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Contrary to popular belief, you don't always have to spend a lot of money on foundations. As long as they work for your skin type and give you the flawless coverage you're looking for, the price tag doesn't always matter!
To help you find the perfect, budget-friendly makeup base, Shop TODAY chatted with some of the best makeup experts in the industry to find out what drugstore foundations they're raving about these days. The best part? They're all under $20 and offered in a variety of different shades.
Whether you're looking for a full-coverage drugstore foundation or something weightless to show off your freckles, we've got plenty of great options on our list that will work for anyone and everyone.
Beauty YouTuber Carli Bybel, who has pledged to only use cruelty-free products for the past three years, rediscovered the CoverGirl Clean Fresh Skin Milk Foundation once the brand decided to no longer test its products on animals in November 2018.
"Once (CoverGirl) announced (it was going cruelty-free), I was so eager to go out and try out some of (its) products again," Bybel said. "This foundation is super hydrating, gives that nice dewy glow and it doesn't cling to dry patches."
The CoverGirl Clean Fresh Skin Milk Foundation is infused with milky coconut and soothing aloe to give your skin a moisturizing, glowy finish that will blur your imperfections, create an even skin tone and last all day long.
"Early in my career I was introduced to L’Oréal True Match Foundation," said celebrity makeup artist Lisa Aharon. "It provides an incredible range of easy-to-blend colors covering the lightest to the darkest, warmest to coolest skin tones. It’s my number one drugstore foundation recommendation for medium coverage with a naturally radiant finish."
Australian makeup artist Tobi Henney is also a fan of this affordable foundation.
"When I was the L’Oréal Paris Makeup Director for Australia a few years ago, I worked with this foundation all the time and absolutely fell in love with it," Henney said. "The coverage is buildable and it has great longevity throughout the day."
The L'Oréal True Match Foundation is available in 45 different shades, making it easy for anyone to find the perfect match for their skin tone. The formula is hydrating and formulated with pro-vitamin B5 and vitamin E to make your skin look radiant and healthy. Plus, it includes SPF 17 to protect your skin from harmful UV rays.
"I used this foundation on her and one thing I love about (Drew) is that she's never done botox or anything so she's super natural and it just looked so amazing on her skin," Bybel said of her anti-aging foundation recommendation. "It's more of a lightweight foundation so it doesn't seep into wrinkles and it kind of just lays on the skin. The Light Illusion is a good option for those who want coverage but want something lightweight because it will cover any dark spots nicely but not be too thick."
It's available in 12 different shades and creates a flawless, smooth and incredibly natural complexion.
The cult-favorite Maybelline Fit Me Foundation comes in over 40 different shades, offering a variety for every skin tone.
"In NYC I would do makeup for Heireth Paul, who was one of the faces of this foundation. I found it was such an easy-to-use formula and great for everyday use," Henney said. "It doesn’t need too much powder to set and it has an incredible shade range."
The formula is pore-minimizing and contains blurring micro-powders that erase pores and absorb oil for a naturally matte and flawless-looking finish.
If you're on the hunt for a full-coverage foundation that doesn't feel too heavy, give this L.A. Girl foundation a try.
"This one looks good on camera and it's buildable — even when you only apply a thin layer, it's still full coverage," Bybel said. "You don't have to build on it too much and it's matte, which I always love."
The L.A. Girl Pro Matte Foundation is created with a paraben-free formula with added antioxidants to help hydrate and improve your skin's appearance. It's high-definition and long-wearing to create a full-coverage finish that's comfortable enough to wear all day long.
"Working with Ashley Graham, who is an ambassador for Revlon, I came to love so many of (its) products," Henney said. "This foundation has 24-hour staying power and is perfect for girls on the go. You have to blend it in quickly but it will help you go from day to night."
This Revlon foundation comes in 32 shades and promises to keep your makeup "impeccable all day." It offers a matte finish for up to 24 hours, contains hyaluronic acid to hydrate your skin over time, contains SPF 15 and is oil-free.
If you have sensitive skin, the NYX Bare With Me Tinted Skin Veil Foundation may be the way to go.
"This is more like a BB cream — like a creamy, moisturizing foundation. It has a satin finish so you can see your skin through it a little bit more," Bybel said. "It's also more lightweight and has breathable coverage so it's great for sensitive skin."
This base will help you achieve the perfect "no makeup" makeup look with its weightless formula that feels like a second skin and delivers up to eight hours of hydration. This product is vegan, noncomedogenic and infused with aloe and cucumber extracts.
"For a dry skin type that’s also looking for SPF, I love Physicians Formula The Healthy Foundation SPF 20," Aharon shared. "It’s loaded with my favorite hydrating ingredient, hyaluronic acid, and provides a lightweight yet buildable amount of coverage."
This formula is designed to be long-wearing, breathable and provide medium-to-full coverage with a healthy, satin finish. The formula's brightening complex and hyaluronic acid help to hydrate, brighten and improve the appearance of your skin tone. It also includes vitamins A, C and E for an antioxidant boost.
Bybel loves this foundation because it's a powder compact that's buildable — making it easy to customize your coverage. "It's really velvety, matte and you can also use it as a setting powder throughout the day which is nice, too," she said.
If you tend to struggle with breakouts, a powder foundation is often the way to go.
"For people with acne-prone skin or even extra oily skin, a powder foundation is better because it doesn't seep into your pores," Bybel explained. "For lightweight coverage, you can use a bigger powder brush, but if you want more of a full-coverage look in certain areas, apply it with a smaller brush."
The NYX Can't Stop Won't Stop Powder Foundation is offered in 24 different shades and keeps your skin looking flawless throughout the day without weighing you down.
This Burt's Bees Foundation is another great powder option that's expert approved.
"Oily summer skin can really benefit from an easy to use powder foundation like Burt's Bees Mattifying Powder Foundation, " Aharon said. "I appreciate the brand's clean and vegan formula, along with its versatile application. The sponge allows for fuller coverage, while using it over your moisturizer with a brush can give you a light evening of the skin."
This foundation controls shine with buildable and blendable coverage to give you a smooth and even skin tone while blurring imperfections. The formula is lightweight, non-comedogenic and great for oily skin.
"I love using a matte foundation, personally, but matte foundations, in general, are always better for people with oily skin," Bybel said. "If you have something that's super dewy on top of your oily skin you'll end up just looking like a disco ball, which no one wants. This is oil-free, sits above your skin and doesn't clog your pores."
The CoverGirl Clean Matte Liquid Foundation makes your skin look poreless and is designed to give a fresh, shine-free base to upgrade your natural makeup look.
12. NYX BB Cream
Bybel says the NYX BB Cream "looks like your skin, but better."
"I often use BB creams in place of foundations and this NYX BB Cream primes, moisturizes and is oil-free," she said. "I'll warm this up on my hands, apply this on my face like a moisturizer, which gives you a little tint and will give you a flawless look that still looks like your natural skin."
This NYX product was created to hydrate and prime skin to make your complexion appear smoother and more radiant. The formula is mineral-enriched and oil-free.
For more recommendations, check out:
- Achieve the perfect ‘no-makeup’ makeup look with these tinted moisturizers
- 12 budget-friendly waterproof mascaras to get you through summer
- The 10 best makeup removers that celebrity makeup artists swear by
- The best anti-aging products, according to dermatologists who use them
- Which lipsticks last the longest? Here's what makeup artists think