Your search for the best foundations ends here—from the cult heroes to the buzziest new buys, this is your definitive shopping list. We've quizzed makeup artists, rummaged through the cosmetic bags of celebrities, and put hundreds of formulas through our scrupulous testing process to come up with a guide to help you find your perfect match. We know, we're good like that.
How do you find the right formula for you?
First things first, when it comes to finding the best foundation for your skin, there are a few important considerations. You firstly need to find a formula that fits your skin type. If you want the best foundation for oily skin, for example, you'd be better off reaching for a matte foundation with buildable coverage and a powdery texture that will absorb excess oil and fight shine.
The best foundations for dry skin, on the other hand, will be packed with hydrating moisture boosters to help keep dry, flaky skin at bay. "Work from your skin type—if you are oily, you probably want a foundation that has oil-absorbing and pore-refining properties such as Nars All Day Luminous Weightless Foundation (£32)," advises Anna Priadka, lead stylist at Nars. "If you’re prone to dryness, then something with emollient-rich properties in either cream or liquid is best."
What about coverage?
You should also decide what level of coverage you want. If you like a barely there, natural look, opt for a sheer, buildable formula. If it's full coverage you're after, a heavier stick foundation or more viscous liquid formula may be the best choice for you.
And how do you pick the right shade?
Once you've found your dream formula (which we're ready to help you with), how do you find the right hue? "To find the best foundation colour, make sure you swatch at least three shades across your cheek and look for the shade that disappears, as this is your perfect match," Hannah Martin, a senior pro artist at Bobbi Brown, tells us.
"Double-check your chosen shade on your forehead, as this is often the warmest tone on the face," Martin continues. "If you're unsure between two tones, it's often more flattering to opt for the shade that's slightly warmer, as a colour slightly too light can make you look tired and washed out. Avoid colour-testing on your neck or back of your hand, as your face is often a different tone," she says.
How should you apply foundation?
We've also got some application tips from our pro MUAs (you're welcome). "Primer is very important," Priadka says. "I always find it makes a difference, so make sure you use one to even out skin texture and tone. Use your fingers to blend, as it will warm the foundation in to give a second skin–like appearance."
"Whilst it's fine to apply your foundation with your fingers, I find that I get the most even application when using a brush," Martin says. "Start applying your foundation through the centre of the face, and then blend out. When your foundation has been applied, don't be afraid to pat it into the skin to help take off any excess makeup and for a more natural look. To lock the foundation in place all day, set the foundation with a little powder through the T-zone," explains Martin.
Below, you'll find our guide to the 23 best foundations, featuring a couple of cult classics, some celebrity favourites (including the go-to foundation of Jennifer Lawrence) and some of our expert editor picks.
With the same secretive "miracle broth" formula as its cult cream collection, La Mer's foundation is ridiculously hydrating, so it won't completely dehydrate the complexion and go patchy like a more drying formula might. As for coverage, it offers that perfect Goldilocks amount. It doesn't completely mask every nuance of the skin—your freckles are safe—but it'll knock back any areas of redness. La Mer's offering also creates a nourished, uniform base for the rest of your makeup routine to follow. Plus, it comes in 21 true-to-skin shades.
If it's glow you're after (and we mean serious glow), look to It Cosmetics' CC Cream. It offers merely a waif of coverage and is perfect for anyone who likes a breathable, sheer base. It also has added light-reflecting pigments that make you look like you've just emerged from a Swedish sauna. Heavenly.
We've gone far deeper with our love for this super-strength, long-lasting foundation before, but it's quite simply the best if you want heavy coverage that does not move an inch the entire day. Plus, the shade range is particularly impressive.
If you're looking for that incandescent, elusive dewy glow (and you don't want to cover up the skin entirely), then this foundation is for you. It's super watery, meaning it blends like a dream. It also leaves a super thin veil of coverage that knocks back any unwanted pigmentation without masking the skin's natural nuances.
This dual-ended foundation's ideal for anyone who does their makeup on the go. It's blendable and has a sponge on one end for flawless blending. It leaves the complexion looking matte but not chalky.
Max Factor's smart foundation adapts to your skin's surroundings so your complexion always feels as comfortable as possible—whether you're out in the cold or sitting in a centrally heated office.
This new addition to Laura Mercier's foundation offering is its longest wearing. With a medium to full buildable coverage that feels weightless, expect your complexion to look flawless all day with no need to re-apply.
This one's a favourite for many reasons. We love that there's a great range of colours for many different skin tones. It's also highly blendable and lasts for hours. What more could you ask for?
One of the favourites in the beauty world is this all-rounder. It covers up any blemish but also provides great skincare protection thanks to its SPF.
With micro-fillers and optical diffusers, this smooths out lines and textural imperfections while erasing any pigmentation and blemishes. Essentially, it's like an Instagram filter in a tube. Yes, please.
This is the actual foundation used by Dior poster girl (and Oscar-winning actress) Jennifer Lawrence. Oh, and she wears the shade Cameo, in case you were wondering.
This is a lightweight formula, so if you're after for something heavier, then this isn't for you. However, if you've got dry skin and need something that's going to be blendable, you've met your match.
This makeup artist favourite comes in a good array of shades. Matthew Van Leeuwen told Byrdie, "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."
While this is on the more expensive side, it's definitely worth it. If you think that foundation is too thick for you, this glides on like a BB cream and sets like a foundation. It also has anti-ageing properties and smoothes out skin.
Available in 31 shades, this versatile skin stick gives a buildable, full-coverage look, but it's also a great choice for an allover flawless full finish. "Use just a little to create a sheer, tinted-moisturiser finish or build to create a matte, full-coverage finish," Martin says. "I use it backstage at fashion week and on all photo shoots."
Despite its popularity, not everyone wants a liquid foundation. This Elizabeth Arden compact houses a bouncy gel texture foundation that's a blend of powder and cream, so it doesn't feel dry. Caffeine, ginseng and peppermint oil wake up the complexion when you're feeling (and looking) knackered.
Want a foundation that delivers a more matte finish but is also kind to your pocket? Behold Rimmel's matte foundation.
If you suffer from dry, flaky skin, then this super-lightweight formula is a great option for you. You can build it to a full, flawless coverage or just give skin a sheer glow without drying it out. It also offers protection from the sun.
If you're hitting the festival fields or want your makeup to stay put for an outdoor wedding or garden party, this backstage favourite is a great long-wear option.
When legendary makeup artist Charlotte Tilbury launched this new product, there was a lot of excitement—and for good reason. Here's a foundation that looks lightweight, covers blemishes and also smoothes lines.
FYI, Laura Mercier foundations always make your skin feel soft. They're never too thick and they offer enough coverage so you feel like your blemishes are covered. This one, in particular, is especially flattering, as the formula mimics the glow of just-lit candles.
Designed to be "the world's most breathable foundation" to be used post-aesthetic surgery (and after procedures such as a chemical skin peel), this light and layerable foundation is seriously easy on the skin. It promotes skin healing and collagen production while also giving a light coverage that is easily buildable.
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