facial movement, staying fresh for a whopping 24 hours. The self-refreshing formula also has Responsive Sensory Technology to adapt to each person’s individual skin condition, tone and texture. The weightless, breathable formula has medium buildable coverage with a natural finish. There’s SPF 30 to protect skin from harmful rays, plus antioxidant rich wild thyme extract.
7. L’Oréal Paris Infallible Pro-Matte Liquid Longwear Foundation
For such a low price, this foundation delivers lots of benefits, making it the best budget foundation. The drugstore staple comes in 28 shades and is super hydrating for all-day wear, despite the matte finish. Though it works for all skin types, oily ones will love that it keeps excess oil under control for 24 hours. Depending on how much you apply, it ranges from natural to full coverage, delivering a smooth, even complexion.
8. Fenty Beauty Pro Filt’r Soft Matte Longwear Foundation
When Rihanna launched Fenty Beauty, Pro Filt’r Soft Matte Longwear Foundation was the foundation heard around the world. The shade range, now up to 50, changed the beauty game forever. And that’s not the only impressive thing about it. The formula is oil-free and long-wearing, with a flawless matte finish that stays pristine no matter the weather, thanks to its climate-adaptive technology that defies sweat and humidity.
9. Bare Minerals Original Loose Powder Mineral Foundation
Hands down the best powder foundation out there, this OG never gets cakey or chalky, won’t settle into fine lines or pores, and leaves a luminous finish, unlike many of its peers. It’s formulated with just five clean mineral ingredients, making it ideal for sensitive skin and natural beauty lovers, as it’s free of binders, fillers, talc and other additives. Available in 30 shades, the buildable formula can be customized from sheer to full coverage. The mineral based SPF15 broad spectrum protection guards from UV rays courtesy of titanium dioxide and zinc oxide.
10. Hourglass Vanish Seamless Finish Foundation Stick
For on-the-go, a stick is hands down the best foundation formula. Hourglass takes the prize for this long-wearing option that boasts the coverage of a concealer but the feel of a powder and is a cinch to apply. No tools are needed for a seamless application—its triangular tip gets into those tough to reach spots. The foundation adjusts to your body temperature so it blends like a dream. Packed with pigment, it delivers 12 hours of full coverage, erasing redness and blurring pores, dark spots and blemishes.