The best foundations, recommended by professional make-up artists: Lancôme, Bobbi Brown, Estee Lauder and more
We spoke to some of the beauty industry’s leading experts to get their take on what to look for (and avoid) when choosing the best foundation for you.
Success starts with a strong foundation, especially when it comes to make-up. Whether you’re creating a statement look or opting for a simple base and mascara combo, finding the best foundation for you is pivotal.
Knowing your skin type and undertones are a key first step in finding the best foundation for you. Once you’ve figured out the basics, it's time to choose your perfect foundation match, but with so many options on the market, it can be hard to know where to start.
The Recommended spoke to three leading beauty experts to get their take on what makes for a great foundation and what to steer clear of when picking your product. With these expert tips and recommendations in mind, we’ve listed our top picks of the best foundations for every skin type and concern. From dry skin saviours to oil-free options, we’ve got all bases covered (see what we did there?).
We've also included a comprehensive buyer's guide to answer some of the most commonly asked questions when it comes to foundation. Read on for the full 411. Ready to apply your foundation? Check out our guide on the best make-up brushes to get you started.
The best foundations at a glance
- Best affordable foundation: L'Oreal Paris True Match Liquid Foundation, £7.69 at Look Fantastic
- Best long-wearing foundation: Rimmel London Lasting Finish 25 Hour Foundation, £5 at Boots
- Best waterproof foundation: L'Oreal Paris Infallible Freshware Foundation, £11.99 at Boots
- Best oil-free foundation: e.l.f Flawless Finish Foundation, £7.50 at Boots
- Best matte foundation: Revlon Colour Stay Liquid Foundation, £6.50 at Look Fantastic
- Best powder foundation: BareMinerals Original Foundation, £36.50 at Cult Beauty
- Best CC cream: Erborian CC Cream, £41 at Look Fantastic
- Best dewy foundation: NYX Born To Glow Radiant Foundation, £10 at Cult Beauty
- Best full coverage foundation: Estee Lauder Double Wear Stay In Place Makeup, £36.60 at Look Fantastic
- Best foundation for oily skin: Lancôme Teint Idole Ultra Wear Foundation, £17.50 at Look Fantastic
- Best foundation for dry skin: Bobbi Brown Intensive Serum Foundation, £27.25 at Look Fantastic
- Best lightweight foundation: Smashbox Halo Healthy Glow Tinted Moisturiser, £16.50 at Next
- Best foundation for mature skin: No.7 Restore & Renew Serum foundation, £20.95 at Boots
- Best stick foundation: Bare Minerals Complexion Rescue Hydrating Foundation Stick, £30 at Cult Beauty
The best foundations
Best affordable foundation: L'Oreal Paris True Match Liquid Foundation
For a natural glow
More like this
Blending the benefits of make-up and skincare, L’Oreal’s True Match Liquid Foundation promises a natural finish while hydrating the skin for a healthy glow.
Formulated with a hydrating complex of hyaluronic acid, glycerin, and aloe vera extract, this affordable foundation promises up to 24 hours of hydration for a brighter complexion. This foundation is now available in over 40 shades to complement natural undertones and blend seamlessly into the skin.
Best long-wearing foundation: Rimmel London Lasting Finish 25 Hour Foundation
All night (and day) long
Promising 25 hours of smudge-free wear, it’s safe to say this foundation isn’t going anywhere. With a full-coverage formula and natural-looking finish, this foundation works to keep you looking fresh 25/7.
Enriched with a skin-friendly hydration boost and nourishing vitamin E, the Rimmel London Lasting Finish Foundation helps to moisturise the skin and provide protection from free radicals. This long-wearing foundation is in for the long haul, and its waterproof, anti-humidity formula promises to withstand 25 hours of wear.
Best waterproof foundation: L'Oreal Paris Infallible Freshware Foundation
Serious staying power
This waterproof foundation promises a smudge-proof, budge-proof base that lasts for 24 hours without feeling heavy on the skin.
Come rain or shine, this foundation promises to have your back. Created with a stretchable formula, this foundation has been designed to deliver a long-lasting, waterproof, full-coverage base with only a small amount of product. If you’re looking to follow Jaz’s advice of purchasing a product that provides the most coverage you’ll ever need, this foundation more than has you covered.
Best oil-free foundation: e.l.f Flawless Finish Foundation
Oil-free and lightweight
This oil-free foundation blends seamlessly into the skin, helping to even skin tone, and is supercharged with glycerin to hydrate dry skin, offering a long-lasting semi-matte finish.
100% cruelty-free and vegan, the e.l.f Flawless Finish Foundation works to provide medium to full coverage and lasting, all-day wear. As recommended by our expert Jaz, this foundation can be sheered down easily when mixed with a hydrating moisturiser for a lighter look.
Best matte foundation: Revlon Colour Stay Liquid Foundation
All day flawless
A cult classic, this lightweight foundation provides medium, buildable coverage and a long-wearing, soft matte finish.
Revlon Colour Stay comes in a vast array of shades suited to every skin tone with two formulations targeted to dry to normal and oily to combination skin. Now equipped with a pump dispenser for ease of use, this oil-free foundation has an SPF of 15 and works to keep your look fresh all day.
Best powder foundation: BareMinerals Original Foundation
This mineral foundation delivers on Amber’s love of gentle ingredients. It’s free from parabens, synthetic fragrance and harsh chemicals, promising lasting coverage with a luminous finish.
Cruelty-free and vegan, this lightweight mineral foundation is made with just five ingredients and provides customisable coverage and a natural finish. This powder foundation can offer sheer to full, buildable coverage and works to minimise the appearance of pores and imperfections while promoting skin health.
Best CC cream: Erborian CC Cream
Formulated with Centella Asiatica, this CC cream is a subtly tinted moisturiser that works to hydrate and protect the skin while adding a natural-looking glow.
Working to combine skincare benefits with cosmetic coverage, this CC cream claims to adapt to your skin tone in just three seconds creating a seamless, natural-looking base for any look. Erborian CC Cream’s formula is also enriched with SPF25 to help both protect and perfect the skin.
Best dewy foundation: NYX Born To Glow Radiant Foundation
For glowing skin
This creamy, cruelty-free and vegan formula promises medium, buildable coverage, so it’s ideal for normal to dry skin types in need of a boost.
Created with a convenient tube applicator, the NYX Born To Glow Radiant Foundation brings dull skin to life with medium, buildable coverage and an iridescent finish. With a broad shade selection, this dewy foundation blends seamlessly into the skin for a natural glow.
Best full coverage foundation: Estee Lauder Double Wear Stay In Place Makeup
Cult classic coverage
Highlighted by our exert Jaz as a “truly iconic” product, Estee Lauder’s Double Wear foundation has found its way into the make-up halls of fame with its famous longevity and flawless finish.
Promising 24 hours of wear, this non-creasing, waterproof, and humidity-resistant foundation works to make touch-ups a thing of the past. Providing a flawless, full coverage base to any make-up look, this foundation is free of synthetic ingredients and drying alcohols, and its transfer-resistant formula promises the prevention of smudges or stains.
Best foundation for oily skin: Lancôme Teint Idole Ultra Wear Foundation
Comfortable long wear
A favourite of our expert make-up artist, Amber, Lancôme’s Teint Idole Ultra Wear Foundation has been formulated to give a long-lasting full coverage.
This 24-hour foundation promises to take you from day to night with transfer-resistant, smudge-proof wear. Enriched with effective, oil-absorbing ingredients, this foundation blends flawlessly into the skin for comfortable wear that never needs a touch-up.
Best foundation for dry skin: Bobbi Brown Intensive Serum Foundation
For hydrated luminosity
Recommended by our expert Jaz as a great option for drier skin types, Bobbi Brown’s Intensive Serum Foundation blends skincare and make-up with an innovative hydration formula.
Powered by serum, this foundation is enriched with skin-loving ingredients to leave the skin looking smoother, fuller and more radiant instantly and over time. Providing up to 12 hours of wear, this foundation doesn’t cake or crease and is formulated with broad-spectrum SPF for added sun protection.
Best lightweight foundation: Smashbox Halo Healthy Glow Tinted Moisturiser
For a lighter look
Another of Amber’s favourite products, this tinted moisturiser perfects the skin while offering protection from harmful UV rays.
This tinted moisturiser has been designed to provide weightless moisture and sheer coverage, blurring the appearance of imperfections and dark spots for healthier-looking skin. It’s enriched with SPF 25 and formulated with hyaluronic acid to hydrate the skin, and niacinamide, to help even tone and reduce the appearance of pores for smoother, brighter-looking skin.
Best foundation for mature skin: No.7 Restore & Renew Serum Foundation
Firming and brightening
A firm favourite of our expert Joy, this foundation features eight skin-loving ingredients to help improve skin health in the long term while offering a natural glow.
Enriched with collagen peptide and pro-retinol, No. 7’s Restore & Renew Serum Foundation helps to support the skin’s natural repair function for smoother, younger-looking skin. This lightweight formula is SPF 30 and is formulated to be buildable and provide light to medium coverage that looks and feels natural.
Best stick foundation: Bare Minerals Complexion Rescue Hydrating Foundation Stick
Buildable, blendable coverage
This vegan formula claims to blend the skin-loving benefits of tinted moisturiser with the buildable coverage of foundation.
This water-based foundation promises super-blendable and buildable coverage that delivers on convenience without compromising on quality. Claiming to melt effortlessly into the skin, this foundation is enriched with SPF25 and works to protect against pollution, environmental aggressors and blue light.
What to look for when buying foundation: our make-up experts share their advice
An award-winning, London-based make-up artist, Joy Adenuga is a seasoned professional with over a decade of experience in the industry. Over the years, Joy has worked with many brands, including Bobbi Brown, Shambox cosmetics and Tom Ford and has had her work featured in some of the world’s most iconic titles.
Celebrity make-up artist Amber Amos has amassed a seriously impressive client list working with some of the world's most famous faces, including Mariah Carey and Lionel Richie. Amber’s work has graced the covers of some of the world’s most-read magazines, including Forbes, GQ, iD, Billboard, XXL, and People magazine.
Featured in Glamour as one of London’s top make-up artists, Jaz Crush is affiliated with the prestigious Bobbi Brown studio. Jaz’s signature glowy looks and smokey eyes have been taking the capital by storm, and she has quickly become one of the city’s most in-demand make-up artists.
We put three questions to our make-up experts to understand precisely what you need to know when shopping for your new foundation and asked for their expert recommendations of the best products to buy and why.
What should you look for when buying a foundation?
When looking for a foundation, Amber tells us to consider “ skin concerns, what level of coverage, and what type of finish you are looking for”. Joy agrees and also encourages us to “invest in a foundation that takes into consideration your skin undertone”.
Joy also tells us to think about what we might use our foundation for; for everyday use, “you may prefer to go for a light formula foundation,” whereas for an event or night out, “a full coverage foundation would be more suitable”.
An expert tip from our expert Jaz is, if you’re looking to only invest in one foundation, choose a product that offers the most coverage you'll ever want to wear. Jaz tells us, “It’s really easy to sheer down a more medium/full coverage product by adding a touch of your favourite moisturiser to it for everyday wear, or simply using less product and buffing it into the skin”, whereas “it’s much harder to build up a sheer/light foundation”.
What should you avoid when looking for a foundation?
When it comes to purchasing a foundation, Joy says it’s usually best to ignore the hype, telling us to “avoid purchasing a foundation just based on its popularity, or for the mere fact it’s been recommended by a friend. Our skin is so unique, and what might work for a peer may be unsuitable for you”.
When choosing a foundation, Amber tells us to look at ingredients and encourages us to avoid products containing “lots of fragrance, parabens, and other harsh chemicals”. Jaz also spoke to us about the importance of ingredients and formulation, particularly how your foundation layers with your skincare products, telling us, “oils and water aren’t the best of friends, and it could be a huge factor in why your foundation isn’t performing as you’d like”.
Jaz recommended that “if you love using oil-based creams or richer textures, then I would generally recommend that you steer clear of a water-based foundation as this could cause your make-up to separate or pill on the skin throughout the day. The same is said if you have an oilier skin type and are using light, water-based creams. In this case, I would suggest using foundation containing oils”.
Which is the best foundation?
Our experts are seasoned, professional MUAs, and each gave a shoutout to some of their faithful products that always find a place in their kit. Amber told us she is currently loving Lancôme’s Teint Idole Ultra and “Smashbox Halo Glow Tinted moisturiser, whereas No.7’s Restore & Renew Serum Foundation got Joy’s vote, while Jaz recommended the “truly iconic” Estee Lauder Double Wear and the “Bobbi Brown Intensive Serum Foundation [for] drier skin type[s]”.
Foundation buyer's guide
We've rounded up some of the most commonly asked questions about foundation and done our research to answer them, so you can be sure you know everything you need to when buying your next stash.
The different types of foundation
There's an abundance of foundations out there, suitable for all skin types, in all different shades and in a diverse range of formulas to suit every preference. Here's a quick rundown of the main types:
- Liquid foundation: Easy to blend and suitable for most skin types.
- Cream foundation: Offers full coverage and is ideal for dry skin.
- Powder foundation: Provides a matt finish and is ideal for oil skin.
- Stick foundation: Great for on-the-go touch-ups.
- Tinted moisturiser: Offers a light coverage while hydrating the skin, perfect for a natural look.
- BB cream and CC cream: Multifunctional with skincare benefits as well as coverage.
Tips on choosing the right shade of foundation for you
Once you've chosen the type of foundation you want, the next step is finding the right shade to match your skin tone and achieve the results you are after. Here are several tips to help you pick the right shade of foundation for you:
- Check undertones: Does your skin have warm, cool or neutral undertones? Determining this will help you find a well-suited match.
- Test it out in natural light: For an accurate match for your skin tone, try out a few shades of the foundation in natural light to best test it.
- Try blending it in: Blend a small amount of the foundation on your skin and see how well it blends in with your colouring.
Application technique: five steps for a smooth and blended foundation finish
Once set on your foundation type and shade, you're ready to go. Read up on these five steps below to master the art of applying your foundation for a guaranteed flawless look:
- Prep your skin: Cleanse, moisturize and prime your skin, ready as a smooth canvas.
- Use the right make-up accessories: Choose the right make-up brush or make-up sponge, depending on the formula type, or use your fingertips for application if preferred.
- Start light: Begin with a small amount of foundation and gradually build up coverage.
- Blend properly: Make sure to blend in the foundation thoroughly, using dabbing motions for a natural look.
- Set with powder: Set liquid foundations with a powder to enhance longevity.
How to make your foundation last all-day
Want your foundation to stay put from morning to night? Follow these tips to help it last longer:
- Start with a primer: Apply a primer before blending in your foundation.
- Use layering: Build your coverage in thin layers, allowing each one to dry before the next.
- Finish with a setting spray: Finish your make-up routine with a setting spray to lock in the foundation and extend its wear time.
Common application mistakes to avoid
Steer clear of these common application mistakes for smooth and natural-looking results:
- Mismatched shade: The last thing you want is a noticeable line between your neck and face. Make sure to have tried out the shade of foundation before using it to ensure a natural blend.
- Cakey texture: Use thin layers and blend into your skin thoroughly to prevent a heavy, cakey appearance.
- Skipping primer: Start with a primer! Skipping this beginning step can lead to uneven application and consequently a shorter wear time.
How to store your foundation properly
Prolong the shelf life and quality of your foundation by storing it correctly. This includes storing it in a cool and dry place, away from direct sunlight. Ensure the lid or cap is securely closed to prevent any air exposure or moisture getting in and keep it away from any extreme heat or cold to prevent the formula from getting affected.
Want to read more expert-recommended beauty product round-ups? Check out our Cosmetics page for a full list of recommendations, including our list of the best mascaras, best concealers and best eyeshadow palettes – all recommended by professional make-up artists.
Isobel Nutbrown is a Staff Writer at The Recommended and works with leading industry experts to help readers make informed decisions and shop smarter online.
Cordelia Aspinall is a Digital Writer for Immediate Media, working across brands including The Recommended, RadioTimes.com, MadeForMums and BBC Gardeners’ World. She has previously worked and written for digital publications including Condé Nast Traveller, The Evening Standard, Cosmopolitan, and several other lifestyle brands.