Whether it’s the best beauty tools under $25 or must-have drugstore beauty picks that stand up to far pricier counterparts, we’re no strangers to the fact that when it comes to makeup and beauty — spending more doesn’t always mean a better product.
Foundation, however, can be a bit tricky. Not only do you want a product that’s comfortable with ingredients that are beneficial for your skin, you want to be sure you’re finding an option in your exact shade, and that has the lasting power you need to make it through a full day.
“As with any foundation, I look for a texture that blends really easily, has a good density of pigment and that lasts on the skin without disappearing or sliding off,” shares London-based celebrity makeup artist and beauty editor Emma White Turle.
Jaleesa Jaikaran, a professional makeup artist and podcast host, always looks to a product’s shade range first when it comes to drugstore foundation. “Seeing that price range will be more reasonable,” she explains, “I look for brands that carry a wide range of shades because this usually means there will be more options when it comes to undertone.” NYC-based professional makeup artist Dmitry Kukushkin agrees, adding formulation (specifically active ingredients) is another key element he looks for in drugstore foundations.
Ahead, these three beauty pros share their favorite affordable foundations and breakdown which options are best for those with oily skin, dry skin, mature skin and for a full-coverage look.
Recommended by both Kukushkin and Jaikaran, this liquid foundation is available in 40 different shades. It’s best for those with normal to oily skin (and particularly great for those with oily skin according to Kukushkin), providing a super natural yet matte medium coverage.
Turle calls this medium-coverage foundation “pretty incredible” and “one of the best on the market.” Jaikaran agrees, adding this satin-finish foundation to her list of all-around favorites. “It’s really blendable and full coverage,” Turle explains, “which can be hard to find in even pricier foundation options.
One of Kukushkin’s all-time favorite drugstore foundations, this medium-coverage option from Maybelline is perfect for those of us who can use hydration at every point in our beauty routine. Formulated with hyaluronic acid and collagen, it simultaneously moisturizes and provides coverage for radiant, even-looking skin.
There are a few drugstore foundations Jaikaran has been using since the beginning of her beauty career, and this is one of them. A full-coverage stick foundation that boasts a velvety finish, it’s also a super versatile tool that’s great to have in your beauty arsenal. Use it to conceal or easily touch-up on the go, or use a darker shade as the perfect contour stick.
This two-in-one foundation and concealer is one of Jaikaran’s go-tos for oily skin. It’s waterproof, sweatproof and provides a natural matte finish that’s perfect for those who want to avoid looking too shiny throughout the day.
This oil-free foundation “treats the skin and breakouts while helping to hide any redness,” explains Turle. Not only will it provide your skin with a smooth, natural-looking finish, its MicroClear Technology will help to eliminate oil and treat breakouts with salicylic acid.
This creamy foundation from NYX is a favorite of Kukushkin’s for oily skin, and recommended by Jaikaran for those looking for full-coverage. It’s long-lasting, waterproof and gives skin a smooth, matte coverage that will last hours.
Another favorite of Jaikaran’s, this cult-fave foundation is lightweight, matte and boasts SPF 15. The oil-free formulation (which works to control oil and shine) is a must for those with oily skin. And it’s available in over 40 different shades for all different skin tones and undertones.
“This foundation is very lightweight,” shares Turle. “It’s light coverage, but has just enough to even out skin tone,” she adds. “And your skin feels soft and hydrated all day.” Plus, it layers and sits nicely over all different types of moisturizers, something that’s a must for those with dry skin.
A hydrating foundation is a must for those with dry skin, and this is one of Jaikaran’s favorites. It provides a medium coverage that leaves skin looking smooth and glowy and includes SPF 15 — always a bonus in our book.
Hyaluronic acid is your dry skin‘s best friend, so why not include it in your foundation as well as your skin care routine? This liquid foundation, recommended by Kukushkin, boasts a water gel formula that’s oil-free and non-comedogenic.
Turle recommends this medium coverage tinted moisturizer that “doesn’t settle into fine lines.” It’s also “full of hyaluronic acid,” she adds, “so it’s great for keeping skin hydrated through the day.”
A favorite of Jaikaran’s for those with dry skin, this cult-fave multi-purpose product is perfect for both spot correction and achieving a light to medium coverage. Turle also recommends this for those with mature skin, calling it a “beautiful” product that “doesn’t settle into any fine lines or wrinkles.”
Recommended by both Jaikaran and Kukushkin, this liquid foundation is a dream for those in search of a flawless finish and full coverage that will last all day long.
Kukushkin opts for this liquid foundation when it comes to full coverage at a wallet-friendly price. Not only does it work to even out your skin tone, the formulation aims to minimize the appearance of pores for a radiant finish.
This three-in-one primer, concealer and foundation is a favorite of Turle’s. “It does all you’d ever want,” she raves, “and holds for 24 hours if need be.”
When it comes to mature skin, Kukushkin recommends this serum foundation — which has actually been formulated and designed specially for mature skin. It’s lightweight, won’t settle into lines and includes beneficial ingredients like vitamin B3, hydrating serum and SPF 50.
If you prefer more of a tinted moisturizer formulation with some coverage, this eight-in-one BB cream has been a cult-fave for years — and for good reason. Jaikaran recommends this hydrating and skin perfecting BB cream for those with mature skin, though it’s also a great option for anyone with normal to dry skin.
These custom cover drops are “a really clever invention,” according to Turle. Simply add them to a serum or moisturizer of your choice, and you’ve got a foundation that provides just the amount of coverage you’re looking for. “I like to mix it into moisturizer, add a little liquid luminizer and then add three drops of this,” she shares.
If you’re looking for a lightweight and natural foundation that goes on like a moisturizer, look no further. This favorite of Jaikaran’s is available in over 30 shades and has a medium yet buildable coverage that looks super natural on all skin types.
Turle calls this option “a beautiful foundation that moisturizes and leaves skin looking healthy and radiant all day.” Plus, she adds, it feels super lightweight on the skin.