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Few things bring us greater joy in life than a ride-or-die drugstore product, bonus points if it’s a foundation. As one of the hardest makeup items to nail down, it’s one thing to find a base product you love—let alone one that doesn’t put a serious dent in your wallet. But amazing drugstore foundations are out there, you just need to know where to look.
According to makeup artist Jasmin Lo, a good benchmark is something that “blends easily, looks natural, and wears well through the day without looking heavy.” Whether your skin is oily or dry will dictate a few things, but we’ve done the leg work in curating the best for all complexions and listed them out below for your shopping pleasure.
Keep scrolling for the best drugstore foundations.
Best Overall: L'Oréal Paris True Match Super Blendable Makeup
This formula is the GOAT, and for good reason. With its natural satin finish, medium level of coverage, and very attractive price point, it does everything a foundation should without costing a bomb. It’s also oil and fragrance-free, making it a safe option for most sensitive skin types.
Coverage: Medium buildable | Shade Range: 45 shades | Finish: Natural satin finish | Size: 1.0 fluid ounce | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: No
Best for Dry Skin: L’Oréal Paris Infallible 24HR Fresh Wear Foundation SPF 25
It’s not easy to find a long-wearing, fuller coverage foundation that doesn’t dry out the skin, but L’Oreal has managed to do just that. Infallible Fresh Wear lasts all day long without excess shine (thanks to oil-absorbing spheres), doesn’t transfer but still feels light and flexible.
Coverage: Medium to full coverage | Shade Range: 40 shades | Finish: Satin finish | Size: 1.0 ounce | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: No
"This isn't just my favorite drugstore foundation—it's my favorite foundation, period. I have yet to find a foundation that can match this one in terms of how well it covers blemishes and how light it feels." — Eden Stuart, Editor
Best for Acne: Neutrogena SkinClearing Liquid Makeup
Foundation is one thing, but a foundation for acne-prone skin is a whole other kettle of fish. But thankfully, Neutrogena has gifted our complexions with this formula designed not only to conceal blemishes but to treat them as well. Not only is it oil-free, but the formula also contains salicylic acid, aloe vera, and retinyl palmitate.
Coverage: Medium | Shade Range: 14 shades | Finish: Matte to natural | Size: 1.0 ounce | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: No
Best for Mature Skin: Maybelline New York Instant Age Rewind Radiant Firming Makeup
Thicker foundation formulas can settle in fine lines and wrinkles, but Maybelline’s Age Rewind has a radiant finish that looks fresh all day long. There’s also caffeine and goji berry in there to subtly firm and even out the skin.
Coverage: Medium | Shade Range: 8 shades | Finish: Luminous but natural | Size: 1.0 ounce | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: No
Best for Dark Skin: Black Opal True Color Mineral Matte Crème Powder Foundation SPF 15
Silky smooth and surprisingly lightweight, this cream to powder formula glides over the skin and has a nice matte finish. It wears well, and the colors are specifically designed with POC in mind—so there are no greyish, ashy undertones. Wear it alone, or set your liquid foundation.
Coverage: Full coverage | Shade Range: 12 | Finish: Matte | Size: 0.3 ounces | Byrdie Clean: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes
Best Stick: Iman Cosmetics Second To None Stick Foundation
This oil-free stick makes the cut for its full coverage and versatility. Because it’s creamy and pigmented, it can be used as a spot concealer or all over the face for full but fresh coverage. The fact it can’t spill through our bag is also a huge plus.
Coverage: Full but buildable | Shade Range: 14 shades | Finish: A soft matte | Size: 0.32 ounces | Byrdie Clean: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes
Apply foundation and blend downward in the direction of your hair growth for a more even texture.
Best for Olive Skin: Maybelline Fit Me Dewy + Smooth Foundation
If you prefer lightweight, radiant coverage products, Maybelline’s Dewy and Smooth iteration of the iconic Fit Me fragrance foundation is the one for you. It’s fresh and luminous but not overly greasy for a natural, healthy finish. It’s best suited for drier skin types, and the yellow-skewed shade range is great for those with a warm, olive complexion.
Lo also loves this one when she’s working on clients: “It has a blendable consistency that melts into the skin, plus the glowy finish means it won’t crease or settle.”
Coverage: Medium | Shade Range: 24 shades | Finish: Dewy to natural | Size: 1.0 ounce | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: No
Best Medium Skin: Covergirl Full Spectrum Matte Ambition All Day Foundation
Find your skin looks shiny mere minutes after you apply your foundation? You need a matte formula with shine control, such as this buy from Covergirl. It’s surprisingly blendable for a full-coverage product and seems to dry down nicely and adhere well to the skin. The best part is that it doesn’t oxidize, and keeps grease to a minimum.
Coverage: Full coverage | Shade Range: 20 shades | Finish: Matte finish | Size: 1.0 ounce | Byrdie Clean: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes
Best Cream: Milani Cosmetics Smooth Finish Cream To Powder Foundation
What’s notable about Milani’s Cream-to-Powder formula is that it’s enriched with antioxidants including green tea and vitamin E, and bamboo extract. The creamy formula takes a little blending but softens down to such a nice, touchable matte finish—great for anyone who needs a foundation that goes the distance.
Coverage: Full coverage | Shade Range: 22 shades | Finish: Natural matte finish | Size: 0.28 ounces | Byrdie Clean: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes
Best Fluid: Catrice HD Liquid Coverage Foundation
Into full, Kardashian-style glam? This liquid formula from Catrice applies like a dream and settles down to a true matte second-skin-like finish. It’s super pigmented, so a little goes a long way—try using your fingers or a sponge to blend it in.
Coverage: Full coverage | Shade Range: 20 shades | Finish: Matte | Size: 1.01 ounces | Byrdie Clean: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes
Best Shade Range: ColourPop Pretty Fresh Foundation
With 42 diverse shades, ColorPop’s Pretty Fresh Foundation is five stars in our books. It’s packed full of hydrators like coconut water and hyaluronic acid, so it’s fantastic if you find your foundation settles or dries out during the day.
Coverage: Medium | Shade Range: 42 shades | Finish: Natural | Size: 1.0 ounce | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes
Best for Fair Skin: The Ordinary Serum Foundation
The Ordinary’s Serum Foundation is a best-seller because of its light, radiant finish and buildable coverage. A few drops will give you a sheer wash of color, or if you prefer, you can build it up. Despite the fluid texture though, it doesn’t have a shiny or greasy finish. While the shade range is quite extensive, the fairer shades, in particular, are varied, making it a great choice for lighter skin tones.
Coverage: Sheer to medium | Shade Range: 21 shades | Finish: Luminous finish | Size: 1.0 ounces | Byrdie Clean: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes
What Our Testers Say
“It's breathable, not the least bit greasy, and leaves a glowing finish that I often get from my skincare but usually gets lost under other foundations.” — Stephanie Montes, Product Tester
Our overall favorite drugstore foundation is L'Oréal's True Match Super Blendable Makeup (view at Amazon). We're calling it the unicorn of the drugstore aisle because it works well on virtually every skin type. It's a great lightweight yet full coverage option, and we love that it boasts 45 shades to choose from. For those with dry skin, we recommend Maybelline's Fit Me Dewy + Smooth Foundation (view at Amazon). It’s fresh and luminous but still looks and feels light on the skin. And then if you’re oily, Colourpop’s Pretty Fresh Foundation (view at Colourpop) is seriously impressive. The light fluid consistency has great coverage, and the soft matte finish will keep shine at bay.
What to Look for in a Drugstore Foundation
There are formulas with matte finishes and luminous finishes, but, according to makeup artist Jo Levy, sticking with the middle-of-the-road satin finish is the safest. Products with a satin finish are best at mimicking real skin and tend to not be as drying or cakey, she explains.
If you’re having trouble finding your right color, stick with shades that say "neutral undertones" on the label—these tend to look the best on most skin tones, says Levy.
Free of Mineral Oil
How do you apply drugstore foundation?
According to makeup artist, Jasmin Lo, skin prep is the first step when it comes to even foundation. “Make sure your skin is smooth, exfoliate if needed. Hydrate the skin and take time to massage in your moisturizer. I don’t often use primer but you may want to apply a little to the t-zone if you’re shiny. When it comes to the application itself, I love a damp beauty blender. I use a stippling motion, bouncing the sponge over and over. Start with a small amount of product first, and then layer to increase coverage. You could try a brush or fingers if that was your preference.”
Do drugstore foundations expire?
All cosmetics have an expiry date. Once opened, liquid products can typically last up to 24 months, but check your specific product to be sure. A good rule of thumb is to bin anything that has changed scent, texture, or has separated.
Why Trust Byrdie?
Emily Algar and Natsumi Ajisaka's love for drugstore beauty knows no bounds. Who said money = performance? For the purpose of this roundup, they tested quite a few foundations, read up on internet reviews, and asked makeup artist Jasmin Lo to help them break it down.
Meet the Expert
Jo Levy is a conscious beauty makeup artist and the director of business development + education for HENRYIA Beaute.
Jasmin Lo is a Sydney-based makeup artist with almost 18 years of experience and has worked for titles including Marie Clare, Elle, and Grazia Magazine. She's best known for her glowing complexion work, incredible brows, and subtle pops of color. She’s also a wealth of knowledge when it comes to finding the best products at good prices.