Discover how to get free foundation samples from big brands like MAC, Charlotte Tilbury and more
Before Covid, many beauty counters in shops and department stores would not only advise you on your shade and tone but you could also walk away with free foundation samples. This was a great way to get hold of brands like NARS, Estée Lauder, Charlotte Tilbury, MAC, and more.
While this is still possible in certain locations, it’s not universally available. Plus, not every hometown will have a beauty counter dedicated to every foundation brand.
All is not lost, however. There are a number of ways to get hold of free foundation samples online. There are also brands that let you try foundation for 60 days for free, or you can buy foundation samples from certain sites.
Below we’ve explained everything you need to know about getting foundation samples in the UK. We also recently started a huge foundation group test in which we’ve tested more than 75+ foundations, skin tints, and tinted moisturisers (and counting). If you want inspiration on which is the best foundation to buy, check out that guide here.
We’ve also started listing the best places to get free skincare samples, too and if you like free stuff, join our mamabella Reader Review panel!
FURTHER READING: How to find your perfect foundation match online and in-store
Clicking the links below will take you to the relevant free foundation samples section where you can learn more about the specific samples and either order or buy those which are most relevant. Alternatively, you can scroll through the list to see if any tickle your fancy.
If you’re not sure where to start with choosing a foundation, check out our guide to finding your perfect foundation match. Alternatively, if you want to know which is the best foundation for your skin type, check out our guide here.
If free samples are your thing, we recommend you sign up for one of the UK’s best beauty subscription boxes. Every month, for around a tenner, you get sent an average of five makeup and skincare products, tools, accessories, and more from a huge range of brands.
Although these rarely include foundation samples, due to the fact they can’t match every buyer’s skin tone, they sometimes contain vouchers that you can swap for foundation or concealer samples.
FURTHER READING: Best Charlotte Tilbury foundations | Best MAC foundations | Best No7 foundations | How we test foundations | How to find your perfect foundation match | Best foundation for oily skin | Best high-street foundation UK | Best full-coverage foundation UK | Best foundation for mature skin
Typically, if you buy a foundation online, try it and discover it doesn’t match you can’t send it back. Sephora UK gets around this with its Try Me service.
On Sephora UK, when you buy any foundation with the Try Me button, you’ll also be sent a matching sample pot. This means you can try the foundation via the sample pot without ever breaking the seal on the full version, which is an option that would be also perfect if you are buying perfume as a gift but aren’t sure what the other person likes.
What’s more, on select foundations you can use the embedded Findation tool to find the best equivalent shade based on which foundation you already wear. If you decide the shade or texture isn’t right, you can return the unopened, full-size product and get your money back within 31 days. You can then try an alternative shade and repeat the process.
This promotion isn’t just limited to foundation, either. You can use it on all products with Try Me button. It is only for customers in the UK though.
Sephora Foundation Samples
Sephora recently acquired Feelunique and as part of the switchover, Sephora is carrying on with its hugely popular Pick and Mix sample scheme.
In addition to foundation samples, this service lets you choose up to five samples of anything listed on the Pick and Mix page for just £3.95. Once the samples have been shipped, you’ll get a £3.95 gift voucher to use on anything on the site – so technically, these are free samples!
There are a few catches, though. You can only order a Pick & Mix bundle once a calendar month, and only one per household.
You can choose less than five samples, however the shipping and handling fee will remain at £3.95 and you are unable to order again until the following month.
Sephora UK Pick & Mix
FURTHER READING: You can now virtually try makeup on from MAC, NARS and more within Google Shopping search results
These aren’t free foundation samples, but Illamasqua does let you buy samples of its Beyond Foundation and Skin Base Foundation for a highly reduced price. At the time of writing, the foundation samples available are:
The full range of 25 shades in both foundations is available and if you’re torn between two or three different shades, this service allows you to buy a few and give them all a try. You can, alternatively, give the Illamasqua Shade Finder tool a go.
Illamasqua Foundation Samples
FURTHER READING: Best foundation makeup from Phoera, NARS, Fenty, L’Oreal and more
Il Makiage, the cult New York makeup brand recently launched in the UK and brought its Power Match makeup quiz with it. This quiz uses a bespoke matching algorithm, to find your perfect foundation with a 90% accuracy rate.
This quiz asks you a series of questions before recommending one of the company’s 50 shades. It will also recommend a concealer that pairs perfectly with your recommended shade.
What’s more, it’s so confident in the algorithm’s ability to match your foundation perfectly that if you’re not happy you have 60 days to try it. This means you can use it time and again, making sure the coverage is right, and the tone matches as you want it to.
If it doesn’t, you can return the shade and get your money back, or ask for it to be swapped for another shade. And if you want to know if the Woke Up Like This foundation is worth the hype, read our Il Makiage foundation review.
FURTHER READING: Il Makiage UK: The try-before-you-buy US makeup brand is now available online in the UK
Il Makiage Foundation Samples
Glossier has become a cult brand in the UK for both its super cute, minimal packaging but also its simple yet highly effective skincare and makeup lines. You can get free samples with any purchase on Glossier – you don’t need to spend a minimum amount, nor do you have to buy certain products to qualify.
These Glossier samples change from time to time and they’re usually reserved for skincare but you can get lucky and get makeup, including foundation samples. Glossier’s Skin Tint is a superb, breathable, sheer coverage foundation that creates a natural finish. We’re big fans, and you can read why in our best foundation for mature skin guide.
The downside is that you have to pay £4 for postage unless you spend over £30 so this can prove an expensive way to get hold of Glossier samples. However, if you’re already in the market for some then it’s a great way to give its other products a whirl.
FURTHER READING: Glossier UK: The best Glossier products from across its makeup and skincare range
Avon has a whole page dedicated to purchasing samples of its bestselling products. While these samples aren’t free foundation samples, the samples themselves only cost 50p each. Or you can get three samples for £1 with the code SAMPLES.
Within the range is the samples collection is the True Color Flawless Liquid Foundation. This full-coverage foundation comes in 17 shades and promises a “beautiful base without the cakey feel.” It contains SPF 15 and in our opinion is a great makeup dupe for the Charlotte Tilbury Flawless Foundation range.
You can also buy various perfume samples, as well as samples of skincare including the Anti-Wrinkle Hyaluronic Concentrate, plus lipsticks, and more.
In 2020, Phoera was all over TikTok and Instagram because it offers full, yet natural coverage without feeling cakey – and all for just a tenner! We recently began putting the best foundations to the test over on TikTok and Phoera scored a respectable 17 points. You can read more about that here.
There isn’t a huge range of shades sadly. It’s particularly poor at the dark end of the spectrum and there are no foundations for dark with red undertones. However, if you want to see how it performs and you’re not sure which shade works best for you, you can buy samples of each.
A sample costs 99p and you get 1ml of foundation, which should be ample for you to wear for a day or two.
This one is a little tricky to take advantage of at the moment, with beauty counters limiting access, but it’s worth including for when they’re fully open again. Your local counter may even be offering samples.
At Boots, you can show the above voucher to a Clinique consultant in any store and they’ll find your perfect foundation match. You’ll then get a free 10-day supply of your shade and formula from Clinique Foundation.
Download the voucher direct from Clinique.
FURTHER READING: Clinique Moisture Surge review: A great, hydrating all-rounder regardless of your skin type
Clinique Foundation Samples
A lot of brands give away free foundation samples with orders. This, of course, means you need to buy something first but it can be a good way to experiment with different tones and textures. Especially if you’re shopping on the site in question anyway.
This is the case with getting free Charlotte Tilbury foundation samples. With every order on CharlotteTilbury.com, you get to choose two free samples at the checkout by clicking the “Add two free samples” buttons.
Free samples are limited, and they may change from time to time, but foundation samples are almost standard.
What’s more, Charlotte Tilbury recently launched a new foundation finder tool, powered by its beauty experts. You can take the quiz to find your perfect shade here and the brand claims that you’ll get your “flawless match every time, or your money back.”
Read our full Charlotte Tilbury Beautiful Skin foundation review
FURTHER READING: We’ve reviewed and ranked the best Charlotte Tilbury foundations
Charlotte Tilbury Foundation Samples
The online free MAC samples range is a bit hit and miss and you do need to buy products to qualify, but we’ve got lucky a couple of times so wanted to flag this page up just in case you can get your hands on something decent!
At the time of writing, MAC is offering free samples of its Strobe Cream, its StudioFiX primer, and its Fix+ setting spray in the original, and deluxe formulas. In the past we’ve received its cleansing oil, and its Studio Fix foundation.
You’re much more likely to get a decent range of MAC samples by going in-store. You can even ask about how to find the best foundation match and more from MAC makeup artists, but until the Covid restrictions lift properly, this may not yet be an option.
FURTHER READING: We’ve reviewed and ranked every MAC foundation to finally reveal which is best
MAC makeup Samples
Of all the foundation samples in this list, NARS foundation samples are the hardest to get hold of. There are a couple of routes you can take – the NARS Sample Container, and the complimentary NARS sample page.
We’ve previously had more luck getting NARS foundation samples from the Sample Container (although at the time of writing, they’re currently sold out).
Alternatively, if you’re shopping for NARS products anyway and spend over a certain amount, NARS will give you two free complimentary samples. These often include foundation samples, but also include concealer samples, blush samples, and more.
It’s a bit hit-and-miss, and it requires you to keep checking back (annoyingly) but we’re putting the links here so you can at least give it a go as and when you remember.
Estee Lauder’s Double Wear Foundation is almost universally admired by makeup artists and consumers alike. It regularly features on best foundation lists (including our own) and it is one of the few foundations we’ve tried that lasts as long as it does.
There is a catch, however. The foundation is pricey, coming in at £35 a bottle which means that it may well be out of some people’s budgets, and it means getting the correct shade is even more important than normal. Thankfully, Estée Lauder offers free and paid-for samples.
These samples fly off the shelves and are very often sold out. You can add it to your wishlist, though, and be notified when it comes back in stock.
FURTHER READING: Estée Lauder Double Wear review: Does the iconic foundation still reign supreme?
Estee Lauder Samples
Lisa Eldridge is a world-renowned makeup artist and she’s worked on various clients including Dua Lipa, Kendall Jenner, Kate Winslet, Keira Knightley and Nicole Kidman among many more. She’s currently Global Creative Director of Lancôme but also sells her own range of makeup. One of her bestsellers is the Lisa Eldridge foundation.
It’s formulated to give customisable medium coverage and Lisa describes it as “self setting” adding “it blends effortlessly to smooth and unify skin with a noticeable soft focus effect.” It’s vegan, cruelty-free and free from alcohol, parabens, talc, fragrance, essential oils, and microplastics.
A free sample card is sent with every foundation purchased, which helps you make sure you’ve got the best shade for your skin before opening the full bottle. However, it’s also possible to buy sample cards separately. Each card features four shades within a similar tone, to help you choose.
At the time of writing, some of the lighter shade cards are sold out but they come back in stock periodically so you can either check back, or buy the shade you think you might be, get the sample card and check from there. If you’re not happy with the shade you buy, you can return it and exchange it – as long as the bottle hasn’t been opened.
We also wanted to highlight just how much we rate Lisa Eldridge because, since 2016 she has donated 100% of the YouTube advertising revenue (around £200,000) to charities that focus on female education and health. She also refuses sponsored and paid-for posts.
Lisa Eldridge Samples
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Victoria is founder and editor-in-chief of mamabella, freelance journalist and Mum. She has a passion for empowering people to feel beautiful whatever their age, size, skin type and budget