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When it comes to perfecting your complexion, there are days when just a swipe of tinted sunscreen is perfect. There are days when a full-coverage foundation is in the cards. And then there are days when you need not only a full-coverage foundation, but one that you know is going to last come hell or high water. Enter the beauty of a waterproof formula. Made with higher levels of polymers—film-forming molecules that ensure makeup is long-wearing—along with waxes to block out moisture, these bases can withstand sweat, water, tears, you name it.
The caveat: They do tend to be a bit heavier on the skin and some may contain comedogenic ingredients, so just make sure that you remove them completely once you are ready to go bare-faced again. (And FYI, you’ll likely need to use a dedicated makeup remover to do so.) Still, for all those occasions when a long-lasting, flawless foundation is a must, consider these waterproof picks the ace of base.
Keep scrolling for the best waterproof foundations on the market.
Best Overall: Charlotte Tilbury Airbrush Flawless Foundation
This formula feels so good on skin that you wouldn’t know it’s waterproof unless someone told you. It’s a favorite of makeup artist Shayna Goldberg, who lauds it for being so full-coverage, without ever wearing heavy. To that point, along with the stay-put benefits, it’s also insanely hydrating; we’re talking it can boost skin moisture levels by over 200% in just one hour. Plus, it’s packed with wrinkle-fighting ingredients (yes, please), and touts special pigments that help the shades adjust to your skin tone specifically.
Runner-Up, Best Overall: MAC Cosmetics Studio Face & Body Foundation
Goldberg calls this product, “timeless and iconic,” noting that the finish strikes the perfect combination between being naturally dewy and still totally long-wearing. A blend of emollients (read: moisturizing ingredients) in the formula give it its comfortable and creamy texture, and you can easily build it up from sheer to medium coverage.
Best Drugstore: L’Oréal Paris Infallible 24HR Fresh Wear Foundation SPF 25
Broadly speaking, drugstore foundations have come a looong way in recent years, and this waterproof pick is proof positive of exactly that. The staying power (yes, 24-hours worth) and waterproof capabilities are impressive in and of themselves, but add to that the medium-to-full coverage, breathable texture, and extensive line-up of shades and you’ve got yourself a real winner.
Best Stick: Hourglass Cosmetics Vanish Seamless Finish Foundation Stick
We heart foundation sticks not only for their ease of application (no tools or mirror required) but also for their creamy coverage that can pull double-duty as a concealer. This stick just does that, offering full, yet weightless color that’s long-wearing and waterproof. Bonus points for the triangular tip, which is perfect for swiping onto hard-to-reach spots like the inner corners of your eyes and around your nose.
Best with SPF: IT Cosmetics CC+ Cream Oil-Free Matte SPF 40
Those who like multi-taskers will appreciate that this formula does it all. We’re talking hydrate, deliver a load of anti-aging and good-for-your-skin ingredients, absorb oil, and tout always-important sun protection. A new iteration of the original best-seller, it’s now also matte and waterproof. Don’t be fooled by the fact that it’s called a CC cream, either; it packs full coverage and is enough to hide everything you need hidden.
Best Double Duty: Tarte Shape Tape Concealer
Yes, you read that correctly—we put a concealer on the list. According to Goldberg, the fan-favorite is actually one of her favorite formulas for using as an all-over foundation. It’s so highly blendable that you can sheer it out for more diffuse coverage, without compromising the performance, she says. Per the point of performance, it’s also crease-resistant for up to 12 hours, so it never settles into fine lines or other imperfections.
What Our Testers Say
“The biggest takeaway from wearing shape tape is how my skin looked lifted immediately after applying, and the fact I was able to use it to highlight my features too, was a big win in my opinion.” — Ashley Rebecca, Product Tester
Best Matte Finish: Nars Soft Matte Complete Foundation
Goldberg says this pick is ideal for those who want their skin to look totally shine-free. Credit a balancing complex that keeps skin hydrated, coupled with oil-absorbing powders that create a flawlessly matte (though never cakey) result. On top of that, it’s transfer-, sweat-, and humidity-proof, and also resists oxidation, so the color never changes, no matter how long you wear it.
Best Natural Finish: Dior Backstage Face & Body Foundation
The feel and finish of this formula are more akin to a featherweight tinted moisturizer than a full-on, long-wearing foundation, but indeed it is the latter. It’s waterproof and sweat-resistant, works equally well on the face and/or body, and imparts the ideal amount of medium, buildable color that makes your complexion look natural. Fun fact: It’s what Meghan Markle wore on her wedding day.
What Our Testers Say
"Dior's Backstage Face & Body Foundation really is a standout as far as coverage products go. It leaves my skin looking bright and healthy, but never as if I’m wearing a lot of makeup." — Emily Algar, Product Tester
Best for Body: Dermablend Leg and Body Makeup Foundation
Let’s face it, sometimes the skin below your chin needs a little perfecting, too. Whether you want to cover up bruises, veins, or tats, this ultra-thick, ultra-full coverage body base gets the job done. A little bit goes a long way, completely covering what you want to be covered, without the risk of smudging or transferring and staying put for up to 16 hours.
Best Drops: Catrice Prime and Fine Makeup Transformer Drops
Ever wish your favorite foundation formula could become waterproof whenever you needed some extra staying power? This convenient product makes that wish come true. Simply mix one to three drops with any foundation to instantly make it waterproof. Yes, it’s that easy. Satisfied Ulta reviewers rave about how long it lasts, and point out that the drops also work well when used as a primer.
Best Splurge: Tom Ford Waterproof Foundation/Concealer
Yes, this is admittedly pricey, but you have to consider the fact that it acts as both foundation and concealer. It stands up not only to water, but also to heat and humidity (can you say ‘ideal for summer?), and packs so much coverage that you can even use it to cover up tattoos. To that point, start with just a small amount and gradually build up as needed.
When you want to really ensure your foundation isn’t going anywhere, opting for a waterproof formula is definitely the move. The Charlotte Tilbury Airbrush Flawless Foundation is one of our all-time favorites in the category (and a go-to for pro makeup artists, as well). Many waterproof bases also work equally well on both the face and body because of their staying power; case in point, two of our other top picks, the MAC Studio Face & Body Foundation and Dermablend Leg and Body Makeup Foundation. And if you’re on the hunt for an affordable though equally budge-proof option, don’t miss the L’Oréal Paris Infallible 24HR Fresh Wear Foundation with SPF 25 or the CoverGirl Outlast Active Foundation, both of which last for, you guessed it, 24 hours.
What to Look For In a Waterproof Foundation
According to Goldberg, a common misconception about waterproof foundations is that they’re all full coverage, but that’s not always the case. The staying power really doesn’t have to do with the level of pigment it offers, so make sure to consider the two separately, she says.
Similarly, many waterproof formulas do have a more matte finish, but that’s not necessarily a hard-and-fast rule. Waterproof foundations are great for those with oily skin, point out Goldberg, and if that’s you, you will want to pick an oil-free, mattifying option. But you can find bases that are both waterproof and have more of a radiant or skin-like finish.
Though they aren't a must, hydrating ingredients such as hyaluronic acid and glycerin can help skin your skin looking smooth throughout the day, since you'll presumably we wearing waterproof foundation for a good number of hours. Hyaluronic acid is often found in anti-aging makeup products for its ability to provide moisture that smooths out wrinkles and fine lines, and glycerin offers similar smoothing hydration.
Is waterproof foundation bad for your skin?
Even though many people think that foundation is bad because it doesn't "let your skin breathe," some makeup artists believe it can benefit your skin. Some foundation formulas include sun protection and skincare ingredients (like the hydrating ones mentioned above) that can help create a healthier-looking complexion.
Will foundation age your skin?
No foundation will actually age your skin, though some may settle into fine lines and wrinkles (making them more visible).
How do you get waterproof foundation off?
When using waterproof products, you'll want a makeup remover that is made to sweep them away. While some people prefer a waterproof makeup remover with oil, others opt for oil-free ones. Choose the makeup remover that works best with your skin and its needs.
Does micellar water take off waterproof makeup?
Micellar water has a number of uses, and a makeup remover is one of them. Depending on the formulation of the one you use, it may be able to remove your waterproof foundation without additional products needed.
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. While she’s more of a tinted moisturizer girl at heart, she does reach for waterproof foundations for any major event.
Meet the Expert
Shayna Goldberg is a New York-based makeup artist and consultant, who often works on editorial as well as brand campaigns.
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 waterproof foundations from a Black-owned and/or Black-founded business. If you know of one we should consider, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will evaluate the product ASAP.