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Falling somewhere between concealer and a more traditional liquid foundation, when it comes to base makeup, cream foundations offer the best of both worlds. Though the right one for you will depend on a few things — like whether you prefer a compact or stick, and the level of coverage you’re after — all of the best cream foundations glide onto skin as smooth as butter, and leave behind a silky, not powdery finish (though you can still choose between a matte or dewy cream foundation).
You can apply cream foundation a few different ways, but they work really nicely with makeup sponges and dense, flat-top brushes for wider areas of coverage. If you’re using your cream foundation in lieu of concealer, your fingers will be your best tools, or you can also opt for a dense eyeshadow brush for more targeted coverage (like around your nose). Some cream foundations — particularly those that come in stick form — work wonderfully for countering as well (just choose a shade darker than you normally would for all-over coverage).
Ahead, you’ll find seven of the best cream foundations to choose from, including one pick recommended by professional makeup artist Phoebe Dawson, who spoke to Elite Daily for this article.
1. The Pro’s Pick:
“This is one of my favorite cream foundations that I absolutely love,” Dawson says of AJ Crimson Dual Skin Creme Foundation. “[It] has a great range for all skin tones.” Each hand-poured foundation is supremely versatile, as it’s able to be used as foundation or concealer, or for contouring or covering up tattoos, thanks to its full-coverage formula. According to the brand, this water-resistant foundation can last for up to 18 hours when set with powder.
- Available shades: 11
2. The Editor’s Pick
There’s a lot to love about Honest Beauty’s Everything Cream Foundation. First, there’s its $20 price tag; then, there’s its high-quality formula, which mostly comprises good-for-skin, plant-derived oils, and other nourishers like glycerin and beeswax. Housed in a sleek, mirrored compact, this creamy foundation has what the brand calls a “velvety, demi-matte finish”, and it offers medium-to-full coverage that’s easy to build up.
- Available shades: 12
3. The Best Cream Foundation With SPF
If your motto is the more SPF, the better, Dermablend Cover Creme is the cream foundation for you. It’s a full-coverage foundation, though it’s still buildable, and it offers SPF 30 protection to help guard your skin from the sun. For best results, the brand has two tips: first, apply this using your fingers to help the formula spread more smoothly (the warmth from your skin will help with this), and second, set this with the brand’s best-selling translucent powder to help it last for up to 16 hours. Like the AJ Crimson foundation, this, too, can be used to conceal spots or tattoos since it offers such great coverage.
- Available shades: 21
4. Best Shade Range
Cover FX Total Cover Cream Foundation is offered in nearly 40 shades, so it should be easy for anyone to find a color that suits their skin tone. But that’s not the only thing that makes this foundation so great. It’s formulated with vitamins E, C, and F to offer antioxidant protection; squalane and beeswax to provide plenty of moisture; and an ingredient called phytosphingosine to help calm redness. This is a full-coverage formula and is best applied with a makeup sponge (the compact comes with a built-in one) or foundation brush.
- Available shades: 39
5. Best Drugstore Foundation Stick
If you’re looking to spend less than $10, you’ll love Wet N Wild’s Photofocus Stick Foundation. It rings up at just $5 on Amazon, and can be used as foundation, concealer, or contour. The coverage is full, yet buildable, and the finish is semi-matte, though it doesn’t feel dry (argan and sunflower seed oils give this a nice, smooth glide). For such a fair price, why not give it a shot?
- Available shades: 19
6. Best Premium Foundation Stick
On the other end of the price-tag spectrum is this luxurious foundation stick from Hourglass, a brand that makes some of the most consistently flawless products around. The waterproof formula — which was designed to adjust to your body temperature — offers enough coverage to double as concealer, but it feels as light as a weightless, liquid foundation and glides onto skin like silk, where it leaves behind a satin finish. Hourglass says you should get about 12 hours of coverage with this, though if you pair it with the brand’s best-selling Veil primer, it may last you even longer. Perhaps you can take things even further by setting it with the translucent powder from the same line.
- Available shades: 20
7. Best Foundation Stick For Dark Skin Tones
If you have trouble finding a cream foundation that matches your skin tone, try the True Color Skin Perfecting Stick from BLK/OPL. The full-coverage, velvet-finish foundation is the brand’s best-selling product, and it uses Shade ID technology to adjust to your unique skin tone and create an overall more even-looking effect. This does have SPF 15, but it’s not quite the derm-recommended amount of SPF 30, so don’t forget to wear a layer of sunscreen under this.
- Available shades: 25
Phoebe Dawson, professional makeup artist