There’s no denying that skin tints and sheer foundations have captured the hearts of makeup lovers over the last few years. And while we could sing the praises of so many products that fall within that category, let’s not forget how valuable a solid full-coverage foundation can be. If you’re struggling with breakouts or discoloration, or you prefer a full-glam look, a foundation with excellent coverage can be extremely beneficial.
But unlike skin tints which are typically more forgiving if the color, finish, or texture isn’t a spot-on match, finding your perfect full-coverage foundation can be more challenging. Put simply, these types of formulas show up more on the skin, meaning it’s extra important to ensure you find one that suits you. So, we put dozens of full-coverage foundations to the test in our lab in NYC. We evaluated them based on coverage, texture, wear, finish, and transfer resistance—and ahead, we’re sharing which ones performed the best.
Byrdie Tested & Approved
Out of all the full-coverage foundations we tested, the Charlotte Tilbury Airbrush Flawless Longwear Foundation is our favorite. It provides excellent coverage, a transfer-resistant formula, and has impressive longevity. But if you’re looking for something that has great coverage with a natural finish and skincare benefits, we recommend the KOSAS Revealer Skin Improving SPF 25 Foundation.
Keep reading to find out which full-coverage foundations are Byrdie-approved.
Best Overall : Charlotte Tilbury Airbrush Flawless Foundation
Comfortable, balanced feel on skin
Strong transfer resistance
Can emphasize dry patches slightly
This is, without a doubt, one of the most popular full-coverage foundations on the market, and for good reason. Despite having a pretty thick texture which often makes for a cakey finish, it blends out beautifully on the face and can create a natural-looking base—if used properly. Our tester shared that it clung to a dry patch on her skin, which isn’t unheard of with this formula—but if you properly exfoliate and moisturize before using it, you’ll be able to yield a smooth, full-coverage result that appears truly skin-like.
In addition to praising its long-wearing ability, our tester appreciated that it passed the transfer test with perfect scores—this is especially important if you have oily skin and struggle with foundations breaking apart. If you’re looking for a matte, full-coverage foundation that will last all day and night without creasing or fading, we can’t recommend this one enough.
Price at time of publish: $46
Finish: Matte | Number of shades: 44 | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes
Best Luxe: Chantecaille Future Skin Cushion Skincare Foundation
Natural, glowing finish
Comfortable feel on skin
Transfers just slightly
It’s not often that cushion foundations provide significant coverage, but this one can be layered to create a completely even complexion. Aside from experiencing a bit of transfer, our tester couldn’t rave about it enough. She loved the natural, glowy finish, how easily it blended into the skin, and how weightless and comfortable it felt when applied. It completely covered her redness while maintaining a skin-like appearance and didn’t settle into pores or fine lines. If you’re sensitive to the feeling of makeup sitting on your skin but you still want to wear a full-coverage foundation, this is a fantastic option for you.
Price at time of publish: $130
Finish: Natural | Number of shades: 8 | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes
What Our Testers Say
“The finish of the foundation was impeccable; I have never felt a foundation this light that actually provided coverage without feeling like you are wearing makeup.” —Jeanie Voltsinis
Best Drugstore: NYX Total Control Pro Drop Foundation
Lightweight, liquid consistency
Natural finish on the skin
Could have more coverage
If you’re on the hunt for a full-coverage foundation from the drugstore, consider this one. The unique formula has a true, liquid consistency that makes it easy to blend and lightweight on the skin. We love that it comes in a wide range of shades—especially for the drugstore—and can be used to create a light coverage look or something more perfected when layered. Our tester shared that while it didn’t completely cover her blemishes, she was able to build it up to yield medium-to-full coverage that looked incredibly smooth and natural on her skin.
One thing to note is that this formula did transfer, so if that’s a concern for you, we recommend setting it with powder or long-wearing setting spray.
Price at time of publish: $14
Finish: Natural | Number of shades: 26 | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes
Best Shade Range: Pat McGrath Labs Skin Fetish Sublime Perfection Foundation
Easy to blend
Smooth, skin-like finish
Creases a bit
Pat McGrath Labs nailed the shade selection of this foundation. In addition to creating shades that range in depth, there is also a vast range of undertones to cater to a large variety of skin tones. Even better? The formula looks stunning on the skin and performs beautifully. While it’s not marketed as a full-coverage foundation, it’s extremely buildable and can be layered on to create a pretty full-coverage look. After applying just one coat, our tester raved about how even her complexion looked while maintaining a natural appearance that didn’t lean overly matte or dewy.
While she did notice a bit of creasing in her smile lines, she noted that it wasn’t significant and would likely be avoidable by setting the area with powder. Considering the inclusive shade range, truly airbrushed finish on the skin, and long-wearing nature of this formula, we highly recommend checking it out.
Price at time of publish: $68
Finish: Natural | Number of shades: 36 | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: No
Best Lightweight: Estée Lauder Double Wear Stay In Place Matte Powder Foundation
Feels lightweight on the skin
Can be layered up for additional coverage
Creates a natural matte finish
Could provide more coverage
Powder foundations are excellent for people with oily skin or those who dislike the feeling of liquid products on their skin—and if you’re looking for a powder formula with great coverage, this one is Byrdie-approved. One layer will provide light coverage, while additional layers will build up the pigmentation to create more coverage. Our tester shared that she appreciated the buildability but would have liked to see just a bit more coverage on top of discoloration. If you want to opt for powder foundation but need additional coverage, you can always conceal blemishes first and then apply the powder.
In terms of the finish on the skin, our tester praised it for looking matte without appearing dry or cakey. It layered really nicely on top of moisturizer and didn’t crease or fade as she wore it. Keep in mind that it did transfer during the transfer test, so we recommend setting it in place with a setting spray.
Price at time of publish: $48
Finish: Matte | Number of shades: 31 | Byrdie Clean: Yes | Cruelty-Free: No
Best for Oily Skin: Fenty Beauty Pro Filt'r Soft Matte Longwear Foundation
Feels lightweight on the skin
Blends into the skin effortlessly
Stays in place once applied
Could have more coverage
We’d be surprised if you’re not already familiar with this iconic foundation from Fenty Beauty. Aside from helping to set the standard in terms of shade range diversity, it also has a loyal fan base who praise it for its formula. Our tester can see why it’s so well-loved, citing that it was blendable, comfortable on the skin, and almost completely transfer-proof. It didn’t crease or fade as she wore it, and she loved how skin-like it appeared on her complexion.
If she could have changed one thing about it, it would be the level of coverage. Despite being marketed as a full-coverage foundation, she struggled to get it to fully cover her melasma. The good news is it builds well and can be layered with concealer, so this isn’t a dealbreaker for us.
Price at time of publish: $39
Finish: Matte | Number of shades: 59 | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes
Best for Dry Skin: KVD Beauty Good Apple Skin-Perfecting Hydrating Foundation Balm
A little bit goes a long way
Can be applied mess-free with fingertips
Some people might find the texture to be a bit heavy on the skin
After going absolutely viral on TikTok, we were curious to see if this foundation balm lives up to the hype—and it does. It provides full coverage in just one layer, a little bit of product goes a very long way, and it can be applied using your fingertips, a brush, or a sponge, without the mess that liquid and powder formulas can create. Despite having a matte finish, our tester said her skin looked and felt more hydrated after applying it, and she appreciated that it set in place and didn’t crease as she wore it.
While she didn’t complain about the texture, some online reviewers claim that it feels a bit thick and heavy on the skin. If you’re sensitive to that, we recommend applying it in light layers using a damp sponge.
Price at time of publish: $41
Finish: Matte | Number of shades: 40 | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes
Best Long-Wearing: Lancôme Teint Idole Ultra Long Wear Foundation
Budge-proof once applied
Sets down quickly
Looks pretty natural on the skin
Transfers just slightly
Another incredibly popular full-coverage foundation, this one stands out for its long-wearing capabilities. Once applied to the skin, it’s not going anywhere. So, it’s no surprise that it performed well in our transfer test and resisted creasing and fading as our tester wore it.
As for coverage and finish, the coverage is definitely full and can be built up or sheered out depending on your preferences, and the finish is matte but not flat. If you’re in need of a foundation to last you through a long day or a special event, we think you’ll really enjoy this one.
Price at time of publish: $52
Finish: Matte | Number of shades: 50 | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: No
What Our Testers Say
“The product stood firm on the skin and didn't crease or become cakey. There wasn't any smudging, and it set nice and quickly on the skin.” —Michelle Cabrera, Tester
Best with SPF: Kosas Revealer Skin-Improving Foundation SPF 25
Gorgeous, natural finish on the skin
Easy to blend
Doesn’t settle into lines or pores
Transfers a bit
Finding a great full-coverage foundation that includes SPF can be tricky, but this one is fantastic. It’s formulated with zinc oxide as well as niacinamide and squalane for hydration benefits. The texture is lightweight, creamy, and easy to blend, and the finish on the skin is absolutely beautiful. It’s the perfect midpoint between matte and dewy, and it creates a gorgeous veil of coverage on the face. While our tester noted that it completely covered minor redness and discoloration, she said she would need additional concealer to fully cover under-eye circles.
In addition to how it looked on the skin, she shared that it didn’t settle into lines or emphasize texture. It did transfer a bit, but we think this could be solved by setting it in place with powder.
Price at time of publish: $42
Finish: Natural | Number of shades: 36 | Byrdie Clean: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes
Our top choice is the Charlotte Tilbury Airbrush Flawless Longwear Foundation, thanks to its excellent coverage, budge-proof formula, and impressive longevity. If you’re looking for something that provides great coverage as well as skincare benefits, we recommend the KOSAS Revealer Skin Improving SPF 25 Foundation. And if you often struggle to find a shade match, we highly suggest you check out the Pat McGrath Sublime Perfection Foundation.
How We Tested
Each foundation was tested in our lab facility in New York City and evaluated based on coverage, texture, wear, finish, and transfer resistance. The product was applied to clean, moisturized skin and analyzed for how well it covered and blended in. After application, testers then wore the foundations and kept an eye out for smudging, fading, and creasing. Lastly came the transfer test, where each tester gently pressed a blotting paper against the skin to determine whether or not the foundation was transfer-proof.
Other Options We Tested
Huda Beauty #FauxFilter Luminous Matte Foundation
Our tester loved the coverage of this popular foundation, but she shared that it appeared to be sitting on top of her skin rather than fully blending in for a natural-looking finish.
Nars Soft Matte Complete Foundation
There’s no denying that this ultra-matte foundation provides incredible coverage, but our tester found that it settled into fine lines and felt drying on her skin. However, if you have super oily skin, this might be worth trying.
EXA High Fidelity Foundation
While this clean foundation blended out nicely and created a beautiful, dewy finish; our tester found it difficult to build up the coverage in order to adequately cover redness and blemishes.
What to Look For In Full-Coverage Foundations
We’re probably stating the obvious here, but it’s really important to seek out a foundation that comes in a wide range of shades so that you can get your best match. While this is always a major factor to consider, it’s especially important when looking for a full-coverage option, as super-pigmented foundations are not as flexible as sheer ones. If you struggle to find options that match your skin tone and undertones, we recommend checking out the Pat McGrath Sublime Perfection Foundation.
Makeup is highly personal—especially when it comes to foundation. What works for one person might not work for another. So, finding a formula that compliments your skin and feels comfortable is key. If you like lightweight, liquid foundations, go for the Chantecaille Future Skin Cushion Skincare Foundation. If you prefer powder products, we think you’ll love the Estée Lauder Double Wear Stay-in-Place Matte Refillable Powder Foundation.
The finish of your foundation can completely alter the outcome of your makeup look. Oftentimes, full-coverage foundations are matte, but this isn’t always the case. So if you love the look of dewy skin but you want a lot of coverage, there are absolutely options for you, too. Those that prefer matte skin will love the Charlotte Tilbury Airbrush Flawless Longwear Foundation. If you’re after a luminous look, try the Chantecaille Future Skin Cushion Skincare Foundation. And if you prefer something in the middle, we recommend the KOSAS Revealer Skin Improving SPF 25 Foundation.
How do I make full coverage last?
Making foundations last all day and night can be tricky, but there are a few things you can do to enhance their wear. Ensuring that your skin is properly prepped is important because when foundations cling to dryness or are applied on top of excess oil, they can fade and break down. Before applying your full-coverage foundation, be sure to exfoliate any dry patches and apply a light layer of moisturizer.
Once applied, locking your base in place with setting powder and a long-wearing setting spray can make all the difference. But don’t overdo it—too much product can lead to heaviness and may make your makeup break down. Simply apply a light layer of translucent setting powder in your T-zone and oily areas, and then set your entire face with a few spritzes of your favorite setting spray.
How do I make a full-coverage foundation look skin-like?
Full-coverage foundations are excellent for camouflaging redness, discoloration, and blemishes, but they can often look heavy and mask-like if not applied correctly. To avoid this and ensure you have the most natural-looking finish, be sure to prep your skin with moisturizer and apply your foundation in light layers. Remember, you can always add more. We suggest applying one light layer to your entire face and then going back with additional product only where you need more coverage.
Why Trust Byrdie
Alyssa Kaplan is an experienced writer in the beauty industry and product tester specializing in cosmetics. She received a bachelor’s degree from the Fashion Institute of Technology, where she studied marketing and product development in the cosmetics industry. She has tested many foundations in a variety of formulas, including several on this list. Alyssa has been a commerce writer at Byrdie since 2022, where she covers all things beauty.