The best foundations for every skin type, chosen by our beauty team

These are the 19 best foundations on the market right now (and we've tried *hundreds*)

A collage of three of the best foundations from our guide by max factor, charlotte tilbury and chanel
(Image credit: Future)

Finding the best foundation is arguably the most important element of your makeup routine. As the name suggests, base is the bedrock of your whole beauty look. Get this first step right and every other product you layer on top of it will look better too.

The best foundations tend to offer a combination of natural-looking coverage and skincare benefits. Do you need hydration and sheen, breathable coverage, or a polished matte finish? Your skin will give you clues. "It is really important to understand your skin texture and if it tends to become dry or oily throughout the day. Then you can determine the best foundation formula for you," agrees NARS senior artist Rachel Hardie

Whether you need the best full coverage foundation to stay put on combination skin or the best tinted moisturizer to hydrate and plump, our tried and tested guide will help you find the ideal base for your skin right now. Plus our beauty editor and pro makeup artists answer all your foundation FAQs, from picking a formula to perfect shade matching.

How we tested these foundations

Why you can trust Woman & Home Our expert reviewers spend hours testing and comparing products and services so you can choose the best for you. Find out more about how we test.

A selection of foundations that we tested for this guide

A selection of the foundations that we tested for this guide

(Image credit: Fiona McKim)

Each foundation in this guide has been extensively tested by our beauty team, on a variety of skin tones, types, and textures. We assessed each product on their shade range, and how these translated to a realistic skin match. We also researched their ingredients lists, checking for beneficial active ingredients and how well they lived up to any skincare claims.

On testing, we assessed the packaging, how easily each base could be applied and blended, plus how pleasant they felt on the skin. On wearing the foundation we checked their durability on warm and rainy days as well as their ability to work as the best foundations for mature skin by remaining natural-looking without caking, drying out, or settling into lines. 

The best foundations, chosen by our beauty team

hourglass soft glow foundation

(Image credit: Hourglass)

1. Hourglass Ambient Soft Glow Foundation

Best buildable foundation

Specifications

RRP: $58/£46
SPF: No
Shades: 32
Coverage: Medium, buildable
Finish: Glowy
Base: Water
Skin type: All

Reasons to buy

+
Easy to apply
+
Good shade variety
+
Lasting formula
+
Sweat-resistant

Reasons to avoid

-
Thicker formula

First impressions
Hourglass foundations have a strong reputation, so we expected big things from this. The good news is, we weren't disappointed. With a non-comedogenic, vegan, and cruelty-free formula, this foundation promises to blur imperfections whilst also protecting against free radicals. The packaging adds a premium finish, coming in a frosted glass bottle with a metal lid that can be recycled.

Trying and applying
Despite being water-based, the formula is not overly liquid or runny - great for those who like a buildable product. One pump is enough product for the whole face if you like a light and natural finish, however, it is effortless to create fuller coverage. Immediately after applying, we saw an instant glow that wasn't overly shiny and kept our skin looking like skin. It does take a few minutes to properly sink in, so be sure that you give it enough time before layering other products on top. 

What's it like to wear?
This is one of the most adaptable foundations we have tried due to its buildable formula. It didn't crease or cake up on dry patches, even with a couple of layers. It dries fairly matte whilst retaining some glow and is also truly transfer-proof, which is a must in the warmer months. Though at the pricier end of the scale, the formula is unique among the many that we tried due to its weightless feel whilst still providing good coverage. 

Max Factor

(Image credit: Max Factor)

2. Max Factor Miracle Pure Skin Improving Foundation

Best budget foundation

Specifications

RRP: $15.99/ £13.99
SPF: 30
Shades: 20
Coverage : Light-medium
Finish: Radiant
Base : Water
Skin type: Dry-combination

Reasons to buy

+
Lovely glowy finish 
+
89% of  the formula is skincare ingredients 
+
Solid shade range 
+
Excellent value

Reasons to avoid

-
May be too shiny if you have very oily skin

First impressions
Looks-wise, it's not really fair to compare budget bases with luxury ones. But what this lacks in slick designer branding, it makes up for in practicality. A simple, lightweight tube that'll never smash or weigh down your handbag, this does have some nice design features such as a long dropper-style applicator that's completely sealed by the screw-on cap, which means you can't make a mess even if you tried (and we squeezed the tube hard) We like the 20-strong shade range and inclusion of sun protection. So far, so good. 

Trying and applying
Despite being water-based, this does have a bit more 'hold', so when we dropped it out it sat in a little pearl instead of running all over our brush. That's a good thing for control, although it did make us suspect that the formula might be a little heavy. We needn't have worried. It thinned out beautifully the minute we started buffing it in for a medium-sheer finish. We'll put that transformation down to a hefty percentage of skincare ingredients in the formula (89% to be precise) These include hydration heavy-hitters hyaluronic acid and glycerin, both evidenced in the ultra juicy and plump finish this foundation gave to our skin. 

What's it like to wear? 
This bit impressed us most of all. The foundation went on nicely and stayed that way. The color stayed true throughout the whole day without oxidizing, and the pigment didn't migrate or dry out. That's pretty unusual at this price point, where many foundations deliver the goods when freshly applied, but lack the stamina of pricier picks. It also seems to be tricky for inexpensive bases to be dewy but not sparkly, but Max Factor has managed that too. Every time we checked our skin it maintained a glowy finish that looked healthy but not fake. Naturally, if you have very oily skin you probably won't want to add more sheen, so this might not be for you. Otherwise, we'd say almost anyone should love this. 

pixi h20 skin tint foundation

(Image credit: Pixi)

3. Pixi H20 Skin Tint

Best gel foundation

Specifications

RRP: $24/£24
SPF: No
Shades: 18
Coverage: Light
Finish: Dewy
Skin type: Normal to dry
Base: Water

Reasons to buy

+
Lightweight
+
Easy to apply
+
Fragrance-free
+
Vegan

Reasons to avoid

-
No sun protection

First impressions
Pixi has mastered the look of your skin-but-better products with everything from foundation and concealer to bronzers and glowy blushes. This sheer tinted water-based gel is hydrating and breathable, formulated with green tea, rose water, and lavender to soothe and hydrate the skin. This is definitely advertised as more of a tinted, lightweight product than a high-cover foundation, but the dewy results speak for themselves.

Trying and applying
Best applied with the hands and patted in like a moisturizer, the formula has a watery texture compared with other foundations on this list. This means that applying with a brush or sponge could cause too much of the product to be absorbed into the tool rather than your face. However, we found fingertip application totally effortless and was done in seconds, making this the ideal product if you want something quick and easy that will enhance the skin. It's worth bearing in mind that this is designed to even out the complexion and add radiance, as opposed to cover imperfections.

What's it like to wear? 
The gel-like formula is both cooling and hydrating and doesn't take much blending to cover the face. It is extremely lightweight and feels akin to a gel moisturizer after sinking in, which is ideal for humid weather when heavy products can feel suffocating. Throughout the day it continued to sink in slowly without compromising on color or becoming dry. This would make one of the best foundations for combination skin, if you want something with a fresh feel for oily zones but also suffer from flaky skin that products tend to cling to, you won't find that to be an issue with this skin tint. The only thing that would make this a better foundation would be SPF, however, this is certainly an easy-to-layer product that would work with sun protection worn underneath.

Mii Flawless Face Base

(Image credit: Mii)

4. Mii Flawless Face Base

Best everyday foundation

Specifications

RRP: £19.95 (UK only)
SPF: No
Shades: 6
Finish: Radiant
Base: Water
Skin type: All

Reasons to buy

+
Adaptable shades
+
Soft Focus effect 
+
Radiant without being shiny

Reasons to avoid

-
Limited shade range

First impressions
The opaque black packaging doesn't give much away. You can't see the shade by looking at the tube so you'll need to really trust the imagery on the site you are buying it from. But then again, the limited shade range here is designed to be sheer and adaptable so there is a reasonable margin for error. That aside, we love the ultra-slim and lightweight tube, which would slip seamlessly into any makeup kit, either at home or for taking out and about. 

Trying and applying
As a water-based foundation, this has a fairly runny consistency. That suits us just fine as it spread out very nicely across our skin without dragging on dryer areas or catching on any peach fuzz hairs. This easy texture means you can apply it with your hands or a brush, whatever your preference. It goes on fairly sheeny thanks to soft-focus particles, rather than the inclusion of any oils. And the glow does settle down within a few minutes, which will be welcome to anyone with oily or combination skin. Cosmetic ingredients aside, the formula also contains peach flower and grape seed extracts, both known to be effective natural antioxidants a nice touch for some daily environmental protection.

What's it like to wear?
This is a foundation you can ignore, and we mean that in the best possible way. It has a weightless feel and looks quite sheer if you only apply a little, although we did build it up on our chin and T-Zone as a pre-emptive strike against oil. It stays put in the important ways – as in, it won't ever cake or migrate into lines, but like most light foundations it is a bit less visible at 8pm than it was at 9am. Overall this would make an excellent, low-maintenance everyday base if you want a flattering veil of color that's healthy-looking but not shiny, and runs zero risk of overloading your skin. 

it cosmetics cc cream foundation

(Image credit: It Cosmetics)

5. It Cosmetics CC+ Cream with SPF 50

Best color correcting foundation

Specifications

RRP: $42/£33
SPF: 50
Shades: 14
Coverage: Medium to full
Finish: Dewy
Base: Water
Skin type: Normal to dry

Reasons to buy

+
Full coverage
+
High SPF
+
Applies smoothly
+
Buildable

Reasons to avoid

-
Will be too heavy for some

First impressions
It Cosmetics has developed somewhat of a cult following in recent years, almost all thanks to this superstar CC+ cream. The formula includes collagen, peptides, niacinamide, and hyaluronic acid which work to combat redness, imperfections and dark circles whilst keeping the skin hydrated and plump. In sleek silver packaging and with a no-mess pump, we got a good feeling from this right away.

Trying and applying
This product really does live up to its name, as it feels like a CC cream but performs like a full coverage foundation. The formula does initially feel slightly thicker than traditional CC or BB creams, but as soon as it is blended it feels light and breathable. You won't need to layer up thanks to its color correcting properties and full coverage finish. If you prefer a natural look and think this foundation might be too much for you, fear not. We found the finish dewy and illuminating, our skin maintained a natural radiance despite its powerful blemish-covering properties. 

What's it like to wear?
This foundation didn't crease or lose coverage through testing on a long day. Plus, it contains SPF 50 - an essential for keeping skin protected no matter the time of year. If you are prone to blemishes or dryness, this will mask them effortlessly without needing to reapply throughout the day. Due to the full coverage it could do with a few more shades, but its blendable texture means it is fairly adaptable. 

No.1 de Chanel Revitalizing Foundation

(Image credit: Chanel)

6. No.1 de Chanel Revitalizing Foundation

Best foundation for most people

Specifications

RRP: $70/£55
SPF: No
Shades: 20
Coverage: Light-medium
Finish: Dewy
Base : Water
Skin type: Any, especially dry or dull

Reasons to buy

+
Hydrating
+
Dewy finish
+
Skincare ingredients
+
Luxurious 
+
'Clean' and eco friendly

Reasons to avoid

-
Won't cover major imperfections

First impressions
A new foundation from Chanel is always worth a look. As well as being ultra-desirable generally, this brand creates some of the most intelligent bases on the market. This is part of a collection called No.1 de Chanel that, uniquely for Chanel, includes skincare, makeup, and fragrance all tied together by the inclusion of red camellia flower and a focus on sustainability. 

Trying and applying
And what's the foundation like to wear? She's an absolute beauty. On pumping out, the creamy liquid looked fairly firm, so the ease with which it blended and spread onto the skin came as something of a surprise. Truly, this stuff just melts away, leaving behind an illuminated, skinlike finish with zero dragging or tidemarks. This could be down to the inclusion of coated pigments and film-forming ingredients, which Chanel promise gives a "second-skin effect." It certainly feels comfortable, and after six or seven hours of wear wasn't collecting or sinking into pores one little bit.

What's it like to wear?
The coverage is fairly light and you can build it up where needed, but this isn't hardcore high pigment stuff, so if it's that you're seeking, look elsewhere. Everyone else should continue looking this way, not least because that camellia oil quenches skin and gives a dewy makeup look without being too slick on oily skin. The packaging has been considered carefully, with recyclable glass, no cellophane or booklet and organic inks used.  Obviously, this sort of quality doesn't come cheap, but as long as budget isn't a barrier this should be at the top of your shopping list. 

See our full No1 de Chanel Revitalizing Foundation review

Charlotte Tilbury Beautiful Skin Foundation

(Image credit: Charlotte Tilbury)

7. Charlotte Tilbury Beautiful Skin Foundation

The best foundation for lasting hydration

Specifications

RRP: $44/£34
SPF: No
Shades: 30
Coverage: Medium
Finish: Radiant
Base: Water
Skin type: Normal to dry

Reasons to buy

+
Very moisturizing
+
Excellent shades
+
Light, handy pump tube
+
Environmental protection

Reasons to avoid

-
Higher coverage than expected

First impressions
You can tell a lot about a foundation from its name, and this one says it all: Pop the satiny, medium-coverage base on, give it a little buff and you will indeed have some very beautiful-looking skin. 

Trying and applying
But while there are no surprises based on the name, we did find the texture of the foundation unexpected compared with the look of the product. Generally, a foundation in a lightweight pump-action tube like this, boasting of 'radiance' and 'hydration' on the box, will be a pretty sheer and watery-light affair. This however is a little thicker and certainly offers more coverage than expected. That's not to say it feels heavy or looks obvious, it really doesn't, but don't mistake this for a tinted moisturizer because it is far closer to a trad foundation, just with a lovely fresh and modern finish.

What's it like to wear?
Another great thing about Beautiful Skin is that it's absolutely rammed with skincare ingredients, which you can feel working their magic on your skin as you wear it. As well as nice hydrating things like hyaluronic acid and coconut extract, it's also got tone-enhancing rose flower oil plus moisture-binding cassia angustifolia seed. Extra points for thoughtful touches like the aforementioned tube being recyclable and a vegan-friendly formula. 

Code8 Day to Night Foundation

(Image credit: Code 8 )

8. Code8 Day to Night Foundation

Best comfortable foundation

Specifications

RRP: $65/£46
SPF: No
Shades: 15
Coverage: Medium
Finish: Radiant
Skin type: All
Base: Water

Reasons to buy

+
Light fresh feel
+
Skin-improving ingredients
+
Long lasting yet radiant-looking
+
Wand makes for easy application

Reasons to avoid

-
No SPF

First impressions
From the sleek chic tube to the, ahem, grown-up price tag there is no denying this foundation oozes sophistication. For the unfamiliar, this brand specialises in high-performance but low-maintenance makeup and this does seem to fit right into those parameters. The ingredients list contains skincare big hitters including Vitamin E and plumping hyaluronic acid, while the long lasting yet fresh finish should appeal to busy people with better things to do than top up their face on their lunchbreak. 

Trying and applying
The first thing we noticed on testing this foundation was the giant doe foot applicator. Not only is this good fun to smooth the product on with, it actually makes a lot of sense. How many times have you pumped an unnecessarily large amount of base onto your hand, only needed a dab or two on your foundation brush then had to wash the rest down the sink? This cuts out the need for tools or wastage, and we found it picked up exactly the right amount and worked it beautifully into contours. The formula appears a little thicker than average, but blends nicely into a medium cover glowing finish. Despite offering a less expansive shade selection than others on the list, we found a match easily on several skin tones when testing. 

What's it like to wear?
One of the nicest things about this base isn't how it looks, but how it feels. It has a flexible, comfortable weightlessness on t