The Best Full-Coverage Drugstore Foundations a Makeup Artist Loves

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Byrdie / Lecia Landis

Fun fact: Price doesn’t really mean that much when it comes to full-coverage foundation. Yes, we love Double Wear as much as the next person, but the truth is that you can find a stack of budge-proof foundation formulas at the drugstore (also known as heaven on Earth). And what’s even better is that they hit all the other markers of a great base product: diverse shade ranges, natural-looking finishes, great blend-ability, and sometimes even skincare benefits. 

So if you’re looking for a full-coverage foundation at an affordable price point, get excited, because the below list features the best of them. There’s super matte formulas, luminous options, acne-fighting buys…basically everything you need to nail a flawless base on a budget, every single time. 

Keep scrolling to shop the best full-coverage drugstore foundations.

Best Overall: Maybelline New York SuperStay Full Coverage Foundation

4.8
Maybelline New York Super Stay Full Coverage Liquid Foundation Makeup
What We Like
  • Up to 30-hour wear

  • Light as air feel

  • Easy to apply

What We Don't Like
  • A bit greasy

Who else recommends it? CNN, StyleCraze, and Allure all picked the Maybelline New York SuperStay Full Coverage Foundation.

What do buyers say? 82% of 18,000+ Amazon reviewers rated this product 5 stars.

This hardworking foundation will give your skin a diffused finish that promises not to budge, no matter the conditions. It's loved by so many celebrity makeup artists and often used backstage during fashion week because its saturated pigment lays a veil of coverage that works on all skin tones.

Coverage: Full | Shade Range: Fair to Deep | Finish: Matte | Size: 1 oz. | Cruelty Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No

Best Budget: Makeup Revolution Conceal & Define Full Coverage Foundation

makeup-revolution-conceal--define-full-coverage-foundation

Amazon

What We Like
  • 50 skin-true shade options

  • Buildable, lightweight formula

  • Easy to apply

What We Don't Like
  • Could have better coverage

This is the perfect multipurpose, do-it-all makeup product. The creamy, buildable formula comes in the format of a large concealer, with a demi-matte finish and a buildable, full level of coverage. Use it all over for a perfect base or apply as needed for a fresh but polished makeup look. It also comes in an impressive 50 shades.

Coverage: Full | Shade Range: Very Fair to Deep Dark | Finish: Demi-Matte | Size: 0.8 oz. | Cruelty Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No

Best for Acne-Prone Skin: e.l.f. Cosmetics Acne Fighting Foundation

E.l.f. Acne Fighting Foundation

 Courtesy of E.l.f.

What We Like
  • Treats acne while it conceals

  • Evens skin tone

  • Smooths skin

What We Don't Like
  • Minimal (5) shade options

  • Can be a bit greasy

It's a beautiful thing when makeup and skincare collide. This foundation conceals and treats acne spots at the same time, thanks to skin-saving ingredients like salicylic acid, witch hazel, camphor, tea tree, and aloe. In terms of texture, it settles into your skin with a comfortable matte finish. 

Coverage: Full | Shade Range: Fair to Medium Dark | Finish: Matte | Size: 1 oz. | Cruelty Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No

Best for Dark Skin: BLK/OPL True Color Pore Perfecting Liquid Foundation

Black Opal Even True Flawless Skin Liquid Foundation

Courtesy of Walmart

What We Like
  • Minority-owned

  • Evens, radiates and refines the skin tone

  • No chalky undertone

  • Not oily

What We Don't Like
  • Coverage is liquidy

As of 2019, BLK OPL is proudly black-owned, meaning they’re experts when it comes to beautiful, flattering shades for dark skin tones. The Pore Perfecting Liquid Foundation specifically is super pigmented and luminous, so leaves the skin looking polished, refined, and even. No grey, ashy or chalky undertones, either.

Coverage: Light | Shade Range: Medium Dark to Deep; 12 | Finish: Matte | Size: 1 oz. | Cruelty Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No

Best for Olive Skin: NYX Professional Makeup Can't Stop Won't Stop Foundation

NYX

 Ulta

What We Like
  • 24-hour coverage

  • Shine control for those with oily skin

  • Even skin-true color

  • Rich pigment goes a long way

What We Don't Like
  • Can be hard to apply

This unicorn foundation has nailed a full, life-proof level of coverage that still looks (and feels) natural. It’s a rich, pigmented liquid, so a little goes a long way. It’s also matte and won’t oxidize, so is a safe bet on hot, humid days. There are a few warm and olive undertone shade variants in there too, so perfect for those with a golden complexion.

Coverage: Full | Shade Range: Very Fair to Deep Deep | Finish: Ultra-Matte | Size: 1 oz. | Cruelty Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No

Best for Medium Skin: Maybelline Fit Me Matte + Poreless Liquid Foundation

Maybelline Fit Me Matte + Poreless Foundation

Courtesy of Ulta

What We Like
  • Blurring micro-powders minimize pore appearance

  • Refines skin texture

  • Absorbs oil and controls shine for oily skin

What We Don't Like
  • Could stay on better

As far as full coverage drugstore foundation formulas go, this stuff is iconic. It contains what Maybelline calls “blurring micro-powders” to minimize the look of pores and refine skin texture, leaving you with a soft, matte, diffused complexion. While the entire shade range is quite strong, it’s especially great for warm, neutral, and cool-toned medium complexions.

Coverage: Medium | Shade Range: Fair to Deep | Finish: Matte | Size: 1 oz. | Cruelty Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No

Best for Fair Skin: L'Oreal Infallible 24 Hour Fresh Wear Foundation

5
L'Oreal Paris Infallible 24 Hour Fresh Wear Foundation

Walmart

What We Like
  • Lightweight and breathable

  • 24-hour coverage

  • Infused with SPF 25 for UV protection

  • Nice rosy and yellow-toned shades

What We Don't Like
  • Might not work on sensitive skin

Fair skin types will love both the flattering rosy and yellow-toned lighter shades from this L’Oreal option. It’s a thinner liquid that spreads over the complexion with ease, but then stays put for a solid 18-hour workday without transferring, rubbing, or oxidizing.

Coverage: Full | Shade Range: Fair to Very Deep | Finish: Natural | Size: 1 oz. | Cruelty Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No

Best Matte Finish: CoverGirl TruBlend Matte Made Liquid Foundation

CoverGirl TruBlend Matte Made Liquid Foundation

 Courtesy of Ulta

What We Like
  • 12-hour coverage

  • Isn't cakey

  • 40 shade options

What We Don't Like
  • Coverage could be better

If you want a true matte finish without the chalky, heavy feeling, Covergirl has you sorted. It absorbs oil but moves with the skin, so you look fresh for up to 12 hours. It comes in an impressive 40 shades, too.

Coverage: Full | Shade Range: Fair to Very Deep | Finish: Matte | Size: 1 oz. | Cruelty Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No

Best for Dry Skin: The Ordinary Coverage Foundation

The Ordinary Coverage Foundation

Courtesy of The Ordinary

What We Like
  • Doesn't settle into fine lines

  • 21 shade options

  • High-spreadability pigment suspension system

What We Don't Like
  • Coverage could be better

  • Harder to find skin-true color

This unique formula from The Ordinary is really thin, but still offers ample coverage thanks to pigments being suspended in a light, silicone-based fluid. It’s perfect for dry skin or those who find their foundation settles because it’s super light and doesn’t grab.

Coverage: Full | Shade Range: Very Fair to Very Deep | Finish: Matte | Size: 1 oz. | Cruelty Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No

Best Stick: Wet n Wild PhotoFocus Stick Foundation

Wet n Wild PhotoFocus Stick Foundation

Courtesy of Ulta

What We Like
  • Lightweight

  • Infused with argan oil and sunflower seed oil to moisturize

  • Blendable

What We Don't Like
  • Could stay on face longer

Stick foundations are a tough one to get right. Too thick, and they’re impossible to blend. Too thin and you’ll never build up your desired coverage. But Wet n Wild’s PhotoFocus Stick Foundation strikes the perfect balance. It’s really creamy and blends well, while the inclusion of sunflower and argan oils leave the skin looking fresh and hydrated. It’s great for touching up throughout the day as well if you’re that way inclined.

Coverage: Full | Shade Range: Very Fair to Very Deep | Finish: Semi-Matte | Size: 0.42 oz. | Cruelty Free: No | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Final Verdict

While foundation is a highly personal makeup choice, we’re unanimous fans of the Maybelline New York Super Stay Full Coverage Foundation because it’s natural-looking, long-wearing, and feels really comfortable on the skin. A close second place goes to the Maybelline Fit Me Matte + Poreless Liquid Foundation. Not only does this nail the perfect “matte finish” (one that is soft and powdery, but not flat or cakey) but it comes in an incredible shade range and at a reasonable price.

What to Look For When Buying Full Coverage Drugstore Foundation


Shade Range

This seems obvious, but unfortunately, some makeup brands are still lacking when it comes to a diverse, comprehensive shade offering. Your individual skin tone will come into play here, but keep an eye out for a variety of shades and undertones that sit within your complexion category (fair, medium, olive or dark). 

Finish

Makeup artist Jasmin Lo suggests looking out for a drugstore formula that blends evenly and easily, plus wears well through the day without looking heavy. Lo prefers something with a little bit of glow for most of her clients, but the finish will come down to your personal preference. When in doubt, go for a velvet finish that sits somewhere between matte and luminous.

Application Tips

If you’re after a long-lasting, full coverage makeup look, Lo also has some advice when it comes to skin prep and foundation application: “Skin prep is the most important part for long-lasting, beautiful makeup. Make sure your face is smooth, and 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 prone to shine. Then for foundation application, I would use a damp beauty blender and stipple the foundation in (dab dab dab, bouncing the sponge over and over). Start with a small amount of product first, and then layer to increase coverage. Powder lightly to set around the center of the face only to keep the rest of the skin looking luminous.”

FAQ
  • How do I choose the right drugstore foundation?

    Finding the right foundation can feel tricky. Makeup artist Jenna Menard recommends you begin by figuring out what skin concerns you may have. “Think about your issue and work with it, not against it,” she says. Many drugstore foundations are built around a concern, like mattifying oily skin, as an example.

  • Should foundation be lighter or darker than your skin?

    In a perfect world, foundation would match your skin completely and perfectly. However if you don’t find a shade that is an exact match, you should err on the lighter side rather than the darker one. A foundation one shade lighter than your skin can look more natural than one that’s a shade darker, especially if you plan to contour or add bronzer afterward.

  • Should your foundation match your neck or chest?

    It’s most important that your foundation matches your face. After that, the color of your chest is more prominent than the color of your neck. Your neck may be slightly paler than your face. It also may be somewhat shadowed by your head. So if you have to choose, matching your foundation to your chest is better than to your neck.

How We Researched

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. We then used this research to assign a star rating from one to five (five being the best; one being the worst) to certain products on the list.

Why Trust Byrdie?

Team Byrdie has been testing and trialing foundation products since well, everyone collectively started wearing makeup. Emily Algar has seen new launches come and go and takes note of the drugstore products that continuously do well. The team also spends a lot of time talking to various makeup artists and professionals about the best products for all skin types and complexions.

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 enough full-coverage drugstore foundations from a Black-owned and/or Black-founded business to meet this percentage. If you know of one we should consider, please email us at contact@byrdie.com and we will evaluate the product ASAP.

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. 21 best drugstore foundations under $20, according to makeup artists. CNN. https://www.cnn.com/cnn-underscored/beauty/best-drugstore-foundation

  2. 9 best-selling drugstore full-coverage foundations. StyleCraze. https://www.stylecraze.com/articles/best-drugstore-full-coverage-foundation

  3. The 8 best full-coverage drugstore foundations, according to makeup artists. Allure. https://www.allure.com/gallery/best-full-coverage-drugstore-foundation

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