A makeup look isn’t complete without a base yet there are hundreds of brands to choose from and thousands of shades to match. This means choosing the best foundation can be one of the hardest parts of buying makeup.
READ NEXT: What’s really in your foundation?
Plus, not all foundations are created equal when it comes to oily, dry, combination, acne-prone or mature skin. In our science of foundation article, we’ve explained that ingredients you need to look out for and which types of foundation are better for which skin types, and below is our pick of the best foundations that will give you the ideal canvas for all your make up needs.
If you’re unsure which foundation colour you need, or what your skin’s undertone is, we’ve explained all in our how to find your perfect foundation match explainer. We’ve also handpicked the best foundation for dark skin if you don’t find what you’re looking for below.
£28 | Buy now from Cult Beauty
Why we love it: It Cosmetic’s CC+ cream is available in three different versions perfectly suited to 12 different skin tones and types.
This cream is technically a CC, or Colour Correcting, cream rather than a foundation.
As a result, it not only gives coverage as a foundation would, it also helps reduce redness and get rid of dark circles in one fell swoop.
It offers enough coverage for everyday wear and will last all day.
A single pump is usually enough to cover your entire face, which means it’s good value for money, and it has amazing staying power that lasts all day with an SPF of 40.
Price: £8.99 | Buy now from Lookfantastic
Why we love it: If you’ve not heard of, or tried products from The Ordinary, then you’re missing out.
It manages to combine the best of both worlds when it comes to quality and price and its minimalist packaging and scientific approach has helped it garner a loyal following.
This flawless full-coverage foundation goes on like a dream and leaves a natural finish.
READ NEXT: How to apply foundation like a pro
Applied with a brush or a sponge, The Ordinary’s foundation doesn’t settle into creases and fine lines and despite its great coverage, it doesn’t look too heavy or cakey.
The product is easy to mix and is buildable and has a 21-shade range, although there is a lack of colours for darker skin tone.
For the price, it’s definitely worth a try.
Why we love it: Said to be inspired by charmeuse silk, this lightweight, luxury foundation from Giorgio Armani covers imperfections and evens out skin tones while leaving your skin looking silky smooth.
It gives a wonderfully glowy, dewy finish without leaving your face looking shiny.
Ideally applied with a sponge, the beauty of Giorgio Armani’s foundation range is that you can get an even base by using very little product, which is lucky really because, at £50, this foundation needs to last a while.
READ NEXT: How to get flawless skin
Because it has depth to its colour, it provides a glow and means it pairs beautifully with a golden highlighter.
It also works beautifully on all skin types but leans towards normal to dry types.
We love it so much that the Luminous Silk also features on our best foundation for dark skin tones list because it offers a wide range of tones.
Something you don’t necessarily get with cheap makeup.
Price: From £35 | Buy now from Estee Lauder
Why we love it: Estee Lauder’s Double Wear is the ultimate holy grail foundation. Great on all skin types but perfect for oily/combination.
It offers a flawless, full-coverage finish that doesn’t settle into pores and fine lines and its wide shade range covers many skin tones as well as different undertones meaning you can get the perfect shade.
Its finish is semi-matte, and Double Wear is transfer-proof and lasts all day.
The only downside is that there’s no pump, it involves pouring the foundation out and this can result in wastage, which – at this price – can be painful.
£10.99 | Buy now from Superdrug
Why we love it: L’Oreal Paris’ Infallible 24hr foundation has great coverage and boasts a matte, lightweight finish.
As its name suggests, it has great staying power – not as great as Estee Lauder’s but close – although it can be prone to transferring if setting powder isn’t used.
This brand is definitely targeted more towards oily/ combination skin, as it can stick to dry patches.
It’s also available in 26 shades with lots of options across the range, which is rare for such a cheap foundation.
£44 | Buy now from Amazon
Why we love it: It’s got the lightest, smoothest and silkiest texture and goes on wonderfully with a brush.
It’s buildable to very full coverage, hiding unwanted redness, scarring or dark spot and is kind to sensitive skin.
READ NEXT: Best BB cream
Elsewhere, Pro Filt’r is cruelty and paraben-free and comes in incredible 50 shades.
It does oxidise slightly, so it’s better to go a shade down, but works like a dream when paired with the Fenty concealer and setting powder.
It lasts all day, doesn’t budge and looks beautiful in person and in photography.
You can also find this foundation on our best foundation for dark skin tones list because Rihanna made Fenty Beauty with diversity and inclusion in mind.
£48 | Buy now from Cult Beauty
Why we love it: We love NARS foundations and its Natural Radiant Longwear does exactly what it says on the tin.
It creates a natural finish, leaves your skin looking radiant and the foundation doesn’t budge all day.
It’s buildable up to perfect full coverage, but you can choose to have a more natural “no makeup, makeup look” simply by using slightly less.
Because NARS’ Natural Radiant Longwear is available in 34 shades, it’s suitable for a wide range of skin tones and types, and this is enhanced by skin-matching technology to avoid oxidisation.
Enriched with fruity extracts, it improves the skin’s texture if used on a regular basis and works a treat when matched with the NARS Radiant creamy concealer.
£45 | Buy now from Feelunique
Why we love it: Filled with ingredients to protect and improve your skin, increasing resilience to everyday environments, and with an SPF of 15 to protect against the sun’s rays, Charlotte Tilbury’s Magic Foundation has a flawless and semi-matte finish, with ultra-long staying power and looks amazing in photographs.
When paired with the world-renowned makeup artist’s Magic Cream (read our best moisturiser page for more information) this foundation gives a smooth base.
Libby graduated from Bournemouth University with a degree in Multimedia Journalism. She’s worked as a researcher and writer for Heart Radio as well as a features writer for a Somerset newspaper. She’s since taken time out to travel, manage a hotel restaurant, do a lot of dog walking, and now works in London’s West End