Our makeup philosophy: get the foundation right, and everything else falls into place. But finding your holy grail foundation isn’t always easy. There are so many factors that come into play when choosing a base: finish (matte or dewy), coverage (sheer, medium or full), texture (liquid or powder), price point (drugstore or luxe) and more. To help guide you into finding the foundation of your dreams, we called on seven seasoned makeup artists to share the ones they count on to keep their clients’ skin looking fly and flawless day in and day out. Plus, we asked them how they prefer to apply the foundation, because we all know that using your fingers, brush or sponge can yield very different results.
Another perk of asking makeup artists for their recs—they know what foundations work for glowing skin in real-life and on camera. Whether you’re headed to a wedding or just taking selfies on a regular Thursday night out (holler), choosing a foundation that ticks all the boxes—longevity, natural finish, and makes your skin look airbrushed—is key. Look no further—ahead, we’ve got you covered with the best foundations top makeup artists use on the regular. If it’s good enough Zoë Kravitz, it’s good enough for us.
Clients: Zoë Kravitz, Brie Larson, Laura Harrier
Favorite Foundation: Chanel Vitalumiere Moisture Rich Fluid Makeup SPF 15 ($60)
“This foundation passes all the criteria I personally look for in a foundation: How does it wear/dry down? Could it be used for most skin types? Is the coverage buildable? How does it photograph? Does it look like skin? And most importantly, does it feel like skin?
One of my favorite ways to apply this foundation is by using a thin synthetic foundation brush. I apply in repetitive small strokes on an area for maximum blending and to achieve that second-skin glow.”
Clients: Pia Mia, Sofia Richie, Keke, Eiza Gonzalez
Favorite Universal Foundation: Giorgio Armani Luminous Silk ($64)
“This is a kit staple for me; it works really well on all skin types. The foundation is very light, more of a watery consistency and it’s more hydrating which I love in any foundation—so for dry skin, it really works and doesn’t flake up or cling to dry patches. With more oily skin, I just take my time to bounce it in and set it and it just looks like gorgeous skin.
Favorite Glow-Inducing Foundation: Charlotte Tilbury Hollywood Flawless Filter ($44)
“This foundation is incredible. One of my kit secrets! This formula is loaded with skintone-reflective pigments so you just look glowy and gorgeous. I think of this as ‘supermodel skin’ in a tube.”
Favorite Full-Coverage Foundation: Becca Cosmetics Full Coverage Foundation ($44)
“This a go-to when I’m working on skin that needs more coverage! This formula is lightweight and non-acnegenic, which is so important with something more full coverage. This will keep your skin looking smooth and velvety no matter what shape your skin is underneath.”
Clients: Viola Davis, Marsha Stephanie Blake, India Moore
“For full coverage of darker skin tones, I like Beauty Blender Bounce ($40) and Chanel Le Teinte Ultra ($60). Both offer great color choices and have a realistic skin finish. Neither looks like clay and both blend seamlessly. I like to to use a foundation brush with the Chanel foundation. Then, I use the Beautyblender for the Bounce foundation and pretty much everything else!”
“If I am looking for less coverage (if I’m working on a person with great skin texture, tone and clarity already), I like to use Pat McGrath Labs ($68) or Dior Backstage Face and Body ($40).”
Clients: Ella Balinska, Karlie Kloss, Priyanka Chopra
Favorite Foundation: Maybelline Dream Radiant Liquid Foundation ($13)
“It's formulated with hyaluronic acid and collagen to deliver skin a boost of hydration to keep skin looking naturally radiant. I love this foundation because it’s lightweight and I can easily build up the coverage in certain areas that need it, while keeping the rest sheer and radiant.
I love to use a fluffy blush brush to buff my liquid foundation over my clients' skin—it gives it a light, whipped effect that covers but still looks natural. Then, I follow up with a full coverage concealer over any still visible blemishes. If I have gone too far with my concealer coverage, I use a clean, wet Beautyblender with a little serum on it to sheer out any heavy foundation.”
Clients: Madeline Brewer, Bel Powley, Charlotte Lawrence
Favorite Foundation: Maybelline Dream Urban Cover Foundation ($13)
“It’s my go-to because it provides buildable coverage that looks and feels like flawless skin. Plus, the formula has SPF 50, which ensures my clients are protected from sun damage.
I like to start with a hydrating primer to help create a glow-y base. If I’m using a fuller-coverage foundation, like Dream Urban Foundation, I use a flat foundation brush and dab the product on. My go-to for finishing any application is using a Beautyblender after applying the concealer and foundation. It helps to melt the makeup into the skin and takes away that visible ‘makeup’ look."
Clients: Yara Shahidi, Ella Mai, Diane Kruger
Favorite Foundation: Shiseido Refresh Synchro Skin ($47).
“I love quite a few, but this is one I’ve been using a lot lately. There’s a wide range and the tones are really great. I carry all the minis with me and am never without a shade for any client. It’s moisturizing and has a beautiful satin finish.
I use the Beautyblender to press and blend. The finish is very seamless and any texture minimized. Always use the blender wet—I usually soak it in a soothing spray for extra hydration.”
Clients: Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Kilo Kish
Favorite Foundation: Armani Luminous Silk Foundation ($64).
“I love this foundation. I like applying it with the Armani foundation brush. It’s a good medium size—not too big, not too small, so it spreads the foundation around quickly. Then I like to blend over everything with a damp blending sponge. I use Juno & Co. in the regular size and then the mini ones for under the eyes and hard to reach spots. By tapping and blending over with the damp sponge, you also pick up excess product to prevent build-up, so it won’t turn cakey or crease. I also always blur the foundation out with sponge toward the jawline and hairline for a seamless look with no obvious lines.”
Clients: Makhond Lovu, June Diane Raphael, Nastia Liukin
Favorite Foundation: Dior Diorshow Backstage Foundation ($40)
“My favorite foundation is the Dior Backstage foundation! I love it because it looks gorgeous on video, in photos, and in person! It comes in 40 waterproof shades that aren’t just yellow or pink, they have some olive, neutral, beige, and more. For a face and body foundation I love that it’s not too watery. It gives beautiful coverage that’s beautiful and has a natural finish. It gives a subtle glow that never looks greasy or too wet. It’s fantastic!"