No Joke: These Drugstore Foundations Are Seriously the Best

Our editors independently research, test, and recommend the best products; you can learn more about our review process here. We may receive commissions on purchases made from our chosen links.

In This Article

If you’ve spent any amount of time watching makeup tutorials on YouTube, you might have noticed the overwhelming popularity of all-drugstore routines—and for good reason. Plenty of quality drugstore makeup now exists on the market, with creamier, more pigmented, and versatile formulas than in past years. “Drugstore brand foundations have evolved to be more inclusive with the shade ranges they offer,” explains conscious beauty artist and educator Jo Levy. “Their formulations are also much more multi-faceted in terms of offering skincare benefits, thanks to the addition of ingredients such as vitamin C, hyaluronic acid, and more.” 

Speaking of shades, consider this helpful tip for finding your perfect foundation match when shopping at the drugstore (where you typically can’t swatch or try on different options). “When in doubt, go for a color that’s half a shade deeper or darker than what you think you would wear,”  suggests Levy.  The added warmth and color will compliment your skin, rather than ending up looking too pale, as is the risk if you go too light, she explains. 

Whether you’re looking for a foundation that glides over imperfections, disguises dry patches, or doesn’t only come in ivory, there are plenty of drugstore options to choose from—and we found the best of them, hands-down. The best part? Each one costs less than the average lunch.

Read on for the best drugstore foundations you can buy now.

Best Overall: L'Oréal Paris True Match Super Blendable Makeup

L'Oreal Paris True Match Super Blendable Foundation

The unicorn of the drugstore aisle, this beloved foundation from L’Oreal works for both oily/combination and dry skin types. Clocking in at less than the average cost of lunch, this full-coverage formula smooths over skin for a flawless finish without clinging to dry patches or emphasizing texture. The result is an airbrushed look without the dreaded cakiness. And unlike other full-coverage foundations, this lightweight formula doesn’t feel like you’re wearing anything on your face. It’s also a favorite among reviewers for the impressive shade range, which serves cool, neutral, and warm undertones.

Best for Dry Skin: L'Oréal Paris Infallible Pro-Glow Foundation

L'Oreal® Paris Infallible Pro-Glow Foundation - Medium Shades - 1.0 fl oz

If you have dry skin but prefer a dewier finish, this second option from L’Oreal might work better. This liquid foundation comes in a squeeze tube, and like the True Match formula, smooths over skin without caking up. The result is a luminous, healthy glow that isn’t drying and resembles real skin. The coverage, as always, is buildable and hides everything from redness to laugh lines without settling in into the creases. According to reviews, a little goes a long way with this foundation, so start with a small amount and layer as needed.

Runner-Up, Best for Dry Skin: Maybelline New York Dream Satin Liquid Foundation

Key Ingredients

Hyaluronic acid is a naturally occurring polysaccharide found in the human body. It acts as a cushioning and lubrication agent for our joints, nerves, hair, skin, and eyes. When used in skincare, it acts as a moisture binder, which means that it will attach itself to the water in the cells (while also attracting and holding water from the air), making them plump.

More than a foundation, this formula doubles as a hydrating serum, thanks to the inclusion of hyaluronic acid. It’s a favorite formula of Levy’s for this very reason: “Consider it to be like a big drink of water for your skin, leaving it immediately radiant and healthy-looking,” she says.  So, not only do you get medium coverage over blemishes and problem spots, but you also get radiant and plumped-up skin for a smoother application and airbrushed finish.

Best for Oily Skin: e.l.f. Cosmetics Flawless Finish Foundation

e.l.f. Cosmetics Flawless Finish Foundation

Don't be fooled by the endearingly simple packaging of this foundation because it's a workhorse. The formula resists breaking down on oily skin and blends out to a buildable satin finish that adds radiance without greasiness. Reviewers reported the foundation lasted comfortably for hours and gave even better results with primer. Like most liquid foundations, this applies best with a damp sponge but also works well with brushes. And since e.l.f. refrains from animal testing, this foundation is also cruelty-free.

Best For Acne: Neutrogena SkinClearing Liquid Makeup

Wearing a foundation on acne-prone skin is like a double-edged sword. You may want to use it to cover up blemishes and spots that have taken up residence on your face, but you also don’t want to clog your pores, potentially causing new acne to appear. Luckily, Neutrogena created a formula—with the help of dermatologists—that doesn’t just conceal pimples but actually treats them while you’re wearing it.

Thanks to the brand’s Micro-Clear technology this breathable liquid formula not only heals pesky blemishes but also helps prevent future ones. It contains blemish-busting salicylic acid and is oil-free so it won’t clog pores. The oil-dissolving formula helps to control shine leaving your skin looking natural—basically, not too matte and not too dewy.

Best for Mature Skin: Maybelline New York Instant Age Rewind Radiant Firming Makeup

This foundation aims to take your wrinkle cream to task with a powerful formulation that visibly firms the skin and improves its appearance. That, plus the inclusion of SPF 18 for sun protection (bonus points), makes this one of our favorite drugstore foundations available for purchase.

Best Powder: NYX Professional Makeup Stay Matte But Not Flat Powder Foundation

nyx stay matte but not flat

Matte foundations, powders included, create the illusion of beautifully smooth skin, but run the risk of steamrolling the dimension out of your face. Additional highlighting is often required to counter this flattening effect, but this lightweight pressed powder avoids that issue. It’s not only available in multiple shades, but suits different undertones as well. You can brush or pat over moisturizer for a natural-looking velvet finish, or press over a layer of liquid foundation for additional coverage.

Runner-Up, Best Powder: Black Opal True Color Mineral Matte Crème Powder Foundation SPF 15

BLK/OPL

We all need SPF in our daily beauty routines, and foundations that dual as sun protection are a huge bonus. A seemingly flawless complexion while protecting from sun damage? Sign us up! This mineral matte formula glides on creamily for easy application and sets to a luminous, powder finish. Ideal for normal to dry skin types.

Best Stick: Iman Cosmetics Second To None Stick Foundation

IMAN Cosmetics

This oil-free matte foundation stick makes our list for its long-lasting color and versatility. Apply with a sponge for a sheer and natural look, or use fingertips to blend evenly for maximum coverage. It's enriched with vitamins to glide smoothly for a flawless finish, and we love the range of shades available for deep complexions.

Apply foundation and blend downward in the direction of your hair growth for a more even texture.

Runner-Up, Best Stick: Maybelline New York Fit Me Shine-Free + Balance Stick Foundation

Maybelline® FIT ME® Shine-Free + Balance Foundation - Deep Shades - .32oz

Stick foundations promise a few advantages over their liquid counterparts. They’re less likely to cause a mess when you toss them in your bag, cover your face in less time (swipe the stick across your face for speedy application), and blend out quickly.

This compact option from Maybelline is a stick version of the popular liquid Fit Me! foundation and is just as easy to use. Twist the stick and apply it to your face for buildable, light to medium coverage. As the product warms up on your skin, it smooths out easily to a natural-looking finish.

Best Liquid: NYX Professional Makeup Total Control Drop Foundation

This liquid foundation comes in a dropper bottle that lets you dispense exactly how much foundation you need. The dropper packaging also allows you to control how much coverage you get—a difference of a few drops can take you from sheer to full coverage in seconds. It dries to a velvet matte finish that boasts a soft glow while reducing shininess. And for users with oily skin, this formula doesn’t break up into the all-too-familiar greasy particles.

Best Dewy Finish: Maybelline Fit Me Dewy + Smooth Foundation

Maybelline Fit Me Dewy and Smooth Foundation

This Maybelline foundation is somewhat of a cult favorite. Providing hydration and medium coverage, the Fit Me! Foundation (also available in a matte formula) works best for normal to dry skin types, though oilier skin could also pull this off with some setting powder layered over top. Reviewers love how easy the formula is to work with—it applies smoothly and leaves a healthy, glowing finish that seems to put your skin in soft focus.

Best Matte: Maybelline New York Fit Me Matte + Poreless Foundation

Maybelline Fit Me Matte + Poreless Liquid Foundation Makeup

This budget-friendly option from Maybelline is a match made in heaven for those looking for a shine-free finish. The lightweight liquid foundation features micro-powders to help control excess oil and shine while blurring the appearance of pores. The velvet-like texture melts into skin and dries to a powder finish that doesn’t appear chalky or heavy, but still stays put all day. Plus, the formula is oil-free and non-comedogenic, so it won’t clog pores. The best part? The extensive 40 plus shade range works for fair to deep complexions.

Best Waterproof: L'Oréal Paris Infallible Pro-Matte Foundation

L'Oréal Paris Infallible Matte Foundation

If you normally find your foundation sliding down your face or transferring onto your clothes, then this waterproof formula from L'Oréal is the one you should reach for. It features shine-defying blotting spheres that act like blotting paper so it immediately soaks up any sweat or oil without disrupting your makeup.

The high water content in the formula doesn’t dry out your skin so it works for even dry complexions. It also has a 24-hour wear time, making it one of the most long-lasting foundations on the market. When applying, we recommend pressing the foundation into the skin, concentrating on areas that tend to get a bit more oily as the days goes on.

Best for Dark Skin: Hue Noir True Hues Flawless Finish Foundation

Hue Noir

It can be tough to find the right foundation for multicultural skin and undertones, but Hue Noir doesn't disappoint. Made with women of color in mind, it provides medium coverage that's buildable for greater concealment if desired. Users keep coming back for this lightweight formula that is crease-resistant and hypoallergenic, and it also lasts all day long while keeping oil under control.

Runner-Up, Best for Dark Skin: L.A. Girl Cosmetics Pro Coverage Illuminating Foundation

la girl pro coverage hd foundation

If you’re a fan of the color-correcting products or concealers from this brand, there’s now an equally effective foundation. Available in a pump bottle, this full-coverage formula glides across the skin for a long-lasting dewy finish and boasts an impressive 16-shade range for people with darker skin.

Final Verdict

Our overall favorite drugstore foundation is L'Oreal's True Match Foundation. 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 37 shades to choose from. For those with dry skin, we recommend Maybelline's Dream Satin Liquid Foundation. More than just a foundation, it doubles as a serum with hyaluronic acid to plump and moisturizes the skin. And if your skin skews more on the oily side, you can't go wrong with drugstore favorite e.l.f Cosmetics Flawless Finish Foundation.

What to Look For In a Drugstore Foundation

Satin Finish

There are formulas with matte finishes and luminous finishes, but, according to 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.

Neutral Undertones

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

Levy suggests scanning the ingredient label to make sure the product you choose is free of mineral oil, which has a high potential to clog pores

Related Stories