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Matte foundation doesn’t have to be cakey, heavy and one-dimensional, believe it or not. It’s simply the term used to define the formula best suited to a complexion that’s prone to a shiny T-zone. It’s also a good option if you require a more robust coverage that will see you through from a.m. to p.m. without sweat or excess sebum getting in the way. That’s why matte formulas come up time and time again on our list of the best foundations ever.
Even though matte foundations are traditionally powder-based, you can now get your velvety skin fix in a liquid formula that’ll spread across the skin like warm butter, melting in and creating a soft, creamy complexion that looks effortless, not chalky and feels light, not weighty. They’re also worth considering if you have fairly obvious pores, as the lack of oil in the foundation formula means they’re less likely to clog and suffocate the skin. It’s also pretty common for matte foundations to contain oil-absorbing ingredients like clay and silica that will mop up any excess shine that might ruin your game face.
These are the best matte foundations for shine-free skin.
Best Overall: Clinique Stay-Matte Oil-Free Makeup
Tried and true, this foundation truly delivers and keeps skin matte all day long. The formula keeps shine under control, soaks up oil, and resists sweat. Designed for eight-hour wear, it won’t make you break out. The medium coverage has a natural matte finish and comes in 20 shades. And there’s no guesswork involved when it comes to the application since the tip gives out just the right amount of foundation.
Best Budget: L'Oréal Paris Infallible Pro-Matte Foundation
This drugstore staple has racked up quite a fan club. The long-wearing formula can really go the distance, delivering up to 24 hours of matte coverage without making skin look flat or getting cakey. It even resists sweat, humidity, and heat, so you’ll want this on hand for those stuffy summer days. The airy texture goes on smooth but delivers enough color to hide imperfections and has buildable coverage. It’s available in 22 shades and glides on with your fingers or a foundation brush.
Best Splurge: Armani Beauty Power Fabric Foundation SPF 25
Plenty of people are willing to shell out for this foundation that is worth every penny. Everything about it feels luxe, from the chic packaging all the way to the beautiful, creamy formula. The foundation has a rich consistency and dries down to just the right matte finish. Armani Beauty’s Micro-fil Technology features super fine pigments to allow for the most coverage in a foundation with the lightest and thinnest texture possible. Plus, it includes SPF 25 to protect the skin.
Best for Full Coverage: Make Up For Ever Matte Velvet Skin Full Coverage Foundation
Beloved for blending like a dream, the fact that this foundation covers so much makes its smooth application even more impressive. It wards off shine but never looks cakey or flakes. Even though it feels light, the creamy consistency is strong enough to mask texture issues. The breathable formula lets the skin breathe but still delivers 24-hour wear. With 40 shades on offer, it’s easy for anyone to find their match.
Best for Medium Coverage: BECCA Cosmetics Ever-Matte Shine Proof Foundation
The Becca range was created by an Australian makeup artist, which should already give you confidence that this will work to combat unwanted shine. Designed to withstand heat (read: sweat) and easy to blend, it swooshes over the skin like a dream and hides everything you don’t want others to pick up on. It also contains vitamins E and A to keep skin moisturized and shielded from free radicals. Thanks for that.
Best Liquid: Fenty Beauty Pro Filt'r Soft Matte Longwear Foundation
Rihanna made headlines for finally delivering the inclusive full-color range of foundation the world had been waiting for. But this line is so much more than its shade range. Though the formula is thin and light, it somehow delivers major matte, buildable coverage that doesn’t budge. It works for all skin types too, from normal to dry, combination, and oily.
Best Powder: bareMinerals Matte Finish Foundation SPF 15 for Oily Skin
If your main concern is soaking up oil, a powder foundation is a choice for you. This version from BareMinerals does just that without giving skin a dried out look, delivering a natural finish. Since the format is so buildable, you can opt for light coverage or apply more over problem spots. As an added bonus, it contains mineral sunscreen—via titanium dioxide and zinc oxide—to protect you from the sun. Plus, since the vegan foundation only has six ingredients, it won’t trigger breakouts or clog pores.
Best Non-Comedogenic: CoverGirl Clean Matte Liquid Foundation
When you need to keep excess shine under control, this is your answer. Magically, it doesn’t dry skin out either. That’s because the Oil Control formula includes oil-absorbers and skin conditioners. Plus, it's non-comedogenic, meaning it won’t clog pores.
Best Shade Range: NYX Professional Makeup Stay Matte But Not Flat Liquid Foundation
NYX Professional Makeup has nailed it when it comes to shades—this foundation has 30 to choose from, so whatever skin tone you’re trying to mattify, you won’t be caught short. Oil-free and infused with minerals, it comfortably covers everything.
Best with SPF: NARS Cosmetics Velvet Matte Skin Tint Broad Spectrum SPF 30
A foundation with all the trimmings, the blurring powders in this are spherical, which basically means they can mold to your skin’s contours easier (hello, flawless face). It helps create that velvety, diffused finish that makes skin look filtered in real life. It’s also full of antioxidants to protect from environmental damage. Wear this, and your skin will be in good hands.
Best for Sensitive Skin: No7 Beautifully Matte Foundation
Spots, open pores, and red patches disappear in just a few clean sweeps of this. It's also hypoallergenic, so if you do suffer from sensitive skin, you can still get good coverage without any blotchy backlash. With SPF 15, this should become an old faithful in everyone’s makeup bags.