The 11 best drugstore foundations, for a beautiful base without the big spend

The best drugstore foundations can rival buys three times their price – our beauty editor reveals her favorites

6 of the best drugstore foundations, including options from No7, Maybelline, L'Oreal Paris, Max Factor, Bourjois and NYX
(Image credit: Future/brands)

Believe it or not, the w&h beauty team often reaches for the best drugstore foundations over their more expensive counterparts.

Bargain beauty is booming, and the best foundation for you can now be pretty much any price. According to makeup artist and Max Factor UK ambassador, Caroline Barnes, there’s never been a better time to try drugstore foundations. "There are some amazing foundations available now and they compare extremely well to the luxe brands," she says. "There is now a huge selection that wears really well, and more recently the formulas have improved with added skincare ingredients. There are more options on textures and finishes too, so pretty much all tastes and needs are covered." 

Although, Barnes admits there is one tiny downside - shade matching. "It’s easier in a department store with help on hand, but often in drugstores there aren’t testers and it can be a gamble picking which shade to buy," she concedes. That's where we can help. Read up on how to find your foundation shade, then spend some time getting to know the best drugstore foundations, whatever your budget. These are the teams' tried-and-tested favorites. 

How we tested the best drugstore 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 the best drugstore foundations, picked by our beauty editor - including options by loreal paris, max factor, maybelline, no7 and bourjouis

A selection of Senior Beauty Editor Rhiannon Derbyshire's favorite drugstore foundations

(Image credit: Rhiannon Derbyshire)

To create a reliable guide to the best drugstore foundations, we tested a wide range of products, each with its own unique selling points. We weighed up various styles of base and tested them on our faces, not our hands, as that isn’t going to tell you enough about how it sits and looks on the skin. We also wore them all for a full, busy day, to see how their durability fared.

To give every foundation a fair chance, we used the same skincare beneath each and skipped primer to make sure the results weren’t skewed by having other cosmetics in the mix. Concealer only ever came afterward too. We know some of you prefer to use tools to apply your foundation and tend to weigh up using a foundation brush vs sponge, while others like to use their fingers, so we tested both ways to ensure each had the fairest chance to work for everyone. When it came down to it, there were 11 standout buys that the team agrees are the best drugstore foundation options on the market today.

The best drugstore foundations, as chosen by our beauty team

Maybelline Dream Radiant Liquid

(Image credit: Maybelline)

1. Maybelline Dream Radiant Liquid

Best overall drugstore foundation

Specifications

RRP: $13.99/£8.99
Shades : 20
Coverage: Light to medium coverage
SPF: No
Special ingredients: Hyaluronic acid, collagen

Reasons to buy

+
Glowing finish 
+
Flattering blur effect
+
Hydrating yet lightweight
+
Good for dry skin

Reasons to avoid

-
Needs more shades

As a general rule, if you only have a few bucks to spend then head to a Maybelline counter – you won’t be disappointed. This particular option combines blendable coverage with a juicy-looking finish, thanks to light-reflecting particles that quite literally put your complexion in the best light. Don’t worry, it isn’t sparkly – more of a flattering soft-focus glow that blurs over lines and pores.  

When first pumped out onto the back of the hand or brush, the texture felt slightly rigid, but once you get it moving it blends nicely enough. It also doesn’t settle into lines or drag over rough skin, making it one of the best foundations for dry skin. The 20-shade-strong range is commendable at this price, although it would be better if we got a few more options at the very deepest end of the spectrum. Simply put, it's one of the best drugstore foundation buys out there. 

Bourjois healthy mix foudation

(Image credit: Bourjois)

2. Bourjois Healthy Mix Foundation

Best classic drugstore foundation

Specifications

RRP: $17.99/£11.99
Shades: 15
Coverage: Medium
SPF: No
Special ingredients: Vitamins B5, C and E

Reasons to buy

+
Buildable coverage, to suit your needs
+
Contains kind-to-skin ingredients
+
Comfortable to wear

Reasons to avoid

-
Not a very wide shade range

As the song goes, you don't know what you've got 'till it's gone, and we know we weren't the only people left bereft when Bourjois stopped selling in the UK a couple of years back. We mostly mourned this base, which was a go-to recommendation for affordable foundations. Luckily for us, this tragic tale now has a happy ending, and it's firmly back on those drugstore shelves. 

As with most rollercoaster love stories, we found a newfound appreciation for this base once we had it back in our lives. The texture was better than we remembered - it's light like a serum, and we especially loved how light but buildable it is, so you can decide how full of coverage you want on any given day. It's also a perfect middle-ground between a matte and glow - softly radiant, without looking shiny. We've been reassured it's back for good, but we still may start gathering a little stockpile, just in case. 

Maybelline SuperStay 24H Powder Hybrid Foundation

(Image credit: Maybelline)

3. Maybelline SuperStay 24h Hybrid Powder Foundation

Best powder drugstore foundation

Specifications

RRP: $14.99/£11.99
Shades: 16
Coverage: High
SPF: No

Reasons to buy

+
Incredibly durable
+
Builds high coverage quickly
+
Soft matte finish
+
Not cakey

Reasons to avoid

-
Powders aren't for everyone

Another Maybelline winner - we told you, they just know their stuff. This buy went viral on TikTok when it launched and within seconds of trying it, we could see why. It's impressively high coverage. Literally, one swipe of it gave us an instantly flawless line, it's almost shockingly effective. Crucially, it doesn't feel heavy or chalky, even after a full day of wear. 

Even the best powder foundations aren't for everyone but this particular one is designed to be a shape-shifter. As you work it into the skin it blends into a cream, so don't let the formulation put you off if you're not a powder fan. The way you apply it can also change the finish - with a sponge or a puff, it's perfectly matte and has high coverage. With a light sweep of a buffing brush, however, it's much lighter and less flat. 

NYX Born To Glow Naturally Radiant Foundation

(Image credit: NYX)

4. NYX Born To Glow Naturally Radiant Foundation

Best drugstore foundation for glowing skin

Specifications

RRP: $10/£10
Shades: 45
Coverage: Full to medium
SPF: No

Reasons to buy

+
Feels lovely and lightweight
+
Great shade range
+
High coverage 
+
Added glow 

Reasons to avoid

-
Not great for oily skin

In the beauty world, the word 'glow' is often a synonym for glitter or shimmer, which is not really something you want in your foundation – unless, of course, you want to look like a unicorn. So we were pleased to find that the glow in NYX Born To Glow is a grown-up one, with a glossy finish that leaves skin looking like you might have spent an extra 10 minutes that morning massaging your skin with gorgeous oils or creams. 

It’s medium coverage, although can be layered to full where needed. We found that once it had dried, it was quite hard to move (a good thing for staying power) but keep that in mind if you do intend to build the formula up. The formulation is nice and lightweight with plenty of slip, so a little does go a long way. Which, for the price of a tube, makes for excellent value.

L'Oreal Paris Infallible 32H Matte Cover Full Coverage Foundation

(Image credit: L'Oreal Paris)

5. L'Oreal Paris Infallible 34H Matte Cover Full Coverage Foundation

Best full-coverage drugstore foundation

Specifications

RRP: $12.99/£9.99
Shades: 20
Coverage: High
SPF: 25
Special ingredients: 4% niacinamide

Reasons to buy

+
Impressively long-wearing
+
Brilliant coverage
+
Contains bonus SPF
+
Niacinamide helps treat skin

Reasons to avoid

-
Some may prefer a lighter finish

The team are huge fans of the original formulation of this foundation - Beauty Editor Jess in particular was especially evangelical in her L'Oreal Infallible foundation review. So we eyed this new launch with a healthy amount of skepticism - why try to improve on perfection? After one use though we've had to concede, we're sold.

The difference is that this has a more matte finish and higher coverage - in fact, it's the best full coverage foundation on this list. It's also in a more travel-friendly tube, which was always one of our main gripes with the original. A bonus inclusion of niacinamide also is part of the upgrade, which will help balance excess oil production and improve redness, making this one of the best foundations for acne-prone skin here too. The full coverage aspect will feel relief to acne sufferers. It also lasted incredibly well, not budging even on two quite hectic days of testing. This has, amazingly, beaten the original to our top spot. The classic Infallible is sticking around so if you want to stick to the original, don't panic, you absolutely can. 

Revlon ColorStay 24H Foundation for Combination/Oily Skin

(Image credit: Revlon)

6. Revlon ColorStay 24H Foundation for Combination/Oily Skin

Best drugstore foundation for combination skin

Specifications

RRP: $15.99/£12.99
Shades: 42
Coverage: Medium
SPF: 15

Reasons to buy

+
Velvet finish
+
Brilliant shade range
+
Dulls down shine 
+
Long-lasting

Reasons to avoid

-
Needs a good shake before use
-
Not suitable for dry skin

If your skin is combination (oily across the forehead, nose, and chin, drier on the cheeks) then you need a foundation that caters to both. Revlon's oil-free formula is great in that it doesn't add or amplify grease or shine across the t-zone, but equally doesn't make the thirstier parts of your complexion feel drier. It would certainly be too heavy if your skin was more dry than oily, but then you'd opt for the version for dry skin instead. 

The finish is velvety in texture with medium coverage (but you could build to full without much effort or buffing) and instantly knocks discoloration and red tones out of the skin. Our advice would be to shake well before use, as we found the first couple of pumps a little too watery. 

Max Factor Facefinity All Day Flawlesss 3 in 1 foundation

(Image credit: Max Factor)

7. Max Factor Facefinity All Day Flawlesss 3 in 1 foundation

Best buildable drugstore foundation

Specifications

RRP: $17/£13.99
Shades: 33
Coverage: Buildable
SPF: 20

Reasons to buy

+
Vegan-friendly formula
+
Buildable coverage
+
Flattering finish
+
Great shade range

Reasons to avoid

-
Can come out watery - needs a shake before applying

This sells itself as a 3-in-1 primer, concealer, and foundation in one, but when you cut through the marketing speak, this essentially means it can give buildable coverage. And great it is too - a light touch gives a lovely, 'your skin, but on a very glowy day', look, but you can build it up all the way to full coverage without cakiness. We liked applying with our hands for most of the face and using a brush on areas where we wanted more coverage – it worked like a charm.

This foundation felt lovely on our skin – soft, comfortable, and sheeny. The bonus of SPF20 is nice and reassuring, but without that ghostly flash-face that can sometimes occur with even the best foundations with SPF. Don't forget though, you'll still need to wear your best facial sunscreen alongside it to get adequate protection from those UV rays. We're not sure if it's the inclusion of SPF or not, but sometimes the formula can come out a little watery, so make sure to give it a good shake before applying.

L'Oreal Paris True Match foundation

(Image credit: L'Oreal Paris)

8. L'Oréal Paris True Match Foundation

Best drugstore foundation for dry skin

Specifications

RRP: $10.99/£9.99
Shades: 48
Coverage: Medium coverage
SPF: 17
Special ingredients: Pro-Vitamin B5, vitamin E

Reasons to buy

+
Excellent shade range
+
Very hydrating
+
Natural, blendable finish that matches not only skin tone but also an undertone

Reasons to avoid

-
The bottle is prone to spillage

If you have dry skin, it can be tempting to stick to the best BB creams for their hydrating properties. The downside of that choice is that many of us need more coverage (and more precise shade-matching) than a BB can offer, and certainly more lasting power. 

Thankfully, this is one of the best drugstore foundations to get the job done and then some. This option combines the skincare boost of BBs with slightly higher levels of pigment and better grip. The water-based formula includes Pro-Vitamin B5 and vitamin E, both of which hydrate. It feels very comfortable, not heavy or greasy, and the 48-strong shade range is truly, pioneeringly inclusive, which is shockingly still rare at this price point. This makes this our pick for the best foundation for dark skin which you can pick up at your local drugstore. 

See our full L'Oreal True Match foundation review

No7 Restore & Renew Serum Foundation

(Image credit: No7)

9. No7 Restore & Renew Serum Foundation

Best drugstore foundation with skin-improving ingredients

Specifications

RRP: $19.99/£20.95
Shades: 13
Coverage: Buildable
SPF: 30
Special ingredients: Collagen peptide technology, Vitamin C, Ginseng, Vitamin E, Pro-Retinol

Reasons to buy

+
Impressive ingredients list
+
Incredibly hydrating
+
Flattering finish
+
High factor SPF

Reasons to avoid

-
Expensive, for a drugstore buy
-
Staying power isn't as strong as some others on this list

No7's Restore & Renew skincare range is all about plumping up the skin to reveal a firmer, brighter complexion, and the foundation lives by the same principle. Infused with a cocktail of skin-treating ingredients, this is one of the best drugstore foundations that will actually help improve your skin while perfecting your complexion.

As for how the formula looks and feels on the skin, it's pretty dreamy. It's a serum formulation, so it's light and wearable, but you can build it up in areas where you want a bit more coverage. It has quite a radiant finish, which matte fans may not love, but you could follow up with a powder to blot away that shine. The only slight downside is that because it's so hydrating and skin-focused, the staying power isn't as good as others on this list, with a bit more 'slip'. You can improve longevity with the help of a good primer and setting spray, but if it's a dealbreaker for you, stick to a more long-wearing matte pick. 

Rimmel Lasting Radiance Foundation

(Image credit: Rimmel)

10. Rimmel Lasting Radiance Foundation

Best drugstore foundation for mature skin

Specifications

RRP: $10.99/£9.99
Shades: 12
Coverage: Medium
SPF: 25
Special ingredients: Peptides, antioxidant complex, vitamin C

Reasons to buy

+
Buildable coverage
+
Active skincare ingredients
+
Long-lasting dewy glow
+
Hydrates skin for up to 24 hours

Reasons to avoid

-
More shades needed

Busy days = tired skin. Sometimes we know a full eight hours' sleep just isn’t going to happen, so we turn to the next best thing to wake up our complexion: makeup! This loose and light-reflecting foundation offers sheer coverage with one pump but can be built up to something more opaque when needed. It has a lovely glow, thanks to the inclusion of illuminating particles, and is strong on the skincare side of things, with energizing peptides, stable vitamin C, SPF 25, and nourishing plant seed oils. 

What more could you want? Well, as ever with budget bases, a few more shades would be nice. This has 12, with a decent offering for light and medium-deep tones but not much to offer for very dark skin tones. Let’s hope that changes soon, as this really is an excellent foundation that should be available to everyone.

elf cc cream

(Image credit: Ulta Beauty)

11. e.l.f. Camo CC Cream

Best drugstore CC cream

Specifications

RRP: $15/£14
Shades: 20
Coverage : Full coverage
SPF: 30
Special ingredients: Collagen, peptides, niacinamide

Reasons to buy

+
Highly transfer-proof
+
Color correcting
+
High SPF

Reasons to avoid

-
Can feel dense and heavy on the skin

If you have a lot of long days in your diary, white shirts in your rotation, or unpleasant makeup smudges on your phone, this could be the best drugstore foundation for you. Everything about this formulation is designed with all-day transfer-proof wear in mind. Plus, it boasts skin-health benefits, leveraging a hydrating ingredient blend to improve skin texture and tone. This includes hyaluronic acid, niacinamide, collagen, and peptides, all of which lock in moisture for a more refreshed complexion. 

Upon application, you'll notice and feel its smooth grippy texture, which helps the product stay where it’s supposed to be. That aside, it also features SPF 30, which is always a bonus. Compared to some of our other best drugstore foundations, the coverage here is on the fuller side, so might not be the best if you don’t like a ‘made-up’ look. However, if ‘made-up’ is exactly what you’re going for, minus the usual shirt-collar paranoia, then this is a great option for the price. 


How to choose the best drugstore foundation

It's good to remind yourself that ultimately, makeup is brandless when worn, so when shopping for a drugstore pick, develop a blind spot for fancy packaging and extra add-ons you might not necessarily need. Instead, consider the following:

  • Tubes vs bottles: Slick, airless pumps and magnetic lids can be very seductive, but once it’s on your face it doesn’t really matter if your base came out of a plastic tube or a beautiful bottle. In fact, with cheaper foundations, it’s sometimes actually better to go for a tube formula, as those budget glass pumps can get a little bit messy.
  • Look for key ingredients: Formula is crucial, and there are plenty of cheap and readily available hydrating ingredients that convincingly dupe those at a luxury price point. Look out for hyaluronic acid, vitamin E, and glycerin. These tend to give the foundation a flexible feel and stop it from sinking into lines. 
  • Light over full coverage: When in doubt, go sheer. Aiming for slightly lighter, more hydrating formulations is a good rule of thumb in general with budget picks. Yes, they might need a touch-up before after-work cocktails if you have oily skin, but they're definitely more forgiving than high-coverage foundations at the same price, which can come off a bit mask-like.
  • Invest in tools: Using the best foundation brushes and tools you can get your hands on and learning how to apply foundation to maximize a flawless finish can also help you get more bang for your buck.
  • Prep skin: The final thing to bear in mind is skin prep. Less sophisticated foundation formulas can lack the skincare add-ons of their pricier counterparts. But if you ensure your skin is smooth, well-moisturized, and you learn how to use face primer correctly, you can still achieve dewy, polished-looking results with a cheaper foundation.