- If you haven’t worn foundation since 2020, let us help you find today’s best pick.
- From drugstore to designer brands, there are formulas in multiple finishes, formats, and packaging.
- After testing 39 of the top-rated foundations, I’ve rounded up my favorite 17 below.
With hundreds of options and ever-evolving shade names, finding the right foundation for your skin tone and skin type is like finding a needle in a haystack. Sometimes you find the perfect formula, but it doesn’t match your skin tone. Other times, it seems like a perfect match tone-wise, but the formula dries out your skin or makes you break out.
I’m very aware of the struggle to find the perfect shade, so I put my face through the ringer for this guide and tested – as well as researched – 39 foundations. Through trial and error, I landed on the best 17 you can buy today. In addition to formula quality, I also considered shade inclusivity, return policy, online shade match tool availability, and SPF level.
If you’re in process of finding the perfect shade of your own, first consider coverage and buildability, as well as any skincare concerns you have. If you’ve got oily skin, you might want to try something with a matte or powder finish. If your skin is dry, look into hydrating liquid formulas and avoid the mattes. Prices range from under $10 to over $60, so think about your budget as well.
Here are the best foundations in 2021:
- The best light-coverage foundations
- The best medium-coverage foundations
- The best full-coverage foundations
Glossier Perfecting Skin Tint
This is the perfect foundation option for someone who’s just getting into makeup or wants something that feels like it’s barely there. I loved how naturally dewy it made my skin look while feeling hydrating, perfecting my tone, and not coming off (despite being so lightweight). Some customers over 55 years old loved it too, noting that it’s one of the few that works on their skin and all its wrinkles.
Skin by Mented
Mented was created by Black women to be a makeup haven for women of color. They offer 16 stick foundation shades in luxurious casing. The formula leaves your face with a flawless glow. Skin by Mented is lightweight, but it’s also easily buildable to suit coverage needs.
NYX Total Control Pro Drop Foundation
This foundation really flexes a buildability muscle. In fact, the product is part of a bigger line of NYX Pro Drops, which include hue shifters and illuminators to help fine tune your foundation.This lightweight formula gave me a natural finish and hid some blemishes quite well. If you’re in the market for something between $10 and $20, this is your pick.
Kosas Tinted Face Oil Foundation
While this list is abundant with oil-free foundations, Kosas Tinted Face Oil is deliberately oil-based. This clean beauty foundation is made with moisturizing avocado oil, raspberry oil for reparative antioxidant benefits, and rosehip seed oil for brightening. Kosas’s super-liquidy face oil gives a glowy, sheer to light coverage. It’s best as a lightweight foundation but is also designed to be buildable to medium coverage. If you have dry skin or patches, be warned: Some customers find the foundation clings and unflatteringly highlights their dry patch.
ILIA Super Serum Skin Tint SPF 40 Foundation
Made to apply with your hands like a serum, the ILIA Super Serum Skin Tint offers a lot of benefits in one bottle. Although it may be intimidating at first — before drying it’s thick, sticky, and shiny and made me look like a glazed donut — the foundation has a dewy finish and stays away from caking and clinging to dry patches. This is one of the few on the list with sun protection, clocking in at a satisfying SPF 40. The clean beauty brand also infuses this formula with niacinamide, squalane, and hyaluronic acid which help hydrate and plump your skin.
BareMinerals Complexion Rescue Tinted Moisturizer
This SPF 30 tinted hydrating gel cream from BareMinerals has a whipped cream texture and leaves a flawless, dewy finish. On top of that, the formula is made with hyaluronic acid, which attracts moisture to your skin.Though blending with your finger is recommended, I found that using a brush made it a lot easier. This product has established itself as a classic, but there’s still a dire need for more shades when it comes to deep skin tones.
The best medium-coverage foundations
Too Faced Born This Way Foundation
Some customers say this is a game-changing foundation they have been using for years. Too Faced’s formula is oil-free and includes coconut water, alpine rose, and hyaluronic acid which helps retain moisture. For me, it even felt moisturizing when I put it on. Whether you’re concerned about dry or oily skin, this is a great option to keep your skin glowing.
Chanel Ultra La Teint Foundation
Chanel offers 12 different foundations, and of the customer favorites, Ultra Le Teint Ultrawear All-Day Comfort Flawless Finish Foundation is a standout. Packaged in a luxurious frosted glass bottle, the foundation is formulated to perfect your skin and last all day. Its skin-perfecting, soft matte finish makes the Chanel Ultra Le Teint foundation ideal for long days, long nights, special occasions, and taking lots of photos.
FENTY BEAUTY by Rihanna Pro Filt’r Soft Matte Longwear Foundation
Rihanna changed the game when she launched Fenty Beauty, which has established itself as an inclusive brand with high-quality, sustainable formulas. The Pro Filt’r Foundation is an easy-to-blend, long-lasting foundation that gives full coverage and a soft matte finish. Because mattifying products can be drying, the brand recommends moisturizing before applying the foundation, especially if you have dry skin. Or, you can check out the hydrating foundation or lightweight skin tint.
MILK Makeup Flex Foundation Stick
MILK’s stick foundation is not only easily-blendable with a natural finish and medium coverage. It also benefits your skin via moisturizing blue lotus, soothing chamomile, and marshmallow root extract, which contributes to elasticity. The proof in the pudding is, at least in my experience, this formula didn’t get creasey or cakey. Sounds like the marshmallow root extract gets to work. If you love MILK but want something matte, check out the Blur Liquid Foundation.
Bobbi Brown Skin Foundation SPF 15
Bobbi Brown’s foundation left me with a flawless, natural finish. The foundation is oil-free and water-based with a water-like consistency, which makes it quite easy to blend and a great base for additional products. Bobbi Brown’s foundation seems perfect for longer wear. It has glycerin for hydration, a minimal level of SPF for some sun protection, and it’s lightweight for a long lasting natural look.
The best full-coverage foundations
Charlotte Tilbury Airbrush Flawless Foundation
The Charlotte Tilbury Airbrush Flawless Foundation hid my acne, blackheads, and blemishes while giving me a truly airbrushed look. I’m a fan of this formula’s smooth application and matte finish, although I noticed a tiny bit of caking. Still, this product is a strong, long-lasting foundation to a full face of makeup.
Huda Beauty #FauxFilter Luminous Matte Foundation
The #FauxFilter Luminous Matte Foundation from Huda Beauty was already a favorite of many, but now it’s fragrance-free. I personally appreciated how the matte, full coverage finish gave my skin a flawless but natural glow. Plus, it felt particularly easy to apply and blend into my skin.
Laura Mercier Flawless Fusion Ultra-Longwear Foundation
This semi-thick formula by Laura Mercier glides on, blends with a bit of effort, and leaves a matte finish. While the shade range could be a lot more inclusive of darker tones, current customers appreciate that the Flawless Fusion foundation is fragrance-free and non-comedogenic. I appreciated how this product held up on my face for a full day of wear. If you’re looking for something a bit less heavy, Laura Mercier offers a beauty-awarded, more lightweight foundation too.
Hourglass Vanish Seamless Finish Foundation Stick
The Hourglass Vanish Seamless Finish Foundation Stick is currently one of the best stick foundation options. The stick is sheathed in a triangular stick, which makes it easier to hold and dot onto your face. It buffs into your skin for full coverage, a satin finish, and minimization of your pores and smile lines. Plus, with this foundation’s concentrated formula, a little goes a long way.