These bargain buys are proof you don’t have to spend a lot of money to ace your base.
Foundation is a must for creating a flawless complexion, and while it used to be that you had to shell out a pretty penny for any kind of semi-decent formula, the latest batch of drugstore picks now tout all of the same standout qualities as their (much) pricier counterparts. Think long-lasting color, flawless texture, and extensive shade ranges. These bargain buys deliver everything you could want in a foundation—and more.
Since there’s no shortage of these fabulous drugstore foundation finds, we asked four top makeup artists to share their favorites and help us narrow it down. Keep in mind that these pros are also using some of the most expensive foundations out there, so if they’re fans of these wallet-friendly alternatives, you can feel confident that these bases are the best of the best.
Whether you prefer a lightweight, glowy finish or a full coverage matte formula, these nine picks offer something for everyone. And at these prices, you may even consider trying all nine.
Boots No7 Dual Action Tinted Moisturiser
Those who aren’t fans of traditional foundation (or just prefer more sheer coverage) will love this featherweight, hydrating multitasker. “It feels so light on the skin and has a very pretty dewy finish,” says makeup artist and author of Lazy Perfection: The Art of Looking Great Without Really Trying, Jenny Patinkin.
To buy: $14; target.com.
L’Oréal Paris True Match Lumi Healthy Luminous Makeup
If you still can’t seem to find the perfect foundation color, check out this line. “I love how extensive the shade range is,” says Patinkin. She’s not kidding—you’ll find an impressive array of twelve colors, one to match any and every skin tone. Extra bonus points for the satiny finish, which Patinkin says is especially flattering on more mature skin.
To buy: $13; lorealparisusa.com.
Maybelline New York Dream Velvet Foundation
Choice for anyone who prefers a full face of makeup, “this offers full coverage, but looks and feels natural on the skin,” points out Patinkin. And while the finish is demi-matte, added hydrating ingredients ensure that your complexion never looks—or feels—dry, she adds. No easy feat, given that matte formulas often parch skin.
To buy: $11; maybelline.com.
Covergirl Vitalist Healthy Elixir
“This is the first full coverage foundation in a drugstore that works as either a concealer or a foundation,” says celebrity makeup artist Andrew Sotomayor. It also has a fresh, glowing finish, rather than the matte texture you’d expect from full coverage makeup, he adds. Makeup artist Katie Jane Hughes is also a fan: “It’s easy to blend and has good-for-your-skin ingredients.” More specifically, vitamins E, B3, and B5, plus SPF 20 (always a plus).
To buy: $13; cvs.com.
Neutrogena Hydro Boost Hydrating Tint
Hyaluronic acid adds a heavy hit of hydration in this formula, which New York City makeup artist and beauty expert Neil Scibelli is “obsessed” with. “The hyaluronic acid instantly binds the product to your skin and creates a more realistic, skin-like finish,” he says. “With many foundations, you can see the product just sitting on the stop of the skin, especially if you're dry, but in this case, it’s hydrating and covering at the same time.”
To buy: $15; neutrogena.com.
Loréal Paris Infallible Pro Glow Foundation
Think of this as a step up from tinted moisturizer, suggests Hughes: “It’s super glowy and healthy looking, though with a bit more coverage.” She also loves the lightweight plastic packaging, a bonus for anyone who doesn’t want to weigh down their cosmetics case with heavy glass bottles.
To buy: $13; lorealparisusa.com.
Hard Candy Glamoflauge Mix-In Pigment Makeup Drops
Different than traditional foundation, these transformative drops serve a multitude of complexion-perfecting purposes. “They can be used on their own as a foundation and concealer in one, or mixed in the palm of your hand with a drop of face lotion to create a tinted moisturizer in a custom shade,” says Sotomayor.
To buy: $7; walmart.com.
Maybelline New York Fit Me Matte & Poreless Foundation
“This is an expensive feeling formula at a drugstore cost,” says Hughes. Thanks to an almost translucent finish, it looks effortless on skin, ideal for creating that no-makeup makeup look. Scibelli is also a fan: “This foundation blurs away pores and imperfections, and is very long-wearing,” he points out. Micro-powders help control shine, too, and the non-comedogenic formula won’t clog pores.
To buy: $8; maybelline.com.
Revlon Colorstay 2-in-1 Compact Makeup & Concealer
This comes in a complete range of shades (12, to be exact), including ones with deeper red, olive, and brown undertones, says Sotomayor. “Each compact comes with a concealer in a matching shade, so you always have the right combination,” he adds. Plus, the rich cream formula hides blemishes for even skin that looks super smooth.
To buy: $13; target.com.