I like different foundations for different reasons, so hopefully one of these foundations can become your holy grail based off of what you're looking for in coverage, finish and format.
1. Too Faced Born This Way in Snow; 1 oz for $39
I adore this foundation, and it is easily my "holy grail" and go to. I first tried this foundation when it launched back in Fall of 2015 while I was still working at Sephora. I tried desperately to make the colors at launch work, but I was quickly losing my summer color and Ivory and Porcelain didn't match me. I held off on buying a bottle until lo and behold! They launched Snow and Pearl in early 2016. In February of 2016, I actually started working for the brand, and the rest is history.
The foundation is oil free, yet does magic on my combination skin. Dry patches aren't exacerbated by the formula, but it also doesn't melt off halfway through the day. It gives a satin matte finish and makes my skin look healthy and plump. I do pair it with the Hangover primer and the Primed & Poreless Pressed Powder to make sure I look perfectly smooth, despite my acne scarring.
I have applied it with several different brushes and sponges. I recommend a BeautyBlender for full coverage, and a rounded buffing brush (like the Teddy Bear Hair Kabuki or a Real Techniques Cheek Brush or Face Expert Brush) for a softer coverage. It has a fantastic dry down time, with plenty of time to blend, but not so much that it lifts as you move on to concealer. The pump top dispenses the perfect amount of product; I use a full pump for a full coverage application. If you are looking for less coverage, I would start with half a pump.
This foundation is best for all skin types, including sensitive and acne prone. Extremely oily skin types have had mixed results with wear. Paula's Choice Beautypedia gives Born This Way four stars out of five!
|Primed & Poreless Pressed Powder, Born This Way in Snow, and Hangover Primer; all Too Faced Cosmetics|
2. Kat Von D Lock-It Foundation #45; 1 oz for $35
When my breakouts were at their worse, this foundation was the only one that could cover it all up and give me the confidence to go to work every day. It isn't known for being the easiest to work with, or even for having the prettiest finish; it covers up everything, including tattoos. It will never be my holy grail foundation for this reason, but it is right up there. Now that my Snow is too light from Too Faced, I have been mixing in a dab of my KVD #45 to bring up the pigment just a little. I have also worn this mixed with equal parts of my Born This Way when my acne has decided to rear it's angry little head at me. It is also worth noting that I own and am a fan of the powder version of this foundation, as well.
This foundation is an oil free, full, full, full coverage. In all seriousness, this has more coverage than almost any foundation that you have worked with. It has more coverage than anything else in a pump style bottle. I would never recommend this for very dry skin types unless they specifically were seeking the coverage. If you are extremely dry, put this on very well hydrated skin and prepare to use some sort of hydration mist over top throughout the day. The foundation is not transfer proof, despite the claims, but as long as you don't touch it, it will look exactly like it did when you put it on twelve hours earlier.. as a matter of fact, plan to use an oil based cleanser to remove this. It's waterproof.
I prefer this foundation with a damp BeautyBlender or Real Techniques Sponge. You can use a brush with it, but it's much harder to get it to blend as smoothly. You can mix it directly with primer to make it easier to apply, versus applying it on top of primer. Because it is a dry matte finish, it will settle in to any lines or wrinkles. The best way to combat this is to apply the sheerest layer possible in those areas. You will rarely use more than a pump of this, even for the fullest of coverage.
This foundation is best for normal to oily skin types; drier skin types can use it if they properly prep the skin for the dry matte finish. Acne prone skin types will love it for the coverage, but have to be sure to remove it with a waterproof makeup remover as most acne cleansers are foamy and do not remove foundation. Paula's Choice Beautypedia gives Lock-It Foundation a two of our five for many of the reasons I mentioned.
|Kat Von D Lock-It Foundation & Powder Foundation in #45 and #44, respectively|
3. Cover FX CC Custom Cover Drops in N20; 0.5 oz for $44
I have never used a product from Cover FX I didn't love. In fact, I am also a HUGE fan of their BB Gel for my acne prone, combination skin (I am a N Light). But the Custom Cover Drops are unlike any product I had used prior. I loved mixing a drop (or five) directly into their Mattifying Primer and applying it for a flawless, matte foundation in the dead of Texas Summer. I loved that I could mix it in with my moisturizer with SPF for a custom tinted moisturizer, or add a drop to a foundation to correct the color or provide more coverage. As someone who has acne, the versatility it offered quickly made it a staple in my beauty routine.
The formula is a concentration of pigment suspended in an oil free delivery system that instantly evaporates to allow only pigment to be left behind. It is not recommended to apply the drops directly; it looks very dry and unnatural (trust me; I tried it). If you apply too much pigment, it can settle into lines and wrinkles, but that is to be expected.
How I applied it varied with what I was mixing it with. When mixed with moisturizer or oil, I typically used my fingers. When using it with a primer, I usually used a fluffy buffing brush. I am using the past tense of these verbs because my bottle is presently empty. I will buy more in the future when I run out of my ridiculous back supply of foundation.
Due to the versatility of mixing this with whatever base you'd like, this foundation option is great for all skin types, including the most sensitive. You can mix it with whatever products you already know work great with your skin, so there is little risk of surprise (outside of the surprise of how good it really looks). Paula's Choice Beautypedia gives the Custom Cover Drops five out of five stars!
|BB Gel in N Light, CC Drops in N 20, and CC Cream in N Light; all Cover FX|
4. e.l.f. Acne Fighting Foundation; 1 oz for $6
I remember the first time I tried this I was pleasantly surprised by the performance of this foundation. For only $6, I would compare it to the Kat Von D foundation. It isn't exactly the same, but it would be a dupe in the truest sense of it being a cheaper, comparable product. It gives a lot of coverage and has a dry matte finish. Like the Kat Von D, the coverage doesn't allow the coloring to be very forgiving. Unlike the Kat Von D, it only comes in a disappointing eight shades. I am lighter and more neutral than the two lightest shades (Ivory and Porcelain), but I can make them work for $6.
I typically apply this foundation with a fluffy blending brush like the Real Techniques Buffing Brush. You can also easily apply it with a sponge, or even a classic flat paddle foundation brush. It is relatively forgiving and doesn't have a super fast dry down.
This foundation is intended for acne prone skin types and isn't meant for everyone. It is specifically an acne foundation. However, the Beautypedia specifically states that the pH level is too high for the salicylic acid to do much good, so it probably can be for most skin types. It is a cheaper foundation, so it's no surprise that Paula's Choice Beautypedia gives the Acne Fighting Foundation a two out of five stars. The quality of ingredients just isn't as high, period.
|e.l.f. Acne Fighting Foundation in Porcelain|
Honorable Mention: Pacifica Alight Multi-Mineral BB Cream; 1 oz for $16
This was going to be #5 on the list, but I can't do that and not feel like I'd be lying, so instead it makes the list as an honorable mention. Like so many BB creams, this only comes in one shade. Because it only comes in one shade, I can't love it. I wear it under lighter powders and mix it with my too light foundation from NARS (All Day Radiant in Siberia), but by itself, I just don't love it. If you are a light to medium complexion and not paper white like myself, you would probably love this. But for my pale girls, expect the usual problem of needing to somehow make it a shade or two lighter. That said, if you have #3 on this list, that's a easy enough task!
This is a radiant finish, so I wouldn't recommend this to oily skin types who spend most of their time trying to bring down the shine on their face. It does also have small shimmer particles in it as well, so if you're not a fan of those, I would steer clear of this. I think it gives me skin a pretty glow and I don't feel oily as long as I set it with a powder.
Pacifica products aren't rated on Paula's Choice Beautypedia at this time. From looking over the ingredients myself, there doesn't seem to be much in the way of filler ingredients, and it looks like a lot of plant based antioxidants are in there. It does have jojoba esters in it, meaning it is certainly not an oil free product.
|Pacifica Alight BB Cream|