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11 Best Drugstore Foundation Options, According to Makeup Pros

You don't need the shell out the big bucks.

The product recommendations in this post are recommendations by the writer and/or expert(s) interviewed and do not contain affiliate links. Meaning: If you use these links to buy something, we will not earn a commission.

Foundation is one of the most important makeup products in your collection: It's responsible for evening out your skin tone, reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, and setting a gorgeous base, whether you prefer a matte, dewy, or satin finish. However, it can also be expensive, which is where the best drugstore foundations come in. Keep reading to learn makeup professionals' favorite affordable picks.

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Things to Consider Before Investing in a Foundation

Woman testing foundation on her hand, sitting in front of a mirror.
Pixel-Shot / Shutterstock


You can find some of the biggest indicators of how a foundation will perform based on its ingredient list. If it's oil-based, it'll be extra nourishing and great for dry skin but it could slip and slide if your skin is on the oily side.

If it's water-based, it'll likely be lightweight and breathable. If it's silicone-based, it can be medium to full coverage with a range of finishes. Other ingredients like oils (even if it's not oil-based), hyaluronic acid, and peptides can moisturize the skin and lead to a hydrated look.


Before purchasing a foundation, consider the level of coverage you want. The level of coverage simply refers to how intensely your skin is covered. Do you prefer a your-skin-but-better look, or do you want a monochrome canvas to work on? Drugstore foundations range from lightweight to full coverage.

Shade Range

The comprehensiveness of a foundation's shade range could determine whether you can find a shade that matches your skin tone.

UVA Protection

Some foundations are infused with SPF and can offer some protection from the sun. However, you'll still want to wear sunscreen underneath.

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The Best Drugstore Foundations

1. Best Drugstore Foundation Overall: Makeup Revolution

Makeup Revolution foundation bottle
Makeup Revolution

Makeup Revolution Skin Silk Serum Foundations
Shade Range: 20 shades
Customer Feedback: "This foundation was lightweight and silky smooth to use. Great coverage without feeling too heavy and lasted all day."

Our overall pick has a your-skin-but-better effect.

"Its lightweight formula feels like a second skin, providing a natural-looking finish that doesn't feel heavy or cakey," says Kenny Screven, makeup artist and content creator. "Also, its long-lasting formula keeps skin looking flawless throughout the day without the need for constant touch-ups."

The formula includes hydrating hyaluronic acid and a peptide complex to make the skin look fresh and bouncy; it also feels incredible on the skin!

2. Best Drugstore Foundation for Oily Skin Types: Essence Cosmetics

Essence Cosmetics powder foundation
Essence Cosmetics

Essence Cosmetics 16h Cover & Last Powder Foundation
Shade Range: 14
Customer Feedback: "This powder is so good. I love the quality ingredients in it … It sets my face really well and also offers good coverage."

The best option for oily skin is typically a power—but you don't want it to go overboard and make your skin look dry.

"This formula is smooth and lightweight while lasting all day, and no matter how much you pile on, it never looks heavy or cakey," says Amanda Vitale, owner of beauty and style blog The Aesthetic Edge. "This will deliver a soft-focus, matte finish with high medium coverage, and it does a superb job of controlling shine."

You can use it as an all-over foundation or as a setting powder to lock in cream products.

3. Best Drugstore Foundation for Sensitive Skin: Almay

Almay Skin Perfecting Comfort Matte Foundation

Almay Skin Perfecting Comfort Matte Foundation
Shade Range: 16
Customer Feedback: "Im a huge fan of this product due to it's ability to match my complexion well and cover whatever flaws I have on my face, without the feeling or appearing to of have any make up on at all."

Almay has an extensive hypoallergenic line that's great for people with sensitive skin.

"Formulated with hypoallergenic, fragrance-free, and dermatologist-tested ingredients, this foundation is gentle on sensitive skin while still delivering a comfortable matte finish," says Alexis Pfropper, a licensed esthetician and makeup artist based in Punta Gorda, Florida. "It's also oil-free and non-comedogenic, making it suitable for acne-prone skin."

4. Best Foundation for Mature Skin: Revlon

Revlon Illuminance Skin-Caring Foundation

Revlon Illuminance Skin-Caring Foundation
Shade Range: 28
Customer Feedback: "I've tried tried all the hot, high end Skin Care Foundations – Ilia Skin Tin, Kosas Revealer, RMS uncoverup. This formula beats them all. It provides a truly hydrating and natural finish. By the end of the day, my skin still looks healthy and moisturized."

As you get older, you want a foundation that seemingly glides over the top of your skin without settling into lines.

"This one offers excellent coverage while also providing a luminous finish that helps to blur fine lines and wrinkles," says Screven. "Its hydrating formula contains ingredients like hyaluronic acid and vitamin E, which work to moisturize the skin and leave it looking radiant throughout the day."

The formula is also buildable, so you can create whatever coverage level you prefer.

5. Best Full-Coverage Drugstore Foundation: e.l.f. Cosmetics

e.l.f Cosmetics Flawless Satin Foundation
e.l.f Cosmetics

e.l.f Cosmetics Flawless Satin Foundation
Shade Range: 40
Customer Feedback: "This is a beautiful foundation!! It covers well and gives a natural / satin finish."

Finding a great full-coverage foundation that doesn't turn cakey can be a challenge, especially in the drugstore realm. But this one holds up and works well on all skin types. Plus, it's boasts an extensive shade range for you to shop.

"This lightweight yet full-coverage foundation provides a matte finish that lasts all day without feeling heavy," says Pfropper. "It's infused with key ingredients like vitamin E, jojoba, almond, and grape to nourish the skin while providing flawless coverage; plus, it's vegan, cruelty-free, and free from parabens, sulfates, and phthalates."

6. Best Drugstore Foundation for Combination Skin: Wet n Wild

Wet n Wild Photo Focus Foundation
Wet n Wild

Wet n Wild Photo Focus Foundation – Dewy
Shade Range: 18
Customer Feedback: "If you want IL Makiage foundation but at a way more affordable price then this foundation is for you."

Wet n Wild's formulas are notably affordable, but that doesn't impact their quality.

"As a combination skin gal, I put this dewy foundation at the top of my list because it does not make my T-zone look greasy while providing a gentle, natural level of dewiness that is fresh and healthy," says Vitale. "This foundation has buildable to medium coverage, and it never looks heavy."

You'll be left with a skin-like finish and controlled oil in the area you want to minimize shininess.

7. Best Powder Foundation: Maybelline

Maybelline Super Stay powder foundation

Maybelline Super Stay Up to 24HR
Shade Range: 16
Customer Feedback: "Great coverage, didn't look cakey or "powdery" and it stayed put! … Product didn't get super oily or move throughout the day in Texas weather!"

Powder foundation is a go-to choice for people with oily skin or who live in warmer climates.

"This one offers amazing coverage and longevity without feeling heavy on the skin," says Screven. "It controls shine and minimizes the appearance of pores, giving the complexion a naturally radiant look."

It comes with a sponge applicator, which makes it great for touch-ups on the go. It's also sweat-, water-, and transfer-resistant.

8. Best Cream Foundation: Physicians Formula

Physicians Formula Organic Wear Silk Foundation Elixir
Physicians Formula

Physicians Formula Organic Wear Silk Foundation Elixir
Shade Range: 12
Customer Feedback: "The finish is very glowing and dewy but it doesnt look greasy."

Cream foundations give that enviable dewy glow.

"Physicians Formula is infused with organic jojoba oil, aloe vera, and botanical cactus flower to nourish and hydrate the skin while providing a smooth, satin finish," says Pfropper. "It's also cruelty-free, vegan, and free from harsh chemicals and synthetic preservatives."

Put on a little bit, and it'll be almost sheer, but you can build the cream for more coverage and an airbrushed look.

9. Best Drugstore Foundation Under $8: Essence Cosmetics

Essence Cosmetics Keep Me Covered foundation
Essence Cosmetics

Essence Cosmetics Keep Me Covered
Shade Range: 20
Customer Feedback: "I have tried a million foundations (high end and drugstore) and this is my new favorite!"

It's hard to beat a drugstore foundation that costs less than $8, and this one from Essence comes in under budget. The liquid formula provides medium to full coverage and is also cruelty-free, vegan, and oil-free.

"It goes on like a dream and lasts all day! It's not cakey and has a natural, skin like finish!" wrote one happy customer.

10. Best Cruelty-Free Drugstore Foundation: Burt's Bees

Burts Bees Goodness Glows Liquid Foundation

Burt's Bees Goodness Glows Liquid Foundation
Shade Range: 9
Customer Feedback: "It filled in my pores and gave me a super smooth surface. I have tried them all as far as foundations … This is however my first time trying natural makeup … I just can't get over this glow I have and I look so much younger!"

Burt's Bees takes its commitment to the planet seriously—but its products are also total standouts.

"This foundation is formulated with responsibly sourced ingredients like meadowfoam seed oil and bamboo, providing buildable coverage that leaves the skin looking radiant and hydrated," says Pfropper. "Plus, it's free from parabens, phthalates, SLS, petrolatum, and synthetic fragrances."

The foundation is buildable and great for both dry and combination skin.

11. Best Dewy Foundation: Maybelline

Maybelline Fit Me Dewy + Smooth Foundation

Maybelline Fit Me Dewy + Smooth
Shade Range: 23
Customer Feedback: "Love the dewy finish that does not settles in to fine lines"

All the most popular makeup products these days promise a dewy effect.

"I absolutely love this Maybelline foundation," says Dresher. "It's a dupe for the Nars Natural Radiant foundation, which I use and love, in terms of finish and longevity, and really is a great find from the neighborhood drugstore."

The medium-coverage foundation is especially good for very dry skin, but anyone can use it if they set it properly.

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Drugstore Foundation vs. High-End Foundation: What's the Difference, Really?

The biggest differences between drugstore makeup and luxury formulas revolve around the quality of ingredients, how they're sourced, where the product is made, and the cost of packaging and marketing. Sometimes, these factors can contribute to a major difference in the quality of the foundation, while other times it makes no difference at all.

How Can I Make My Foundation Last All Day?

Cropped shot of unrecognizable female hand matching foundation color on her palm of hand

Prep your skin.

Laying down the proper base is key. "This means making sure you moisturize and prime depending on your skin type need," says Dresher. That will come down to whether your skin is oil, combination, or dry. If you choose the wrong one, your foundation might slide off or become cakey.

Stay away from oily foundations.

If a common problem for you is that your foundation seems to wipe away within hours, then avoid oil-based drugstore foundations. They can be less secure on the skin and more likely to slip away.

Apply the foundation like this.

Dresher suggests using a downward motion when applying the foundation, going in only one direction if using a brush, or using a tapping motion for a sponge or stippling brush. "It helps longevity because you don't disrupt the product," she says.

Set it with loose powder.

"Using a loose or pressed powder to set the foundation increases wear time," says Dresher. "And a setting spray locks everything in place for 12-24 hour wear!"


Choosing the best drugstore foundation for you depends on a few factors, like your budget and what you're looking to accomplish with regard to the level of coverage, finish, and your skin concerns. For more beauty advice, visit Best Life again soon.

Juliana LaBianca
Juliana is an experienced features editor and writer. Read more
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