I have my cosmetology license and I still find it beyond overwhelming going into stores trying to find the perfect foundation. There’s more foundation in stores than any other makeup product. Each brand itself offers the same foundation colors in different variations, such as matte or high shine. Once you find the brand you want it will be easier to focus in on the specific type of foundation you need.
While it is true you get what you pay for, you can find legit brands that won’t break your bank. With so much competition in the makeup industry, brands really go above and beyond to perfect their formulas. Even drugstore foundations can be compared up there to top-selling brands.
Things to keep in mind
Application of Foundation
No matter what foundation you use make sure you are taking the time to apply it properly with a makeup brush or sponge. You can have the most expensive foundation in the world but if you don’t take the time to apply it correctly it’s going to look like garbage.
Take time and consult an esthetician on what color matches your skin. I myself am at fault for this because I just want to grab and go. However, putting in that extra couple minutes having someone match your skin tone will help you out in the long run. No one can make the line of demarcation look cute. I. Mean. No one.
Stubborn? I can see your mind working already and you’re not going to ask someone for help. I get it, I’ve been there. If you must color match yourself first determine your undertone. This can be done by looking at your veins.
If you feel you are on the border of warm or cool you can go with a neutral foundation or buy two foundations and mix to your correct color. Personally, I also have to do this because of my skin tone. I am Mexican and Irish so I have an odd skin tone. Mixing two foundations allows for a perfect match for my pigmentation.
Test the foundation on your jawline in multiple lighting. No mirror, no worries. Swipe some foundation on your underarm in a line going up onto your forearm. My underarm is at least a few shades off from my forearm so I like to swipe on both sides of my arm to find my perfect color match foundation combo. If you have a pretty even skin tone all around swiping your underarm will be just fine.
Foundation Coverage Type
Once you have your color picked out you’re going to want to pick out a coverage type.
- Sheer Coverage – evens out skin tone
- Light Coverage- evens out skin tone and covers very minimal blemishes
- Medium Coverage- evens out skin tone, covers blemishes, birthmarks, and pimples
- Full Coverage- evens out skin tone, covers blemishes, birthmarks, pimples, scars. Full coverage is typically used by those on camera or video.
If you don’t have skin issues or irritations I suggest sticking with light coverage.
And now onto the reason why you came to this article. My favorite foundation brands that won’t break your bank. Before we begin I understand everyone has a different version of cheap vs expensive.
What I think is worth the money for makeup might not be anywhere near what you think. Just keep that in mind and read on to find the price that matches your budget.
Best Foundation Brands
Below are our favorite foundation brands for 2021. We have spent years testing these products out and are confident in our picks.
Maybe she’s born with it, maybe it’s most likely Maybelline. These commercials spam your TV for a reason and have brand ambassadors like Gigi Hadid. Gigi even has a new makeup line with them called coast to coast that is out now!
While Maybelline is a drugstore name it is one of the most sought-after makeup lines on the market. Maybelline is the creator of the infamous BB cream, which offers sheer to matte coverage. Maybelline foundation is widely known for its fit me brand. Fit me foundation melts into your skin leaving it flawless next to your skins natural complexion. I do suggest using a setting powder to eliminate any excess shine that hasn’t melted into your skin.
Maybelline foundation has benefits including:
- Long wear – 24 hrs
- Perfect fit
Foundations from Maybelline can be found in liquid, powder or cream. Most of their foundations are $10 or under.
Best Overall Maybelline Dream Satin Liquid Foundation
While I have tried many Maybelline foundations the dream satin line is like airbrush in a can. It will give you a medium coverage that feels light on your face.
Application Warning: If you don’t put this on with some type of sponge or makeup brush it will appear thick and will feel heavy on your face.
One of the things I love about this foundation is the pump. A foundation pump allows you to control the amount of foundation you use and thus preventing makeup waste.
I choose this foundation for when I want a Slight glow to my face, typically in the winter when my skin gets really dull and dry.
I stumbled upon this brand while at Ulta one day. Bobbi Brown has a wide variety of colors and can be worn sheer to full coverage depending on how you choose to apply it. Personally I prefer to put this foundation on with a sponge. Do you prefer spf in your foundation? Was that a yes? Good news for you Bobbi Brown has a minimum of SPF15.
This foundation is great for problem skin including oily, acne and uneven skin.
Bobbi Brown foundation is available in:
- Skin long-wear weightless
- EXTRA SPF 25 tinted moisturizing serum
- Skin foundation stick
- Intensive skin serum foundation
- Skin foundation SPF 15
- Compacts – powder and cream
- Nude finish tinted moisturizer
- Moisture rich foundation
- Skin foundation cushion compact SPF 35
Bobbi brown foundation is sold at many department and makeup stores. If you prefer online shopping their website offers you the ability to email or talk to an artist. You can upload a picture of yourself and have a artist personally help you find your correct shade.
Still not convinced? No worries, I have more for you. Bobbi brown offers you a try it out ordering option where they send you six sample shades of foundation and an at home swatching guide. They give you instructions on how to properly apply the swatch to your face and then allow you to chose what type of foundation formula you want.
Note: I wasn’t sure how to checkout with the free samples because your cart needs some minimum cash in it to check out. At the time I got the samples they had an option to donate money to the breast cancer campaign so I clicked that, donated and it allowed me to check out the free samples. It’s a win win really. Free foundation staples and you donate to help a good cause.
First off this has SPF 15 which is great to prevent wrinkles. Listen to me, wrinkles are real and they come for everyone. Prevent those unwanted lines and wear damn sunscreen.
I use this foundation in the summer to help keep my shine in control. Long-wear weightless foundation is great for those with oily skin or those like me who sweat when it’s warm outside. Black hair is a bitch in the sun, my head heats up to a million degrees giving me a some nice face sweat. Using a matte foundation helps keep you looking dry and fresh.
Overall this vegan foundation minimizes the look of your pores leaving you with even skin tone and a smooth complexion. Feels nice on my skin and most of the time people can’t even tell I’m wearing makeup. When they tell me I have such nice skin I always tell them it’s because of this foundation. Granted I do have pretty good skin all around but I get bad bags under my eyes and this helps cover those up!
Weighing in at 3.5 fl oz this foundation is sure to last you a long time. With 16 hours of coverage, you don’t need to reapply throughout the day. You can go from work to happy hour without making a pit stop in the bathroom.
I travel for my job and have about ten minutes to put on my makeup once a day. I’m able to put this on in the morning, run around and come back at night with a fresh face of foundation still there. Megan tested, Megan approved!
Typically cult brands take advantage of their popularity and overprice their products. MAC makeup, however, is actually affordable and not too much more than drugstore cosmetics.
Right off the bat, MAC offers a loyalty program that has exclusive offers and member-only benefits. It is free to join and is a great way to have a trial of what products you have purchased if you ever want to repurchase. MAC is sold online and in select stores!
MAC is great for all ages, all genders, and all skin types. It started as a product only available to professionals and can now be bought by people everywhere.
MAC foundation is available in:
- SPF 15 , 30, and 35
- Finishes that include matte, natural and satin
- Coverage – Light, medium, and full
- Forms – Cream, liquid, and powder
- Waterproof and long wear options available
- Hyper real foundation – A weightless liquid highlighter that imparts a dreamy glow with a refined high-pearl finish
MAC foundation is available in over 60 shades! MAC has shades available for warm, cool or neutral skin tones.
Studio fix is great on all ends and is my go-to for everyday wear and special occasions!
MAC studio fix is SPF 15 and is a 24-hour formula. I never have to retouch my foundation because you can literally wear this for a full 24 hours! I may or may not have tried it a time or two by not washing my face before bed, ops.
Studio fix has a matte finish and is great to wear in the summer or in warmer climates because it controls oil. I wear this year round and even in the summer when I sweat it doesn’t make my foundation flake or glob off like other foundations tend to do. If you sweat it helps control the oil and shine and still wears nicely even after wiping that sweat from your forehead.
This foundation helps minimize pores and imperfections making your skin look flawless in photos on Instagram and IRL. Studio fix gives you that perfect flawless skin look all women are after.
Use this foundation in one application or build up the coverage with multiple built up layers. How think you want your foundation is up to you. I typically just use one application and it covers all my wrinkles and dark sports. If you want a more sheer look mix this foundation with your moisturizer.