The 8 Best Foundations for Every Skin Type, According to Our Testing

We really love the versatility of the Lancome Teint Idole Ultra Wear Foundation.

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Foundation evens out skin tone and helps cover up blemishes and dark spots. Finding the one that works best for you and your skin can be a long and exhaustive search, so, to help save you time, we tested more 32 liquid foundations in our Lab and evaluated them on feel, finish, and wear across all skin types. We also spoke to makeup artists Anabelle LaGuardia and Jonet Williamson, as well as Real Simple's Beauty & Fashion Editor, Hana Hong, to get further insight on how to match foundation to your skin, what foundations work best for which skin types, how best to apply foundation, and more.

Our top choice is the Lancome Teint Idole Ultra Wear Foundation. This product boasts a wonderful dewy and matte combo finish that is hard to find, plus it provides adequate coverage, feels comfortable, and lasts up to 24 hours.

Read on to learn more about which foundations made our list as well as more on how to choose the right foundation for your skin.

Our Top Picks

Best Overall Foundation: Lancome Teint Idole Ultra Wear Foundation

Foundations
sephora.com

Also available at Ulta and Nordstrom.

Who it's for: People looking for a full coverage foundation that's right in the middle of matte and dewy.

Who it isn't for: People with dry skin.

The Lancome Teint Idole Ultra Wear Foundation offers the best of both worlds with its unique finish. Our tester was delighted to discover that this product was "the perfect combination of matte and dewy," which is not an easy feat to pull off. This can be attributed to the foundation's natural matte finish, which gave our tester a nice glow all while providing her with full coverage as advertised. Plus, unlike some matte foundations, this Lancome product did not appear dry or feel cakey on our tester's skin, nor did it accentuate any fine lines or wrinkles.

The Lancome Teint Idole Ultra Wear Foundation comes in a whopping 50 shades, offering plenty of options for people with all types of undertones. It is made to last for 24 hours and is resistant to oxidation. This foundation is also oil-free, making it a great option for people with oily, normal, or combination skin (although people with dry skin might need something more moisturizing). It's more expensive than drugstore brands, but is priced just about average compared to similar foundations.

Product Details:

  • Coverage: Full
  • Finish: Matte
  • Skin Types: Oily, normal, combination
  • SPF: 15
  • Shades: 50

Best Drugstore Foundation: L'oreal Infallible Fresh Wear Foundation

Foundations
amazon.com

Also available at Target and Ulta.

Who it's for: People looking for a buildable foundation that resists transfer.

Who it isn't for: People looking for a foundation with a dewy finish.

Our testing revealed that the L'oreal Infallible Fresh Wear Foundation performed just as well, or in some cases better, than its pricier counterparts. One tester said it "feels very expensive for a drugstore foundation," adding that the product "went on like a dream" and "looks beautiful on the skin."

This foundation is advertised as buildable, offering medium to full coverage that should last up to 24 hours. While our tester found this product to have more of a light to medium coverage, she did agree that it was buildable, adding that it "does not get streaky" while building and that it "evens out my skin tone without looking cakey." In fact, our tester was so impressed with its buildable abilities that she would use this foundation specifically for special events.

The L'oreal Infallible Fresh Wear Foundation comes in 40 shades and is resistant to sweat and any kind of transfer that might happen with your makeup. It's also waterproof, non-comedogenic, and has an SPF of 25. It's suitable for all skin types, including those with acne-prone skin.

Product Details:

  • Coverage: Medium to full
  • Finish: Matte
  • Skin Types: All
  • SPF: 25
  • Shades: 40

Best Foundation for Dry Skin: La Mer Soft Fluid Long Wear Foundation

Foundations
sephora.com

Also available at Nordstrom.

Who it's for: People who want a lightweight foundation that will provide great coverage without drying out their skin.

Who it isn't for: People looking for a more affordable foundation..

Our tester said the moisturizing ingredients and "serum-like consistency" of this matte foundation are what make it a great option for people with dry skin. This silky foundation went on easily and smoothly, ensuring both a comfortable application and effective coverage over areas of redness on our tester's face. This product offers a medium coverage, and although it is advertised as having a natural finish, one of our testers found that it was closer to matte in style.

The La Mer Soft Liquid Long Wear Foundation comes in 27 shades, is designed to be buildable, and contains an SPF of 20. Both of our testers raved about this product, saying that it had "a beautiful feel and even finish" and that it stands out for how "smoothly it goes over dry patches." It's very pricey though—at nearly $100 more expensive than the average foundation price, this is a major luxury pick that might be best for special occasions.

Product Details:

  • Coverage: Medium
  • Finish: Natural
  • Skin Types: Normal, dry, combination, oily
  • SPF: 20
  • Shades: 27 shades

RELATED: The 11 Best Foundations for Dry Skin That Give You a Dewy Glow

Best Foundation for Oily Skin: NYX Born to Glow! Naturally Radiant Foundation

Foundations
amazon.com

Also available at Ulta and Target.

Who it's for: People looking for an affordable, vegan foundation that's great for oily skin.

Who it isn't for: People who have dry skin.

People with oily skin tend to stay away from products that contain oil, thinking that it will only increase oil production. However, the right type of oil can balance oil production and actually improve your skin's appearance. That's the case with the NYX Born to Glow! Naturally Radiant Foundation. This foundation contains jojoba oil, which is non-comedogenic and anti-inflammatory. Jojoba oil is very light and so similar to the skin's sebum that it doesn't trigger additional sebum production from your pores. So, if you have oily skin, you can safely apply this foundation without worrying that it will make your already oily skin even more oily or acne-prone.

This foundation from NYX provides medium coverage that is buildable depending on the look you're going for. It's suitable for all skin types, although one of our testers with dry skin found the finish to be more matte than dewy, which it's supposed to be. This product does stand out for being vegan, as it contains no animal-derived or animal byproduct ingredients, and comes in 45 shades.

Product Details:

  • Coverage: Medium
  • Finish: Dewy
  • Skin Types: All
  • SPF: None
  • Shades: 45

Best Full Coverage Foundation: Hourglass Vanish Seamless Finish Liquid Foundation

Foundations
sephora.com

Also available at Nordstrom.

Who it's for: People who need a full coverage foundation where a little goes a long way.

Who it isn't for: People who want a matte-style finish.

The Hourglass Vanish Seamless Finish Liquid Foundation manages to offer plenty of coverage without looking unnatural or feeling heavy on the face. It has a thicker-than-average texture, which may require some trial and error to get right since a little goes a long way. Our tester noted that her skin "looks healthy and dewy" while wearing this foundation, and that "it would be amazing for special events when I want to cover redness, acne, or other imperfections."

While our tester loved the way her skin looked while wearing this foundation, she did note that it takes more than half a pump to fully cover your face, which is what the brand recommends. This Hourglass liquid foundation comes in 32 shades and should work on most skin types, including normal, combination, and oily. It's also vegan and cruelty-free as well as water-, sweat-, and transfer-proof.

Product Details:

  • Coverage: Full
  • Finish: Natural
  • Skin Types: Normal, combination, and oily
  • SPF: None
  • Shades: 32

Best Lightweight Foundation: N°1 De Chanel Revitalizing Foundation

Foundations
ulta.com

Who it's for: People who want a lightweight foundation that can also cover up blemishes and provide a luminous finish.

Who it isn't for: People who want more shade options.

This Chanel product promises customers a buildable foundation that will leave your skin luminous—and according to our tests, it certainly lives up to its claims. Our tester loved this product so much that they could see themselves wearing it daily, saying "my skin looks so healthy and glowy in all the right places." They also found that it is indeed a buildable foundation that is "easy to layer" and not only successfully "evens out skin tone" but also "leaves the skin looking super smooth and hydrated." This hydration can be attributed to the product's use of glycerin, a common beauty ingredient that excels at moisturizing skin.

The N°1 De Chanel Revitalizing Foundation only comes in about 20 shades, which is far fewer than its competitors. Although this foundation provides medium coverage, our tester found it overall to be very lightweight, especially considering it was so effective at covering up facial imperfections. Not only that, but she found that while wearing this foundation, it didn't look like she was wearing any makeup.

Product Details:

  • Coverage: Light to medium
  • Finish: Dewy
  • Skin Types: All
  • SPF: None
  • Shades: 20

Best Foundation for Acne-Prone Skin: ILIA Super Serum Skin Tint

Foundations
amazon.com

Also available at Sephora and Dermstore.

Who it's for: People looking for an ultra lightweight foundation that contains a high SPF.

Who it isn't for: People looking for a more traditional foundation with fuller coverage.

People with acne-prone skin need a foundation that's non-comedogenic and made with non-irritating ingredients. The Ilia Super Serum Skin Tint is ideal for acne-prone people not only because it's oil-free, but also because it contains squalane, which is non-comedogenic, and hyaluronic acid, which helps reduce redness. What's more, our tester found that, despite its dewy-ness, it didn't make their skin look greasy or oily during wear. Instead, the tint imparted a "dewy, natural-looking glow that blends incredibly easily."

Overall, our tester "loved this formula" and confirmed that it is quite sheer, so if you're looking for something with fuller coverage, you'll want to try a different foundation. A huge bonus of this product is that unlike other foundations, this one is SPF 40. Considering you need at least SPF 30 for your face to get sun protection, you can forgo the sunscreen and use just this during fall and winter. Not only that, but it's fragrance-free and made without any potentially harmful ingredients .

Product Details:

  • Coverage: Light
  • Finish: Dewy
  • Skin Types: All
  • SPF: 40
  • Shades: 30

RELATED: ​​This Foundation That Doubles as Skincare Is My New Go-To

Best Matte Foundation: Chanel Ultra Le Teint Ultrawear Foundation

Foundations
ulta.com

Also available at Nordstrom.

Who it's for: People looking for a foundation with a classic matte look.

Who it isn't for: People with dry skin.

Those loyal to matte foundations should consider adding the Chanel Ultra Le Teint Ultrawear Foundation to their makeup routine. Although this product is advertised as having a soft matte finish, our tests repeatedly found this product to be more of a true matte. Our tester was pleased that despite how "very matte" it was, it caused minimal creasing along her fine lines, which is a common problem with matte foundations. It also boasts a solid medium to full coverage and is buildable.

The Chanel Ultra Le Teint Foundation comes in 35 shades and can last up to 24 hours. It's also oil-free, which became evident to our tester. Even though the product was lightweight and went on pretty smooth, it dried quickly and left our tester's face feeling slightly dry. As such, this won't be the ideal choice for people with dry skin.

Product Details:

  • Coverage: Full
  • Finish: Soft Matte
  • Skin Types: All
  • SPF: None
  • Shades: 35

Final Verdict

Overall, we recommend the Lancome Teint Idole Ultra Wear Foundation for its unique combination dewy and matte finish that's suitable for most skin types. We also liked that the partially matte finish didn't enhance our tester's fine lines or felt heavy after application, both of which are common matte foundation problems. This product comes in 50 shades and lasts up to 24 hours.

Our Testing Process

We tested 32 different foundations on multiple skin types over the course of several days. We first asked our testers to apply a patch of the foundation onto the back of their hands and rate how each felt and reacted to their skin. Then, we put the foundations through a transfer test to see whether or not it transferred onto a white T-shirt five minutes after application.

After that, we asked our testers to apply the foundation to a clean, moisturized face (primer-free), and see if the coverage and finish as advertised by the product was correct. Once applied, we asked them to wear it for the next eight hours, without any other makeup on, to see how well it held up over time. We used all of these factors to determine the best foundation.

Best foundations

How to Shop for Foundation

Coverage

There are three types of coverage in the foundation world: light, medium, and full. Which one is best for you depends on the look you're going for and what your skin type is. If you want a natural look and don't like the feel of heavy makeup on your skin, go with a foundation with light coverage. Medium coverage is best for people who want a greater level of coverage to even out their skin tone, while full coverage is best for people who want complete coverage over blemishes and dark spots. People with oily skin tend to reach for full coverage makeup, while those with dry or acne-prone skin should go with a lighter formula that won't clog pores or dry out the skin.

Finish

There are two major types of finishes to keep in mind: dewy and matte. Dewy foundation, as the name suggests, is best for people who want their foundation to give them a natural glow. While dewy foundations will make your skin shine, matte foundations are designed to minimize shine and are best for people looking for more coverage to even out skin tone or hide blemishes. While matte foundation is designed to lessen the appearance of oily skin, it can also make fine lines and wrinkles more noticeable if it's not moisturizing enough.

Williamson recommends considering your skin type as well before choosing a finish. "For dry skin, you'll typically want to shy away from matte finishes," she says. Meanwhile, "oily skin types should avoid foundations with oil or dewy finishes and those with normal or combination skin can go either way depending on preference."

SPF

Some foundations include SPF for greater sun protection, but it shouldn't be a replacement for regular sunscreen. Foundations usually go up to SPF 25, which isn't enough to protect your skin from the sun's rays. Generally, you need to be wearing at least SPF 30 on your face, even during the fall and winter. During the spring and summer, you should be wearing a higher SPF that is closer to 50. Getting a foundation with SPF will provide adequate sun protection when you pair it with a sunscreen that is SPF 30 or higher.

Best foundations
Real Simple / Tamara Staples

More Foundations to Consider

Flower Beauty Light Illusion Liquid Foundation: Although our tester found this to be a "nice summer foundation" with light coverage and a smooth, dewy finish, she didn't like the accompanying SPF smell or the fact that it creased under her eyes after application.

Nars Light Reflecting Advanced Skincare Foundation: This lightweight foundation performed well in our tests, although it has a bit of a watery texture that might not appeal to everyone.

Questions You Might Ask

How do you apply liquid foundation?

You can apply liquid foundation with your hand, brush, or with a sponge. According to LaGuardia, there is "no wrong or right way to apply a foundation." Rather, "it is a matter of understanding how each method will affect how your foundation looks."

Sponges like the Beautyblender are great for getting that "airbrushed" foundation look. To apply your foundation with a sponge, squeeze foundation onto the back of your hand, then use a damp (make sure all the water is squeezed out) sponge to absorb the product. After that, dab it onto your face.

Meanwhile, brushes are great for full coverage. To apply liquid foundation via brush, dab dots of the foundation on your face, then take your brush and dab it around until you build up the coverage of your preference. For this, LaGuardia likes to use two different brushes: a traditional flat foundation brush and a stippling foundation brush. "Your traditional flat foundation brush will give you more full and opaque coverage," she says. Meanwhile, "a stippling foundation brush is going to press the foundation into the skin while simultaneously buffing it out for a softer, more airbrushed finish."

For Williamson, she finds that water-based foundations are best applied by hand: "This adds a bit of grip to the foundation for added coverage before pressing onto the face." This is also a great application method for when you are in a rush. Before you start, make sure to wash your hands thoroughly. Then, apply dots of the product around your T-zone (forehead, nose, and chin) and spread all over your face.

Best foundations
Real Simple / Tamara Staples

How do you match your foundation?

With all the shades available, it can be tricky to find the exact shade that matches your skin. First, you need to start by figuring out your skin's undertone, which is what your skin looks like beneath the barrier. The trick is to look at your veins under your wrist as guidance. According to LaGuardia, "if your veins are green, you are warm-toned. If your veins are blue and purple, you are cool-toned. If your veins are blue-green, you are neutral."

Once you figure that out, deciding on the right foundation for you is truly a matter of trial and error. Both Williamson and LaGuardia agree that the biggest mistake people make with foundation is trying to match a shade by applying it to their hand instead of their jawline. "It should blend in seamlessly with your face or neck," says LaGuardia. She also is keen to note that if you are tan on your neck and body, but not as much on your face, then you should "use your neck to match a shade to your face. This would mean wearing a deeper shade of foundation to match your tan."

Another matching mistake Williamson commonly sees is people not waiting for the product to dry. "A lot of foundations will oxidize to a darker or warmer shade," she says. "Not waiting for the foundation to fully dry down prevents you from seeing the true shade." When experimenting with foundations, wear them for a few hours both indoors and out, as they can look different on your skin in different lighting. If you don't want to go through all of that, you can actually get your foundation matched online from various beauty websites. Many makeup brands also have services that help you match your foundation.

Does concealer go over or under foundation?

In most cases, you should apply your foundation before your concealer. Foundation is supposed to be the base of your makeup look and is meant to even out skin tone, while concealer is meant to spot and treat imperfections like blemishes. According to Real Simple's Beauty & Fashion Editor Hana Hong, applying your concealer before your foundation could result in the product not working as well as intended. "When you apply concealer first, it often results in moving the concealer off of the area you originally intended to apply your coverage to," she says. "This means that if you're trying to hide blemishes, it will be much harder to achieve that high coverage result, and you might wind up having to apply concealer after foundation on those spots anyway."

Take Our Word for It

This article was written by Rachel Center, a product reviews home writer for Real Simple. To compile this list, we tested 32 foundations in our Lab and evaluated each foundation on its ease of application, whether or not it transferred onto clothing, the quality of the finish and coverage, and whether or not it held up over the course of a regular, eight-hour day. We also spoke to makeup artists Anabelle LaGuardia and Jonet Williamson, as well as Real Simple's Beauty & Fashion Editor, Hana Hong, for further insight on matching and applying foundation.

What is Real Simple Selects?

Next to each product on this list, you may have noticed a Real Simple Selects seal of approval. Any product appearing alongside that seal has been vetted by our team—put through tests and graded on its performance to earn a spot on our list. Although we buy most of the products we test, sometimes we do get samples from companies if purchasing a product ourselves isn't an option. If that's the case, we test the product just like we test anything we buy, but we also disclose that we received it for free to be as transparent with you as possible.

Love our recommendations? Check out more products that have earned the Real Simple Selects, from humidifiers to cordless vacuums.

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