There’s no need to spend big bucks on a flawless base.
“No makeup” makeup may be having a moment, but sometimes, only a full-coverage base will do. Whether you’re on a budget or you don’t use full-coverage makeup that often and don’t want to spend a ton, there are plenty of great, full-coverage foundations from drugstore brands out there. All of the best drugstore full-coverage foundations ring up at less than $20, but the best one for you will depend on your skin type, application preference (e.g. a stick, a powder, or a cream) and skin tone. Those with oily and acne-prone skin will want a noncomedogenic foundation with a matte finish, while those with drier skin should choose a foundation that contains moisturizing ingredients (such as hyaluronic acid, aloe, and vitamin E) to avoid a cakey finish.
How you apply your foundation can also have an impact on the end result. Most importantly, you’ll always want to start with clean skin that’s been properly prepped. To avoid a flaky or uneven finish — and ensure long-lasting results — apply a moisturizer and/or primer first (oily skin types should opt for a hydrating serum or lightweight moisturizer followed by a mattifying serum). Another crucial consideration is the type of tool you’re using to apply your foundation. As much as you may love your Beautyblender or makeup sponge, when it comes to full-coverage makeup, using a dense foundation brush is the best way to go. Start by applying your foundation in light layers, working your way from the center of your face and blending it out (you can always add more foundation if you feel like you need some extra coverage). Then, don’t forget to give your makeup more staying power (you can do this once you’re done applying your foundation and concealer) with a light dusting of translucent setting powder.
Shop The Best Drugstore Full-Coverage Foundations
In a hurry? Here are the best drugstore full-coverage foundations:
- Best Full-Coverage Foundation For Oily Skin: NYX Can’t Stop Won’t Stop Foundation
- Best Full-Coverage Foundation For Acne-Prone Skin: Maybelline Fit Me! Matte + Poreless Foundation
- Best Full-Coverage CC Cream For Dry Skin: e.l.f.’s Camo CC Cream
- Best Full-Coverage Foundation For Dark Skin Tones: Black Radiance Color Perfect Liquid Makeup
- Best Full-Coverage Foundation Stick: Wet N Wild Photo Focus Stick Foundation
- Best Full-Coverage Foundation Stick For Dark Skin Tones: Black Opal True Color Skin Perfecting Stick Foundation
- Best Full-Coverage Pressed Powder Foundation: L’Oréal Paris Infallible Up To 24H Fresh Wear Foundation In A Powder
1. Best Full-Coverage Foundation For Oily Skin
If oily skin is your primary concern, opt for a long-lasting foundation with a matte finish, like this one from NYX. The brand’s Can’t Stop Won’t Stop Foundation gives you a shine-free base via a liquid formula that feels lightweight on skin. In addition to promising matte coverage for up to 24 hours, the foundation is also waterproof and transfer-proof. Dab on a few dots of the corresponding Can’t Stop Won’t Stop Concealer for even more coverage.
Finish: Matte Available Shades: 40 Beneficial Ingredients: Vitamin E Size: 1 oz. Cruelty-Free: Yes
Relevant Review: “I have tried so many high end foundations due to oily skin (combination) & this unexpected lower cost foundation is one of the best.”
2. Best Full-Coverage Foundation For Acne-Prone Skin
Foundation doesn’t come much more highly recommended than this Maybelline Fit Me! Matte + Poreless Foundation, which currently has more than 75,000 five-star ratings on Amazon. Developed to address both acne-prone and oily skin types that may be experiencing enlarged pores, this liquid foundation is noncomedogenic, oil-free, and features a matte finish with pore-blurring micro-powders. If you’re someone who wants more coverage without losing that skin-like finish, you’ll also like that this foundation offers more buildable coverage, so that you can customize your base depending on the look you’re going for that day.
Finish: Matte Available Shades: 40 Beneficial Ingredients: Vitamin E, Glycerin Size: 1 oz. Cruelty-Free: No
Relevant Review: “Great foundation! Full coverage but still feels light. I like it better than a few of my department store foundations. Definitely recommend - can't beat the price!”
3. Best Full-Coverage CC Cream For Dry Skin
If your skin is on the dry side, chances are you prefer the moisturizing coverage that typically comes with BB creams, CC creams, and tinted moisturizers. Unfortunately, these formulas are also better known for their light-coverage finishes. But it is possible to find a full-coverage option that’s still hydrating, and e.l.f.’s Camo CC Cream even throws SPF 30 into the mix. The buildable formula is packed with moisturizing ingredients like hyaluronic acid, panthenol, and sunflower seed oil, and can be built up to medium-to-full coverage. It also contains good-for-skin ingredients like niacinamide and peptides, which can help promote firmer, brighter skin.
Finish: Natural Available Shades: 29 Beneficial Ingredients: Vitamin E, Hyaluronic Acid, Niacinamide, Panthenol, Glycerin, Sunflower Seed Oil, Peptides Size: 1.1 oz. Cruelty-Free: Yes
Relevant Review: “This is hands down my most favorite foundation of all time. While this is technically a cc cream, the coverage looks more like a full coverage foundation. It is also my exact perfect shade. They can keep all of those expensive foundations, I will be a continued purchaser of this product until they stop making it. And the addition of the SPF is a bonus as well, especially now that we are entering into warmer weather.”
4. Best Full-Coverage Foundation For Dark Skin Tones
While the foundations on this list all come in a pretty comprehensive shade range, historically, there have been fewer color matches for darker skin tones. Black Radiance was developed to cater to melanin-rich skin, and the brand’s Color Perfect Liquid Makeup includes 23 foundation shades for dark skin tones. The oil-free foundation has a natural finish that’s best suited for dry and combination skin types, but those with oily skin can simply follow up their foundation with a mattifying setting powder.
Finish: Natural Available Shades: 23 Beneficial Ingredients: Aloe Leaf Extract, Chamomilla Flower Extract, Evening Primrose Oil Size: 1 oz. Cruelty-Free: Yes
Relevant Review: “This foundation gives a dewy finish with full coverage. I love the way it looks, including the shade it came in. For such a low price, it works wonderful. I plan on purchasing more in the future.”
5. Best Full-Coverage Foundation Stick
A stick foundation gives you a more versatile product to work with. Not only can you use the travel-friendly formula as your daily foundation or to spot conceal, but the bullet applicator and creamy consistency also make it great for contouring (just stock up on different shades and swipe where needed). Wet N Wild’s Photo Focus Stick Foundation gives you a semi-matte, full-coverage finish that’s moisturizing and easy to blend thanks to ingredients like murumuru seed butter, sunflower seed oil, and argan oil. For lighter coverage, simply blend it out thoroughly with a makeup sponge or brush.
Finish: Semi-Matte Available Shades: 18 Beneficial Ingredients: Murumuru Seed Butter, Sunflower Seed Oil, Vitamin E, Argan Oil, Coconut Oil, Soybean Oil Size: 0.42 oz. Cruelty-Free: Yes
Relevant Review: “This stick is perfect when I want to get coverage quickly. It spreads beautifully whether I do it with my fingers, with a beauty blender, or a brush. Especially for the price, it is amazing! It has not given me any problems in terms of breakouts, oiliness, etc. so I will 100% keep using it. Also perfect for on-the-go!”
6. Best Full-Coverage Foundation Stick For Dark Skin Tones
Another stick foundation option, this one from Black Opal comes in more shades for darker skin tones. You’ll find 21 colors to choose from, all of which use the brand’s Shade ID™ technology to further adjust to your skin tone with multi-colored chromatic pigments. The hypoallergenic and fragrance-free stick foundation provides you with extra sun protection thanks to SPF 15, and gives skin a slightly dewy finish with the help of ingredients like aloe leaf extract and soybean oil.
Finish: Natural Available Shades: 21 Beneficial Ingredients: Sunscreen, Aloe Leaf Extract, Soybean Oil, Vitamin E Size: 0.5 oz. Cruelty-Free: Yes
Relevant Review: “I absolutely LOVE this foundation. Amazing coverage, great price, lots of product, and it's great for travel. Throw it in a bag, and go! Love it! Great for everyday simple coverage, or stage makeup. I use it for both. Stays on through one of my marching bands sweaty performances, looks very natural, and blends into skin flawlessly!”
7. Best Full-Coverage Pressed Powder Foundation
Powder foundations tend to provide lighter coverage, and they’re also known to turn cakey or stick to dry patches faster than their liquid counterparts. L’Oréal Paris’s Infallible Fresh Wear Foundation In A Powder breaks the mold on both accounts with its full-coverage powder formula that has the smooth texture of a liquid foundation. The powder has a matte finish that makes it suitable for oily and combination skin types, and the formula is waterproof and sweat-proof without feeling heavy on skin. The compact even comes with a mirror and mini sponge for applying the foundation on the go.
Finish: Matte Available Shades: 20 Beneficial Ingredients: Vitamin E Size: 0.31 oz. Cruelty-Free: No
Relevant Review: “I love this powder. It feels light on your skin but it had full coverage. It lasts all day, even on hotter muggy days. I would say this is a great alternative to the higher priced brands and this gives similar results.”
8. Best Full-Coverage Foundation & Concealer In One
Another multi-tasking, full-coverage option, this Milani Conceal + Perfect 2-In-1 lets you skip the concealer entirely. The brand explains that the liquid foundation was designed to conceal as it promotes a more even skin tone, so you can apply it under your eyes or spot conceal wherever you need extra coverage. In addition to imparting a shine-free matte finish on skin, the foundation and concealer is also oil-free, sweatproof, and waterproof.
Finish: Matte Available Shades: 45 Beneficial Ingredients: Glycerin, Plum Fruit Extract, Allantoin Size: 1 oz. Cruelty-Free: Yes
Relevant Review: “I have been searching and searching for a full coverage product that is actually full coverage. This is it. If you have a birthmark or tattoo you need covered, this will do it and not look too cakey either. I never write Amazon reviews, but I hope this finds someone in their search, too. Awesome! Couldn’t recommend more!”
About The Author:
Marissa DeSantis has worked as a beauty writer and editor for nearly 10 years. Her pieces can be found across print and digital publications like Bustle, Evening Standard, Teen Vogue, and InStyle.