The best drugstore foundations for each type of skin
If you’re looking for a new drugstore foundation, it’s more than a matter of choosing the right shade or coverage. For the best look, reach for a foundation formulated for your skin type.
When you choose a foundation for your skin type, you’re choosing ingredients that work well with your skin. In addition to providing your skin tone with a flawless application, these formulas help manage concerns like dry skin or fine lines.
Learn how to find the right foundation with this buying guide, including an overview of essential information with a few recommendations of the best drugstore foundation for every skin type.
What to know about drugstore foundations
Why you should choose foundation based on skin type
One of the main reasons consumers buy foundation based on skin type is simple: to achieve the best coverage without exacerbating skin concerns.
Beyond that, some foundations offer a better application and wear experience on certain skin types.
Those with dry skin, for example, reach for hydrating liquid or cream foundations that leave skin with a soft, supple finish. Dry formulas, like some powders, may settle into rough and bumpy areas and result in an uneven application.
Those with oily skin may find hydrating foundations have significantly shorter wear times, especially if they sweat or spend time in humid environments. They’re better served by oil-controlling or oil-absorbing foundations, many of which are formulated to stay put on skin longer.
Selecting foundation based on skin type may increase overall wear time. It may also result in less frequent touch-ups.
Popular types of foundation formulas
There are several foundation formulas, with liquid, cream, powder and stick among the most common. Here’s a quick overview of each type:
Liquid foundations are suitable for buildable or heavier coverage. They’re usually easy to blend with most applicators, ranging from foundation brushes to Beauty Blenders.
Cream foundations are usually thicker than liquid foundations and give skin a supple, smooth finish. Despite their thickness, it’s common to see these formulas available in more than one coverage level.
Powder foundations are considered quick and easy to apply, either on their own or on top of the foundation. Because they have somewhat of a drying effect on the skin, they may contribute to shine control for some wearers.
Stick foundations come in lipstick-type barrels. They have a creamy consistency and offer a quick application that requires blending. Like liquid foundations, they offer buildable coverage.
Tinted moisturizers, popular for every day or warm-weather wear, offer sheer, lightweight coverage. They have a brightening effect that enhances the skin’s natural color.
BB cream is somewhat of an all-purpose formula that functions as a lightweight foundation that conceals minor blemishes and imperfections. Many BB creams contain SPF to protect skin from UV rays.
CC creams are used for color correction by neutralizing hyperpigmentation with opposing colors on the color wheel. These formulas are usually much thicker than CC creams and tinted moisturizers.
How much are drugstore foundations?
Drugstore foundations range in price from $4-$18.
Popular ingredients in drugstore foundations
Some foundation ingredients are more suitable for certain skin types. It’s helpful to understand the benefits of each ingredient so you can select the right foundation.
Hyaluronic acid is a hydrating ingredient that attracts moisture and leaves skin plump and supple. It helps smooth the appearance of fine lines and rough and bumpy areas.
Antioxidants such as retinol and vitamin C minimize the amount of damage caused by free radicals as well as UV rays and pollution. Their anti-inflammatory properties may help control redness, puffiness and irritation.
Peptides trigger natural production of proteins in the skin, such as collagen and elastin. They contribute to a smoother, firmer complexion and boost skin’s hydration level.
Niacinamide, or vitamin B3, has anti-inflammatory properties and helps control oil production. It’s considered an effective ingredient to keep breakouts under control.
Retinol triggers collagen production and promotes cell turnover, giving skin a supple, refreshed appearance. It smooths over fine lines and dry, patchy areas.
Best drugstore foundation 2021
Best drugstore foundation for dry skin
Maybelline Dream Radiant Liquid Foundation
Infused with hyaluronic acid and collagen, this foundation has a soft, flawless finish. The formula is free of talc, so it won’t leave skin parched at the end of the day. It offers medium coverage and is available in over 20 shades.
Wet n’ Wild Photo Focus Dewy Foundation
Appreciated for its affordability, this cruelty-free foundation gives skin a dewy, perky appearance. It keeps skin moisturized all day long, making it a good day-to-night formula.
Sold by Ulta
Best drugstore foundation for oily skin
Maybelline Fit Me Matte + Poreless Liquid Foundation
One of Maybelline’s top-selling formulas, this poreless foundation has a blurring effect and photographs well. It’s oil-free and infused with clay for extra oil control.
NYX Professional Makeup Can’t Stop Won’t Stop Full Coverage Foundation
This NYX foundation, available in 39 shades, is high-pigment and full-coverage. The silky, suede-matte finish is transfer-resistant.
Revlon ColorStay Liquid Foundation
Revlon ColorStay is an oil-free formula that’s considered life-proof for its all-day wear and high-pigment color. It’s available in dozens of shades, including cool, neutral and warm tones.
Best drugstore foundation for acne-prone skin
Pacifica Alight Clean Foundation
This lightweight formula is easy on skin with antioxidant ingredients and hyaluronic acid. It’s free of harsh, acne-triggering ingredients like silicone, parabens, phthalates, talc and drying alcohols.
Sold by Ulta
L’Oréal Paris True Match Super-Blendable Liquid Foundation
A perennial favorite, True Match is noncomedogenic and free of oils and fragrances. It’s infused with pro-vitamin B5 and vitamin E to keep skin moisturized and protected.
Best drugstore foundation for sensitive skin
Almay Smart Shade Skintone Matching Makeup
Almay’s popular Smart Shade foundation offers streak-free medium coverage for a luminous glow. It has SPF 15 and is hypoallergenic, fragrance-free and cruelty-free. Choose from six tone-adapting shades.
L’Oréal Infallible Fresh Wear 24HR Foundation
This long-wear foundation is transfer- and sweat-resistant while remaining breathable. The noncomedogenic formula, which has broad spectrum SPF 25, offers medium to full buildable coverage. It’s available in 40 shades.
Sold by Ulta
CoverGirl Clean Fresh Skin Milk Foundation
Touted as one of the most affordable clean foundations, this CoverGirl formula is made without parabens, sulfates or phthalates. The lightweight formula is easy to blend and has a flawless finish.
Sold by Ulta
Best drugstore foundation for mature skin
L’Oreal Paris Age Perfect Radiant Serum Foundation
This illuminating formula does double-duty as broad spectrum SPF 50 sunscreen and radiant foundation. Suitable for sensitive or mature skin, it won’t settle into fine lines around the mouth or eyes.
CoverGirl + Olay Simply Ageless 3-in-1 Foundation
Get a total moisture boost with this Olay-infused foundation. It blurs pores, minimizes imperfections and improves skin tone. The formula also has a firming effect.
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Sian Babish writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.
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