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Best foundations for every budget and skin type 2021

Our editorial team evaluated hundreds of customer ratings and reviews to find the best foundations you can buy online right now.

Foundation is so incredibly popular because it covers imperfections, reduces the appearance of pores and fine lines, creates a flawless base and gives the desired finish. But how do you pick the right one? That’s where we come in.

We’ve chosen the best foundation for different skin types by investigating multiple reviews and store ratings, plus trying and testing a number of products ourselves. Keep scrolling to find your next beauty must-have and where you can buy it online.

The best foundation for every skin type in New Zealand

Best overall foundation: Maybelline Fit Me Matte & Poreless Liquid Foundation

Maybelline Fit me matte poreless foundation

Pros

  • Medium coverage
  • Long lasting and mattifying

Cons

  • Not suitable for dry skin
  • Some customers said it tends to oxidise

Price (RRP): $24.99

Buy at MYM Beauty
Buy at Adore Beauty
Buy at ASOS

Why we chose it

Maybelline Fit Me Matte & Poreless Liquid Foundation is our pick for the best overall foundation.

This liquid foundation mattifies and minimises the appearance of pores, leaving a natural finish to the skin. According to the company, it is formulated with micro-powders to control shine and blur pores. It is lightweight and comes in 40 shades as well. Apart from being non-comedogenic, this foundation is dermatologist and allergy-tested.

Customers loved this foundation for being easy to blend using a brush, beauty sponge or even just fingers. It provides a medium, buildable coverage that doesn’t feel heavy. Customers said that it lasts all day while keeping their skin shine-free. The foundation is also affordable but performs just as good as higher-end products. It comes in a wide range of shades, but reviews said it tends to oxidise throughout the day. They recommend getting a shade lighter to offset the oxidation. Several others also said it’s not suitable for dry skin and clings to dry patches.


Best foundation for dry skin: Bourjois Healthy Mix Anti-Fatigue Foundation

Bourjois foundation

Pros

  • Lightweight and easy to blend
  • Gives a natural glow to the skin

Cons

  • Only provides light to medium coverage
  • Limited shade range

Price (RRP): $15

Buy at StrawberryNet
Buy at Fresh Fragrances

Why we chose it

For the best foundation for dry skin, we chose the Bourjois Healthy Mix Anti-Fatigue Foundation.

The Bourjois Healthy Mix Anti-Fatigue Foundation is formulated with a blend of vitamins C, E and B5, which helps boost the skin’s radiance while making you look fresh. According to the manufacturer, the foundation also helps hydrate the skin for up to 24 hours. It has a medium, buildable coverage that lasts up to 16 hours as well.

Many reviews raved about this foundation’s performance, mentioning that it’s better than more expensive foundations in the market. It also goes on smoothly and gives a natural finish without accentuating dryness. Customers loved that it leaves their skin looking dewy but not overly shiny. It also lasts all day, even without a setting powder. Others loved that it’s lightweight and beginner-friendly. Despite being advertised as having a medium, buildable coverage, some customers found the coverage too sheer for their liking. Also, it only comes in nine shades, ranging from rose ivory to caramel.


Best foundation for oily skin: L'Oréal Paris Infallible Pro-Matte Liquid Longwear Foundation

Loreal Paris Infallible Pro Matte foundation

Pros

  • Long-lasting and mattifying
  • Wide range of shades

Cons

  • Tends to look cakey when layered
  • Too heavy for some

Price (RRP): $37.99

Buy at Adore Beauty
Buy at TheMarket

Why we chose it

Our pick for the best foundation for oily skin is the L’Oréal Paris Infallible Pro-Matte Liquid Longwear Foundation.

This matte foundation has a lightweight texture and a demi-matte finish – it’s not too matte or dewy. It also has a medium to full coverage that helps cover imperfection and reduce the appearance of pores. According to the company, it lasts up to 24 hours and comes in over 20 shades.

The Pro-Matte Foundation is suitable for oily skin and people who want a matte look. Customers said it blends seamlessly and gives the skin a matte but not flat finish. Others loved that the foundation is full coverage, adding that they sometimes skip concealer when using this product. It also comes in over 20 shades and an affordable price tag. But a few reviews found the foundation too heavy, despite the lightweight claims. Others also said it gets cakey when you apply more than two layers.


Best foundation for mature skin: Giorgio Armani Luminous Silk Foundation

Giorgio Armani Foundation

Pros

  • Gives an even, flawless finish and a medium coverage
  • Doesn’t settle into fine lines and pores

Cons

  • According to some reviews, the product isn’t buildable
  • Not cheap

Price (RRP): $118

Buy at Adore Beauty
Buy at StrawberryNet

Why we chose it

Giorgio Armani’s Luminous Silk Foundation is our recommendation for the best foundation for mature skin.

This Giorgio Armani foundation is inspired by charmeuse silk. It glides on easily and gives the skin a flawless, lit-from-within glow. According to the company, it uses exclusive Micro-fil technology to sculpt and brighten the skin. It comes in 40 different shades and has a buildable, medium coverage that blurs imperfections. The foundation is also dermatologically, ophthalmologically and allergy-tested.

The foundation’s formula is lightweight and easy to apply. Reviews said that it has a smooth and fluid consistency that sinks into the skin without accentuating fine lines and wrinkles. It offers medium coverage while correcting imperfection. Customers loved that it is non-greasy and has no fragrance as well. However, this product is more expensive than other foundations for mature skin. Some customers also said that it’s not really buildable.


Best full-coverage foundation: Estée Lauder Double Wear Foundation

Estee Lauder double wear foundation

Pros

  • Suitable for oily skin
  • Long-wearing

Cons

  • Doesn’t come with a pump
  • Clings to dry patches

Price (RRP): $74

Buy at Sephora
Buy at Adore Beauty
Buy at StrawberryNet

Why we chose it

For the best full-coverage foundation, we chose Estée Lauder’s Double Wear Foundation.

This foundation provides buildable, full coverage that is lightweight and long-wearing. It has a matte finish that looks fresh and natural. According to the manufacturer, the Double Wear Foundation is heat-resistant, life-proof and doesn’t oxidise. It is also waterproof and comes in more than 50 shades.

The Estée Lauder Double Wear Foundation is a cult classic. Avid users said that they’ve used this product for years, and it continues to wow them every time. It provides a matte finish, perfect if you have oily skin. Despite being full coverage, customers loved that it never looked cakey. It also feels lightweight and blends easily. However, reviews said they wished it comes with a pump, especially since it’s on the pricier side. Others didn’t like that it clings to fine lines and dry patches but added that they have dry skin.


Best powder foundation: MAC Studio Fix Powder Plus Foundation

MAC Studio Fix Powder Plus foundation

Pros

  • Easy to blend and lasts all day
  • Mattifies the face without looking cakey

Cons

  • The included sponge is too thin and flimsy, according to reviews
  • Settles into pores and lines

Price (RRP): $64

Buy at StrawberryNet
Buy at Adore Beauty
Buy at Fresh Fragrances

Why we chose it

For the best powder foundation, we selected the MAC Studio Fix Powder Plus Foundation.

The MAC Studio Fix Powder Plus Foundation is a crowd favourite. It gives the skin a smooth and matte finish that is lightweight. It also has a medium to full buildable coverage and doesn’t oxidise throughout the day. The pressed powder also helps control oil and shine for up to eight hours. Apart from being sweat and humidity-resistant, it looks great on photos.

Many customers loved how versatile this powder is – it can be used as a powder foundation or a setting powder. It layers on nicely and doesn’t get cakey, even on dry skin. The foundation also gives a matte but not flat finish and lasts all day long. It comes in a wide range of colour-true shades in a handy, travel-friendly compact. However, those with mature skin said that the powder settles into pores and fine lines. Some mentioned that the included sponge is too flimsy – a buffing brush is better to get a flawless finish with the powder.


Best under $30 foundation: NYX Professional Makeup Can't Stop Won't Stop Full Coverage Liquid Foundation

NYX Professional Makeup

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Provides full coverage while being lightweight

Cons

  • Not suitable for dry skin
  • Dries down quickly

Price (RRP): $29.95

Buy at ASOS
Buy at Look Fantastic
Buy at Princess Polly

Why we chose it

NYX Professional Makeup’s Can’t Stop Won’t Stop Full Coverage Liquid Foundation is our pick for the best foundation under $30.

This NYX foundation features a liquid formula that is ultra-pigmented, lightweight and waterproof. It has a creamy texture that glides on smoothly, giving the skin a matte finish that lasts for up to 24 hours. The foundation is also non-comedogenic and comes in 45 shades.

Apart from being good value for money, customers appreciated the foundation’s wide shade selection. It also gives a natural matte finish to the skin and helps control shine for long-lasting wear. Reviews loved that it is lightweight and doesn’t accentuate texture. It also blends easily while providing full coverage to hide pores and imperfections. However, it dries down fast – you need to blend it as quickly as you can before it settles on the skin. The foundation also clings to dry patches, which may be a disadvantage if you have dry skin.


Best dewy foundation: L'Oréal Paris Infallible 24 Hour Fresh Wear Liquid Foundation

L'Oreal Paris Infallible 24 hour fresh liquid foundation

Pros

  • Provides a radiant, natural finish
  • Medium to full coverage

Cons

  • Has a strong alcohol scent
  • Oxidise throughout the day

Price (RRP): $39.95

Buy at TheMarket
Buy at ASOS

Why we chose it

For the best dewy foundation, we recommend the L’Oréal Paris Infallible 24 Hour Fresh Wear Liquid Foundation.

The L’Oréal Paris Infallible 24 Hour Fresh Wear Foundation provides medium to full coverage that lasts all day while allowing the skin to breathe. According to the company, it contains three oil absorbers that resist sweat, water and transfer. Formulated with hyaluronic acid, the foundation also helps keep the skin hydrated throughout the day. It also contains SPF.

This foundation works for all skin types. People with oily skin said it gives them a natural, radiant finish while controlling shine. Those with dry and mature skin mention that it doesn’t settle into fine lines and dry patches. It has a thin consistency that is easy to blend even with just fingers. Customers also loved that it’s transfer-proof, which is particularly helpful if you love wearing white shirts. It comes in 30 shades, but reviews said it tends to oxidise throughout the day. Some reviews also mentioned that it has a strong alcohol scent but added that it goes away after a couple of minutes.


Best matte foundation: Rimmel London Stay Matte Liquid Mousse Foundation

Rimmel London Stay Matte Liquid Mousse

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Controls shine and oil throughout the day

Cons

  • Has a thick consistency that feels heavy according to reviews
  • Tends to look cakey if you have dry skin

Price (RRP): $7.82

Buy at TheMarket
Buy at Chemist Warehouse

Why we chose it

For the best matte foundation, we selected the Rimmel London Stay Matte Liquid Mousse Foundation.

The Rimmel London Stay Matte Liquid Mousse Foundation has a soft matte finish and controls oil and shine. It also provides a medium to full coverage to hide pores and imperfections. According to the company, its airy mouse texture is lightweight and easy to blend. It is also oil-free and comes in over 20 shades.

This mousse foundation features a silky, smooth formula that leaves a seamless, natural finish. Customers loved that it looks undetectable while hiding imperfections. It also controls oil and lasts all day. Reviews loved its affordability, adding that works just as well as pricier foundations they’ve tried. But despite being advertised as weightless, some customers found the thick consistency heavy on the skin. It’s also not ideal for dry skin because it gets cakey when layered.


Real reviews from real women

Estee Lauder Double Wear Foundation

“This is a great long-wear liquid foundation if you’re looking for complete coverage. With a semi-matte finish, it lasts all day and doesn’t budge” – Sally

Chanel Vitalumiere Aqua Foundation

“I love a sheer foundation and this one is super light. It blends really well into the skin and never looks cakey. It looks like your skin, just better.” – Mia

Born This Way Foundation

“I just love that foundation because when I tried it on, I couldn’t even see it on my skin because it blended so well! So I’ve just kept buying that foundation since.” – Aston


Finding the best foundation shade for you

Finding your foundation shade isn’t as difficult as you may think. It’s actually quite simple.

If you’re at a beauty store or pharmacy then you can actually swatch and colour match yourself. The biggest tip to finding your foundation shade is knowing your skin’s undertone and matching the colour to your neck, not your face.

  • Your face and neck shed skin, tan and burn at different rates. The biggest mistake is wearing a foundation that matches your face but doesn’t actually match your neck. This is when things can tend to look a little funny and like they don’t match.
  • Secondly, you can have the right shade of foundation but if the undertone is wrong then it still just won’t work. You can either have a cool, warm or neutral undertone and you will often find foundations match these as they will either be on the more yellow side or pink side of a shade.
  • If you are not sure on the right shade, ask a shop assistant to help you. You can try a couple of different options on parts of your face and then go outside to see how they look in natural light. Wearing the foundation for a few hours will tell you how they feel on your face and if the coverage gets you through the day.
  • Once you decide on a brand and shade, compare prices across different stores. You are likely to find a better price online if you know where to look.

Some cosmetic sites show a colour chart on their website so you can visually find the right shade. For example, the Thin Lizzy colour chart lays out all the brand’s foundation and concealer colours. You can also see in the table what each shade is equivalent to for products from L’Oreal, MAC, Estee Lauder and Revlon. Thin Lizzy also gets that you might get it wrong the first time, so it lets you swap your foundation one time for free.

If you are shopping from a site that sells a range of brands and doesn’t have colour charts for each, head to the brand’s website to see if you can find one there. Then you can go back to your retailer of choice and make your purchase.


Does foundation go off?

Unfortunately, makeup does go off. This means that the formula has gone out of date and should no longer be used. It’s not drastically dangerous to use foundation that has passed its best-by date, but it won’t be good for your skin and you could end up having a reaction.

On the back of all makeup, there is a guide for the use-by date of when you purchase the product. Generally, it will tend to say 6M, 12M or 24M to show how many months there are until the product goes off. Foundation on average tends to last around 12 months.

Four ways to tell if your foundation is off:

  • It smells funny: Some foundations start smelling like sunscreen when they’re off.
  • It has changed colour: A foundation no longer matching your skin tone can often mean that it’s out of date or it has been spoiled in some way.
  • It’s changed texture: Off foundation can separate in the bottle, become a chunky/clumpy or runny consistency.
  • It just isn’t the same: If you’ve been using this foundation for a while and loved it then it magically turned on you it may be time to rethink how long ago you purchased it.

Leaving your foundation in the sun or a hot car can make it go off even faster, so take care to store it in a cool place out of direct sunlight where possible.


Is foundation bad for your skin?

You’ve probably heard here or there that foundation is bad for your skin and will give you acne. This isn’t necessarily true.

There isn’t a one-size-fits-all foundation but you can get foundations that not only work well for your skin but are good for it too. Some contain ingredients like Vitamin C and SPF that aim to help and protect your skin on a day-to-day basis. Wearing foundation actually helps to protect your skin from harmful UV rays as well as pollution in the air. It creates a barrier between your skin and damaging external properties.

If you are worried about your skin, you can opt for mineral and natural foundations that don’t contain any chemicals or ingredients that can irritate sensitive skin. However, it’s a good idea to wash off your foundation and makeup at the end of every day before you go to bed.

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