Best foundation 2021: 20 formulas for perfect coverage and every skin type

best-foundation-2021:-20-formulas-for-perfect-coverage-and-every-skin-type

Finding the best foundation is the first step to really perfecting your make-up routine.

Applying it should be a pleasure and wearing it should be a joy. It should enhance the way your skin looks and feels. And it should conceal the bits you want hidden, smooth out any imperfections and create the perfect canvas for the rest of your look.

How to find your best match

There are so many things to consider when looking for your foundation. The finish – do you want one that’s glowy or matte? What about coverage – do you prefer a full-coverage formula or something a little more sheer?

And that’s before we’ve even got on to your skin type. The best foundation for dry skin is nourishing and dewy, whilst targeted non-comedogenic formulas make the best foundation for oily skin. And if you’re slightly greasy on the t-zone, but dry on your cheeks, you’ll want the best foundation for combination skin. If skin pigmentation is your biggest worry, a buildable full coverage foundation is essential.

We also recommend looking beyond just one foundation. Our skin changes throughout the year, as do our personal priorities. So consider buying two foundations to keep in your kit. A lighter, richer formula would probably suit you better in winter. And come summer, when it’s warmer and your skin tone has got a little deeper, opt for a darker shade with a more lightweight texture.

Should you apply foundation or concealer first?

It’s the great, age-old beauty debate – to pre-conceal, or not to pre-conceal. While there’s no right answer and it’s all down to personal preference, many make-up artists advocate for applying concealer after foundation.

Why? Because once you’ve given yourself a gorgeous base, it’s much easier to determine which areas need the additional coverage of your best concealer, and how much product you need to use on said areas.

It’s also possible that by applying foundation over concealer, you’re wiping off lots of the good work you’ve just done, not to mention wasting product. Plus, your foundation should be doing most of the hard work for you anyway – so think of concealer as an added flourish.

How to make your foundation last

For foundation that lasts all day, we recommend using the best primer before your base. Alternatively, there are some really brilliant make-up setting sprays out there that you would use as your very last step that help with longevity.

However, if we can offer one piece of advice it’s that the key to really good make-up lies in a brilliant skincare routine. If you want your foundation to look its best and last as long as possible, then applying it to a well hydrated, healthy and smooth complexion is the way to do it.

Ensuring that you are exfoliating and getting rid of the build up of dead skin cells will stop foundation gathering into flaky patches. Using the right serums and toners for your skin type will ensure that your skin is in the best possible condition, and foundation will glide on perfectly and stay there.

Foundation and SPF

Just because your foundation says it contains SPF, that doesn’t mean you should be skipping your best facial sunscreen step. The amount in the foundation formula isn’t enough and we definitely don’t apply enough foundation to provide the adequate protection.

Plus, SPF only protects from UVB rays and not UVA. Just to recap UVB rays burn the skin and UVA rays cause skin ageing and cancer.

With all that in mind, let us help you find your perfect match.

NARS Sheer Glow Foundation - best foundation

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bareMinerals Original Loose Mineral Foundation - best foundation

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Best foundation for oily skin


If you struggle with oiliness, combat shine with mattifying foundations that work to absorb excess oil. Powder foundations, like bareMinerals’ Original formula, are a particularly effective choice. It may be worth looking for oil-free foundations so as not to exacerbate oiliness, but the key is a formula that’s ‘non-comedogenic’, or non pore-clogging. This number is surprisingly glowy for a powder foundation and only has five ingredients, so it’s a pretty clean formula.


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Estee Lauder Double Wear - best foundation

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Best foundation for full coverage


A strong contender for the world’s most famous formula, Estée Lauder’s Double Wear is renowned for its excellent coverage and longevity, as well as offering a broad range of 54 shades. It’s a fairly thick formula, but that’s definitely not a bad thing – it doesn’t feel heavy or go cakey on skin, and its staying power lasts for hours.


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Charlotte Tilbury Magic Foundation - best foundation

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Best foundation for mature skin


Ever the perfectionist, Charlotte Tilbury spent a mammoth five years perfecting her magic formula so that it catered for every skin type out there. It’s an adaptable, one-size-fits-all foundation, hence the name ‘Magic’. What makes it so good for maturer skins is its collagen-boosting properties, which help to plump and even out the skin, mushroom extract to tighten vitamin C and hyaluronic spheres to help reduce the appearance of wrinkles.


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Bobbi Brown Skin Foundation Stick - best foundation

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Best foundation for combination skin 


The iconic Skin Foundation Stick launched almost 30 ago in 1992 and since then it’s gone on to become one of the best-selling foundations on the market. The reason it’s so good for combination skin in particular is that it can adapt to your skin’s needs, with oil-absorbing minerals for shiny days and hydrating properties for when your skin is more on the dry side.


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Giorgio Armani Luminous Silk Foundation - best foundation

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Best foundation for glowy skin


We guarantee as soon as you try this foundation, you’ll fall head over heels in love with it. It’s so lightweight, that you’re able to see your skin’s natural texture and appearance, but it can be built up if you want more coverage. With famous fans including the likes of Meghan Markle and Kim Kardashian, it’s such a beautiful formulation that Armani rarely touch it. The expression ‘If it ain’t broke’ comes to mind…


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Fenty Beauty Pro Filt'r Soft Matte Longwear Foundation - best foundation

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Best foundation for oily skin


Rhianna almost broke the internet when she released her eponymous make-up line – and boy, did it live up to the hype. You’ll find many of the brilliant products in Team MC’s make-up bags. The Pro Filt-r foundation spans an impressive range of 50 shades, with great options for darker skin tones, and its fluid formula with a soft matte finish caters to the foundation tastes of modern women everywhere. Ri-Ri, we take our hats off to you.


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Make-up Forever Ultra HD Foundation - best foundation

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Best foundation for pale skin


Known as one of the go-to foundations for professional make-up artists who make up faces for TV cameras, this foundation is the ultimate complexion perfector with a number of great shades for fairer complexions. It’s got a medium but buildable coverage and light-reflecting properties, making it the ultimate in creating a flawless base, whatever the occasion.


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Huda Beauty Easy Bake Loose Powder - best foundation

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Powder foundations are an excellent choice of formula, and the baking powders from Huda Kattan’s eponymous line are an even bigger treat. Pigment-rich with an airbrushed finish on the skin, the dense formula controls shine throughout the day while keeping your make-up in place – whether you’re into the baking method or not. Plus, they offer no flashback in photographs, meaning you’re camera ready at all times. Genius.


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YSL Touche Éclat Le Teint Foundation - best foundation

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Best foundation for glowy skin


We all love the brand’s iconic Touche Éclat highlighter and the foundation is just as epic. It’s a medium, breathable coverage that promotes healthy glow. So if you’re after a formula that make you look more radiant – hello!


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Clinique Beyond Perfecting 2-in-1 Foundation & Concealer - best foundation

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Best foundation for full coverage


Even though this is a lightweight formula, it actually delivers a full coverage. It’s perfect for those of you who have blemishes you want to hide or discolouration you want to mask. The applicator is also completely genius as it gives you total control. It’s oil-free, so perfect if you have oily skin.


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Mac Studio Radiance Face and Body Radiant Sheer Foundation - best foundation

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Best foundation for sheer coverage


Make-up artists around the world have loved this foundation for years. If you want ‘your skin, but oh-so much better’ then this sheer, radiant and buildable base is perfect. It’s waterproof too, so a really good option for holidays.


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Kevyn Aucoin Foundation Balm - best foundation

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Best foundation for sheer coverage


A very different type of formula this one. Kevyn Aucoin’s Foundation Balm is one for when you’re happy with how your skin looks, but it needs a little something. It melts into the skin and blends so well that it mimics the look of skin.


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Chantecaille Future Skin Foundation - best foundation

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Best foundation for long-wear


OK bare with us on the price. Yes it’s a lot for a foundation, but it lasts forever. You need very little for a full face and it’s super longwearing, which makes it a great option for brides on their wedding days.


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Chanel Les Beiges Foundation Healthy Glow Foundation - best foundation

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Best foundation for glowy skin


This is heaven in a bottle. It blends beautifully into your skin and you can’t even feel it once it’s on. It doesn’t have a matte finish, but more of a silky look that means your natural glow shines through.


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Shiseido Synchro Self Refreshing Foundation - best foundation

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Best foundation for mature skin


What Shiseido does best is combine all of its extensive skincare R&D and apply it to its make-up. This foundation is humidity, oil and heat-proof. It also doesn’t crease or crack. It’s a medium coverage formula that gives a natural finish. It’s non-comedogenic and oil-free, but works beautifully on all skin types, especially mature skin.


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Oxygenetix Oxygenating Breathable Foundation - best foundation

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Best foundation for acne-prone skin


If you suffer from eczema, psoriasis, acne or rosacea then you will look this breathable base. When you have a skin condition, the last thing you want to do is aggravate it further with the wrong formula. This conceals, whilst delivering oxygen to skin cells, critical for promoting healthy skin.


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Pat McGrath Labs Sublime Perfection Foundation - best foundation

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Best foundation for mature skin


A beautiful formula that’s ideal for older skin, as it’s super hydrating and blurs away imperfections. The shade range is extensive too.


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Il Makiage Woke Up Like This: Foundation Makeup - best foundation

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Best foundation for all skin types


Il Makiage has made shopping for a foundation online incredibly easy, thanks to its beyond-accurate shade matching tool. So precise it won’t look like you are wearing anything on your skin. That’s also because the formula has corrective powders inside that camouflage any bits you don’t want seen.


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L'Oréal Paris Infallible Total Cover Foundation - best foundation

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Best foundation for full coverage


Super full coverage with a flawless, slightly powdery finish, this bargain buy will blur pores, cover blemishes and even out your skin tone to perfection. And all that for under a tenner!


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Dior Forever Skin Glow Foundation - best foundation

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Best foundation for sheer coverage


Even though this is a foundation, it boosts skin’s moisture levels more like a tinted moisturiser. Skin looks radiant, healthy and lit from within.


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