Foundations Have a Hard Time Impressing Us, But These Are the Best

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, however—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, or 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 continued. “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.”

And finally—application

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 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.” We've got a more comprehensive guide to foundation application here.

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.