Foundation is a very personal makeup preference for every person who wears it. Some prefer a lightweight coverage that gives the skin a subtle tint, whereas others may favour a full-coverage formula for a flawless finish. Your skin type can also have a big influence on what foundations work for you. Mattifying and oil-control formulas may be better suited to oily or acne-prone skin types, whereas dry skin types may fare better with hydrating and oil-based textures that nourish the skin as your wear them.
The good news is that there are so many foundations out there, with many brands now offering a diverse range of shades to achieve a perfect match. The bad news is that it can be overwhelming to find a foundation that fits your needs and your budget and works with your skin type too. Finding the best foundations for you can become a Goliath task.
As a beauty editor, I’ve been lucky to try near enough a hundred foundations. Many have passed by my desk, and I’ve sat in the chair with makeup artists who have shared their knowledge on the best foundations that they use on set, backstage and on celebrities too. However, despite getting to try a lot of formulas, I stay loyal to my favourites. I have combination skin that can be both acne and eczema-prone, so finding a foundation that ticks all of the boxes is a tall order. I personally stay loyal to It Cosmetics CC Cream, which I still buy on repeat: I start to panic if I don’t have a tube in my makeup bag because it’s that great!
However, everyone’s foundation preferences are different. So I asked the Who What Wear team to share some of their favourite foundations and also have listed the best foundations for different skin types, budgets and skin concerns.
Scroll down to discover our ultimate list of the best foundations for all skin types, as tried and reviewed first-hand by the Who What Wear UK editors.
Who What Wear UK commerce writer Florrie Alexander also rates It Cosmetics CC Cream as her foundation of choice. “A few months ago, I messaged my group chat for foundation recommendations, and my phone blew up with the same brand: It Cosmetics. Both my male and female friends have recommended this affordable foundation that is easily buildable and gives a flawless finish,” she says. “It works as both a foundation and concealer and even has hyaluronic acid and hydrolysed collagen to look after your skin when wearing makeup. I’ve even invested in the mini version to take with me on holidays.” Florrie wears the shade Fair Light.
If it’s a flawless finish that you’re after, then Who What Wear UK’s social media editor Joy Ejaria recommends Pat McGrath’s Skin Fetish Sublime Perfection Foundation. “As far as I’m concerned, the queen, Pat McGrath, can do no wrong,” says Joy. “The price of this foundation made me think surely it can’t be that good. Then, upon visiting the counter to test it and get sample pots, I was converted. I’m somewhat of a beauty obsessive, so I have lots to play with, but whenever I use the Pat Mcgrath foundation, I’m asked about my makeup,” she says. “This is the foundation I reach for when I have events to attend and want to achieve a ‘my skin but better’ look. It manages to cover all my blemishes while giving the airbrushed effect. Fun fact: This is also the foundation used on the cast of Bridgerton, so if it’s good enough for the Sharma sisters, then it’s good enough for me.” Joy wears the shade Deep 29.
Like Florrie, I’m also a big fan of It Cosmetics’ CC Cream, which gives great coverage and a dewy finish. However, I’ve been turning to lighter foundations recently, as I find anything too heavy turns cakey on the oilier areas of my skin. Ilia’s Skin Tint has become a new favourite and now has a permanent residence in my makeup bag. For a skin tint, it has great coverage and melts into the skin to subtly blur. But my favourite thing about it is the glow this gives my skin. What’s more, it wears well throughout the day and is also infused with hydrating hyaluronic acid, squalene and brightening niacinamide to support the skin too. I wear the shade Bom Bom.
“I’m all for a full coverage concealer, but when it comes to foundation, I need a formula thats lets my skin breathe,” says Who What Wear UK shopping editor Remy Farrell. “After searching for a base that would be light as well as pigmented, dewy but not greasy, and in a good enough shade range to match my skin tone and look like second skin, I finally found Saie’s Super Glowy Skin Foundation. I’ve just gotten into a skincare routine thats working for me, and the Saie formula doesn’t cake or block my pores, instead the hyaluronic acid and squalane formula works with my skin for a bright, glowy finish that actually lasts all day. If you’re trying this foundation for the first time, prepare for compliments.”
Who What Wear beauty contributor, Grace Day, is a fan of Merit’s Foundation Stick. “Since its recent U.K. launch, Merit’s Foundation Stick has become a mainstay in my makeup bag,” she says. “The fact that it doubles up as both foundation and concealer was what caught my attention, but the totally weightless formula and natural-looking finish has kept me coming back to it day after day. Right now I’m all about a no makeup-makeup look, so when it comes to wearing foundation I much prefer formulas that look and feel invisible on my skin, and this foundation is exactly that. Perfect for wearing when I don’t want to be totally bare-faced but I also don’t necessarily want a full coverage base—it subtly evens out my skin, tones down redness, and blurs pores without actually looking like I’m wearing foundation. With that said, if you do prefer more coverage, the scribble-on crayon format means it’s super easy to build this up without it looking cakey or feeling heavy. And you can go about your day knowing that the formula is working hard behind the scenes to keep skin hydrated, thanks to ingredients like fatty acids and sea daffodil extract.”
“For me, a major milestone of passing my mid-20s was graduating from MAC Studio Fix Foundation to Nars Sheer Glow,” says branded content editor Rebecca Rhys-Evans. “Still full coverage but not quite as thick, and ever so slightly more sheer, it blends and builds well and doesn’t stick to any dry areas of skin. Every dry-skin victim will tell you that 3 p.m. flaky patches are a nightmare, and I must admit I don’t find this so much since using it,” she says. “What’s more is the colour range for paler skin. From warm, yellow tones to pinky complexions or combination colours, Nars’s range has you (quite literally) covered.” Rebecca wears the shade Deauville.
“I’ve always been drawn to lighter coverage skin tints, and have recently been a huge fan of the Dr Jart Premium Beauty Balm,” says affiliate specialist, Jerrylyn Saguiped. “It leaves you with a natural finish whilst still being buildable. An added plus is that it doubles up as skincare as it includes niacinamide and has SPF 50.”
“My favourite foundation is an affordable, high-street hero—The Body Shop’s Fresh Nude foundation,” says Farrell. “This formula is proof you don’t have to break the bank to find something that really works and still looks like real skin. The first application is one you won’t forget, a cooling, soothing blend of rose water and aloe vera and medium coverage that manages to impart a dewy glow without being greasy,” she says. “Oh, and did I mention the 40-strong shade range?”
“I don’t like wearing foundations that are too matte, or feel heavy and cakey on the skin. If that also sounds like you, please give this new gem from Laura Mercier a try,” says Who What Wear beauty contributor, Mollie Burdell. “I was lucky enough to attend the launch dinner, where I was properly shade matched alongside getting the lowdown on its additional skin-loving benefits––the combo of antioxidant rich camelia seed, vitamin E and cacao extract helps to protect the skin barrier. It looks super natural, but covers redness and blemishes with ease and manages to keep my shine at bay when paired with a light dusting of the brand’s iconic Translucent Loose Setting Powder. I honestly haven’t stopped wearing it.”
Rihanna’s Fenty Beauty foundation comes in 50 shades and is one of the best long-lasting formulas.
For anyone who prefers a matte finish, this is the foundation for you. This lightweight mineral foundation delivers buildable, sheer-to-full coverage with a shine-banishing finish.
This cult foundation comes in 28 shades, and its velvety formula works to match your skin’s unique tone upon application.
Oil-free and infused with salicylic acid, this lightweight foundation is perfect for those prone to blemishes. It helps to target existing breakouts and prevent future ones, all while concealing them.
If you want a foundation that will last you from dusk ’til dawn (and vice versa), look no further. This cult foundation is known for its amazing coverage and long-wearing formula.
Thanks to its light serum-like formula, this foundation won’t settle into and emphasise fine lines and wrinkles. Instead, it helps to blur imperfections and brighten dull skin.
This story was originally published at an earlier date and has since been updated.
Opening image: @tylynnnguyen