Foundation: Our Top Picks for Every Skin Type

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Top Picks for Dry, Oily, Sensitive and Mature Skin From Cheap to Steep

Applying foundation
Plume Creative/Getty Images

Finding the best foundation for your complexion can be tricky. Most brands come in several shades, with sometimes up to 50 to choose from. Then there are the many formulations, from powder forms, to sticks to BB creams, tinted moisturizers, tinted sunscreens and mineral powders.

There's also the question of price: Should you pay for a department store brand or can you score a great budget foundation from the drugstore?

Daunting, right?

And then there are the recommendations from friends. But what is beloved by one can be hated by another: your best friend's mineral foundation may highlight your pores, while your favorite creamy formulation may cause her to break out.

So how to find that elusive perfect foundation? The one that evens out your skin tone, blends in seamlessly, and makes you feel like you're wearing no makeup at all. The one that's not too oily and not too cake-y.

Here are few pointers:

  • Try a few foundations in a department store or in a Sephora. I like trying before buying mainly to find the right shade.

  • If you are going the drugstore route (and yes, there are some good drugstore foundations on this list), you should consider buying from a store with a good return policy.

  • Your skin may be darker in summer than winter, so you may have to buy a couple different shades for those seasons and blend them for spring and fall.

  • Pick a formula based on your skin type. Look for oil-free if you have oily skin and consider powder formulations. If you have dry skin, creams are your best bet. You can always add a drop of oil to your product. Make sure you moisturize well before applying foundation. Not sure your skin type? Find out what it is in How to Tell What Type of Skin You Have.

For more information about picking the perfect foundation for you, see How To Pick the Perfect Foundation Makeup.

In this slideshow, we feature 18 of the very best foundations and explain who they work for best and the pros and cons of each. These foundations are universally beloved and meet the exacting standards of reviewers on the top review sites. We try to stay away from magazine-endorsed picks because we find they are based on paid advertisements.

02
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Best Inexpensive Foundation: Revlon ColorStay Foundation

Revlon Colorstay Makeup For Combination/Oily Skin, Buff, 1 Fl Oz
Courtesy of Amazon.com

If you're going to spend money on beauty products, we usually suggest saving it up for a good foundation. But this inexpensive product is worth a try if you're on a budget or want to a great drugstore brand.

Works best for: Anyone seeking a great drugstore foundation. There are 2 formulations: you can get the one formulated for oily/combination skin (pictured here). They also sell one for dry skin.

Pros: This product gets great reviews for providing excellent coverage and staying power.

Cons: Reviewers hate that it doesn't have a pump, so the application can be messy and wasteful. It's also somewhat lightweight.

If you're looking for more coverage, you might consider Revlon's ColorStay Whipped Creme Makeup. It's a smoother, satiny finish that won't show off fine lines and wrinkles. It's just a dollar more and it's also beloved by reviewers. The only downside is the jar packaging. Read more about it in Best Foundations for Mature Skin.

Buy from Amazon.com

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Best Drugstore Foundation for Darker Skin: CoverGirl Queen Collection

COVERGIRL Queen Collection All Day Flawless Foundation Warm Caramel Q845, 1 Oz
Courtesy of Amazon.com

It's not easy for all women with dark skin to find foundations that match their skin tone perfectly. This drugstore foundation is beloved for just that. For under $12, you get a 3-in-1 (foundation, concealer, and powder) product with 14 shades to choose from.

Works best for: Women with dark skin. Works on all skin types. Use a moisturizer or primer under it if you have dry skin. This product can be drying.

Pros: Reviewers love this foundation for its price, lasting power and the number of shades available to perfectly match your skin. Also, it's oil-free, so it won't make oily skin worse.

Cons: Some women complain that this lightweight makeup doesn't offer full coverage. You have to build up to it with more than one layer of product.

Buy it online from Amazon.com

04
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L'Oreal Paris Magic Nude Liquid Powder

L'Oreal Paris Magic Nude Liquid Powder SPF 18 #332 Soft Sable (Pack of 2)
Courtesy of Amazon.com

This super lightweight foundation has SPF 18 (bonus!) and feels like you aren't wearing makeup at all. Light coverage, but you can build to a medium by applying an extra coat or 2.

Works best for: Women with oily to normal skin. If you have dry skin, liberally apply moisturizer underneath or add a drop of oil to your foundation, mixing it in before applying.

Pros: Reviewers love the silky texture, the good coverage and the feeling like they aren't wearing any makeup.

Cons: The main complaint is that it doesn't come with a pump. Others would prefer more coverage.

Buy it online from Amazon.com

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Best Drugstore Tinted Moisturizer: Boots No. 7 with SPF 15

Boots No7 Dual Action Tinted Moisturiser Fair 1.6 ounce (SPF15)
Courtesy of Boots

Boots No. 7's tinted moisturizer is relatively new to the market and already getting rave reviews. It is one of several tinted moisturizer recommendations that "Cosmetics Cop" Paula Begoun makes in her 100 Best Makeup Buys article.

Tinted moisturizers can be great for mature skin because the coverage tends to be sheer. If you have clear skin, a tinted moisturizer may be all you need, especially in warmer months. You can switch to a heavier foundation in winter.

Works best for: Women with clear complexions seeking light, sheer coverage.

Pros: Evens out skin tone and provides excellent coverage without leaving you with "cake face." It contains some SPF, but hardly enough to protect skin. I recommend always using sunscreen of at least 30 SPF under any foundation or tinted moisturizer. 

Cons: Most of the complaints I found in my research were from women who preferred heavier coverage than your average tinted moisturizer will provide. They didn't like the sheer coverage and complained that this product didn't cover up under-eye circles or rosacea. My expert guess is these women made a poor choice in buying this product and should have opted for heavier foundations. In my opinion, this is a reflection on them, not the product, which is clearly for women who prefer light coverage.

Buy it online here from Amazon.com

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Best for Dry or Mature Skin: Cover Girl Tone Rehab Foundation

Cover Girl Tone Rehab Foundation
Courtesy of Cover Girl

You won't find a better drugstore bet for dry skin. Because it contains serums, it provides moisture and a dewy finish. If you prefer a matte finish, use a finishing powder over it. For best results, apply moisturizer or a foundation primer first so the makeup doesn't accentuate fine lines.

Works best for: Women with reddened or mature skin. This product contains serum and will be too greasy for women with oily skin. Learn more about oil-based foundations and find out what to look for in foundation if you are older in Over 50? What to Look for in Foundation Makeup.

Pros: A great pick for women who don't want to spend a ton of money on a foundation. It's blendable, lightweight and covers imperfections beautifully, reviewers report. Reviewers also love that the shades match their skin perfectly.

Cons: Can cause oiliness in the T-zone after a few hours (many women have dry cheeks and an oily t-zone). You can combat the oiliness with a powder, but that can be a hassle. Because it contains serums, this product isn't as long-lasting as others.

Buy it online from Amazon.com

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Best "Green" Foundation: Alima Satin Matte Foundation

Alima Pur Mineral Foundation
Courtesy of Alima

Alima Pure Satin Matte Mineral Foundation is a great pick for women with sensitive skin or those who don't want to put chemicals on their skin. Because it's a mineral makeup, it's totally natural. It gets rave reviews and reviewers love it because it gives great coverage without feeling like you're wearing any makeup at all.

Get the full scoop on mineral makeup in What is Mineral Foundation?

Works best for: Anyone interested in natural, hypoallergenic makeup.

Pros: This will even out your skin tone and is purported to reduce the appearance of fine lines and pores. And, with 61 shades, there's a match for just about everyone.

What I like about this product is that it's universally loved. 

Cons: Mineral makeup isn't for everyone, and with 61 shades, finding your best match can be daunting. It's best to try them in person or order a few shades and send back the misfits.

Buy it online from Amazon.com

08
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Best Foundation for Dark Skin: Iman Second to None Cream to Powder

Iman Cosmetics Luxury Pressed Powder
Courtesy of Amazon.com

This is a great bet for women with darker skin. Reviewers love its velvety creamy consistency. This foundation works on all skin types and comes in 13 shades from light to dark.

Works best for: Women with dark skin.

Pros: It's a great price for a celebrity-owned makeup line (Iman is beloved for her products). Vitamin A and E are added to moisturize the skin and women love how moisturizing it can be. The skin won't get ashen.

Cons: Some reviewers report it can tend to get oily as the day progresses. Also, it's hard to find in stores. Women don't love that they have to buy online because it's always easier to match the shade to skin tone in person.

Another great Iman product is Iman's Luxury Radiance Liquid Makeup.

Buy from Amazon.com

09
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Best Affordable Foundation Powder: MAC Studio Fix

MAC Studio Fix Powder Plus Foundation NC35 for Women, 0.52 Ounce
Courtesy of Amazon.com

This powder foundation has been around for years. This is a full coverage product — it's not lightweight at all — making it a staple in makeup artists' bags. It's not an everyday foundation unless you suffer from acne you want to cover up. Make sure you cleanse your face thoroughly after using Studio Fix.

Works best for: Studio Fix is perfect for women with oily skin who want to minimize the appearance of large pores. It's great for special events, photos, and anything that requires a lot of coverage. If you don't like the matte finish, apply a bit of moisturizer over your skin after applying foundation, or spritz mineral water on your face.

Pros: Provides excellent coverage. Comes in many shades.

Cons: If used on the entire face, it can give you "cake face." Best used for problem spots.

Read more about these foundation types in What is Powder (or Compact) Foundation?

Buy it online from Amazon.com

10
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Best Mineral Foundation: BareMinerals SPF 15 Foundation

BareMinerals foundation
BareMinerals foundation. Courtesy of BareMinerals

BareMinerals Foundation SPF 15 is a cult classic and Sephora favorite. This mineral loose powder foundation is what made Bare Escentuals famous. And for good reason: it got a whopping 18,345 reviews on Sephora as of this writing, with an average of 4.6 out of 5 stars, making this the most popular mineral foundation ever.

While many of my top picks over the years have been discontinued (many drugstore brands are quick to re-formulate and re-brand their products), this isn't going anywhere.

Because mineral makeup is a love or hate thing, I strongly suggest you try it out first and if you hate it, return it. Also note: This is best applied with a powder brush. Get the full scoop in What is Mineral Foundation?

Works best for: Women with normal to dry skin who want medium-to-full coverage. It has a shiny finish so is perfect for all skin types but oily ones. The titanium dioxide in the product can cause darker skin to appear ashy, so this product is best suited for fair to light complexions.

Pros: Users love "BareMins" because it goes on feather-light and it won't budge, smudge or melt away. Women also love the way it looks on their skin. 

Cons: Some reviewers claim it's too tricky to blend. And because you have to purchase a powder brush separately, the product can be pricey to own.

Buy it online from Amazon.com

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Best Tinted Primer With SPF: Philosophy "The Supernatural"

Philosophy "The Supernatural" Tinted Primer
Philosophy "The Supernatural" Tinted Primer. Courtesy of Philosophy

According to the wording on the packaging of this popular tinted primer, Philosophy was looking for a way to "trick" people into wearing sunblock and this product is it. It comes with SPF 15, which is decent, but really not a strong enough SPF to keep wrinkles at bay, so don't fall for this marketing mumbo-jumbo. That said, this is a great lightweight, sheer tinted primer.

Works best for: This is really for women with good skin. It provides a light coverage and feels as if you aren't wearing a thing. Just make sure to wear it over your regular sunscreen. It's just a hint of color so it works with all skin tones.

Pros: Super lightweight coverage. Great as a primer. 91% of customers say they would recommend it to a friend.

Cons:  Because it only comes in one shade, it can appear orange on really fair people. That was the one main complaint I read about. Doesn't provide enough coverage for a foundation and doesn't offer enough sun protection for a sunscreen so some people wonder why you'd bother using it. You might be better off with La Roche Posay's tinted sunscreen which is my favorite and coming up next....

Buy it online from Amazon.com

12
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The Best Tinted Sunscreen Ever: La Roche Posay

La Roche-Posay Anthelios XL BB Cream Tinted SPF 50+ 50ml
Courtesy of Amazon.com

I use this sunscreen daily because I know that the sun ages your skin faster than anything and this stuff works beautifully.

To even out skin tone, you will want to apply concealer to your dark or red spots.

Works best for: This doesn't provide the full coverage of a thicker foundation but is wonderful for women with great skin or who don't want to bother with too much product.

Pros: It's tinted so you don't get that horrible chalky, white skin that you can get from regular sunscreens. And the tint acts as a tinted moisturizer, so you don't need foundation. So basically, it's a 2 for 1, sunscreen and tinted moisturizer. Plus, it gets rave reviews from people who have tried and loved it. Sold!

Cons: It doesn't provide full coverage, so you may be disappointed if you want to erase redness or need something that will even out skin tone.

Buy it online from Amazon.com

13
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Clarins Skin Illusion Natural Radiance Foundation SPF 10

Clarins Skin Illusion Foundation SPF 10 112 Amber
Courtesy of Amazon.com

This is pretty much the perfect foundation for women looking for medium coverage. This provides a satin finish yet covers up any redness and unevenness. It's oil-free so it works on oily, combo and dry skin. Just add a drop of serum or oil if your skin is really dry, and always apply over moisturizer or primer.

It's pretty much universally beloved and gets great reviews.

Works best for: All skin types. Best for women looking for medium coverage.

Pros: It comes in 13 shades so it's pretty easy to find a good match. Reviewers report it's a great build-able foundation, which is great for those days when you want heavier coverage.

Cons: The one issue I read about is the discontinuation of beloved shades.

Buy it online from Amazon.com

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Best Tinted Moisturizer for All Skin Types: Laura Mercier

Laura Mercier Foundation Primer
Courtesy of Amazon.com

I have used Laura Mercier's tinted moisturizer for years. It's a beauty editor and makeup artist all-time favorite and is on all the best lists and has been for years. A classic tinted moisturizer, it provides lighter coverage than foundation but heavier coverage than my beloved tinted sunscreens. (Read more about these foundation types in What is Tinted Moisturizer?).

There are a bunch of shades to choose from, so I suggest heading to a department store and trying them out. You can use oil-free (pictured right) if you have oily skin or regular (pictured left) if you have dry or mature skin.

Works best for: It's lighter than foundation which makes it perfect for warmer days or for women who don't like a heavy product on their faces and it has 20 SPF (not really enough for true protection, you need at least 40 for the face).

Pros: Goes on smoothly, provides light-to-medium-coverage and lasts all day. Makeup artist Genevieve Herr explains on the awesome Website, xojane, how she uses it, "I usually apply with a wedge sponge that has been wet. I squeeze the water out so the sponge is damp -- so it goes on to the skin smoothly."

Cons: Tinted moisturizer isn't for everyone. It's not the best for building coverage, so if you want heavier coverage, you're better off with a foundation.

Buy it online from Amazon.com

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Best Foundation Stick: Bobbi Brown Skin Foundation Stick

Bobbi Brown Skin Foundation Stick Warm Sand 2.5
Courtesy of Amazon.com

Foundation sticks are great for covering blotchy skin and were made for women on the run who need a quick fix. Carry it in your bag and apply to the forehead and cheeks and blend in with your fingers or a foundation brush.

There's no better foundation stick than Bobbi Brown's. Her iconic foundation stick has been reinvented and is more beloved than ever. Plus, it comes in 24 shades. Wow. A whopping 94% of reviewers on the Bobbi Brown Website would buy it again.

Tip: Make sure you blend in ​the product after applying.

Read more about these foundation types in What is Stick Foundation?

Works best for: On-the-spot coverage in a flash. Great for women who work out because it stays put through sweat and humidity.

Pros: It's super creamy thanks to olive extracts and shea butter, but won't make oily skin oily thanks to oil-controlling minerals. Also, it contains light diffusing powders so it leaves skin looking as if you are glowing from within. Very buildable.

Cons: Some women complain it's a pain to blend in.

Buy it online from Amazon.com

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Best Foundation Powder: Laura Mercier Smooth Finish Foundation Powder

Laura Mercier Smooth Finish Foundation Powder
Courtesy of Amazon.com

For women who love powder foundation (so much easier to carry in a bag), this is a fantastic option. Use it dry for light to medium coverage, or apply with a wet foam sponge like this one for buildable, heavier coverage.  
 
Works best for: Powder foundation tends to be more matte than sheer or satin, so it's great for women with oily skin. Read more about these foundation types in What is Powder (or Compact) Foundation?.

Pros: This product blends well and has great staying power throughout the day mainly because it comes in powder form. It's also suitable for all skin types, even sensitive. People with allergies and skin sensitivities raved about it in the comments section on Sephora.

Cons: Some reviewers preferred the old formulation for whatever reason. This product has been around forever, so they make improvements and when you loved what you had, you may not always be happy with the improvements.

Buy it online from Amazon.com

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Best Pricey Foundation: Chanel Perfection Lumiere

Chanel Perfection Lumiere Fluid Makeup
Courtesy of Chanel

Flawless. Chanel products go on smooth and aren't drying (but they also don't add oil to your already oily skin). I suggest trying out the different versions at the Chanel counter. For something a little bit lighter and just as beloved, try the Chanel Vitalumier Aqua.

Works best for: This is great for oily skin. Oily skin works best with oil-free foundations and this is a great one. It also contains 15 SPF, which isn't enough to protect your skin from the sun (always use a sunscreen with 40 SPF under your foundation), but does provide added protection. 

Pair this with Chanel's Sheer Illuminating Base, which is an excellent foundation primer.

Pros: Reviewers love the range of 20 shades and the flawless coverage. They also liked that the coverage wasn't sheer, but rather heavier than a tinted moisturizer.

Cons: Women don't like the price tag, which, at $57, is expensive. They also found this foundation to be drying, which is why it's best for women with oily skin. If you have combination skin, you definitely need moisturizer or primer underneath it, especially on your drier areas (think the cheeks and temples).

Buy it online from Amazon.com

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Best Airbrush Foundation: Diorskin Airflash Spray Foundation

Diorskin Airflash Spray Foundation
Courtesy of Dior

This state-of-the-art complexion perfector is like instant airbrushing. -In one quick, continuous motion, spray a layer of foundation over the face in the shape of a Z, starting with the forehead and ending on the chin.

If you're looking for that airbrushed look, you've found it. It comes in 10 shades, so you might try at a local Sephora before you buy.

Dior recommends spraying directly onto the face in a "z" from forehead to chin, but reviewers report this wastes a lot of product and you risk getting it in your hair. They recommend spraying onto a plastic surface and using a foundation brush to apply.

Works best for: Women really into makeup who want that runway-ready look.

Pros: Beloved by reviewers for its soft, velvety feel. Feels as if you aren't wearing any makeup at all. A great finish over your regular foundation or a light touch over moisturizer or primer.

Cons: It's pricey and some reviewers report the coverage wears off after a few hours. Requires touch-ups throughout the day which can be a hassle because spraying directly onto the face can result in getting it all over your hair.

Buy it online from Amazon.com

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Koh Gen Do Maifanshi Moisture Foundation

Koh Gen Do Moisture Foundation
Courtesy of Koh Gen Do

This foundation is so amazing, it's found on makeup artist tables and in their bags at fashion weeks and for photo shoots, according to Refinery 29. I choose this foundation based on this review from Refinery 29, which was so glowing I could not wait to try the stuff out for myself.

It is everything promised. And worth the $62 price tag. I only use a little bit, which I apply via a makeup sponge, so this foundation lasts me a long time. It is buildable, so you can use it for more coverage.

Buy it online from Amazon.com