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A good liquid foundation can mean the difference between a good makeup day and a not so great one. As the first step in most makeup routines, your foundation sets the tone for how the rest of your products will look. Above all, it’s important to find a liquid foundation that will even out your complexion, leaving you with the perfect canvas to start your makeup look with. A few things to keep in mind while looking for the right foundation are the type of skin you have, the type of finish you’re looking for (matte or glowy), and how much coverage you want.
Luckily, many brands have recently added to their liquid foundation ranges in an effort to be more inclusive, making it easier for more people to find their shade instead of having to sacrifice their exact shade match or use multiple shades to create the right one for them. If you’re unsure of what shade you are, it’s best to go to a store like Sephora or Ulta where you can swatch multiples and talk to a salesperson who is trained in color matching.
Read on to learn more about the best liquid foundations you can buy now.
Best Natural-Looking: Make Up For Ever Water Blend Face & Body Foundation
Formulated with 80 percent water, this foundation melts upon contact and looks and feels like a second skin. It blurs imperfections in a natural way without completely erasing the appearance of your own skin. Because it is primarily water-based, it’s super hydrating, too. And once it's set, you won’t have to worry about it smudging or transferring to clothing, your hands, or anything else. Have any bruises or things you want to cover up on the rest of your body? This liquid foundation doubles as body makeup as well.
Best Drugstore: Revlon PhotoReady Insta-Filter Foundation
When it has the words “Photo Ready” and “Insta Filter” in the product name, you know it has to be good. The formula is smooth and silky and glides on with a dream. The best part is the built-in sponge applicator it comes with though. Use the sponge to seamlessly blend the foundation into your skin. It’s perfect for on the go application or if you just don’t like the feel or look of using your fingers. The coverage is medium but buildable, so if you want more of a thick, full coverage base, let the first layer set and then dab on some more, especially in areas that are prone to redness like around your nose and on your chin.
Best for Oily Skin: Hourglass Immaculate Liquid Powder Foundation
If your skin is greasy, it’s most likely susceptible to breakouts, too. In that case, look for the words non-comedogenic or oil-free on your foundation. A liquid foundation with a powder effect can also help to tamp down any unwanted shine. This liquid to powder formula is mattifying, but won’t make skin look dull or cakey. Because of the powder finish, you won’t need to worry about adding powder or touching up throughout the day.
Best for Dry Skin: Neutrogena Hydro Boost Hydrating Tint
There’s nothing worse than a dry, dull complexion that only calls attention to imperfections, especially when foundation or another base product settles into lines that become more prominent when you’re dehydrated. Since Neutrogena is first and foremost a skincare brand, you know you can trust that this foundation packs skin-loving ingredients like hyaluronic acid that will plump and quench thirsty skin. It doesn’t feel heavy or sticky but delivers a hefty dose of moisture.
Best for Combination Skin: Dior Diorskin Airflash Spray Foundation
If you have combo skin, you know how difficult it is to strike just the right balance between hydrating and mattifying. You don’t want to wind up with an oil slick by midday, but you also don’t want to deprive your skin of moisture, because that’s what gives it a healthy glow. The inspiration behind this foundation comes from airbrush makeup, leaving you with the same effect but without the equipment. The aerosol spray releases a fine mist that settles onto skin, blurring imperfections, but without feeling cakey or too wet. The micro-fine mother of pearl pigments that are released leave behind just the right amount of lit from within radiance. After you spray it on, you can work it into skin with a brush or your hands, or you can just let it dry and set on its own.
Best for a Dewy Effect: Hollywood Flawless Filter for a Superstar Youth Glow
Though it’s technically not a foundation, you can use it as one for some seriously glowy skin. Known for her work with supermodels, makeup artist, Charlotte Tilbury recently launched this non-foundation foundation. Its creamy consistency is exactly what you want in a foundation formula, but if you don’t like a little bit of shine, this isn’t for you. Some people choose to use it as a highlighter to call attention to certain features like the cheekbones, down the bridge of the nose, and cupid’s bow, but if that’s not enough for you, you can go to town, using the doe foot applicator to paint on your face and then buff in with a brush or a damp Beauty Blender. If you tend to get oily in certain areas, specifically the t-zone, you may want to follow with a setting powder.
Best Longwear: Fenty Beauty by Rihanna Pro Filt'r Soft Matte Longwear Foundation
With a range of 40 foundation shades, the Fenty line is all about inclusion and this formula is no joke. It’s a little on the thick side, but that just means it’s going to provide you with higher coverage. Once it sets it isn’t going anywhere, but you don’t have much time to play with it before that happens, so do your best to rub it in as soon as you apply it. A damp sponge will help to keep the consistency workable, too. If the consistency is to heavy for you, you can mix in a drop of moisturizer or oil to get less of a matte finish and to make this liquid foundation a bit more sheer. No matter how you choose to apply Fenty's foundation, it will last you all day long.