These Transfer-Resistant Foundations Won't Budge (and Don't Look Cakey)

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foundation
Our Top Picks
With a matte finish and serious staying power, this formula is not for the faint-of-heart.
Budget-friendly, this oil-free foundation that gives natural-looking coverage.
The result is a natural finish that won't transfer to your shirt collar.
A medium-coverage matte foundation that ranks high for oil-control.
An airbrushed look that lasts all day or night.
Once this foundation dries, it isn't going anywhere.
With over 55 shades, you're bound to find your perfect match.
This easy-to-use stick foundation dries down to a velvety finish.
Kaolin clay in this formula helps reduce oils, inflammation, and redness.
With 24-hours of wear and SPF 20, this foundation is a winner.
In This Article

In high school, I always feared hugging a friend or love interest would result in streaking their clothes or skin with foundation. Then, of course, the world would end, because it was high school. While I've become slightly less dramatic with age, I still don't want to go around getting my foundation on unsuspecting people (or clothing I'm trying on or my sunglasses or my phone). 

Enter these transfer-resistant foundations. They provide long-lasting coverage that looks fresh all day and won't rub off all over the items your face comes into contact with.

Keep scrolling for the best transfer-proof foundations that will stay put all day long.

Best Overall: KVD Vegan Beauty Lock-It Foundation

KVD Vegan Beauty Lock-It Foundation

Only the teeniest drop of this foundation is needed for medium-to-full coverage. Once applied, you can trust that it'll stay put until it's time to wash your face at the end of the day. With a matte finish and serious staying power, this formula is not for the faint-of-heart.

Best Budget: Maybelline New York SuperStay Full Coverage Foundation

Maybelline New York Super Stay Full Coverage Liquid Foundation Makeup

This one's an oil-free foundation that delivers natural-looking coverage. The formula is on the thicker side, so it takes a bit of blending, but it feels light as air once applied. The transfer-free formula promises up to 30 hours of wear, so you can trust it'll take you from morning to night and won't smudge onto your clothes during any outfit changes.

Best Natural Finish: Make Up For Ever Ultra HD Foundation

Make Up Forever Ultra HD Invisible Cover Foundation

A ride-or-die foundation for the ages. This classic liquid foundation glides onto your face like a second skin, gently blurring away imperfections like a Snapchat filter IRL. The result: a natural finish that won't transfer to your shirt collar. It certainly doesn't hurt that it's available in 50 shades.

Best Matte Finish: Too Faced Peach Perfect Comfort Matte Foundation

Too Faced Peach Perfect Comfort Matte Foundation

Over 1500 five-star reviews on Sephora don't lie. This medium-coverage matte foundation is one of the best long-lasting, transfer-resistant formulas out there. Reviewers say that it helps control oil without feeling heavy and that it stays on all day.

Best Long-Lasting: Urban Decay All Nighter Liquid Foundation

Urban Decay All Nighter Liquid Foundation

This foundation does not come to play. It's full-coverage, waterproof, and super pigmented (read: you only need a tiny bit for an airbrushed look that lasts all day—or night). 24 shades take undertones into account, so you should be able to find your perfect match.

Best Full-Coverage: Fenty Beauty by Rihanna Pro Filt'r Soft Matte Longwear Foundation

Pro Filt'r Soft Matte Longwear Foundation 190 1.08 oz/ 32 mL

There is literally nothing Rihanna can't do. This matte foundation comes in a whopping 40 shades, and once it dries down, you better believe that it's not going anywhere. We highly recommend you use either a brush or a makeup sponge to apply it since using your fingers doesn't quite yield the same natural-looking results.

Best Shade Range: Estée Lauder Double Wear Stay-in-Place Makeup

Estée Lauder Double Wear Stay-in-Place Makeup SPF 10

This is a lightweight foundation that lives up to its name, promising a full 24 hours of wear sans caking, creasing, or settling into fine lines. Once applied, the sweat-, heat-, and humidity-resistant formula dries down to a matte (read: not chalky) finish. Plus, it comes in over 55 shades.

Best Stick: BLK/OPL True Color Skin Perfecting Stick Foundation SPF 15

Black Opal True Color Skin Perfecting Foundation Stick

You don't have to spend the equivalent of six pumpkin spice lattes to get a long-lasting foundation. The proof: this $11 find from Blk/Opl. The stick formula dries down to a velvety finish that doesn't feel heavy and won't end up all over your phone screen. Blk/Opl's Shade ID technology ensures you'll find the perfect shade for your skin tone, plus it contains vitamin C and vitamin E to help nourish the skin and provide antioxidant protection.

Best for Oily Skin: Hourglass Immaculate Liquid Powder Foundation

Key Ingredients

Kaolin clay (aka China clay) is a naturally occurring clay mineral. It is gentler than other clay varieties, and when applied to the skin, is known to reduce oiliness, inflammation, and redness.

This foundation is infused with kaolin clay and helps soak up excess oil and keeps skin looking fresh all day. It also has over 1800 five-star reviews on Sephora to back up its long-wear claims. The oil-free formula makes this a nice pick for oily, acne-prone skin types.

Best with SPF: Yves Saint Laurent All Hours Longwear Natural Matte Foundation

Yves Saint Laurent All Hours Longwear Natural Matte Foundation

Key Ingredients

Black tea is a type of tea that is more oxidized than other teas, thereby contributing to its darker color and stronger flavor. Black tea's high concentration of antioxidants and caffeine is believed to protect skin from environmental damage, and also provides anti-inflammatory benefits.

Can a foundation be sultry? Yes, if it's from YSL. The creamy, light formula is a dream to apply, and it also contains black tea and SPF 20 for skin protection.

What to Look For in a Transfer-Resistant Foundation

All-Day Wear

If you’re looking for a foundation that will stay put (and won’t smear all over your turtleneck), celebrity makeup artist Tobi Henney says to look for formulas that promise all-day wear. If it has the ability to last you from morning to night, then there’s a good chance it will set quickly and stick to your skin rather than your clothes.

Matte and Oil-Free Formulas

According to Henney, foundations with matte finishes and oil-free formulas tend to be more transfer- and smudge-resistant than their dewier, oil-infused counterparts. Plus, they’re better at keeping shine and greasiness at bay throughout the day, which is a major plus.

Skincare Benefits

While this may not necessarily affect a foundation's lasting power, Henney is a fan of formulas that pack in the skincare benefits. Added ingredients that provide lightweight hydration or antioxidant protection (think hyaluronic acid and vitamin E) are two things she recommends looking out for in a foundation.

Meet the Expert

Tobi Henney is a makeup artist based in New York City. Her client roster includes the likes of Ashley Graham, Barbara Palvin, Charlotte Lawrence, and more. She previously served as L'Oréal Paris Makeup Director for Australia.

Article Sources
Byrdie takes every opportunity to use high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial guidelines to learn more about how we keep our content accurate, reliable and trustworthy.
  1. Keen M, Hassan I. Vitamin E in DermatologyIndian Dermatol Online J. 2016;7(4):311. doi: 10.4103/2229-5178.185494

  2. Williams LB, Haydel SE. Evaluation of the Medicinal Use of Clay Minerals as Antibacterial AgentsInternational Geology Review. 2010;52(7-8):745-770. doi: 10.1080/00206811003679737

  3. Koch W, Zagórska J, Marzec Z, Kukula-Koch W. Applications of Tea (Camellia sinensis) and its Active Constituents in CosmeticsMolecules. 2019;24(23):4277. doi:10.3390/molecules24234277

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