The 10 Best Full-Coverage Foundations of 2023
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Even though full-coverage foundations seem pretty self-explanatory, there are a lot of nuances of this type of makeup. It can be a challenge to find a high-quality foundation that offers maximum opacity, sits undetectable on the skin, and comes in a wide range of shades.
To find the best full-coverage foundations, we researched dozens of formulas while considering factors such as finish, ingredients, and SPF. We also consulted celebrity makeup artist Jenna Kristina for tips on shopping for a full-coverage foundation.
Kristina's biggest piece of advice is to "decide whether you want a matte or glowy finish." She says this will help narrow down what full-coverage foundation to purchase. And while there are no strict rules that state those with dry skin have to wear dewy foundations and those with oily skin wear matte foundations, it can make the application easier and improve the wear time.
Charlotte Tilbury Airbrush Flawless Foundation
Best Overall Full-Coverage Foundation
Who it’s for: People seeking flawless full coverage in a hydrating formula.
Who it isn’t for: People seeking a foundation with a dewy finish.
With 43 shades and a subtle matte finish, the Charlotte Tilbury Airbrush Flawless Foundation is our favorite full-coverage base on the market. The brand uses three trademarked ingredients to create an opaque formula that feels lightweight on the skin and provides ample skincare benefits.
First up is Replexium, which consists of two peptides that reduce the appearance of fine lines. Then there’s the MossCellTec (aka moss extract) and AirCool (which contains menthol) to hydrate skin and keep it feeling fresh all day and night. We also appreciate that there is no obvious oxidization of the formula pigment as the foundation dries, meaning it stays true to the undertones experienced at the first swatch.
Price at time of publish: $49
Number of Shades: 43
NYX Professional Makeup Can't Stop Won't Stop Full Coverage Foundation
Best Drugstore Full-Coverage Foundation
Who it’s for: People looking for an affordable foundation that still provides full coverage.
Who it isn’t for: People who want a full-coverage foundation with SPF.
With an expansive shade range and affordable price point, the NYX Can't Stop Won't Stop Foundation leaves a flawless finish to the skin. Added ingredients like vitamin E help to keep the application smooth. The transfer-proof, oil-free, and vegan formula allows this foundation to work for several skin types despite the mattifying finish. While this drugstore foundation can last 24 hours, we still suggest properly washing your face before bed to keep your skin healthy.
Price at time of publish: $15
Number of Shades: 45
Yves Saint Laurent All Hours Foundation
Best Splurge Full-Coverage Foundation
Who it’s for: People seeking a full-coverage foundation that layers well over skincare and SPF.
Who it isn’t for: People seeking a budget-friendly option.
Despite the contradiction in a “luminous matte” finish, as the brand describes it, the YSL All Hours Foundation manages to achieve just that. The formula offers opaque coverage in 40 shades that span cool, neutral, and warm undertones. It contains ingredients like hyaluronic acid and jasmine petal to keep skin looking and feeling hydrated, bright, and nourished throughout the wear. While the full-coverage foundation does include SPF 30, makeup with SPF should not replace your regular sunscreen application. Fortunately, this product layers well over skincare products and sunscreen alike.
Price at time of publish: $60
Number of Shades: 40
IT Cosmetics CC+ Cream With SPF 50+
Best Full-Coverage Foundation With SPF
Who it’s for: People seeking a makeup and skincare hybrid.
Who it isn’t for: People who need a more diverse shade range.
The IT Cosmetics CC+ Cream is a standout choice for anyone seeking a full-coverage foundation with the addition of SPF 50 for sun protection. It comes in 22 shades that act as equal parts foundation and skincare. Full of hydrating hyaluronic acid, radiance-enhancing niacinamide, and nourishing vitamin E, this foundation will make getting ready every day a breeze. Even though it has SPF, you should still wear your favorite face sunscreen in conjunction with this product.
Price at time of publish: $44
Number of Shades: 22
Dior Forever Skin Glow Foundation
Best Full-Coverage Foundation for Dry Skin
Who it’s for: People seeking a full-coverage foundation that doesn’t have a matte finish.
Who it isn’t for: People who want a more affordable formula.
It is notoriously frustrating for individuals with dry skin to find a full-coverage foundation that won't enhance the typical signs of their skin type. That's where the Dior Forever Skin Glow enters the conversation and checks off every box. Offering a generous 42 shades, this long-lasting, easy-to-blend formula is opaque enough to cover imperfections. Plus, it has a nourishingly radiant finish that never looks oily or greasy, thanks to the infused iris, wild peony, and hibiscus extracts found within the formula. Housed in beautiful recyclable packaging, this full-coverage foundation will be a go-to for even the driest of skin.
Price at time of publish: $55
Number of Shades: 42
Estée Lauder Double Wear Stay-in-Place Foundation
Best Full-Coverage Foundation for Oily Skin
Who it’s for: People seeking a matte foundation with an expansive shade range.
Who it isn’t for: People with very sensitive skin.
One of the most iconic foundations on the market is the Estée Lauder Double Wear Stay-in-Place Foundation, and for a good reason. The finish of each of the 56 shades is comfortably matte, allowing the skin to still look natural as it wears throughout the day. Free from added fragrance, this long-wearing and buildable foundation will seemingly cover imperfections without feeling too heavy on the skin. Just note that people with extremely sensitive skin may want to pick another foundation on our list—this one contains mica, which can potentially irritate some people’s skin.
Price at time of publish: $48
Number of Shades: 56
Westman Atelier Vital Skin Foundation Stick
Best Full-Coverage Foundation for Sensitive Skin
Who it’s for: People who need a full-coverage foundation with a gentle formula.
Who it isn’t for: People looking for a liquid formula.
Westman Atelier’s founder Gucci Westman wanted to create a foundation stick that served as a multipurpose product, thus simplifying the owner's makeup routine. Her brand's Vital Skin Foundation Stick is successful at offering full coverage in a blendable and elegantly packaged formula that’s suitable for those with sensitive skin. Added ingredients like squalane, phytosphingosine, and berry flux vita keep the skin feeling nourished, soothed, and hydrated, respectively.
Price at time of publish: $68
Number of Shades: 21
Glo Skin Beauty Satin Cream Foundation
Best Full-Coverage Foundation for Redness
Who it’s for: People with warmer undertones or those who experience red splotches.
Who it isn’t for: People looking for an expansive shade range.
If your skin is prone to redness, this oil-free and semi-matte foundation from Glo Skin Beauty is bound to be your new favorite complexion product when you need to get ready in a flash. Added ingredients like aloe vera soothe any redness and inflammation while antioxidants like green tea protect the skin against signs of aging. Plus, the satiny mineral-based pigments apply beautifully to the skin, offering a beautiful application every time. Just keep in mind that this foundation only comes in 13 shades, which isn’t as inclusive as some of the other ranges on our list.
Price at time of publish: $54
Number of Shades: 13
Dior Forever Matte Foundation
Best Long-Wearing Full-Coverage Foundation
Who it’s for: People seeking a foundation with maximum coverage and wear time.
Who it isn’t for: People who prefer dewy or natural finishes.
The Dior Forever Matte Foundation is a transfer-proof formula offering a full-coverage application that reduces the appearance of pores without looking heavy on the skin. Despite its opacity and matte finish, the foundation sits beautifully on even the driest skin types (thanks to Indian cress and iris root extracts) and lasts long enough for all-day wear. With 43 shades to choose from, this full-coverage foundation is precisely what your routine is missing.
Price at time of publish: $55
Number of Shades: 43
Bobbi Brown Skin Long-Wear Weightless Foundation SPF 15
Best Lightweight Full-Coverage Foundation
Who it’s for: People looking for a natural finish to their full-coverage foundation.
Who it isn’t for: People who would rather have a foundation without SPF.
To conceal imperfections and kiss redness goodbye, consider adding the Bobbi Brown Skin Long-Wear Weightless Foundation to your makeup routine. This foundation melts into the skin, offering a natural look that feels lightweight rather than heavy. To keep oil at bay, the brand uses marine sugarcane algae extract and natural mineral powders, but don't be fooled—this foundation still contains glycerin to keep the skin hydrated and nourished.
Price at time of publish: $52
Number of Shades: 42
With its ample shade range, natural matte finish, and advanced formula, the Charlotte Tilbury Airbrush Flawless Foundation is our favorite full-coverage foundation. If you're on the market for a more radiant finish, the Dior Forever Skin Glow Foundation will leave the skin looking glossy, never oily.
How to Shop for Full-Coverage Foundation
Often confused for one another, product formulation and finish can be tricky to navigate, especially when it comes to full-coverage foundations. A formulation, in this case, refers to the type of foundation you are using. Full-coverage foundations typically come in powder, liquid, and cream forms, each needing a slightly different application technique to get maximum color payoff during application.
When selecting a full-coverage foundation, it's necessary to consider the way you want a product to feel on your skin. A powder or liquid can feel lightweight on the skin, and if a cream is applied too heavy-handed, it can look thick and weigh the skin down. Ultimately, the formulation is a matter of personal preference.
The finish of a foundation refers to how it looks on the skin post-application. Common foundation finishes, no matter what coverage level, include matte, semi-matte, natural, dewy, and luminous, to name a few. It comes down to your personal preference, but Kristina says dewy finishes tend to work best on dry skin while matte finishes tend to work better on oily skin.
"All skin types can use full-coverage foundation; you just need to change the way you prep your skin," says Kristina. She also explains that a flawless, fade-proof look requires prep specific to your skin type and concerns. Someone with dry skin will want to apply hydrating moisturizers and illuminating primers, just as oilier skin types should opt for a mattifying or gripping base to keep the foundation from slipping and sliding on the skin.
We are in an age where a lack of diversity and inclusion in cosmetics is unacceptable—yet it’s still something that we often see. Foundation ranges should be vast, ranging in depth and undertone and offering ample color options within those parameters. Ideally, foundations should come in a minimum of 40 shades that do not primarily sit on the lighter end, so that everyone can find the right color for their skin tone. Brands like Estée Lauder, Dior, and Charlotte Tilbury are setting great examples with their shade ranges.
Questions You Might Ask
What kind of applicator should you use with a full-coverage foundation?
Kristina recommends applying foundation with a fluffy yet dense brush, which "works really well to buff the foundation into the skin." Alternatively, you can stipple a full-coverage foundation onto the skin to create a more subtle look without sacrificing opacity. Sponges like Beautyblenders also exist, but brushes tend to work the product into the skin better.
How do you make a full-coverage foundation last?
There are two types of products Kristina reaches for to keep a full-coverage foundation from budging: loose setting powders and setting sprays. "These ensure it will stay in place but also [don’t] alter the color or tone of the foundation," she explains.
How do you make a full-coverage foundation look natural?
Like many makeup artists, Kristina says skin prep is critical for a natural-appearing foundation application. "Make sure it's exfoliated, hydrated, and primed," she says. Taking these extra steps will ensure a smooth complexion that holds makeup well.
Take Our Word for It
This article was written by Samantha Parsons, a beauty industry veteran, and writer with experience across the cosmetics, skin, and wellness industries. To come up with this list, she researched countless full-coverage foundations that would suit diverse skin types and tones. She also consulted celebrity makeup artist Jenna Kristina for her tips on tricks for selecting and using full-coverage foundations.
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