The Best Cream Foundations That Blend Seamlessly Into Skin

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In our humble opinion, cream foundations don’t often get the love they deserve. But the benefits of this rich texture are plentiful. “Cream foundations are super versatile. You can easily build them up for full coverage, or blend them out for a barely-there, second-skin finish,” explains celebrity makeup artist Lynn Simpson. And, per the name, it should come as no surprise that this formula is innate, well, creamier, filled with more hydrating ingredients than its liquid or powder counterparts. It’s why cream foundations are so great for those with drier skin, says Simpson, who adds that they also marry beautifully with cream blushes and bronzers, all seamlessly melting into the skin.

The other upshot? Creams are ideal for travel since there’s no need to worry about the spills that can come with a liquid or the cracks that can come with a powder. If you'd like to try a cream foundation, a stick form will be easiest to work with. You'll have a variety of finishes to choose from, from matte to glowing, as well as coverage strength.

Ahead, our favorite cream foundations.

Best Overall: Milk Makeup Flex Foundation Stick

4.9
Milk Makeup Flex Foundation Stick
What We Like
  • Glides on

  • Melts into skin

  • Wide shade range

What We Don't Like
  • Not ideal for acne-prone skin

Who else recommends it? Glamour, Allure, and Cosmopolitan all picked the Milk Makeup Flex Foundation Stick.

This earns top place in our book, thanks in part to its super creamy consistency that glides seamlessly onto skin. Once on your complexion, it melts in beautifully, never caking or creasing (credit the addition of marshmallow root extract). Free of many common irritants, it’s also infused with soothing chamomile and moisturizing blue lotus and touts the perfect level of medium coverage. There’s a nice line-up of 36 shades, which Simpson, who’s a fan, likes to use not only as a base but also for highlighting and contouring.

Coverage: Medium | Shade Range: 34 | Finish: Natural | Size: 0.4 oz. | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No

Best Stick: Bobbi Brown Skin Foundation Stick

4
Bobbi Brown Skin Foundation Stick

Sephora

What We Like
  • Extremely lightweight

  • Natural, skin-like finish

  • Easy to apply and blend

What We Don't Like
  • May accentuate texture

A true OG, both when it comes to cream foundations and foundations in general, this was designed to truly enhance your skin, rather than cover it up. Powder foundation fans will appreciate that it actually contains light-diffusing powders and oil-controlling ingredients in the creamy base, ensuring the final finish is perfect and indeed, totally skin-like.

Coverage: Medium | Shade Range: 29 | Finish: Natural | Size: 0.3 oz. | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: Yes

bobbi brown skin foundation stick

 Byrdie / Khera Alexander

What Our Testers Say

"This is the type of foundation I love: one that is hassle-free, melts into my skin, has a beautiful finish, and makes my makeup look like I spent a lot of time working on it even when I didn’t." — Khera Alexander, Product Tester

Best Drugstore: Honest Beauty Everything Cream Foundation

Everything Cream Foundation

 Courtesy of Honest Beauty 

What We Like
  • Has a satiny, semi-matte finish

  • Buildable without caking

  • Creamy texture

What We Don't Like
  • Limited shade range

For whatever unknown reason, there aren’t a ton of cream foundations to be found at the drugstore (here’s hoping), making this standout all the more noteworthy. The coverage is buildable, though definitely skews more towards the medium-to-full end of the spectrum; the finish is satiny, a demi-matte texture that tamps down unwanted shine but doesn’t mask your skin’s natural radiance.

Coverage: Medium to full | Shade Range: 4 | Finish: Demi-matte | Size: 0.3 oz. | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Best Radiant Finish: Chanel Sublimage Le Tint

Chanel Sublimage Le Tint
What We Like
  • Feels light on the skin

  • Buildable without caking

  • Gives skin a glow

  • Includes a high-quality brush

What We Don't Like
  • Expensive

On days when you want to ever so slightly enhance your complexion and simply make it look crazy healthy and glowy, reach for this splurge-worthy pick. “I love that this super luxurious foundation feels like a rich moisturizer, yet still evens out skin tone and creates a perfectly radiant finish,” says Simpson. Despite how thick it looks in the jar, it feels completely featherweight, and also comes with a brush included.

Coverage: Light to medium | Shade Range: 10 | Finish: Luminous | Size: 1 oz. | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No

Best Matte Finish: Tarte Clay Stick Foundation

Tarte Clay Stick Foundation

Courtesy of Ulta

What We Like
  • Works for multiple skin types

  • Long-wearing

  • Contains antioxidants

What We Don't Like
  • Limited shade range

While cream foundations may be more often appropriate for those with drier skin, this particular one can work even for those with more oily to combination complexions. The unique formula works to either hydrate or mattify, depending on your skin’s needs, though always leaves behind a beautiful matte finish. Plus, it also has a long-lasting wear time, points out Simpson, who is a fan.

Coverage: Medium | Shade Range: 7 | Finish: Matte | Size: 0.3 oz. | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No

Best Multi-Tasker: Kevyn Aucoin The Sensual Skin Enhancer

4.7
Kevyn Aucoin The Sensual Skin Enhancer

Kevyn Aucoin

What We Like
  • Smallest amount of product provides intense coverage

  • Easy to use and blend

  • Product lasts a long time

What We Don't Like
  • Scent may be off-putting to some

There’s really no shortage of ways to use this highly versatile formula. A tiny dab straight out of the jar works as a concealer since the pigments are super opaque and pack a lot of coverage. Similarly use a lighter shade as a highlighter, or, for foundation purposes, apply it on its own or even mixed with a touch of moisturizer to create a gorgeously dewy effect. Either way, just keep in mind that it’s very concentrated, so a little goes a long way.

Coverage: Medium | Shade Range: 2 | Finish: Dewy | Size: 0.6 oz. | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No

What Our Testers Say

"Its radiant finish, lightweight feel, and smooth texture gives me the natural look I’m after without compromising the coverage I want." — Khera Alexander, Product Tester

Best Full-Coverage: Hourglass Cosmetics Vanish Seamless Finish Foundation Stick

4.8
Hourglass Vanish Seamless Finish Foundation Stick

Nordstrom

What We Like
  • A little goes a long way

  • Can be sheered out

  • Wide shade range

What We Don't Like
  • A little expensive

We try new foundations on the regular, but this staple holds a permanent spot in our makeup bag. It packs long-wearing, concentrated coverage with just one swipe—so much so that we often use it instead of concealer. Still, if you need a little less pigment, it can be sheered out with a damp beauty blender sponge. Bonus points for the unique triangular tip, that makes application in even hard-to-reach spots a breeze.

Coverage: Full | Shade Range: 32 | Finish: Natural | Size: 0.3 oz. | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No

Best Clean: Kjaer Weis Cream Foundation

Kjaer Weis Cream Foundation

 Dermstore

What We Like
  • Creamy, emollient texture

  • Dries down matte

  • Unique packaging

What We Don't Like
  • Expensive

This is an amazing formula, even more so given that it’s coming from a clean beauty brand, says Simpson. “It has natural coverage with a semi-matte finish, and is easily applied and blended with either your hands or a foundation brush,” she adds. And, to the point of clean, it’s free from over 2,700 potentially questionable ingredients, and loaded with natural goodies instead, like the coconut, sweet almond, and jojoba oils that make up the formula’s base.

Coverage: Medium | Shade Range: 16 | Finish: Semi-matte | Size: 0.3 oz. | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Best for Dark Skin Tones: BLK/OPL True Color Skin Perfecting Stick Foundation SPF 15

Black Opal True Color Skin Perfecting Foundation Stick

Walmart

What We Like
  • Blends into skin seamlessly

  • Soft, velvety finish

  • Good value

  • SPF 15

What We Don't Like
  • Not ideal for acne-prone skin

The 21 shades of this creamy stick are all geared towards darker and deeper skin tones, and tout a unique Shade ID technology that helps the pigments perfectly adjust to your particular complexion, further upping the imperfection hiding abilities. We appreciate the velvety finish and the fact that there’s not only sunscreen in the mix but also protective antioxidants as well.

Coverage: Full | Shade Range: 21 | Finish: Natural | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No

Best for Light Skin Tones: Cle de Peau Beauté Radiant Cream Foundation SPF 24

Cle de Peau Beauté Radiant Cream Foundation SPF 24
What We Like
  • Not chalky

  • Gives skin a glow

  • Easy to use and blend

  • SPF 24

What We Don't Like
  • Expensive

‘Full coverage’ and ‘radiance’ don’t always go hand-in-hand when you’re talking about foundations, but this does in fact check both boxes. It covers any and every imperfection, without ever looking cakey or flat, instead of leaving your complexion with that coveted, lit-from-within effect. There are only 12 shades available, though they’re great for those with paler skin, as the lighter hues have a variety of undertones.

Coverage: Medium to full | Shade Range: 4 | Finish: Luminous | Size: 0.7 oz. | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No

Best for Dry Skin: Kevyn Aucoin Beauty Foundation Balm

3.5
Kevyn Aucoin Foundation Balm

Sephora

What We Like
  • Hydrating, nourishing formula

  • Feels light on the skin

  • Easy to use and blend

What We Don't Like
  • Not ideal for acne-prone skin

Byrdie Editor Holly Rhue is just one of many devoted users of this ultra-hydrating pick, packed with moisturizing ingredients you’re more likely to find in skincare than in makeup, think hyaluronic acid, vitamin E, and avocado oil. Still, despite the creaminess, it feels surprisingly silky and light when applied. (To that point, it’s best applied using a foundation brush.)

Coverage: Full | Shade Range: 20 | Finish: Natural | Size: 0.6 oz. | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Best Long-Wearing: AJ Crimson AJC Dual Skin

AJ Crimson AJC Dual Skin

AJ Crimson

What We Like
  • Water-resistant

  • Buildable without caking

  • Provides full, even coverage

What We Don't Like
  • Shade range could be expanded

Set this with the brand’s accompanying powder and you’ll score a whopping 18 hours of wear-time. The base is water-resistant, too, and has buildable coverage that can even be used to hide tattoos. Creamy but never greasy, it works for all skin types, though, FYI, it is best applied with a brush.

Coverage: Full | Shade Range: 9 | Finish: Matte | Size: 0.2 oz. | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No

What to Look For In a Cream Foundation

The Finish

It’s a misconception that all creams have a luminous finish. There are satin and matte options out there too, so consider the final look you’re trying to achieve. Dewy foundations help skin look more hydrated, while matte ones eliminate shine.

The Coverage

The previous sentiment applies here as well. While creams may look thicker and heavier, that doesn’t mean there aren’t many that offer sheer coverage. And, to that point, the innate consistency of a cream foundation means it can easily be sheered out based on your application technique.

A Stick

When in doubt, opt for a cream foundation in a stick. They’re easy to work with, says Simpson, and, unlike those that come in a jar, tube, or compact, tend to be easily applied and blended with your fingertips, no brush or tools required. 

FAQ
  • Are cream foundations better than liquid?

    Cream foundations are an excellent choice for some people. For example, Brandy Allen, professional makeup artist and diversity consultant, tells Byrdie that "for clients who previously had acne scarring or matured skin, cream fills in the surface and creates a doll-like finish." 

  • Should I use stick or liquid foundation?

    The choice is individual, but there are many merits to cream foundation, no matter what your skin type. Allen notes, "Although it can be a bit more dewy for oily skin, cream foundations can be paired with a shine control primer, an oil controlled moisturizer, blotted with a powder and sealed with a setting spray." 

  • What are the effects of stick foundation?

    Cream foundations in stick form tend to offer the option of heavier coverage. beauty expert Emily Algar notes that "not only do they function as a straight-up coverage product, but they can do double duty as a concealer or a contouring product."

  • What brush do you use for cream foundation?

    You have options when it comes to using a brush to apply cream foundation. Byrdie writers suggest that "a flat foundation brush...is classic for applying liquid or cream formulas, but if you're looking for something that'll give you more coverage, go for a a dense brush that has synthetic bristles."

Meet the Expert

Lynn Simpson is a Southern California-based celebrity makeup artist, known for her work on celebs including Jessica and Ashle Simpson. She’s also the owner of Delilah Beauty. owner of Delilah Beauty. 

How We Researched & Tested

To compile this list, our team of editors and contributors spent hours researching the best products on the market in this category, evaluating their key features—like ingredients, shade range, or design—in addition to reviews from customers and other trusted sources. Our team also incorporated their own personal experiences testing products in their own lives. We then used these insights from our research and testing to assign a star rating from one to five (five being the best; one being the worst) to certain products on the list.

Article Sources
Byrdie takes every opportunity to use high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial guidelines to learn more about how we keep our content accurate, reliable and trustworthy.
  1. The 12 Best Foundation Sticks, According to Makeup Artists. Glamour. https://www.glamour.com/gallery/best-foundation-sticks

  2. The Best Stick Foundations That Makeup Artists Always Keep in Their Kits. Allure. https://www.allure.com/gallery/best-foundation-sticks

  3. 11 of the best foundation sticks — according to our Beauty Editors. Cosmopolitan. https://www.cosmopolitan.com/uk/beauty-hair/g28495859/best-foundation-stick/

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