Best drugstore foundation: the tried and tested bases for all skin types

We've rounded up the best drugstore foundation for all skin textures and complexions

a collage image showing four of the best drugstore foundations
(Image credit: Future)

We all know that a lot of thought goes into choosing you foundation—as the base of your entire makeup look, it needs to tick all the boxes to ensure smooth application. But if you thought you had to go high end for a great base, think again, because some of the best drugstore foundations can actually be far superior to higher-end products.

While in previous years, you needed to spend more on the best foundations to ensure better quality, shade range and formulas, nowadays there’s a whole host of options on the market for an affordable price, that cover a range of base requirements. 

To help you make your decision, beauty expert Keeks Reid has tested and rounded up her pick of the best drugstore foundations on the market right now. You'll find the pick with the widest shade ranges below, as well as the options you need if you suffer with dry or oily skin.

How to choose the best drugstore foundation for you

There’s no doubt that trying our foundation in person is preferable, as you’re able to see the shades up close. However, with fluorescent lightening and limited testers on offer, comparing shades in the comfort of your own home is often preferred. So how do you know you're choosing the right product for you and your skin?

The key thing to be find out is your skin's undertone. Understand this will help to eliminate certain shades that may look like they are your skin colouring, but when applied, will look off. How do you find this out then?

The simplest way to discover your undertone is by looking at the colour of your veins in natural light:

  • If your veins appear green-hued—then you have a warmer undertone
  • If your veins look blue or purple—your undertone is cool. Cooler undertones need to stay away from warm, orangey-hued foundations, no matter how tanned or deep your skin colour as the colour will not blend naturally with your undertone. 

Most online retailers will now let you send back unopened cosmetics too, so if the shade is completely different to what your saw online you can return it hassle-free.

The best drugstore foundations as reviewed by our expert

L’Oreal Paris True Match Pressed Powder Foundation

(Image credit: L’Oreal Paris )

1. L’Oreal Paris True Match Pressed Powder Foundation

Best drugstore foundation for oily skin

Specifications

RRP: £6.99
Shades available: 13

Reasons to buy

+
Good for a mattifying oily skin
+
Very few powder foundations on the market, and this is one of the best affordable choices

Reasons to avoid

-
Not for dry skin
-
Slim shade range

If you’re happy with the overall tone and texture of your skin, then this is one of the best foundations for oily skin, to combine the coverage and set in one affordable go.

Apply a light dusting after your skincare to mattify ahead of applying the rest of your makeup. Just watch out for applying too much, as the texture can make the face look a bit flat. 

Revlon ColorStay Foundation For Normal/Dry Skin

(Image credit: Revlon)

2. Revlon ColorStay Foundation For Normal/Dry Skin

Best drugstore foundation for dry skin

Specifications

RRP: £12.99
Shades available: 24

Reasons to buy

+
Natural satin finish so good for dry skin
+
Contains hyaluronic acid for moisture retention
+
SPF 20

Reasons to avoid

-
If you have very oily skin you might get shiny through the day
-
Not for anyone looking for light coverage

A lot of the time, full coverage foundation is offered in a matte formula, which isn’t helpful for drier skin types. But the finish on this best drugstore foundation is satin-y and natural so works for many skin types, including dry skin, and it can be built up to a full coverage look without looking caked on.

It contains SPF 20 so you have a little sun protection included to boot. 

The Ordinary Coverage Foundation

(Image credit: The Ordinary)

3. The Ordinary Coverage Foundation

Best lightweight drugstore foundation

Specifications

RRP: £5.90
Shades available: 21

Reasons to buy

+
Lightweight texture
+
Excellent pigmentation

Reasons to avoid

-
Needs to be blended quickly to avoid patchiness

They might be known for their affordable skincare but The Ordinary have dabbled on the makeup side of beauty for a few years now. Of the two foundations they offer, this is the one with more coverage yet the texture is still very light.

The coverage comes from the rich pigments meaning you get a breathable full coverage finish but you do need to blend it out quickly so you have an even, patch-less finish. One of the best foundations for acne-prone skin, given its light texture.

NYX Professional Makeup, Can't Stop Won't Stop Full Coverage Foundation

(Image credit: NYX)

4. NYX Professional Makeup, Can't Stop Won't Stop Full Coverage Foundation

Best drugstore foundation for a great shade range

Specifications

RRP: £15
Shades available: 45

Reasons to buy

+
Huge shade range to choose from
+
Blendable texture

Reasons to avoid

-
Not suitable for dry skin

This is a great go-to base and the best drugstore foundation for a full day event or night out. It’s long-lasting (apparently up to 24 hours, but no one needs to wear foundation for that long) and is also waterproof.

The texture is creamy and easy to blend but dries down very matte—so if you have dry skin best to avoid as it may cling to dry patches. Plus, we're pretty impressed with the shade range, which is the highest out of all of our best drugstore foundation picks.

Morphe 2 Hint Hint Skin Tint

(Image credit: Morphe)

5. Morphe 2 Hint Hint Skin Tint

Best drugstore foundation for a glowy finish

Specifications

RRP: £16
Shades available: 20

Reasons to buy

+
Radiant finish 
+
Range of undertones

Reasons to avoid

-
For oily skin can verge on shiny and not glowy

This foundation is perfect for you if you want something with more coverage than a tinted moisturiser, but not the full coverage of a thicker foundation. It feels lightweight to apply, especially with the pipet applicator, which is nice and breathable.

If you’re looking for serious coverage though this isn’t the base for you; it gives a light, radiant glow to the skin but doesn’t cover hyperpigmentation or even skin tone. 

Sleek MakeUP Life Proof Foundation Med/Full Coverage

(Image credit: Sleek MakeUP)

6. Sleek MakeUP Life Proof Foundation Med/Full Coverage

Best drugstore foundation for a long-lasting base

Specifications

RRP: £8.99
Shades available: 24

Reasons to buy

+
Water and sweatproof
+
Easy to apply makeup on top with sliding

Reasons to avoid

-
Very matte finish
-
Not buildable

When Sleek said Lifeproof they meant it. This foundation is suitable for any situation where you need longevity from your base with just one light layer.

One thing to note though is that one layer is enough for a reason, as it is already very full coverage—and, it gives you a matte finish, so if you apply too much you are at risk of caking.

Collection Lasting Perfection Glow Foundation

(Image credit: Collection)

7. Collection Lasting Perfection Glow Foundation

Best drugstore foundation for sensitive skin

Specifications

RRP: £6.49
Shades available: 20

Reasons to buy

+
Probiotic technology 
+
Good for sensitive skin

Reasons to avoid

-
Dewy finish means balanced to oily skin types will need to powder throughout the day

Fans of the cult Collection Lasting Perfection Concealer can rejoice, as the foundation is just as good and available in a host of shades. The formula is better for balanced to dry skin types as the glow can edge towards shininess on oily skin.

The pigment gives skin-like medium coverage, and it's gentle too making it one of the best foundations for sensitive skin on this list.

Lottie London Skin Tint

(Image credit: Lottie London)

8. Lottie London Skin Tint

Best drugstore foundation for a great pigment

Specifications

RRP: £9.99
Shades available: 8

Reasons to buy

+
Good pigment
+
Moisturizing but natural matte finish

Reasons to avoid

-
Only 8 shades to choose from

If the lack of shades doesn’t put you off this is an easy-wearing skin tint that has a velvety matte finish.

While it’s not going to give loads of coverage, the rich pigment is the best drugstore foundation for a moisturizing finish, and you only need a few drops for an even, healthy dose of sheer coverage. 

Keeks is an award-winning digital & social content specialist a hair & beauty writer and a brand consultant. You can find her work in Cosmopolitan (in print and online), Refinery29, Harper’s Bazaar, Woman and Home, Women’s Health, My Imperfect Life, OK! Online and Hairdressers Journal