Experts say that choosing the best foundation makeup for your skin is a matter of personal preference, overall expectations and skin type. Although most users prefer a formula that feels lightweight and looks natural, expectations vary when it comes to coverage and texture. Liquid foundations provide the most versatility, because they come in formulas for every skin type and provide coverage that ranges from sheer to full. Spray foundations fall into the same category -- they are liquid formulas packaged in an aerosol can -- but we didn't find many reviews for them.
L'Oreal Paris True Match Super Blendable Makeup SPF 17 (*Est. $9) gets high marks from several professional reviewers for its large color selection -- 24 shades ranging from porcelain to deep brown. This lightweight liquid foundation provides light to medium coverage for all skin types, but beauty expert Paula Begoun warns that it has a drier finish that tends to emphasize any dry areas as well as fine lines around the eyes. She recommends smoothing out these areas with a well-formulated moisturizer before applying.
This budget friendly formula has won beauty awards from InStyle magazine for seven consecutive years. Editors say that True Match foundation is easy to blend and that the variety of shades and the natural finish give "pricier brands a run for their money." Editors at Allure magazine also give the liquid foundation high marks for its "light and smooth" coverage. Reviewers at MakeupAlley.com and TotalBeauty.com say the foundation matches skin flawlessly and looks natural. A few say they don't like the glass container and wish that it had a pump to make dispensing less messy. L'Oreal True Match Super Blendable Makeup is oil- and fragrance-free, noncomedogenic and contains antioxidants (vitamins A and C). The foundation also provides broad-spectrum sun protection with titanium dioxide (a relatively gentle mineral sunscreen).
If you need more coverage, reviewers say that Revlon ColorStay Makeup with Softflex (*Est. $12) is a good option. This makeup foundation provides medium to full coverage and comes in two formulas -- normal/dry and combination/oily. Although the former formula fares slightly better in reviews, both are praised for providing long lasting color that matches skin well and looks natural. One user at MakeupAlley.com says, "this has stayed put in over 100 degree weather, while working out, a day at the beach, 12 hour days etc." Another at TotalBeauty.com concurs, saying it "holds up flawlessly in heat and humidity." The normal/dry formula dries to a semi-matte finish, but users say that it emphasizes dry patches. Begoun recommends pairing the foundation with a good moisturizer to minimize this effect. It has SPF 15 and comes in 12 shades ranging from ivory to cappuccino. The combination/oily formula dries to a matte finish and comes in 20 shades ranging from ivory to mocha. It is rated only SPF 6, however.
Reviewers say those who prefer a department store brand probably will like the smooth, lightweight texture of Trish McEvoy Even Skin Foundation (*Est. $55) . The foundation formula is very thin and watery, but it goes on smoothly and easily blends into skin. Users say that the sheer to light coverage evens out skin tone perfectly and looks and feels natural. Manufacturers say that this liquid foundation makeup is ideal for all skin types, but experts say that its hydrating properties (it contains silicone and glycerin) are best suited to those with normal to dry skin. It comes in eight shades for fair to dark skin tones and is oil-free and noncomedogenic.
Powder foundations work much like basic pressed powder but provide a little more coverage and staying ability. They are a good option for anyone who wants light to medium coverage with a lightweight, barely there texture. Those with dry skin should avoid this type of foundation makeup, however, because it tends to have a drying effect. Those with very oily skin should also avoid powder foundations because they can clump up with additional oil and appear too thick.
Cream-to-powder foundation formulas are a cross between liquid and powder foundations. They come in a compact and go on moist with a somewhat greasy appearance that blends to a slightly matte, powdery finish. Those who like the convenience of an all-in-one product will appreciate that no additional powder is required to set these types of formulas. Stick foundations work in a similar manner as cream formulas and can double as a concealer.
MAC Studio Fix Powder Plus Foundation (*Est. $27) is an option for those who prefer powder over liquid foundation. It combines the two in one compact and is ideal for those with normal to slightly oily skin. It dries to a matte finish, and users say that it helps to control shine and oil. Furthermore, MAC is known for having a large color selection that ranges from very light to dark. This powder foundation provides medium to full coverage and can be applied wet or dry, but wet application may result in streaking. Begoun says the formula has an "exceptionally silky, talc-based texture that applies and blends like a dream." The compact comes with a sponge applicator, but most users say that it is best applied with a brush. A few users say the formula caused them to break out -- as with all cosmetics it may take some experimentation to find one that works with your skin.
Like MAC Studio Fix, Cover Girl CG Smoothers AquaSmooth (*Est. $9) dries to a powdery matte finish, but it starts out as a cream. Users say that it feels moisturizing going on, with a silky texture, but it can emphasize dry, flaky skin. Still, several users with dry skin say they love the formula and simply rely on a moisturizer to hydrate the skin. Those with slightly oily skin like the semi-matte finish of AquaSmooth foundation makeup, but those with very oily skin say that it doesn't last long on their skin and tends to slide off. The formula is oil-free and noncomedogenic, and it is packaged in a compact that travels well. Titanium dioxide provides gentle broad spectrum coverage with an SPF rating of 15. Cover Girl AquaSmooth is available in 15 shades.
Bobbi Brown Foundation Stick (*Est. $40) is a creamy formula that is portable for women on the go. Users say they love that they can stash it in their purses for quick touchups and say that it can also be used as a concealer. It provides medium to full coverage that layers well for times when more is needed. Reviewers say that the 20 available shades match skin well and look very natural when blended in. Although Bobbi Brown says the foundation is suitable for all skin types except for the very oily, Begoun warns that it isn't ideal for those with acne-prone skin because some of the ingredients can clog pores. Instead, she recommends it for normal to dry skin types.