When it comes to shopping for foundations, you may not automatically think of drugstores as the go-to place, but plenty of makeup artists pick up affordable makeup in these superstores. Now, we're calling them drugstores because the American term sounds so much more enticing than "chemist." You may think we don't have such places on British soil, but essentially Boots and Superdrug are the UK versions of stores like CVS and Walmart. These are the places to go for affordable supplements and beauty products.
To help you pick the right formula, team Byrdie is sharing their all-time favourites, plus we asked nine makeup artists to share their go-to drugstore foundations (although if you're looking for a definitive guide, these are the best foundations in the world). There were some clear drugstore standouts (we're looking at you, Maybelline Fit Me!), along with a few must-know application tricks.
Amy Lawrenson, Byrdie UK Editorial Director
Favourite Affordable Foundation: Max Factor's Skin Smoothing Foundation (£14)
"I've long been a fan of Max Factor's Miracle Touch Foundation. The solid-to-liquid formula blends easily and blurs imperfections without masking. It's buildable too, so you can go lighter on off-duty days but dial up the coverage for a night out. The handy compact comes with a sponge, which is actually pretty good, but I love using a flat-topped foundation brush to buff this in. Oil-free, it's a good choice for anyone who suffers from spots or blocked pores."
Shannon Peter, Byrdie UK Beauty Contributor
Alyss Bowen, Byrdie UK Social Media Editor
Favourite Affordable Foundation: Bourjois Healthy Mix Serum Gel Foundation (£11)
"If there's one foundation I always go back to, it's the Bourjois Healthy Mix Serum Gel Foundation. The serum-like formula leaves your skin so glowy you don't even need a highlighter. It's buildable enough that you could sheer it on with a beauty blender in the a.m. and feel confident your foundation is going nowhere come p.m. I love applying this right after I moisturise my face with a wet Beautyblender to give my skin a really natural finish."
Chloé Burcham, Byrdie UK Beauty Contributor
Favourite Affordable Foundation: EX1 Invisiwear Liquid Foundation (£13)
"I was first introduced to this foundation by a makeup artist and couldn't believe it was so affordable. It blends in seamlessly and leaves your skin looking glowy and hydrated. Plus it doesn't budge, meaning there's no need for touch-ups throughout the day. There's also a good selection of shades, which I love, as so many drugstore brands still fall flat when it comes to offering a decent shade selection."
Giselle La Pompe-Moore, Byrdie UK Contributor
Favourite Affordable Foundation: NYX Professional Makeup Can't Stop Won't Stop 24-Hour Foundation
"I've always been a bit dubious about the dark shade ranges available in drugstore foundations, but I was sold once I saw the 45 shades available with this one. Shades aside, this foundation gives me the super-matte finish that I crave without shifting or caking especially when blended out with a Beautyblender."
Natasha Devedlaka, Makeup Artist
Clients: Sharmadean Reid, Noella Coursaris Musunka,
Favourite Affordable Foundation: Vichy Dermablend 3D Correction Fluid
"A great full coverage foundation that also works as body makeup. It's one of the must-have products in my kit as it's lightweight, creamy and long-lasting. I use it for uneven skin tone and covering any scarring by applying with a brush then stippling over for extra coverage. I often mix it with other colours to improve the shade range."
Francesca Abrahamovitch, Makeup Artist
Clients: Alesha Dixon, Rochelle Humes and Louisa Johnson
Favourite Affordable Foundation: Collection Lasting Perfection Weightless Foundation (£5)
“Gone are the days of masking the skin under cakey foundation, which is why I love Collection's new Lasting Perfection Weightless Foundation. It allows skin to breathe, provides a silky-smooth finish and covers imperfections seamlessly. A lot of my clients are constantly on the go and want a foundation that they can trust will last their through their busy schedules. This foundation lasts perfectly from start to finish, without the need for constant touch-ups throughout the day.”
Amber Dreadon, Makeup Artist
Clients: Lorde, Haim, Sofia Ritchie, Florence Welch
Favourite Affordable Foundation: Maybelline Fit Me Matte + Poreless Foundation (£7)
"I discovered how great this one was when I worked on a couple of shows with Maybelline this season at New York Fashion Week. The shade selection is so great. It just looks like great skin. It's lightly matte, so it wears really well during the day. I like to use a damp Beautyblender and lightly build the coverage starting through the centre of the face and working outwards. I also love using a couple of shades darker across the cheeks for a natural tanned effect, also applied with a Beautyblender."
Denika Bedrossian, Makeup Artist
Clients: Kelly Osbourne, Kiesza, Matt + Kim, Kelly Cutrone, Kelis
Favourite Affordable Foundation: Revlon ColorStay Foundation (£13)
"A personal favourite of mine is the Revlon ColorStay Foundation. This magical foundation has incredible long-wear and buildable coverage. Its oil-control components help with shine and it sets matte to the skin. I am constantly searching for and trying new things. As an artist, you never know what will surprise you and be incredible. I actually tried this after seeing so many commercials and finally decided to go out a buy a few shades. Hooked ever since!
"Drugstores provide such a large range of beauty items for reasonable prices. Who doesn't love a good deal—especially for something you love to use? Because our skin tone changes throughout the seasons, it's nice to use something affordable so you can change shades as often as you need. I love to apply foundation with a fluffy brush, preferably a kabuki-style, flat and fluffy, almost like a shaving brush. This allows the product to blend and buff into the skin rather than sitting on the surface. I like to finish it with a soft stipple using a blending sponge."
Matthew Van Leeuwen, Makeup Artist
Clients: Lea Michele, Camila Alves, Minka Kelly
Favourite Affordable Foundation: Maybelline Fit Me Matte + Poreless Foundation (£7)
"I received the full line of foundations recently and immediately fell in love. The formula goes on so smooth and the texture is matte and silky without being dull- or chalky-looking. It has a beautiful skin-like glow that I adore! The coverage is buildable and it hides imperfections like a dream. I usually apply it with a Beautyblender or a Shiseido foundation brush."
Nicole Walmsley, Makeup Artist
Clients: Katheryn Winnick, Katrina Bowden, Phoebe Tonkin
Favourite Affordable Foundation: L'Oréal True Match Super-Blendable Foundation (£10)
"L'Oréal's True Match Super-Blendable Makeup is a great affordable foundation. It's an oil-free formula that provides light to medium coverage. I love that it has SPF 17 and comes in 33 shades! I found it because friends are always asking me which makeup to use, and I feel like most everyone who tries this will find a shade that works for them. It's divided into warm, neutral and cool colours, setting it apart from other drugstore brands. I suggest using the tips of your fingers to blend the makeup into your skin. It has a very natural finish, and it layers well so you can add more makeup where needed and less where you don't need as much coverage."
Mica Ricketts, Byrdie UK Deputy Editor
Favourite Affordable Foundation: Flower Beauty Light Illusion Foundation (£13)
"Although this is a new launch in the UK, and a fairly recent discovery for me after years of loyalty to the L'Oréal True Match Super-Blendable Foundation, it was love at first try for me and this liquid foundation. It offers up the same medium to buildable coverage as my aforementioned favourite but with extra glow. Plus, it sticks around all day—even on oily skin types like mine. As someone that's a little too laidback about sun protection, I love that it has the added benefit of SPF 18 too."
Stacey Whittaker, Makeup Artist
Favourite Affordable Foundation: Maybelline Superstay 24H Foundation (£10)
"My favourite drugstore foundation is the Maybelline Superstay 24H Foundation because the liquid formula is super creamy and glides onto the skin beautifully. The coverage is perfect and will cover up all blemishes whilst evening out your skin tone—and a little goes along way so you don’t need to use a lot of product. I like to apply this with a brush, using stippling motions, and then finish with a damp sponge to really push the product into the skin and remove any faint lines from the brush. This foundation is super long-lasting and wears beautifully throughout the day, making it perfect for those even with oily skin."
Karin Darnell, Makeup Artist
Clients: Cheryl Fernandez-Versini, Ayda Field Williams, Myleene Klass
Favourite Affordable Foundation: Barry M Matte Oil Free Foundation (£6)
"One of my go-to budget foundations is the Barry M Matte Finish Oil FreeFoundation. It's oil-free formula contains soothing moisturisers with skin healing
properties for a flawless matte finish. I like to mix this with mineral based products on the skin so it isn't too heavy. To create a fresh-faced finish, I mix it with a primer and buff it lightly into the skin to create an in-between dewy and satin look. A foundation doesn't have to be applied to the whole face—just apply it where you need it but make sure you blend out the edges using a brush."
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Opening Images: @alxcext