Top makeup artists have access to the world’s most luxe foundations: La Mer, Clé de Peau, Tom Ford, Armani—you name it; they’ve used it. So given makeup artists’ experience and authority, we decided to present them with a challenge: If they could only use drugstore foundations, which ones would they pick? We figured this would be the perfect question for celebrity makeup artists, because if a drugstore foundation impresses them, you know it’s good.
As it turned out, though, naming the best drugstore foundation didn’t end up being a challenge for them after all. We asked a handful of the industry’s most in-demand makeup artists to share their all-time-favorite drugstore foundation, and they all had clear answers at the ready. There were some clear standout brands (we’re looking at you, Maybelline!) along with a few must-know application tricks. To find out celebrity makeup artists’ favorite drugstore foundations, keep scrolling.
The Makeup Artist: Aidan Keogh
Clients: Kendall Jenner and Jasmine Sanders
“I love the coverage this delivers, and it has built-in SPF for protection. A little goes a long way, so use it sparingly! I tend to use this when I need a sheer coat of coverage. I like to add some luster with illuminator to give an extra punch of glow to the skin’s appearance.”
The Makeup Artist: Daniel Martin
Clients: Jessica Alba and Nina Dobrev
“I love this stuff because it’s quite buildable—it’s practically concealer and foundation built in one. Great for full coverage or touch-ups, it can be used anywhere, anytime with either brushes or fingertips. It’s definitely one of the best drugstore foundations out there.”
The Makeup Artist: Min Min Ma, Honey Artists
Clients: Troian Bellisario and Debra Messing
“Rimmel BB cream is a good all-in-one SPF, face lotion, and foundation for those busy ladies always on the go. I like how lightweight and natural-looking it is. I also recommend clients having two shades of foundation for when the skin is less or more tanned depending on the season.”
Clients: Nina Dobrev, Julianne Hough, and Kristin Cavallari
“This drugstore foundation is one of the best because it goes on so smoothly and feels sheer while giving excellent coverage. The formula is really quite amazing and wears very well with minimal touch-ups. It also photographs flawlessly, and my celebrity clients have been asking what this new magic foundation I have been using is. I recommend grabbing a couple shades—one that’s a great match and one a shade darker; that way you can subtly contour your face with the deeper tone and also have something for the summer months when your skin picks up a little more color.”
The Makeup Artist: Daniela Gozlan, Honey Artists
Clients: Izabel Goulart and Erin Andrews
“I love it because it covers all imperfections (e.g., scarring, melasma, blemishes) by using a small quantity, yet it leaves the skin looking flawless and radiant. A little goes a long, long, long way! It’s suitable to all skin types, especially sensitive, and it’s long lasting. It’s hypoallergenic, free of parabens, and extremely easy for travel. And have I mentioned it’s got SPF 30?”
The Makeup Artist: Azra Red, Honey Artists
Clients: Alanna Arrington and Cindy Bruna
“It evens out the skin and gives a subtle glow. It’s also perfect for summer days; it’s light and has SPF 15.”
The Makeup Artist: Julie Harris
Clients: Allison Williams, Ashley Greene, Kate Hudson
“I love the consistency and color choices of Revlon Nearly Naked Foundation. I was sent the product when I worked with Olivia Wilde, so I applied it on myself first and realized I liked how natural it looked on the skin. It has light to medium coverage with a satin finish to give the skin a luminous, flawless look without feeling heavy. I like to apply it with a damp Beautyblender for light coverage that doesn’t look cakey.”
The Makeup Artist: Sage Maitri
Her Clients: Judy Greer, Jessica Capshaw, Melissa Fumero
“My favorite foundation from the drugstore is Maybelline Fit Me Dewy + Smooth. It’s one of the best by far. I discovered this after forgetting to pack my personal makeup bag on a trip. I always look for formulations that are labeled dewy and hydrating. This is actually oil-free and has buildable coverage. When doing my own makeup, I prefer to use my fingers to warm up the product and pat into the skin. My other go-to application is with a dampened Beautyblender.”
The Makeup Artist: Kelly Hunt
Her Clients: Lizzy Caplan, Amber Valletta, Sofia Richie, Danika Yarosh
“My all-time-favorite drugstore foundation is the L’Oréal True Match. I discovered it way back when I was in college and had a bad breakout from stressing over all those midterm papers. Now I use it on clients whenever I need a product with great coverage that doesn’t get cakey. True Match is not only a buildable foundation; it's also oil-free, which is great for anyone with trouble-prone skin. It leaves a nice, even, airy finish comparable to more costly foundations, and it's got great wear for clients headed to events.
For the best finish and coverage manageability, I use a damp sponge.”
The Makeup Artist: Denika Bedrossian
Her Clients: Kelly Osbourne, Kiesza, Matt and Kim, Kelly Cutrone, Kelis
“A personal favorite of mine is Revlon ColorStay Foundation. This magical foundation has incredible long wear and offers buildable coverage. Its oil-control components help with shine, and it sets matte to the skin. I’m constantly searching for and trying new things. As an artist, you never know what will surprise you and be incredible. I actually tried this after seeing so many commercials and finally decided to go out a buy a few shades. Hooked ever since! Drugstores provide such a large range of beauty items for reasonable prices.
Who doesn’t love a good deal—especially for something you love to use? Because our skin tone changes through seasons, it’s nice to use something affordable so you can change shades as often as you need. I love to apply foundation with a fluffy brush, preferably a kabuki-style brush. This allows the product to blend and buff into the skin rather than it sitting on the surface. I like to finish it with a soft stipple using a blending sponge.”
The Makeup Artist: Kirin Bhatty
Her Clients: Jessica Paré, Alessandra Ambrosio, Abigail Spencer
“I love CoverGirl TruBlend Liquid Makeup because the coverage is sheer but buildable if you need a little extra coverage. The finish is luminous, which is what I strive for every time I work. Also, there are lots of shades to choose from, and you can mix shades too!”
The Makeup Artist: Joy Fennell
Her Clients: Runway and editorial for Oscar de la Renta, Michael Kors, Marc Jacobs, Vera Wang, and Carolina Herrera
“My favorite drugstore foundation is Maybelline’s BB cream. I joined Maybelline's New York Fashion Week team a few seasons ago and was introduced to this product then. Once I started using this product backstage on the models, I fell in love with it. Now I use it on a lot of my shoots and clients, and everyone is surprised how much they end up loving it. It’s such a no-fuss product. Once it goes on, you don’t have to worry about it for the entire day. I’ve used it on several Self shoots where the models are running and jumping in 90-degree weather, and this product did not move an inch.
The number one way I like to apply it is with my fingers. It goes on really smooth and blends easily under the eye area. I also like to apply with a damp Beautyblender if I want a little bit more coverage. The Beautyblender helps the product build on top of itself easily.”
The Makeup Artist: Amber Dreadon
Her Clients: Jaime King, Lorde, Haim, Florence Welch
“I discovered how great this foundation is when I worked on a couple of shows with Maybelline this season at New York Fashion Week. The shade selection is so great. It just looks like great skin. It’s lightly matte, so it wears really well during the day. I like to use a damp Beautyblender and lightly build the coverage starting through the center of the face and working outward. I also love using a couple of shades darker across the cheeks for a natural tanned effect, also applied with a Beautyblender.”
Makeup Artist: Robert Sesnek
Clients: Chrissy Teigen, Kate Upton, Kiernan Shipka
“I love Revlon ColorStay Whipped Creme foundation. I needed a buildable cream foundation for a client who required a little more coverage, but my cream foundation of choice was not available in her shade. I gave this a try, and everyone was blown away by the results! Since this is medium to heavy coverage, I always start with a damp Beautyblender and sheer it out; then build as we need if areas require more coverage.”
Next up: I tested 15 sweatproof foundations in the L.A. heat, and these were the best.
This post was originally published at an earlier date and has since been updated.