Selecting the perfect foundation can sometimes feel like finding a needle in a haystack. What shade will match best, especially when ordering online? Is liquid foundation the right choice for me, instead of powder? What about SPF? Seriously, where do I begin?!
All of these questions are valid — believe me. As someone who loves trying new makeup brands (and someone who’s a sucker for pretty packaging), I’ve been wanting to dig into the makeup minefield of liquids to powders and drugstore to high-end for quite some time.
In this edition: the very best full-coverage foundations that are liquid, after two years of consistent testing. (Related: Best skincare brands we reviewed). Whether you’re seeking out top-rated foundations specially designed for mature skin or others to help hydrate your dry skin, this guide is for you.
Naturally, I tested dozens of foundations to put together a comprehensive list of the best ones worth your money. No more sifting through shades or spending big bucks, only to discover your new foundation only lasts for two hours and becomes cake-y.
“A full-coverage foundation has more pigment in it, therefore fully masking blemishes or marks on the skin, and evening out all discoloration, whether it’s due to the person’s veins, hyperpigmentation or rosacea and redness,” Natalie Dresher, bridal and special event makeup artist, told the New York Post, in explaining what makes a full-coverage foundation actually full coverage.
“I believe an ideal foundation should last on the skin for 12 hours perfectly for the typical, non professional consumer,” Dresher added. “This means that it will last for a full work day, for a night out or a typical day of being out and about.”
Click to jump to the full-coverage foundations review:
“I personally use a brush using downward strokes to not disturb any vellus hairs on the face and then I personally like to blend in any rough ‘edges’ or ‘lines’ with a damp sponge,” Dresher explains. “Damp sponges do thin out the product so I wouldn’t use a sponge directly under the eyes or on any areas where coverage is desired.”
For specific options, check out our expert-backed guide to the best foundation brushes. We also included an easy-to-read table highlighting the top picks in this review at a glance.
My skin is sensitive and partially dry (though, can have its oily moments), so it took me exactly two years of testing (aka, ran-sacking Sephora and Ulta Beauty for the best ones on the market) — testing each one consistently. Here’s an overview of what I looked for while applying:
For a closer look, I have some drier spots around my nose, on my chin and above my eyebrows. But, even if you have oily skin or acne-prone skin, our roundup of the best foundations can still be helpful.
That said, we have you covered — literally. If you’re looking for lighter coverage, check out our roundup of the best tinted moisturizers, along with the best makeup primers and best setting sprays we reviewed to prep and finish off your look.
Lady Gaga may be performing “Poker Face” on stage, but she sure knows how to dish out a foundation to help you achieve your most flawless face yet. And, because the formulation was “Born This Way,” it’s surely worth the “Applause.” OK, enough Gaga puns.
The HAUS LABS BY LADY GAGA Triclone Skin Tech Foundation with Fermented Arnica isn’t only my most-used foundation as of late but it’s the one that has received the most compliments when worn (and that’s how you know a standout foundation from the pack, TBH). It never creases, is featured in a generous shade range and even helps to reduce redness — something I noticed immediately.
It’s also hypoallergenic, so not only is this long-wearing foundation one that’ll flatter any skin tone but it’s apt for sensitive skin. It’s easy to apply to your face and blend with a brush, and it’s simply too good not to try at least once. In short, add it to your cart and thank me later.
Ranked as the best foundation for dry skin overall in our review, the Charlotte Tilbury Beautiful Skin Liquid Foundation is lightweight (yet still full-coverage, depending on how much you’d like to apply) and — the best part — never looks cake-y or flake-y. It has one of the most elegant finishes I’ve tried in a foundation, thanks to its inclusion of hyaluronic acid in its ingredient list (aka, the dermatologist-approved superstar that just keeps on giving).
When I want something that’s easy to blend but gives me a subtle glow, this is the usual suspect I reach for — especially during the daytime. This foundation also makes my skin appear smoother whenever worn, a bonus if you want to help reduce the appearance of pores.
For more to shop, check out our Charlotte Tilbury review — featuring an interview with Miss CT herself.
Truth be told, I could make a TED Talk advocating how much I love Anastasia Beverly Hills (well, actually, my full brand review is pretty much that). The brand continues to hit it out of the park — and not just with its top-rated Brow Wiz ($25). Though, that’s one I swear by, too.
The Anastasia Beverly Hills Luminous Foundation is fairly priced compared to other formulations tested and, while the appearance of fine lines isn’t completely mitigated as I may like, it’s one of the best for balancing the skin. Most importantly, it never irritates my skin and has been my go-to before consistently trying out brands for two years; this exact foundation was my go-to in high school, there for me through prom days and the cap-throwing graduation ceremony.
Better yet, its shade range is quite generous, the bottle looks spectacular on your makeup vanity and it lasts pretty much all day, though sometimes I have to use a pressed powder if I tend to get oily. Overall, it’s a gentle, trusty formulation worth adding to your shopping cart, along with the A30 Pro Domed Kabuki Brush ($24) — probably my favorite tool ever.
What’s great about the Tarte Face Tape Foundation is how natural and smooth your skin will look after, which is especially great for anyone with bumpy or acne-prone skin. If my skin happens to have an acne-flare up or blemish, I resort to this particular formulation.
Part of the reason why it performs beautifully on the skin is likely its patented Tape Technology that “helps smooth texture and blur the appearance of pores, fine lines and wrinkles,” per the brand. I totally agree with its claim, and it also is great at wicking off sweat or moisture when worn in hot temperatures.
Though it has a heavier and stickier feel, it’ll do the job of helping to make your skin feel like it’s not bumpy, hiding the blemish you have with flying colors. With a wide shade range — oh, and its top-rated Shape Tape Concealer ($31) following suit — you’ll be reaching for this quite often.
I can’t be the only one whose mom dragged them to the Macy’s counter when they were little (specifically, the Lancôme counter) for their usual stock-up. When I started wearing pressed powder and some eyeshadow, I eventually enjoyed my somewhat-regular mall trips, and then saw how its array of face products swayed more toward clients with mature skin.
Though I’m in my early 20s, I can see why the Lancôme Teint Idole Ultra Wear Care & Glow Foundation is a favorite among those in their 40s to 60s. It’s versatile, serves as a wonderful base for the rest of your makeup and includes hyaluronic acid to help hydrate and cover lines and wrinkles. It also contains SPF 27, resulting in a silky natural glow that is especially suited toward those with duller or less plump skin.
When I used to watch makeup tutorials on YouTube (the “beauty guru era of 2012,” as I like to call it), Smashbox was always presented as a top brand for camera-flashing moments and long-day wear. That still holds true, but there’s something about its Always On Skin-Balancing Foundation that helps to absorb more oil than other foundations tested.
To set the record straight, I don’t have completely oily skin. I do, however, tend to get oily throughout the day at times, and this foundation didn’t budge. Insightfully, it flaked a bit on where my skin is ultra-dry, making me tangibly notice how much better it performed on the oilier parts of my face.
It’s another foundation infused with hyaluronic acid, but I found it to stay on for more than eight hours without smearing or sweating off. Its inclusion of antioxidants also help to protect the skin from environmental stressors. With a chic bottle and trusty formula, it’s worth a shot, especially if you have oily skin.
Chances are, the Armani Beauty Luminous Silk Perfect Glow Foundation is one that would come out of the mouth of any makeup artist you talk to (I’d confidently bet money on this) when on the subject of wedding day foundations. It’s a standout for sure, though pricier than most. But, it’s worth every penny.
What impressed me the most? It’s not as thick as other full-coverage foundations tested, but it’s ability to balance out my skin tone upon first application gives it that wow-factor. Of course, it’s buildable, but that’s up to personal preference. It gives your skin the ideal no-makeup makeup look that you’ve been seeing all over social media, too.
What’s more, its shade range is pretty expansive, the foundation is oil-free and offers that your-skin-but-better look. You’ll be speechless during your first pass of this beauty gem, and wanting to continue repurchasing its one-of-a-kind formula.
I’m not going to lie, matte makeup isn’t really my jam. I don’t love shiny foundations either, but a formulation that offers a well-balanced, slightly radiant finish is more my speed. However, the Yves Saint Laurent All Hours Natural Matte Foundation didn’t make my fair skin look washed out. Instead, it felt like I was balancing my skin tone while treating my face to an array of benefits.
Because it contains both hyaluronic and SPF 30 in its formulation, this skincare buff was over-the-moon (in fact, SPF 30 is what dermatologists recommend using). It’s quite the spend — the most expensive on this list — but if you really want a wealth of benefits, it’s worth the buy.
Just when I thought it couldn’t get any better, it has a near-weightless feel that made it stand out from the rest of foundations during the testing process. It’s more lightweight, so keep that in mind, but an alluring option nonetheless.
True story: I met the one and only Mario Dedivanovic (the man, the myth and the legend behind the MAKEUP BY MARIO brand) to celebrate the launch of his SurrealSkin Liquid Foundation and, as soon as I tried it for the first time, I loved how plump and hydrated my skin looked.
Its quality and ability to blend exceptionally well makes me believe it should be on-par with those priced around $50 to $60 (though, I’m absolutely not complaining). It’s a staple for anyone seeking an effective full-coverage look without wanting to feel heavy. It also lasts for the entire work day.
With vegetal squalene, it helps moisturize the skin — making it a top option for combination or dry skin types, especially. Though it isn’t the best at keeping your skin oil-free as the day progresses, its formulation is worth the hype (and, the pump is one of the most ergonomic I’ve used).
The PAT McGRATH LABS Sublime Perfection Foundation is just as riveting as the brand’s array of beyond-gorgeous eyeshadow palettes and is one of the best brands I’ve tested for full-glam looks. In short, you’ll want to do a major shopping spree before your next date night or formal occasion.
Not only is its packaging second to none — even the box it comes in! — but its ability to serve as the longest-lasting foundation I tested is exemplary. Specifically, it consistently upheld from 5:20 a.m. to 10:00 p.m., coming in clutch on my commute to work, the eight-hour work day and for events happening in the nighttime.
It’s the ultimate splurge, too. It’s closest in formulation to the Armani Beauty Luminous Silk Perfect Glow Foundation, but a bit more lightweight and longer-lasting.
Queen RiRi has more to show than her iconic Super Bowl halftime performance. Her brand, Fenty Beauty, has one of the most coveted foundations in the industry with its Pro Filt’r Soft Matte Longwear Foundation.
TLDR: you won’t find a more generous shade range (and this goes for most of the brand’s products) that not only lasts for the entire day but also offers the most subtle of matte finishes. This is wonderful for my preferences, as I don’t love a full-matte look. It’s great for any skin type, too, as it never flaked on me but never seemed to make my skin feel oily as the day progressed.
It’s formulation doesn’t lean lightweight or heavy; it’s the perfect Goldilocks foundation. Perhaps this is why it has a grandeur appeal to the masses (and one I’ll continue to recommend indefinitely).
Shop the Bobbi Brown Skin Long-Wear Weightless Foundation SPF 15 if you’re looking for a bit more skin protection than your typical run-of-the-mill foundation. Though the Yves Saint Laurent All Hours Natural Matte Foundation includes the dermatologist-recommended SPF count of 30, your makeup should never replace applying a facial sunscreen and this one, in particular, had a noticeably elegant finish following my skincare. It’s also much more affordable than YSL’s formulation.
While I didn’t find it to be completely long-lasting (or should I say, as long-lasting as I would have liked), it’s true-to-full-coverage, easy-to-blend design makes it one I continue to reach for. It also helps to correct your undertone, helping to make my skin appear less red.
The Dior Backstage Face & Body Foundation is one I find in every pro’s toolkit, simply because it has a unique ability to cover your skin’s imperfections on a “thicker” level, helping to produce more full-glam looks with ease, as opposed to more buildable formulas that take a few passes.
Listen, I used this foundation in all temperatures (including 90-degree days in Arizona) and it didn’t leave my skin. Generous shade range aside, its hyaluronic acid-infused, hydrating formulation is fairly priced compared to others tested, and also wonderful to travel with.
Charlotte Tilbury strikes again with her Airbrush Flawless Foundation. To be totally candid, it’s the heaviest foundation I tested, so it may not be for everyone, but it’s the one I reach to if I’m taking plenty of photos that day — whether it’s a headshot, a family party or any other paparazzi-filled event (and by paparazzi, we mean the BFF who knows how to get all the angles in record time).
Not only does it last for an impressively long amount (more than eight hours!) but it feels weightless on the skin, even though it has a heavier consistency. I don’t know what magic Queen Charlotte put in this formulation, but it’s a surefire standout — and one worth the try.
|Brand||Ranking||Price||Why to Buy|
|HAUS LABS BY LADY GAGA||Best foundation overall||$$||Offers a balanced, naturally radiant finish that’s long-wearing and won’t crease;
Generous shade range; Hypoallergenic, so especially fitting for sensitive skin types
|Charlotte Tilbury (Beautiful Skin)||Best foundation for dry skin||$$$||Has an elegant finish that never cakes or flakes; Includes hyaluronic acid to help hydrate the skin, much like some of your skincare; Offers a hint of a subtle glow — a nice touch after application|
|Anastasia Beverly Hills||Best foundation for sensitive skin||$$||Long-lasting, gentle formulation that does a great job of helping the skin to appear more balanced; Pretty generous shade range|
|Tarte||Best foundation for acne-prone skin||$$||Helps eliminate the appearance of acne, bumps and imperfections with its refining feel once applied; Offered in a generous shade range; Wonderful to use when in hot temperatures|
|Lancôme||Best foundation for mature skin||$$$$||Naturally silky finish, thanks to its inclusion of hyaluronic acid to help eliminate fine lines and wrinkles; Includes SPF 27 for some skin protection (though you’ll still want to apply a facial SPF before your foundation)|
|Smashbox||Best foundation for oily skin||$$||Wonderful at helping to absorb oil (and excess oil) if worn throughout the day; Impressively long-wearing and easy to apply and blend|
|Armani Beauty||Best lightweight foundation||$$$$||Balances the skin upon first pass (bonus: it’s also buildable); Generous shade range; One of the most acclaimed for wedding day makeup and recommended by professionals|
|Yves Saint Laurent||Best matte foundation||$$$$||Helps reverse the appearance of dull skin, even though it’s matte (and that’s a feat to beat); Includes both hyaluronic acid and SPF 30 in its formulation — the dermatologist-recommended count to use for sun protection; Generous shade range|
|MAKEUP BY MARIO||Best buildable foundation||$$||One of the easiest to blend and is quite long-lasting; Doesn’t make the skin feel heavy|
|PAT McGRATH LABS||Best long-wearing foundation||$$$$||Generous shade range; Ideal for all-day events, while still offering full-coverage; Not as thick as other foundations tested so won’t feel heavy on the skin|
|Fenty Beauty by Rihanna||Best shade range||$$||Has the widest shade range among all foundations tested; Effective for all skin types, as it doesn’t flake or make the skin oily|
|Bobbi Brown||Best foundation with SPF||$$$||Includes SPF 15 for sun protection; Has a silky smooth finish that’s versatile to apply and easy to blend; Generous shade range|
|Dior||Best foundation for humidity||$$||Lasts in extreme heat and stays put for the entire day; Doesn’t make the skin appear oily, which is especially ideal for oily or combination skin types; Generous shade range|
|Charlotte Tilbury (Airbrush Flawless)||Best foundation for photoshoots||$$$||True to its full-coverage name; you won’t need more than one pass of this formulation when applied; Generous shade range; Long-lasting and feels weightless on the skin|
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Humidity and sweat can do some serious damage to your makeup look. You know that feeling when your makeup slides straight off your face, or that moment when you look in the mirror and realize your foundation is already separating? Yup, not ideal. But we have some good news: TikTok found a waterproof foundation from Make Up For Ever that can endure a bucket of H2O and still look flawless on your skin.
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Don’t believe us? Check out this TikTok from @meredithduxbury that has garnered over three million views. She put the foundation to the test by plunging her face into a bowl of water not once, but twice (!!). After each dunk, her beat looks as fresh and stunning as it did before; no streaks or patches thanks to this liquid foundation.
“Love it! This is the perfect foundation to give my combination skin medium coverage that looks natural and lasts all day,” raved one five-star reviewer. “Definitely my new favorite.”
The case is closed: If you want a pool and beach-proof foundation that truly does stand up against hot weather and water, the HD Skin Undetectable Longwear Foundation needs to be in your cart ASAP. After putting in all that effort to create your flawless makeup look, you might as well put in the extra coin to ensure it lasts through whatever life throws at you.
RELATED: This TikToker Used The Ordinary’s Lash and Brow Serum & Got Dramatic Results
Price: $31.50 (Originally $45)
Besides being waterproof and sweatproof, this foundation is long-wearing, provides buildable medium-to-full coverage and is best for oily, combo and normal skin. The new-and-improved formula—it’s an upgrade of the brand’s original Ultra-HD Foundation—leaves skin looking natural and stays comfortable to wear throughout even the hottest of days.
The formula contains Make Up For Ever’s Micro-Skin System, which allows the liquid foundation to bend and mold to your every movement to prevent it from caking and settling into fine lines. Even more benefits: Vegetable-origin glycerol keeps your skin moisturized and exopolysaccharide (a probiotic that protects against photoaging) makes your complexion look radiant.
To get a base layer that doesn’t budge, apply the product with your fingertips for sheer coverage, with a brush for medium coverage and with a damp sponge for full coverage.
There are so many ways to wear this foundation, and shoppers can’t get enough of it.
“This is the best foundation I have tried in a long time,” one wrote. “I use a beauty blender to apply it, and it looks so smooth. Lasts pretty much all day, even though my T zone tends to get greasy.”
“My skin looks like freakin’ skin but airbrushed, because my imperfections? NOWHERE TO BE SEEN!” wrote another shopper. “The coverage is amazing, not cakey does not feel heavy at all. I struggle finding a foundation that doesn’t make me look like a grease ball but this one lasts all day!”
These glowing reviews have us checking out with Make Up For Ever’s HD Skin Undetectable Longwear Foundation right this second. It’s all you could ever need to keep your makeup in place no matter the weather or activity. Work, gym sesh, beach day or pool party? No problemo.
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In the age of the “no makeup” makeup look, we hear about celebrities daring to go out in public bare-faced. It’s much easier to achieve that look with young, bright skin—not so much with mature skin. Wrinkles, blotchiness and dark spots make it more challenging. Enter the Laura Geller foundation.
Laura Geller Quench-n-Tint Hydrating Foundation suggests that it covers sunspots and provides all-day moisturizer for the face. I’ve tried other lightweight foundations and wasn’t impressed. Either they don’t cover anything more than a light spot, or they dry my face by the end of the day.
This foundation is water-based, so it doesn’t dry the skin, and its hyaluronic acid locks in moisture. With a hint of color, it provides lightweight coverage and softens lines, making it an excellent foundation for mature women. I decided to try it to find out if it lives up to all the hype.
Well, it’s a moisturizer and foundation in one. It has hyaluronic acid that plumps and hydrates while effortlessly reducing fine lines and wrinkles. The lightweight formula gives the skin a luminous finish and lasts all day without feeling heavy or cakey.
The foundation comes in five colors: light, light/medium, medium, medium/deep and deep. Using this hydrating foundation gives you a natural makeup look. At the same time, it’s buildable to customize the coverage to fit your needs.
My favorite feature of the Quench-n-Tint is the ability to build the foundation to create a custom finish. When going to the store, a single layer worked fine—it lessened my uneven skin tone and moisturized my face.
Later, when heading out to dinner with friends, adding a few more layers gave me a more refined look. It covered skin imperfections such as red spots and reduced dark, undereye circles. I liked having only one product for casual and sophisticated looks. I was disappointed that the product did not contain sunscreen, but I applied some before the foundation.
The product comes in a tube, which I like, as it’s easier to use every last drop rather than trying to get the last bit out of the bottom of a jar. Plus, all Laura Geller beauty products are cruelty-free and don’t test on animals.
Courtesy Eileen Bailey
I tested this Laura Geller foundation by using it every day in multiple settings: sitting around the house, going to the store, playing pickleball, taking a Tai Chi class and walking around outside on a muggy day. As expected, the results varied.
Sitting around the house and going to the store had very similar results—the foundation stayed on, and I never felt it once I put it on. It didn’t get sticky or cakey. Because I didn’t go out much that day as part of my test, I did not feel the need to reapply the makeup or add layers.
When playing pickleball and sweating, the makeup did not run; however, at the end of the game, the towel I used had foundation residue. I would not suggest using this makeup when planning to participate in an activity where you are sweating. Tai Chi is a slower sport and sweating is minimal. Because of that, the makeup stayed in place.
Walking outside on a hot, muggy day isn’t my favorite thing because you typically end up feeling damp and gross all over. The makeup reacted similarly to that of pickleball. It didn’t run or look like it was melting off my face, although it did feel oily. A towel to wipe the sweat off my face removed the sweat and the foundation.
My final tests were for coverage. First, I applied the product over a primer, which fills in lines and wrinkles, creates a smooth surface for your makeup and helps with oily skin. When testing it over primer, I found that it only took one or two layers for fuller coverage. It also extended how long my makeup stayed fresh. A primer might be the way to go if you want additional coverage without numerous layers.
The second was building layers. One layer added tint but didn’t provide much coverage. The second layer helped, but I felt three layers offered the coverage I wanted. Everyone will find this different based on what they want.
Hydrating tint and foundation are two different products and have their separate uses. Tinted moisturizers typically have less coverage. They provide a sun-kissed look or natural glow along with a moisturizer.
Foundations provide coverage for skin imperfections, dark spots and discolorations. They focus more on color and finishes, such as matte, dewy or radiant finishes. You might prefer tinted face moisturizers during the day and foundations in the evening when you want more coverage and a polished look.
Typically yes, but this makeup contains hyaluronic acid to lock in moisture, so there was no need to moisturize before applying the foundation.
“I like it because it is so lightweight that I cannot feel that I have any makeup on my face,” says Verified reviewer, Tara. “This foundation doesn’t give you that yucky, heavy and crusty feeling. Definitely worth purchasing.”
Another reviewer tried other foundations and felt glad she tried this one. “I’ve tried everything,” Amy says. “This product is amazing. It’s refreshing when applied, and the color matches me perfectly. I’m so impressed, I won’t buy anything else.”
Verified reviewer, Jose, likes the staying power. “I really love this tinted moisturizer. It stayed on all night, even while I was dancing.”
I would recommend the Laura Geller Quench-n-Tint because it performed as advertised. Many different foundations are available today and knowing what you are buying and that you are getting value for your money is essential.
This foundation provided sheer coverage along with a moisturizer. It’s lightweight, and once you put it on, you don’t know it’s on. I found it performed as expected whether lounging around the house or being a bit more active.
You can shop the Laura Geller Quench-n-Tint Hydrating Foundation on Laura Geller, Amazon and Walmart for around $34. If you’re looking for a foundation that’s lightweight, hydrating and buildable, you need to try this one from Laura Geller.
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