Problem Solvers

Ace your base with our guide to selecting the best foundation

It’s only too easy to be bewildered by the swathe of bases out there. Do you want a suede or satin finish? Something sheer or with a bit more coverage? Buildable? Mineral? Matte…? If you’re bamboozled by the infinite variety of foundations on offer, we’ve distilled the array of choice into a concise edit of the latest (greatest) heroes in each category – the newest crop of game-changers which promise to fulfil your niche-est needs and take the guesswork out of gorgeousness…


For those who’re comfortable in their own skin or who simply like to keep things understated, a breathable, barely-there base is the best way to subtly unify tone and add ‘polish’ without looking ‘done’. NIOD’s only-just-tinted {Photography Fluid} has scattering pigments to lend luminosity, while The Ordinary’s aptly named {Serum Foundation} is a featherweight veil that conceals without masking your precious freckles (use our intelligent foundation finder – MatchMe – to find the right shade for your skin tone).


If you like things fresh and beautifully dewy, Milk Makeup’s {Sunshine Skin Tint Broad Spectrum SPF 30} comes housed in a quick and convenient tube with a rollerball – perfect to help you look great (while protecting your skin) on-the-go. Brilliantly buildable, this can be layered to adjust the coverage, and the fact that its brimming with precious plant oils (grapessed, avocado, mandarin, jojoba and olive-derived squalane) makes it a boon for dry skin types – maintaining moisture while bestowing a ‘real skin’ finish.


For a flawless suedette finish, a matte or velvet formula will help to control excess oil and ensure you look enviably cool, calm and collected under unforgiving camera flashes. Often going hand-in-hand with coverage, Milk Makeup’s {Blur Liquid Matte Foundation} is a game-changer when it comes to blurring pores and fine lines. Unlike its rivals which often rely on skin-smothering silicones, this formulation is silicone-free to smooth, blur and refine without triggering breakouts. Laced with innovative, powder-filled blurring microspheres which scatter light to leave skin looking enviably even, this base has a featherweight, serum-like texture which makes its camouflaging capabilities even more remarkable. Plus, with 24 shades to choose from, it’s suitable for a wide range of skin tones.


Ever on the fence? For those who like the best of both worlds, something with the right amount of radiance is often hard to come by. Most commonly classed as ‘satin’, these bases scatter light without the sheen (or tell-tale shimmer) of more ‘luminising’ options. Perfect for those with oil-prone complexions, who want ‘dew’ without looking too wet-look, Urban Decay’s {Stay Naked Foundation} does what it says on the ‘tin’ – blurring everything to lend a realistic, your-skin-but-better effect.


An absolute must-have, IT Cosmetic’s all-new and exclusive {Your Skin But Better Foundation + Skincare} offers all-day hydration and coverage while feeding skin with good-for-you ingredients that will smooth, tone and refine skin texture over time. If you prefer something that hides a multitude of s(k)ins – from tell-tale signs of too-late nights to unwelcome monthly breakouts – Huda Beauty’s {#FauxFilter Foundation} is THE ONE. In an impressive range of shades, this heavy-duty, long-wear base is an essential camouflage for those who like to put the make up through its paces. It’s water-resistant, quick-drying and sets with a matte, almost powder-like finish that never looks cakey or settles or in crease.


For fans of powder formulas, Wander Beauty’s {Wanderlust Powder Foundation} is a thing of beauty and a joy to use. With a spectrum of shades of baked mineral pigment, along with pearlescent, skin-brightening particles to blur imperfections while granting a ‘soft focus’ glow, this is packed with free radical-fighting antioxidants, hyaluronic acid and redness-reducing ingredients to blur the appearance of fine lines and visible pores.


For those who like to keep their options open, the new crop of ‘drops’ are everyone’s own bespoke base. Completely customisable, foundations such as Surratt’s {Dew Drop Foundation} can be mixed with moisturiser to create your custom coverage. A great way to adapt the same foundation to address the changing needs of your complexion, these also make it ultra-easy to create your perfect shade – just mix two shades together for a flawless finish.


Verity Douglas

Verity Douglas

Content Editor

Verity is our Content Editor and a Cult Beauty veteran. Currently on maternity leave, raising Cult Beauty’s honorary ‘word nerd’, Tabitha, she speaks fluent ‘beauty’ and loves nothing more than the marriage of language and lip balm (and cleanser and candles… ad infinitum). Nothing can stop her from quoting Nancy Mitford, treating herself to yet another Bella Freud candle for her desk or buying that pilgrim-esque collared or heavily fringed outfit she’s been eyeing. You can trust her to debunk widespread beauty myths and dispense invaluable advice with ease…