Finding the best foundation for your complexion can seem an impossible task. Do you want full coverage or light coverage? Matte or dewy? Cool or warm undertone? And what’s the best way of finding your perfect shade when there’s such an overwhelming amount of choice?

The correct foundation formula can make doing your make-up a quicker and infinitely more pleasurable endeavour – there is something about truly radiant skin that makes adding much else to your face feel unnecessary – and after a year in which many of us skipped wearing make-up, now is the time to find the perfect formula for you. From concealing imperfections and smoothing skin tone to creating the most flawless finish as a brilliant canvas for the rest of your make-up, the right foundation really can do it all.

When it comes to finding yours, consider your personal priorities before you shop. Do you prefer a dewy radiance, or more of a velvet-matte finish? A full-coverage formula to keep you looking your best all day long, or a sheer wash of colour for a barely-there look that’s more tint than foundation? Or both? Who says you can’t have a whole wardrobe of foundation products to suit your every need?

Just as important is how best to apply them. A lot of the time it’s about personal preference. A primer can smooth, blur fine lines and help foundation to stay on longer, so it’s a good first port of call, and there’s also the option of layering hydrating skincare beneath your foundation to create a dewier effect. Depending on the finish you’re after, consider the application method: fingers are great to create a natural finish as they warm the formula into the skin, while make-up brushes help blend seamlessly. Make-up artist Dom Skinner also has a brilliant trick for getting two finishes out of one foundation formula: mix heavy coverage formulas with a face mist to impart a lighter finish when you want one.

Here, we’ve chosen the best foundation formulas that meet the needs of a wide variety of skin types, colours and concerns. Discover Vogue’s selection of the best foundation below. 

Best foundation for oily skin

Those whose skin is oily or combination will find a more matte formulation offers the best results, as it helps to minimise unwanted shine (produced by surface-dwelling oil), and imparts a velvety finish. Avoid going too heavy on the coverage – pigment can settle into pores and fine lines and leave a cakey finish – and opt for light or medium, buildable formulas.

Burberry Matte Glow Fluid Foundation

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Described as “life-proof”, this foundation is as durable as they come and will keep shine at bay for as long as is required. A matte glow might sound impossible, but that really is the finish it offers, evening out skin tone and brightening whilst it’s at it.

£38, available at

Kevyn Aucoin Foundation Balm
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Despite being called a “balm”, this foundation takes its cues from dryer balms rather than the oil-based cleanser balms you might be thinking of. It’s mattifying without being skin-dulling, and can be easily buffed onto a shiny T-zone throughout the day without disrupting the rest of your make-up. Plus, it comes in a travel-friendly pot.

£42, available at

Oxygenetix Oxygenating Foundation SPF 25
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For particularly reactive or highly blemish-prone skin, there is no better foundation than Oxygenetix. Forget the rather un-sexy packaging, this imparts an even, second-skin finish, plus it’s non-comedogenic, oil-and-fragrance free, meaning it literally only does what it was made to do: make skin look good.

£45, available at

Best foundation for dry skin

Look for words such as “glow” or “luminous” when choosing a foundation for dry skin, and seek out formulas with extra skincare ingredients. Hyaluronic acid and vitamin E are great options for those who suffer dry skin. Look to hydrating serums and primers to prep skin before applying a foundation, too. They will help ensure your foundation lasts, and that it feels comfortable upon skin.

Clé de Peau Radiant Fluid Foundation Natural
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A formula that is so lightweight you’ll need to double check it’s there, Clé de Peau’s Radiant Fluid Foundation Natural is also packed full of skin-illuminating ingredients, from theanine to platinum golden silk essence. It is hydrating and creates the dewiest finish, while lasting up to 24 hours – it is worth the price.

£110, available at

Vichy Mineral Blend Fluid Foundation
Best Foundation 2021 23 Foundations For Flawless Skin  British Vogue

Promising 24-hour hydration to skin and a fresh finish, this tube of Vichy’s fluid foundation is packed full of hydrating hyaluronic acid and the brand’s mineralising water, to feed skin what it needs, and improve its health over time.

£18, available at

By Terry Hyaluronic Hydra Foundation SPF30
Best Foundation 2021 23 Foundations For Flawless Skin  British Vogue
Packed with skin-quenching hyaluronic acid, By Terry’s pipette-dropper foundation is as much a hydrating serum as it is a foundation. It creates a soft finish that feels comfortable on the skin.

£49, available at

Fenty Beauty Pro Filt’r Hydrating Longwear Foundation
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If you felt Fenty’s original Pro Filt’r foundation was too dry for your skin type, then look no further than the hydrating version, which is formulated specifically with dry skin types in mind – praise be to Rihanna, as always. This one is as long-wearing and skin-smoothing as the last, but with added grape seed oil to nourish and hydrate.

£27, available at

Maybelline Dream Radiant Liquid Hydrating Foundation
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£8.99, available at

Yves Saint Laurent Le Teint Touche Éclat Foundation
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Yves Saint Laurent took its amazing Touche Éclat Complexion Highlighter, turned it into a foundation, and has never looked back. True luminosity, great coverage and a lightweight application in one bottle.

£36, available at

Best foundation for full coverage

The term “full coverage” might conjure visions of heavy, powdery make-up, but thankfully those days are long gone. Full coverage foundations now disguise any blemishes, even out skin tone and colour correct, while also feeling and looking radiant.

Gucci Fluide De Beauté Natural Finish Foundation
Best Foundation 2021 23 Foundations For Flawless Skin  British Vogue

£46, available at

Charlotte Tilbury Airbrush Flawless Foundation
Best Foundation 2021 23 Foundations For Flawless Skin  British Vogue

Charlotte Tilbury knows a thing or two about creating brilliant make-up, and this full coverage foundation is another triumph. It stays put whatever is thrown at it – whether that’s a trip to the gym, a visit somewhere humid, or a night out. Airbrush by name, airbrush by nature.

£34, available at

MAC Studio Fix Fluid Foundation
Best Foundation 2021 23 Foundations For Flawless Skin  British Vogue
A cult foundation for good reason, MAC’s Fix Fluid doesn’t only offer full coverage and a luminous glow, it also lasts for 24 hours without slipping off. 

£27, available at

Best foundation for long wear

When you’re out all day and need your foundation to last from dusk until dawn, only a long-wearing formula will do. Happily, the latest formulations offer radiance without looking heavy and dull, so you won’t have to compromise on glow.

Laura Mercier Flawless Fusion Ultra-Longwear Foundation
Best Foundation 2021 23 Foundations For Flawless Skin  British Vogue

For a flawless finish, this Laura Mercier number is your guy. Despite feeling light as air, it offers medium coverage and won’t move for up to 15 hours, making it a reliable friend in your make-up arsenal.

£36, available at

L’Oréal Paris Infallible 24hr Freshwear Liquid Foundation
Best Foundation 2021 23 Foundations For Flawless Skin  British Vogue

Waterproof, light and comfortable on the skin, L’Oréal’s long-wear foundation is brilliant and for under £15, you really can’t go wrong.

£11.99, available at

Estée Lauder Double Wear Stay-In-Place Makeup SPF 10
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Estée Lauder’s Double Wear boasts a cult following – no wonder, really, when you consider its phenomenal colour range, great coverage and long-lasting results. It’s great for summer, too, as it lasts well even in humidity.

£34, available at

Pat McGrath Labs Sublime Perfection Foundation
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£60, available at

Best foundation for mature skin

The key rule for buying a foundation if you have mature skin is to opt for something lightweight, hydrating and glow-giving. Heavier formulas often settle into fine lines and can dull the skin’s natural healthy shine, so opt for products that contain skincare benefits.

Shiseido Synchro Skin Radiant Lifting Foundation SPF30
Best Foundation 2021 23 Foundations For Flawless Skin  British Vogue

Within this clever Shiseido foundation lies a blend of transparent pearls, micro-crystals and advanced optical filters that add a dewy dimension to skin, while hydrating it. It works brilliantly for all skin types, and mature skins will love it for its ability to bring the skin to life. 

£42, available at

Dolce & Gabbana Beauty Glorious Skin Perfect Luminous Creamy Foundation
Best Foundation 2021 23 Foundations For Flawless Skin  British Vogue

This pot of gold isn’t found at the end of the rainbow, but it does contain the ingredients to make skin as bright as one. A hybrid skincare and make-up formula, it protects from pollution and sun damage while imparting a beautiful radiant sheen over skin, diffusing fine lines and evening out skin tone.

£92, available at

Guerlain Lingerie De Peau Invisible Skin Fusion Foundation SPF 20
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Subtle and lightweight yet durable, Lingerie De Peau (translated as “lingerie for the skin”), melts into the face and gives the impression of a flawless natural complexion. And just like good lingerie, it makes everything you put on top of it look better.

£40.50, available at

Chantecaille Future Skin Gel Foundation
Best Foundation 2021 23 Foundations For Flawless Skin  British Vogue

This water-based gel foundation offers great coverage without the heavy feel, plus it contains light-reflecting particles to create the illusion of a healthy glow, even if there previously wasn’t one.

£72, available at

Best foundation for sheer coverage

For skin that looks just like your skin, only more radiant, opt for a sheer foundation. Offering a natural finish while still providing decent coverage, it can be difficult to find a formula with staying power. Thankfully, though, make-up technology has advanced hugely in recent years, and today’s sheer, lightweight foundations offer a perfecting effect without looking like they’re there at all.

Dior Forever Natural Nude Foundation
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Your quick ticket to a fresh glow, this new Dior foundation allows to skin to breathe. It promises to hydrate, thanks to floral skincare within the formula, and feels as light as air upon the skin.

£39, available at

Nars Sheer Glow Foundation
Best Foundation 2021 23 Foundations For Flawless Skin  British Vogue

This Nars formula offers illuminated skin at the swish of a brush. It can be built up where you need more coverage and contains an array of different skincare ingredients, including turmeric extract and antioxidants, to help protect the skin day to day. A must try.

£33.50, available at

Chanel Les Beiges Healthy Glow Foundation SPF 25

Best Foundation 2021 23 Foundations For Flawless Skin  British Vogue

With active ingredients to protect against environmental aggressors and a sheer-coverage formula that creates a soft-focus finish, Chanel’s Les Beiges foundation is one of the best for everyday use. All of the glow, none of the shine.

£40, available at


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