News flash: The best full-coverage foundation formulas don't feel full-coverage at all. Yes, they'll even out skin tone, blur out any areas of hyperpigmentation, and they'll give skin the texture of cashmere, velvet, silk or whatever luxury-fabric finish you're going for. But the true marker of a high-quality foundation, in the Byrdie book anyway, is when it does all of the above whilst feeling (and looking) like you're wearing nothing at all.
What we're talking about here are high-tech, lightweight, foundation-skincare hybrids that never gather, crease or cake, but sit quietly on the skin's surface, allowing your newfound glowy skin to shine through. And yes, such makeup marvels do exist. But it's taken the Byrdie beauty team's collective know-how to pull together the ultimate list of the formulas to suit every skin tone and type.
Guerlain's foundation contains oil-absorbing powders to keep shine at bay and stop the pigments from slipping and sliding down the cheeks. But this doesn't mean it's completely mattifying: It actually gives skin a flattering dewy sheen that makes it look like you've spent a full week peering out from behind a sheet mask. It conceals blemishes, but skin doesn't feel suffocated by a heavy paste of colour, which can all too often be the case will full-coverage foundations.
You'll remember we've already harped on about The Ordinary's foundation when we spoke about the best full-coverage foundations you'll find on the high street, and it's so good it's making an appearance here too. First, we should note the crazy-cheap price, which is in no way a reflection of its efficacy: This silky liquid covers blemishes like the best of them and has this weird magnetic quality, meaning it stays put no matter how many times you touch your face throughout the day. Plus, the spectrum of colours is all-encompassing, which in this day and age truly isn't too much to ask.
Don't be scared of thickness: Kat Von D's foundation blends really well, and if you use a damp Beautyblender, you'll find you can easily achieve a seamless finish. The only thing worth mentioning here is that while the unshakeable staying power makes this foundation a godsend for oilier skin types, if you have dry skin, start with plenty of moisturiser to quench the complexion before applying the foundation on top.
Huda Beauty's foundation contains tiny pigments that blur the appearance of the skin's surface, making blemishes appear insignificant (if there at all). In fact, it'll make skin look so perfect, it'll look like you're permanently behind a Facetune filter. As with most heavy foundations, it's important you get your shade spot-on to ensure the coverage remains undetectable, but with 30 shades, it's pretty easy to find your match here. Need more info? You can read our more in-depth review here, too.
At first touch, you'd be forgiven for thinking Hourglass's foundation is more of a BB cream or tinted moisturiser, it's so light and nourishing. But when it hits the skin, you'll start to feel a slight powderiness, which is what provides the velvety finish and longevity. Kaolin clay hoovers up excess oil that can be detrimental to a smooth base, while tiny colour pigments balance out your natural skin tone without weighing it down.
Giorgio Armani is a bit of a dark horse of the foundation world: Maestro (£40) is brilliant if you want a super-dewy, just-skipped-through-Scandinavian-mountains finish, but Power Fabric has equally a strong performance in the high-coverage arena. It's super fluid, meaning you can spread a tiny drop far and wide, and it sets down a mesh of ultra-thin yet dense pigment that covers everything you'd could ever want without feeling like a mask.
Designed with acne and rosacea sufferers in mind, there isn't a skin hitch that can't be covered by Vichy's formula. It's almost creamy in texture and doesn't dry down to a tight finish: It's more like one of those miracle moisturisers that impart a post-facial glow that lasts all day. Plus, being hypoallergenic and noncomedogenic, it won't exacerbate any existing problems, instead giving skin the chance to recover without having to go completely makeup-free.