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Not all foundations are created equal (captain obvious, we know). The fundamental formula differences are powder, liquids, creams, cushion compacts, fluids, and more. Then there’s the coverage level. Are you going for a subtle tint just to enhance your natural skin tone, or do you want a full face of foundation? There’s no shortage of different finishes, too, ranging from glowy to matte and everything in between. But when shopping for your ace of base, don't forget about built-in sun protection.
You (hopefully) at this point know how important it is to shield your skin from the sun, and finding foundations with SPF makes it easier to do so. That being said, there’s one big caveat: The majority of foundations with SPF don’t go much higher than SPF 25, which is below the recommended SPF 30 for daily use. So, your best bet is to keep using a separate sunscreen and think of the protection you’re getting from your foundation as an extra insurance policy. After all, the more SPF, the better.
Other considerations when choosing a foundation with SPF are the formula, the level of SPF included, and the available range of shades.
Ahead, the best foundations with SPF offer a little something for everyone.
Best Overall: Charlotte Tilbury Magic Foundation
Find us a more aptly named foundation—go ahead, we’ll wait. The coverage is medium and buildable and easily tailored to camouflage any imperfection or simply to even out your skin tone. Speaking of, there are 21 shades available, all with varying undertones (it’s no surprise that 88% of women agreed that it matches their skin tone). Add to that a perfectly demi-matte finish and SPF 15 for some serious makeup magic indeed.
Best Budget: Revlon ColorStay Makeup For Combination/Oily Skin SPF 15
A long-wearing formula? Check. (We’re talking about an awe-inspiring 24-hour wear time, by the way.) A matte finish that minimizes shine without looking chalky? Yep. A wide range of 31 shades? You bet. A very wallet-friendly price tag? Indeed. This drugstore staple meets all the exact requirements of its much pricier counterparts. It’s a top pick for makeup artist and beauty expert Nick Stenson, who also lauds the buildable coverage.
Best for Dry Skin: Tarte SEA Water Foundation Broad Spectrum SPF 15
The star of the show here is, you guessed it, water—20% water, to be exact, to help your skin hold on to its natural moisture. This also makes for a weightless texture that feels nearly undetectable. Vitamin E adds extra moisture, while antioxidant-rich marine plant extracts (in keeping with the water theme) make the perfect protection partner for its SPF 15. Oh, and we should also mention that this formula is vegan.
Best for Oily Skin: Tarte Amazonian Clay Full Coverage Foundation SPF 15
Yep, the brand also has a superb option for oily skin. Stenson loves it because the namesake ingredient helps balance your complexion, and the matte, oil-absorbing formula doesn’t hurt either. He adds that it’s also long-wearing, super easy to apply, and is “cake-free.”
Best Full Coverage: Armani Beauty Power Fabric Foundation SPF 25
For days or occasions when you want a foundation that really packs on the coverage, this cult-favorite can’t be beaten. As a general rule, full coverage almost always means a heavier texture, but that’s not the case with this base. Credit saturated yet ultra-fine pigments, which deliver an intense dose of color without feeling thick. It’s also why a little goes a long way (try applying it with a makeup sponge or brush for the best spreadability and most even coverage), so one bottle will last quite a while.
Best Sheer Coverage: ILIA Super Serum Skin Tint SPF 40
When you don’t want to wear a full face of foundation but still want a little something-something, look to the subtle coverage of this multi-tasker, a favorite of Byrdie Editorial & Strategy Director Kathryn Vandervalk. The aptly-named formula does, in fact, act as a serum, infused with skin-loving ingredients such as squalane, niacinamide, and hyaluronic acid, and delivers a hefty dose of mineral-based SPF. And while the coverage is undoubtedly light and dewy, it’s definitely more than other tinted sunscreens we’ve tried.
Best Powder: PÜR Cosmetics Classic 4-in-1 Pressed Mineral Makeup Foundation
“This is an amazing pressed, mineral powder with buildable coverage,” says Stenson of another one of his recommendations. “Use it alone or to set your liquid foundation and give it a velvety smooth finish.” Also nice: The SPF here is mineral-based, from titanium dioxide, an excellent choice for those with sensitive skin who may find chemical sunscreen ingredients irritating.
Best Tinted Moisturizer: NARS Pure Radiant Tinted Moisturizer SPF 30
Okay, so yes, technically not a foundation, but if you’re anything like us, you likely often use a tinted moisturizer exactly like you would a foundation, so we thought this was worthy of an appearance on our list. Not only does it safeguard your skin with SPF 30, but it also contains antioxidant vitamin C, and it delivers, in our humble opinion, just the right amount of natural-looking coverage.
Best for Mature Skin: Lancôme Régenerie Lift Makeup Foundation SPF 27
For an instant youth boost, reach for this liquid formula. Think of its unique Micro-Lift technology like a bra for your face, where extra-fine waxes help instantly shape and lift. Since foundation settling into fine lines can also be a concern for those with mature skin, this contains microscopic bubbles that create air pockets, letting your skin breathe and preventing the makeup from creasing...and settling into any imperfections, notes Stenson, who is a fan. And since sunscreen is of the utmost importance in any anti-aging arsenal, we’re happy to report that this one touts SPF 27.
Best Drugstore: L'Oreal Infallible 24 Hour Fresh Wear Foundation
Another great wallet-friendly pick, Stenson raves about the comfortable, breathable wear of this base, no small feat given its impressive staying power. To that point, it’s not only waterproof but also transfer- and sweat-resistant, too. The coverage is on the medium to full side, though easily buildable, and no matter how long you wear it, the color always stays true and never changes.
Best Stick: BLK/OPL True Color Skin Perfecting Stick Foundation SPF 15
Stick foundations are crazy easy to apply and can also pull double (heck, even triple) duty, acting as a concealer and contour color, too. This is one of the few sticks we’ve seen that includes SPF, as well as protective antioxidants. The pigment is long-wearing, they feel nice and creamy, and the range of 12 shades includes lots of nice options for those with darker complexions.
Best with SPF 50: IT Cosmetics Bye Bye Foundation Full-Coverage Moisturizer
As we said, it’s tricky to find a foundation with an SPF 30—so those with SPF 50 are true makeup unicorns. Byrdie Editor Holly Rhue loves this foundation unicorn, a creamy, full-coverage pick with other unique features besides just the high SPF. For one, it has a proprietary 3D Skin Flex Technology that ensures the color pigments ‘float’ on top of the skin, rather than settling into lines or pores. It also contains diamond powder to leave skin looking radiant in the most natural way possible.
The Charlotte Tilbury Magic Foundation is indeed magical, our top choice for a great foundation with SPF. If you prefer your base to deliver full coverage, try the Armani Beauty Power Fabric Foundation SPF 25; if you prefer it be on the sheerer side, check out the Illia Super Serum Skin Tint SPF 40, a multi-tasker packed with skincare ingredients, or the very lightweight NARS Pure Radiant Tinted Moisturizer SPF 30.
What to Look For In a Foundation With SPF
SPF foundations are offered in all different varieties, from powders to liquids to creams, meaning you can get the consistency and coverage you are looking for,” says Stenson. “If you feel passionate about your coverage or consistency, start by narrowing your search there,” he suggests.
The SPF Level
Again, there’s no shortage of options; the SPF levels in the foundation can range from 10 to 50+, so again, if you feel strongly about a particular SPF level, start your search there. Also worth noting: ‘SPF’ may not always be in the name of the product, so make sure to check the ingredient label as well, says Stenson.
As with any foundation, an SPF foundation should match your skin tone. Look for a brand that comes in a wide range of shades for every skin tone and undertone. Some stores offer testers or color matching to help you make the best choice.
Is SPF in foundation effective?
SPF in foundation effectively blocks UVB rays but may not be effective enough to provide adequate protection overall. It's recommended that an SPF of at least 30 be used daily. Most foundations contain SPF 15 and layering the product over sunscreen enhances the sun protection factor.
What does SPF mean in foundation?
SPF stands for sun protection factor and is a measure of sun protection a product provides from UVB. You should use a minimum of SPF 30, which is able to block 97% of UVB. SPF 15 is typically found in foundation and blocks 93% of UVB rays.
Do I need sunscreen if my foundation has SPF?
You still need sunscreen even if your foundation contains SPF. This is because the SPF levels in foundation are not typically adequate to provide enough sun protection.
Can I wear sunscreen under my foundation?
You can wear sunscreen under your foundation. In fact, it is best under foundation and should not be skipped. Sunscreen is essential to protect skin against cancer risks and free-radical damage that leads to wrinkles and sunspots. Research shows that layering foundation with sunscreen enhances sun-protecting effects.
Why Trust Byrdie?
Byrdie contributor Melanie Rud has over a decade of experience in the beauty industry, writing for some of the biggest magazines and websites out there. A devoted sunscreen user, she loves layering on SPF at all steps of her makeup and skincare routine, makeup included.
Meet the Expert
According to our Diversity Pledge, 15% of products in our newly-published market roundups will feature Black-owned and/or Black-founded brands. At the time of publishing, we were not able to find any foundations with SPF from a Black-owned and/or Black-founded business. If you know of one we should consider, please email us at email@example.com and we will evaluate the product ASAP.