Foundation is perhaps one of the most aptly-named makeup staples: After all, it functions as a crucial base for building the rest of a beauty look. But just as choosing curtains, paint, and fancy flourishes is (arguably) more fun than selecting concrete for a house, finding a standup foundation formula can prove more tedious than selecting color cosmetics (hello, glittery eyeshadow). The forage for the right foundation fit for your skin type and tone can take a lot of trial, error, time, and money.
If you’re still searching for The One, allow us to help narrow your search. Below, four celebrity makeup artists share six foolproof formulas. You don’t have to break the bank to score a flawless finish. Celebrity makeup artist Jared Lipscomb (who works with celebrities like Christine Adams, Beth Dover, and Brooke Burke), keeps a few tubes of the L’Oréal® Paris Infallible® Pro Matte Foundation ($9) tucked away in his kit at all times.
“This drugstore favorite has a cult following for a good reason,” he says. “The smooth formula provides full coverage with a soft matte finish.” He also notes that the demi-matte finish helps camouflage excess oiliness without caking or flaking. For this reason, he recommends it for most skin types. Plus, the formula comes in 22 adaptable shades.Another matte drugstore darling: Maybelline® Fit Me® Matte + Poreless Foundation ($11 for 2). It’s a staple for New York-based makeup artist Merli Estime (who has worked behind the scenes at fashion shows). And makeup artist Joy Fennell (known for her work with media mavens and supermodels) loves the extensive 40-hue shade range.
“The colors are extremely inclusive, and the coverage is so smooth,” she says. “Plus, it's reasonably priced.” Estime continues, “It has one of the best color selections for drugstore, and it’s amazing for combination, normal, and oily skin.” “If you're looking for clean ingredients that won't irritate your skin, this foundation is the one!” proclaims makeup artist Lilly Keys (whose clients include Charli XCX and Dua Lipa) of BareMinerals® BareSkin® Pure Brightening Serum Foundation ($30).
“It's light but also buildable if you're looking for more coverage,” Keys explains. As for those clean ingredients, this stuff nixes silicone, fragrance, water, and oil — replacing them with antioxidant-rich lilac plant stem cells. If a sheer finish is more your style, consider the Laura Mercier® Tinted Moisturizer ($45). According to Min Min Ma (who has worked with Hailee Steinfeld and Brie Larson), this formula is a cult classic for a reason. “[It’s] one of the few foundations I’ve been using for years,” she shares. “I love how sheer and radiant it makes the skin look while delivering a nice coverage.”
She adds, “I also use it as a quick body makeup for areas like the legs.” In addition to its flattering finish, the formula boasts skincare benefits — including SPF 15 and antioxidants from vitamins C and E. True to its name, the Estée Lauder® Double Wear® Stay-in-Place Foundation ($42) delivers serious staying power. The formula lasts up to 24 hours (though we’d recommend washing your face before then!). Plus, it withstands humidity and sweat.
But that’s not the only reason Keys adores the base makeup: “It gives amazing coverage, so you really don't need to use a lot,” she says. One word of caution: “Estée Lauder does carry more pink undertone shades, so it's always a good idea to test the shade first,” Keys says. If you like to switch your coverage depending on what the occasion calls for, consider the NYX Professional Makeup® Total Control Drops ($14). “You have full control of the coverage, opacity, and can customize the color by blending it with other shades,” says Lipscomb, who sometimes uses a few extra shades to create a subtle contour.
You can also try mixing these drops into your existing, more expensive foundation to lighten or deepen the shade without breaking the bank,” he adds. And at that price point, this multi-tasking formula will practically pay for itself after just a few uses.
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