The 6 Best Foundations I've Ever Tried, at Every Imaginable Price

These foundations have been raved about so often that I had to try for myself. And I'm so impressed!
Publish date:
June 11, 2015

Foundations and complexion makeup are fairly new to me; I only really got comfortable with wearing the stuff a year or two ago. Would it surprise you to learn that foundation was another thing I used to overdo as a young teen? Having nude lips from smudging a pile of caramel-colored cream all over your entire face (except below the jawline, double derp) is not a good look. There was a recurring pattern in my formative years: do too much of something, abstain from failed experiment. So it’s truly educational for me to learn how to use different types of foundations, and fun, too.

I soak up beauty reviews every Sunday like reading the paper; I’m always looking for fun stuff to try, or to figure out the best of the best of something to share with y’all. I, too, must decide if said products are worth the Hype Williams. This time, I rounded up some of the supposed best of the best foundations at every price point to see how they really looked.

Maybelline Dream Wonder Fluid Touch Foundation

Price: $10.99

Price per ml: $0.54

Type: Liquid

Shade I Used: 80 Sandy Beige and 60 Medium Buff (equal parts)

Coverage/Finish: Medium coverage, semi-matte

I really liked the quick set this liquid provided. It needs fast blending, so I found fingers to be the ideal application method. The shade combo matched my pre-summer glow very well, and SPF 20 makes it a good choice for daytime. No scent, didn’t make me break out, and looked good in photos. The only con was my blush application seemed to disappear, so I had to use a lot of product to get anywhere.

L’Oreal Infallible Pro-Matte 24-Hour Foundation

Price: $12.99

Price per ml: $0.43

Type: Cream

Shade I Used: 105 Natural Beige

Coverage/Finish: Medium coverage, demi-matte

After an hour or two, I liked this. At first swipe, it seemed a bit too yellow and streaky, but it gives you ample time to blend, and the color adjusts after blending and setting. It's matte without being flat, and I didn’t have any problems with it, skin-wise. I did find myself needing a concealer for a few spots, but on better skin days, it would be suitable on its own.

Elizabeth Arden Flawless Finish Sponge-On Creme Makeup

Price: $36.50

Price per ml: $1.52

Type: Cream Compact

Shade I Used: 03 Perfect Beige

Coverage/Finish: Medium to full coverage, dewy to powder (depends on how you apply it)

Moisturizing before this foundation is a must. In the photo I used a dry sponge to apply, but this took more blending; next time, I used a damp sponge and was much more into the finish. It can be full-coverage, and you likely won’t need concealer if you layer over a blemish. I liked the customizable finish, and if you are patient with the blending, a dry sponge application covers fully and stays put without being too matte, and if you go damp, it's more breathable.

Clinique Moisture Surge CC Cream

Price: $36.00

Price per ml: $0.90

Type: Cream

Shade I Used: Medium

Coverage/Finish: Medium coverage, dewy

Very hydrating—I liked not having to use extra moisturizer to make sure I don’t look crusty with this one. It was very blendable and needed extra blending, so after fingers, I went in with a kabuki brush to buff it into my skin a bit more. Setting with powder saved me from getting a greasy nose. SPF 30 holds you down, and it looks really natural, so you won’t look strange and masked in daylight.

By Terry Light Expert

Price: $65.00

Price per ml: $3.83

Type: Liquid in click pen

Shade I Used: 5 Vanilla Light

Coverage/Finish: Sheer coverage, natural finish

At first glance I was baffled by what seemed like a complete lack of coverage. Even a second layer seemed to do nothing, and I was very, very confused, considering how highly recommended this baby came. But when I stepped into my work area and caught a daylight glimpse in the mirror I was floored! Just like the amazing Touche Velotee Concealer, the resulting glow is nothing short of gorgeous. It looks like you have nothing on your skin, but somehow tone is evened out and enhanced. It was kind of shocking. It’s like a big highlighter for your face, and hyaluronic acid and rose oil also help plump up your skin.

Sisley Paris Photo Teint Eclat

Price: $122.00

Price per ml: $4.06

Type: Liquid

Shade I Used: 3+ Apricot

Coverage/Finish: Full coverage, matte

This is my very first experience with a full-coverage liquid foundation, let alone a luxury one, and I was very impressed. One pump with fingers nabbed my whole face and enveloped it in a matte but luminous gown of color. I needed no concealer and all subsequently applied makeup was enhanced by this base. Even drugstore blush was punchy and bright, when just the day before it was not adhering to a cheap foundation. I could see one bottle lasting absolute ages, especially if you cocktail a small pump with a tiny dab of serum to sheer it out, which looked lovely as well.

It was next to impossible to narrow down my favs even further. However, I can say which ones work for which needs. More coverage in daylight means Maybelline or Clinique. Nightmoves are best accompanied by a sponging of Elizabeth Arden or L’Oréal. On the go working babe with no time to even think about makeup? By Terry’s instant pick-me-up will make your day in 30 seconds flat. Last but not least, special events or photo-ready looks would be best suited by Sisley’s super-flattering formula.

I will personally be rocking that Light Expert for my effortless day look and squirting a bit of Jouer’s Tinted Moisturizer in SPF 20 on the brush for a pinch more coverage or sun protection. It’s a game changer because of how natural my skin looks with literally no effort—the staff at Space NK was not fluffing about this one. (I also want to take this moment to shout out Spironolactone, without which I would never want to test foundations without also applying massive amounts of Tarte Maracuja Creaseless Concealer... but more on that later.)

  • Have you tried any of these?
  • What foundation would you give four stars?
  • Have you ever bought a foundation based on rave reviews and been like, "Huh? Wrong!"

Photos: Darnell Scott