The challenge of naming the best foundation of all time is that you’re never going to please everyone. While some people love full-coverage matte foundations that can help blur pores, others can’t get enough of a light-to-medium coverage foundation with a radiant, glowing finish. Depending on the time of year and your skin’s current state, your own idea of the best foundation may change. There may even come a day when you retire your go-to foundation when you realize it’s just not working for you like it used to. It’s not the foundation that’s changed—it’s you.
Looking for your new holy grail foundation? Be prepared to kiss a lot of frogs in your search for The One: the soft, blendable foundation that glides onto your skin perfectly with your makeup brush, like Cinderella’s glass slipper. To help you on this journey, we’ve narrowed the field of options down to the very cream of the crop—25 top-rated foundations that are expert-approved for a variety of skin types and skin tones. This comprehensive list spans the full spectrum of foundation types and coverage, from lightweight tinted moisturizers to full-coverage foundation sticks. We even enlisted the help of celebrity makeup artist Christine Cherbonnier to let us in on her favorite formulas and share her top tips and tricks for finding the best foundation for your skin.
What to Look For in a Foundation
Foundation is aptly named, since it’s the foundation of your entire makeup look, so it’s really important to find one that you really love and that matches your skin tone. Most brand websites have a shade finder tool or consultation that can guess your best foundation match. If it doesn’t match now, it may be wise to keep it for the winter or summer months when your skin changes in tone. Or, you can use it as a spot concealer or more natural contour shade.
When it comes to finding the perfect foundation, you want to consider the texture as well as the finish. “With foundation, it’s all about viscosity—how it feels on the skin, not necessarily how it looks,” says Cherbonnier. “If you have dry skin, pick a more wet foundation. For more oily skin, reach for something more magnifying and less liquid-based, like a cream or a powder.”
If you’re still searching for The One, allow us to expedite the process with our top picks ranging from CC creams and skincare-makeup hybrids to mattifying high-pigment liquid foundations and everything in between. We broke it down below by best liquid foundations and best stick foundations.
Best Liquid Foundations
Giorgio Armani Beauty Luminous Silk Foundation
A makeup artist’s favorite, Giorgio Armani Luminous Silk Foundation is ideal for anyone with normal to dry skin. The silky-smooth texture makes it easy to blend and offers a lot of coverage while still looking natural, never cakey. “This is one of the best user-friendly foundations,” says Cherbonnier. “You can’t mess it up. You can blend it in with your fingers and it’ll still look good. It’s a no-brainer.”
Mac Studio Radiance Face And Body Radiant Sheer Foundation
This iconic MAC foundation is seen backstage at almost every runway show. It’s endlessly flexible: it’s lightweight yet waterproof, sheer but buildable, and has a gel-like consistency that seamlessly blends into the skin without sinking into the pores. No matter how much you use, it still looks like skin, not makeup, which is why we love it for acne-prone skin that benefits from the buildable coverage.
Maybelline Fit Me Matte + Poreless Liquid Foundation
This is a drugstore foundation gem. It offers medium to full coverage and is available in 40 shades, so there’s a perfect match for every skin tone. “It looks flawless,” says Cherbonnier. “There’s tons of colors in the range, it goes on beautifully, and gives you great coverage for the price.”
Charlotte Tilbury Beautiful Skin Foundation
This new foundation from Charlotte Tilbury is already well on its way to achieving cult status, even though it only launched in early 2022. It went viral on TikTok, with users raving about the glowy, natural finish and impressive 16-hour wear. It feels like a tinted moisturizer but with the coverage of a buildable foundation. The longer you have it on, the better it wears.
Chanel Les Beiges Healthy Glow Foundation
As the name implies, this foundation gives the skin a gorgeous glow, which is why Cherbonnier recommends it for people with dry skin. If you have oily skin, it may look shiny. “I wouldn’t recommend it for photoshoots, because it reflects a lot of light. It’s great for someone with mature skin, and it does look pretty natural for how much coverage it gives.”
Bite Beauty Changemaker Supercharged Micellar Foundation
This foundation was our best foundation winner of Health Beauty Awards for 2020. The best thing about this foundation is that it’s buildable. You can build up more coverage where you need it or just use a light layer all over the face. It’s packed with antioxidant-rich maqui berry to nourish and calm the skin, and the natural radiant finish helps blur imperfections and soften fine lines all day long.
It Cosmetics CC+ Cream with SPF 50+
Specifically designed to cover redness and blemishes, this CC cream is great for acne-prone skin. It feels like a tinted moisturizer but it has the coverage of a liquid foundation. It also has SPF 50, so you get the protection of a sunscreen with a flawless finish.
L’Oréal Infallible Fresh Wear 24HR Foundation
This liquid foundation is almost too good to be true. It has a thin and almost runny formula, which feels almost undetectable on the skin but still provides stellar medium to full coverage. On top of that, it also provides waterproof coverage that resists sweating and transfer for up to 24 hours. It leaves a natural finish, giving the skin a fresh and hydrated appearance. If you’re looking for a beautiful all-around drugstore foundation, this would be our top pick.
Shiseido Synchro Skin Self-Refreshing Foundation SPF 30
This Shiseido foundation is a makeup artist’s best-kept secret, thanks to its buildable coverage, 24-hour wear time, and diverse 30-shade range. Euphoria’s head makeup artist Donni Davy is a major fan of its naturally radiant finish. “It’s the best foundation ever made,” says Cherbonnier. “I have it in my kit, I use it for photoshoots, and I use it on myself. I love the deeper shades in this range.”
RMS Beauty « Un » Cover-Up Cream Foundation
This is the clean beauty crowd’s favorite foundation, and for good reason. It’s a rich, nourishing cream that provides flawless, lightweight coverage in a luminous finish. It’s not matte, and it’s not going to stay all day like Estee Lauder Double Wear, but it will wear gorgeously as the day goes on. “For a natural foundation, this is a beautiful foundation and definitely one to try,” says Cherbonnier.
Chantecaille Future Skin Gel Foundation
“This has been one of my favorite foundations for a long time,” says Cherbonnier. “It’s water-based and has a gel-like formula, so it’s super unique.” Made with 60% water, this foundation is gorgeous on mature skin. The finish is natural but flawless, and we guarantee it’s like nothing else you’ve ever tried—in the best way.
Tower 28 SunnyDays SPF 30 Tinted Sunscreen Foundation
On days when you don’t want to wear a full face of foundation, reach for this tinted moisturizer. It has a mineral SPF 30 to keep your skin protected from the sun and which won’t irritate sensitive skin, unlike some SPFs. It’s both lightweight and long-lasting, which is rare to find in a tinted moisturizer. The beauty brand is founded by Amy Lui if you’re looking to support and Asian American business.
Dior Backstage Face & Body Foundation
Dior’s Backstage Face and Body Foundation is heavily inspired by the lightweight, waterproof properties of MAC’s Face and Body Foundation. Similar to MAC, Dior’s Backstage Face and Body offers buildable light-to-medium coverage in a watery, gel-like formula. They’re very similar, obviously, but this one is a touch more dewy than MAC’s version. “It looks just like skin,” says Cherbonnier. “It’s a go-to in many makeup artists’ kits.”
Estée Lauder Double Wear Stay-in-Place Foundation
If you want absolutely full coverage that stays put all day, there’s nothing better than Estee Lauder Double Wear. This top-rated foundation has a naturally matte finish that claims to have 24-hour wear capable of withstanding the craziest weather conditions, including heat and humidity. “You can cover a tattoo with it,” says Cherbonnier. “If you have serious skin issues that you want to cover, like hyper pigmentation, this one does the trick.”
Pat McGrath Labs Sublime Perfection Foundation
Pat McGrath is a legendary makeup artist with a line of equally legendary status. Her years of experience is evident in the foundation shade range, which is expansive and inclusive across its 40 colors. The foundation is full coverage but still leaves behind a natural, radiant finish.
Koh Gen Do Maifanshi Moisture Foundation
This moisturizing foundation is a makeup artist fav and has been a go-to product for red carpet makeup, according to Cherbonnier. “It looks beautiful and hydrated—like skin—but performs really well,” she says. “It gives a full coverage but still looks natural.” Infused with 80% plant-based moisturizing ingredients, it’s like a moisturizer, primer, and foundation all in one.
Nars Natural Radiant Longwear Foundation
This Nars foundation brings the coverage without the cake. If you have acne-prone skin, you wouldn’t necessarily reach for a foundation that’s glowy and natural, but this one is really special in that it’s both highly pigmented and radiant. It blurs pores, texture, and conceals imperfections without drawing more attention to them like many dry full-coverage foundations tend to do.
Fenty Beauty Pro Filt’r Soft Matte Longwear Liquid Foundation
If you love a foundation with a classic matte finish, Fenty Beauty is your pick. It’s extremely versatile, as it flawlessly applies over dry, combination, or oily skin. The skin appears smooth and shine-free, while blurring pores and delivering all-day wear. If Estee Lauder’s Double Wear had a child with Pat McGrath Labs’ Sublime Perfection Foundation, this foundation would be it. Our Health Beauty Awards featured the Fenty Pro Filt’r Soft Matte Powder Foundation as the best powder foundation of 2021.
Make Up For Ever Reboot Active Care Revitalizing Foundation
With ingredients including ginseng, camellia japonica, and mondo grass, this foundation drenches the skin in lightweight moisture.The radiant, satin finish looks great on camera and in real life, while the formula itself works to hydrate the skin for up to 24 hours.
Ilia True Skin Serum Foundation
This foundation is a nourishing skincare-makeup hybrid. On the skin, it looks smooth, hydrated, and dewy. Featuring niacinamide, allantoin, and soothing aloe, the skincare ingredients in this foundation work while you wear it, so your skin looks even better when you’re ready to take it off.
Best Stick Foundations
Hourglass Vanish Seamless Finish Foundation Stick
A little of this highly pigmented stick foundation goes a long way. Blend a few swipes directly into just-moisturized skin for ultra-light coverage, or apply more for a flawless-looking complexion. Great for spot concealing, this stick feels weightless on the skin and delivers customized coverage.
Mented Cosmetics Skin by Mented Foundation
Ideal for normal to oily skin, this stick mattifies the skin while concealing any discoloration or blemishes. Use as a spot concealer or as an all-over foundation, depending on your preferences. It feels smooth on the skin, almost like you’re wearing nothing. This Black-owned beauty brand caters to people of color, so if you usually have trouble finding a perfect match, you’ll certainly find your perfect shade in this range.
KVD Beauty Lock-It Foundation
Want next level full coverage? This foundation delivers all that and then more. The brand warns you to use “just a droplet,” and you’d be wise to heed that warning. Less is more with this foundation, as too much can make it turn cakey. It’s transfer-resistant and long-wearing and looks the same at the beginning and end of the day. Pure witchcraft.
BLK/OPL True Color Skin Perfecting Stick Foundation SPF 15
This creamy stick does everything: it’s a foundation, a concealer, and it even works as a contour. It’s infused with skin-loving antioxidants vitamin C and E to hydrate, leaving the skin with a velvety soft matte finish. With 21 shades designed by and for people of color, this multifunctional cream foundation stick will become your new makeup secret weapon.
Jones Road The Face Pencil
This handy dandy pencil redefines “no-makeup” makeup. It’s not as heavy as a cream foundation, but it’s more natural than a liquid foundation. The Face Pencil won’t give you full coverage, but it will cover exactly what it needs to and nothing more. We love how easy it is to use—you seriously can’t mess it up or apply too much. It blends away into nothingness, leaving behind a smooth, even complexion. We recommend popping it in your purse for touch-ups on-the-go.