The best full coverage foundations for every budget and every skin finish

Our experts select the best full coverage foundations—from matte to glowy

Three of the best full coverage foundations by westman atelier, clinique and giorgio armani
(Image credit: Future)

If you're struggling to find the best full coverage foundations that do everything you want them tokeep reading. Full coverage foundations are great for many reasons; they conceal pigmentation or any skin issues, they unify skin tone perfectly, they have amazing staying-power and if you like the feeling of a full face of make-up (which should carry no judgment by the way), then a full coverage foundation is most definitely the way to go. 

The best foundation for you, whatever type of coverage you like, should be one that makes your skin look as good as possible. Many people are looking for full coverage foundation because they want makeup to cover scars, pigmentation, or to disguise another aspect of their skin. But just because a foundation contains a lot of pigment, it shouldn't follow that it has to look unnatural or mask-like. 

These days, the best full coverage foundations come in every conceivable texture and finish, from radiant and light-reflecting to oil control and solid sticks that make top-ups a breeze. Whatever your preferred look, our experts have curated all the information you need to choose between the best full coverage foundations on the market, to help you feel confident in your flawless base. 

How to choose the best full coverage foundations 

Even the best full coverage foundations are at risk of looking unnatural if you don't find your perfect foundation match. To choose a spot-on shade, make-up artist Lan Nguyen-Grealis recommends:

  • Patch test: "Always test your foundation on your neck, that way you can check it against your chin in a mirror.
  • Take your time: Once you’ve applied it, wait a few minutes. Sometimes foundation can oxidise and change colour so give yourself a few minutes to let it settle in and check you're still happy with how it looks.
  • Look for the sun: It’s always best to test foundation in natural light, but that’s not always possible in a shop so just try to find the brightest spot and see what it looks like there.
  • Go lighter: If you're stuck between two shades and you're not sure which one will suit you best, go with the lighter one as you can always warm your skin up with bronzer."

The best full coverage foundation, as chosen by our beauty team

Westman Atelier Vital Skin Foundation Stick

(Image credit: Westman Atelier)

1. Westman Atelier Vital Skin Foundation Stick

Best luxury full coverage foundation

Specifications

RRP : $68/£63
Shades: 19

Reasons to buy

+
Easy to use on the go
+
Complexion boosting ingredients
+
Amazing packaging

Reasons to avoid

-
Expensive

When make-up guru Gucci Westman creates a product you know it's going to be excellent. And this full coverage foundation stick is more than just excellent. It's next-level outstanding. She has managed to infuse the formulation with lots of skin-loving ingredients such as antioxidants to protect against things that like to damage the skin as well as squalane, which makes the skin feel gorgeously plump. It also means the texture of the foundation glides on really easily, making it incredibly effortless to blend in, which is not always the case with heavier foundations. 

Thanks to it being in a stick you can use your fingers to dab the formula on where needed and then blend with a brush or sponge. Or can you sweep your brush over the stick and apply it that way. There is also a brilliant online shade matcher tool on the Atelier Westman website to ensure you end up with your perfect shade, which is essential when spending this amount on a product. But we can promise it's a purchase you won't regret—this isn't just one of the best foundation sticks, it's one of the best foundations in any texture

Rimmel London Lasting Finish Foundation

(Image credit: Rimmel London)

2. Rimmel London Lasting Finish

Best budget full coverage foundation

Specifications

RRP: $17.95/£9.99
Shades: 20
SPF: 20

Reasons to buy

+
Comfortable on the skin
+
Oil-free
+
Sweat-resistant and transfer-proof

Reasons to avoid

-
Functional packaging 

Proving that a great base doesn’t need to cost the earth, this was the best-selling foundation of 2020 and we can see why. It has an almost serum-like consistency, thanks to it containing hyaluronic acid and vitamin E to keep skin looking plump, feeling hydrated, and creating a silky feeling to the product. And once it’s in place it really does stay put. So much so the brand has declared it ‘mask-resistant’, which—after much testing—we can say is absolutely true.  

It has an impressive shade range and the formulation is non-comedogenic, which means it won’t clog your pores. The finish is velvety matte and it keeps shine at bay for at least 24 hours. Whilst we’re not suggesting you should wear your foundation that long, it’s reassuring to know that how you look when you first apply it is how you will look by the end of the day. 

L'Oréal Paris Infallible 32H Fresh Wear SPF25 + Vitamin C

(Image credit: L'Oreal Paris)

3. L'Oréal Paris Infallible 32H Fresh Wear SPF25 + Vitamin C

Best skin brightening full coverage foundation

Specifications

RRP: $11.99/£10.99
Shades: 30
SPF: 25

Reasons to buy

+
Skin boosting ingredients
+
Long-lasting
+
Subtle glowy finish

Reasons to avoid

-
Practical, but not inspiring, packaging

Aside from its fairly functional-looking bottle, you don't have to compromise on anything with this full coverage foundation. It has been reformulated to now contain vitamin C (aka ascorbic acid) which we know is the skin brightening ingredient. It also contains moisture-boosting ingredients to keep your skin feeling hydrated when you wear it, but also to prevent the finish from looking cakey and heavy.

It feels light on the skin but delivers amazing coverage, and it also contains SPF25 to protect your skin from all the usual aggressors. That advertised staying-power is very impressive indeed. It doesn't transfer and in rigorous testing, it didn't fade for 32 hours, so should you choose to wear it for that long, once it's on it won't budge. 

NARS Light Reflecting Foundation

(Image credit: NARS)

4. NARS Light Reflecting Foundation

Best full coverage foundation for a glowy finish

Specifications

RRP: $49/£37.50
Shades: 36

Reasons to buy

+
Vegan formula
+
Protects against blue light
+
Feels incredibly light on the skin

Reasons to avoid

-
Might be too shiny for some

This very clever foundation contains photochromic technology, a ‘photo friendly’ powder that adjusts the tone of the complexion depending on the intensity of light it’s in so that you never appear washed out. It also contains prism-like pigments that help light reflect off the surface of the skin creating a radiant, glowy dewy makeup finish—something even the best full coverage foundations often struggle to achieve.

All of this comes in a super-light, ultra-breathable consistency all whilst delivering amazing coverage in a brilliant range of shades. And if you’re already a NARS base fan then all the shades correspond, making it very easy to find your new one.  

Vichy Dermablend Corrective Fluid Foundation

(Image credit: Vichy)

5. Vichy Dermablend Corrective Fluid Foundation

Best full coverage foundation for concealing

Specifications

RRP: $29/£20
Shades: 13
SPF: 25-35

Reasons to buy

+
Excellent for covering scars and pigmentation
+
Ideal for sensitive skin
+
Great longevity

Reasons to avoid

-
Very full coverage

Whether you have pigmentation issues, acne, dark circles, or if you have rosacea or vitiligo then this is the foundation for you. It contains 25% pigment so it really does deliver color. But it’s not thick and heavy as you might assume. Instead, it’s very creamy although you do need to take the time to blend it into the skin for a flawless finish. Using one of the best makeup brushes in a firm buffing motion should help with that. But once you have it on, it doesn’t budge. In fact, it lasts for 16 hours. 

As with all Vichy products it contains the unique Vichy mineral water which is known to soothe, calm, and hydrate the skin so you really are getting a make-up product that comes with a side of skincare. Most of the shades contain SPF35 (although two have SPF25) so it’s protecting your skin as well as hydrating and concealing it. Even better, this can also be used on the body to cover scars or tattoos if you want to. The shade range may sound limited but one shade does work across a couple of skin tones so there should be one to suit everyone. 

MAC Studio Fix Fluid SPF15 Foundation

(Image credit: MAC)

6. MAC Studio Fix Fluid SPF15 Foundation

Best full coverage foundation for everyday wear

Specifications

RRP: $35/£29
Shades: 67
SPF: 15

Reasons to buy

+
Lasts 24hrs
+
Reduces oil and shine
+
Breathable formulation

Reasons to avoid

-
Bottle not great for on the go touch-ups (but you might not need them)

This foundation has earned cult status, and with good reason. It’s favored by professional make-up artists backstage at catwalk shows and on shoots and one is sold every 60 seconds in the UK and Ireland. Firstly, the shade range is phenomenal. They are divided up into different tones—C for cool, N for neutral, NC for neutral cool, and NW for neutral warm—so there truly is a shade for every skin tone and undertone. 

Then there is the texture, it’s so creamy and lightweight in a way even the best full coverage foundations struggle to manage usually. It creates a matte finish but it’s not flat, it still allows the skin to shine through. If you did want to use it for a lighter finish it’s compatible enough to add a few drops to your best face moisturizer and then be applied to the skin. But for maximum, full coverage results it needs to be applied with a brush. Not only will it unify the skin tone but it will minimize the appearance of pores and create a gorgeous, flawless base. It also has amazing durability and stays on the skin as first applied for 24 hours (not that we’re suggesting you should wear it for that long.)

Max Factor Facefinity All Day Flawless Foundation

(Image credit: Max Factor)

7. Max Factor FaceFinity All-Day Flawless Foundation

Best multipurpose full coverage foundation

Specifications

RRP: $18.95/£13.99
Shades: 33
SPF: 20

Reasons to buy

+
Touch-proof
+
Vegan formula
+
3-in-1 formula

Reasons to avoid

-
Not the most exciting packaging

Combining a primer, concealer, and foundation, this may be the only thing you need to put on your face all day as it has 24 hour staying power. This is thanks to the unique flexi-hold technology which, much like the best primers, means the foundation moves with the skin, staying on it rather than slipping off. It also contains three different powders which absorb excess oil, keeping the skin matte but also creating a soft-focus, airbrushed, filtered-looking skin in real life.  

And for a mass-market brand, the shade range is exceptional. They are divided into warm, cool, and neutral tones and they are all very buildable and blendable. And all offer SPF20 for extra protection. 

Monika Blunder Blunder Cover

(Image credit: Monika Blunder)

8. Monika Blunder Blunder Cover

Best multi-tasking full coverage foundation

Specifications

RRP: £45
Shades: 20

Reasons to buy

+
Multi-functional
+
Contains soothing skincare
+
Vegan formula

Reasons to avoid

-
For best results you need to buy the brush too

Celebrity make-up artist, Monika Blunder has worked on the faces of Rosie Huntington-Whiteley and Emilia Clarke and she has used all of her professional prowess to create an amazing range. The star is this foundation that can also be used as a concealer or, if you know how to contour, to enhance bone structure. It has a very creamy formulation that’s best buffed into the skin with the brand’s face brush for a polished finish (we tried other brushes with it and they didn't work as well) although you can use your fingers for a slightly more dewy, effortless look. 

The shade range has been extended to 20 and it contains skin-boosting ingredients such as edelweiss to soften the skin, arnica to reduce any inflammation and reduce redness, and rosemary for a high dose of antioxidants. Whilst it comes with a fairly high price point, believe us when we say that a little really does go a long way so one pot could easily last you over six months—if not longer—even if you wore it every day. From a cost-per-use perspective, that actually makes this pot very good value. 

Giorgio Armani Power Fabric

(Image credit: Giorgio Armani)

9. Giorgio Armani Power Fabric

Best full coverage foundation for a matte finish

Specifications

RRP: $64/£32
Shades: 29
SPF: 25

Reasons to buy

+
Feels like a second skin
+
Gorgeous velvet finish
+
Formulation keeps skin hydrated

Reasons to avoid

-
If you don't like a matte finish

This gorgeous silky foundation delivers amazing full coverage pigment but manages to feel light and breathable on the skin. It delivers a matte finish but it doesn't leave the skin looking covered and caked in make-up, it still looks like your skin just with a flawless, luminous finish to it. 

It contains a mixture of powders to keep skin shine-free and to absorb sebum, making this one of the best foundations for oily skin on the list. It also contains oils to keep the skin hydrated and flexible throughout the day, preventing the foundation from feeling tight and dry as even the best full coverage foundations can. Power Fabric has an impressive shade range and covers every skin tone from light porcelain to deep mocha. It can be applied either with a brush or with your fingers where the warmth of the skin will make the creamy texture even more pliable and easier to blend in.  

Clinique Even Better Clinical Foundation Serum

(Image credit: Clinique)

10. Clinique Even Better Clinical Serum Foundation

Best full coverage foundation for spot prone skin

Specifications

RRP: $42/£34
Shades: 42
SPF: 20

Reasons to buy

+
Contains spot fighting ingredients
+
Brilliant bottle
+
Waterproof

Reasons to avoid

-
If spots aren't an issue for you

Think of this foundation as your base, skin serum with a side of spot zapping ingredients too. It’s the ideal choice for anyone who follows a skincare routine for acne and wants a foundation to match. The formula won’t clog up pores or aggravate existing spots and it contains salicylic acid, a beta hydroxy acid that will help improve the appearance of existing spots. There’s also a hefty dose of hyaluronic acid which is the moisture-making ingredient for the skin that will plump it up and prevent your skin from becoming too flaky and dry. 

As well as all of this, there is also vitamin C which helps brighten the complexion, and UP302, which gets to work on reducing pigmentation. And it does all of this whilst also delivering a satin matte finish, giving the skin just the right balance of having some glow without looking too shiny. It’s also worth mentioning that the glass bottle is completely recyclable, it just needs to be rinsed out when finished and it can be put in the recycling bin. 


How to apply full coverage foundation

The foundation application of a full coverage base is very much worth having a think about. “Taking time to prep the skin before application is really important when applying full coverage foundations, which you may feel your skin needs to cover blemishes or just for that flawless skin,” explains Nguyen-Grealis.  

“Start by gently exfoliating to get rid of dead skin on the surface for a smooth finish and apply a hydrating serum to get rid of any dry patches. Using the best primer first will help keep skin looking hydrated or a face mist can help add moisture to the foundation when it’s on to keep it looking like skin.”  Once you've prepped, follow these application tips for a flawless look:

  • Go flat. Flat foundation brushes will create a smoother and more even finish, especially with heavier pigmented foundations. 
  • Buff, buff, buff. If you like a full-coverage product, but don’t want it to look too heavy, a buffing brush will help distribute the product around a larger surface area.
  • Build it up. Less is definitely more when it comes to applying a full coverage foundation. Start with a light layer and build up to the coverage you like. 

woman&home thanks Lan Nguyen-Grealis for her time and expertise

Sarah-Jane Corfield-Smith

Sarah-Jane Corfield-Smith has worked in the beauty industry for more than 15 years and, as well as woman&home, has contributed to titles such as Stylist, The Daily Mail and The Times.

As a mum of two little girls she has limited time to spend on herself, so if you’re looking for hard-working multi-tasking products, she’s the one in the know.

Her top three products she has on her at all times are a glow-giving tinted moisturiser, brow pencil and a tinted lip balm. Oh, and she’s never far away from a hydrating face mist.