While it might not be the first thing that gets noticed, foundation is what creates the canvas for your makeup look. Unlike any other type of makeup, it’s the one thing that needs to be specifically catered to you, both for your skin tone and type. What works for someone with dry skin will not be ideal for oily or combination skin types. Plus, most foundations sold today do double duty as a sunscreen and moisturizer, so understanding your needs before selecting a foundation is important.
Foundation has come a long way in the past decades. While your grandmother was stuck with just a handful of foundation choices at her local drugstore, you have hundreds of products to choose from that are targeted to your skin type. Whether you have dry, oily or combination skin, one of these six top options is sure to be a winner in both price and performance.
There are three main skin types, and your foundation should be compatible with whichever you’re closest to. After determining what skin type fits you best, you can move on to considerations like what level of coverage you need. If you have wrinkles or blemishes, for example, you’ll want to cover those without looking cakey, and different foundations will meet those needs with varying levels of efficiency.
- Dry Skin – If you experience flakiness, redness or a tight feeling on your face, you probably have dry skin. People with dry skin often find that they are more prone to wrinkling and that their skin has poor elasticity. Because your skin doesn’t retain water well, you need to introduce moisture with your foundation.
- Oily Skin – Things like large pores, blemishes and shininess are characteristic of this skin type. If you have trouble going more than a few hours without blotting your face, you probably deal with oily skin and will do best with a matte formula or powder foundation.
- Combination Skin – Skin that experiences oiliness in the forehead, nose and chin but is normal or dry in other areas is classified as combination skin. This is a challenging skin type, and you will need a foundation that can handle both extremes.
Foundation Picks for Dry Skin
Cover Girl & Olay Tone Rehab 2-in-1 Foundation
At just $11 per bottle, this is a top choice for dry skin if you’re on a budget. The bottle is fun to look at, with stripes of foundation and Olay serum visible in the packaging. While bottling in this fashion doesn’t necessarily provide more moisture than a foundation that mixes these ingredients together, it sells the nourishing properties of the product.
The Cover Girl Tone Rehab formula works great for sensitive skin, and coverage is good enough to disguise moderate discoloration and age spots. Cover Girl & Olay Tone Rehab Foundation comes in a convenient pump bottle, has anti-aging properties and is sold at pretty much every major retailer and drugstore, so it’s easy to find.
YSL Touche Eclat Le Teint Radiance
While this is a high-end foundation with a price tag to match, YSL Touche Eclat Le Teint is so kind to dry skin that many users happily pay the $58 for it. Because it builds up nicely, you can achieve anything from light to full coverage without ending up with a pancake face. If you struggle to retain moisture, the formula looks great even if you skip powdering.
YSL Touche Eclat Le Teint Radiance comes in a glass bottle, has a dewy finish and offers 22 shades to choose from. YSL is sold at Sephora, Nordstrom and many online retailers.
Foundation Picks for Oily Skin
Maybelline Fit Me Matte + Poreless Foundation
Even though this is a drugstore foundation with a price tag under $10, the Maybelline Fit Me Matte + Poreless Foundation has an extensive cult following and for a good reason. The medium coverage formula is buildable and is designed to combat shine and reduce the appearance of large pores, both common issues with oily skin. It feels lightweight on the skin and looks even without succumbing to cakiness.
Maybelline makes a companion finishing powder that will further mattify your look, but the Maybelline Fit Me Matte + Poreless Foundation will also work well with any other powder you own. As a drugstore product, you can find this foundation anywhere that makeup is sold as it’s a cornerstone product in the Maybelline line.
Make Up Forever Mat Velvet Mattifying Foundation
With over 20 shades, this foundation suits skin tones from the very light to the darkest of darks and has an unbelievably long-lasting and bulletproof formula that stands up to even the oiliest skin. Make Up Forever Mat Velvet Mattifying Foundation is full coverage, water and sweat proof with an oil-free formulation. While it covers just about everything, be sure to use a quality primer to avoid cakiness, and daily users report that it blends best with a beauty blender rather than a brush.
At $41, this Make Up Forever foundation is a high-end pick, but it delivers in performance, looking good after eight or more hours of wear. You can purchase Make Up Forever products at Sephora where you can also ask for small product samples for free, so you can try it out for a few days before investing in a full bottle.
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Foundation Picks for Combination Skin
MAC Face and Body Foundation
This classic formulation can handle anything you throw at it, including combination skin. While it’s lightweight, it builds up nicely to any level of coverage and won’t accentuate flakiness, fine lines or blemishes. Its water based formula keeps your skin hydrated in all the right places without causing oiliness in the T-zone. The liquid consistency lends itself well to brush applications, but don’t overdo it. Also, if you notice separation in the bottle, a quick shake will bring the formula back to normal.
MAC Face and Body Foundation has a very natural finish, and it looks stunning in photographs while still being practical for everyday wear. This top pick will set you back around $38 and can be found at MAC makeup counters in Macy’s and Nordstrom, as well as any other retailer who carries the brand.
Bare Minerals Matte Foundation
Mineral foundations are some of the best choices for skin that tends toward oiliness, and Bare Minerals makes some of the best products in this category. The Bare Minerals Matte Foundation will keep your T-zone tamed without drying out your cheeks or picking up patches of flakiness. Mineral foundation offers customizable coverage that still allows your natural beauty to shine through, and many users prefer it to liquid formulations because, while the coverage is quite buildable, the sheer formula gives you the illusion of a naked face. Bare Minerals Matte Foundation can look cakey if not buffed properly, however, so apply in thin layers with a dense foundation brush, and work the product into your skin well for the most flawless finish.
Sold at Sephora, Ulta and free standing Bare Mineral shops, Bare Minerals Matte Foundation runs around $28. The formula offers sun protection with an SPF 15 rating, so it’s great for skin.