Finding the right foundation is one of the more daunting makeup tasks for anyone. Now, throw your wedding day into the mix—choosing the perfect base can be even more challenging. You need something that is going to last, for sure, but also that’s going to look great both in photos and in real life. The good news? There’s no shortage of high-performing foundations to choose from. The bad news? There’s no shortage of high-performing foundations to choose from. So to make your life a little bit easier, we compiled a list of the best of the best bases on the market.
Once you find a favorite, try taking it for a test run on a busy day, suggests celebrity makeup artist Bryan Cantor. “Apply it in the morning and wear it as you go about your day, looking in the mirror as often as possible to gauge how it is wearing. Are you shiny halfway through? Does it start wearing off after a few hours? Try this with a few foundations and take notes to determine which is best for your big day,” he advises.
Meet the Expert
Bryan Cantor is a celebrity makeup artist and beauty expert based in New York City. He brings his impressive knowledge of makeup products, skin care, application techniques, and professional tips and secrets to clients and companies in New York City and across the globe.
Read on for the top foundations that are perfect for your wedding day.
Best Overall: Giorgio Armani Luminous Silk Foundation
Cantor is just one of many (many) makeup artists who love this classic pick, a fan favorite for over 20 years. “Formulated for all skin types, its patented technology gives an incredibly realistic lit-from-within look both in person and on camera,” he explains, exactly what you need for your big day.
It also simultaneously improves skin texture and blurs imperfections, he adds, plus, the shade range was recently expanded. There are now over 40 tones to choose from, all of which impart a just-right level of medium coverage with a radiant, yet still skin-like finish. While it is a bit pricey, a little does go a long way, so one bottle will last for quite a while.
Price at time of publish: $45 for 0.6 oz
Best Drugstore: L’Oréal Paris Infallible Fresh Wear 24Hr Foundation
Yes, you can find a great wedding day foundation at the drugstore; this formula is proof positive. As the name suggests, it touts some impressive staying-power and is transfer- and sweat-proof. And, unlike some other longwear foundations, the color stays completely the same throughout the day as well. Still, it’s lightweight and breathable, and we also like that it comes in 40 shades, impressive for a drugstore base.
Price at time of publish: $16
Best for an Airbrushed Look: Charlotte Tilbury Airbrush Flawless Longwear Foundation
For those who want the effect of airbrushed foundation—without having to deal with the actual airbrushing machine—this pick can’t be beaten. Makeup artist Charlotte Tilbury is known for creating products that make your complexion look naturally clear, and this is no exception. Hydrating and lightweight, it’s humidity- and waterproof, not to mention has a unique ingredient that makes it feel cooling and refreshing when it goes on the skin, a major boon for summer brides. As if that weren’t enough, it also contains a proprietary ingredient complex that helps reduce the look of wrinkles—always a good thing in our book.
Price at time of publish: $46
Best Shade Range: Gucci Fluide De Beauté Fini Naturel
Another one of Cantor’s faves, this comes in an extensive range of 40 shades, all with varying undertones, making it easier than ever to find your perfect match. “It’s formulated for all skin types and has a soft-focus powder technology to blur the look of wrinkles and imperfections for a flawless finish,” he says. It delivers medium coverage, though it's easily buildable if you want to add a bit more to make it fuller.
Price at time of publish: $68
Best for Dry Skin: Kosas Revelear Skin-Improving Foundation
If you have dry skin, obviously prepping with a good moisturizer and hydrating primer is important, but choosing the right foundation formula can also be super beneficial. Enter this newbie. It’s filled with ingredients more commonly found in skincare than makeup. Think hydrating hyaluronic acid and squalane (per the dry skin part of things), niacinamide, and wrinkle-smoothing peptides. It applies and blends in beautifully, making it easy to achieve an undetectable, seamless finish that looks exactly like your skin, just totally perfect.
Price at time of publish: $42
Best for Oily Skin: Givenchy Prisme Libre Skin-Caring Matte Foundation
According to Cantor, this is a great choice for those with oily or combination skin. Inspired by the brand’s beloved loose powders and a new take on the radiant variant of the same base, he says the medium coverage and long-lasting, transfer-proof, waterproof formula is ideal for brides. Pink clay helps to absorb excess oil, though the matte finish still looks natural, and never chalky or mask-like.
Price at time of publish: $49
Best Natural: Exa High Fidelity Foundation
Once upon a time, not so long ago, you’d be hard-pressed to find a clean and natural foundation that could still perform. Happily, that’s no longer the case; this is one of our favorite recent foundation launches, natural or not. It’s free of a laundry list of questionable chemicals but works just as well as any ‘traditional’ foundation.
The semi-satin finish is perfect for those who don’t want a matte nor a radiant texture, and the medium coverage is incredibly easy to either build up or sheer out on any areas where you don’t need quite as much product. Not to mention it comes in 43 shades.
Price at time of publish: $38
Best Splurge: Chantecaille Future Skin Foundation
Pricey? Yes. Worth it? Also yes. “This looks exactly like healthy skin when it’s applied, and is packed with natural botanicals and antioxidants to soothe skin while preventing environmental damage,” says Cantor of another one of his favorites. Also noteworthy: A unique, oil-free gel texture made with 60% water that's both refreshing and super lightweight.
Price at time of publish: $82
Best Lightweight: ILIA True Skin Serum Foundation
A true makeup-skincare hybrid, “This contains powerful skincare ingredients that soothe, smooth, and visibly repair skin, all while leaving it looking great,” says Cantor. Namely, texture- and tone-improving niacinamide, redness-combatting allantoin, and calming aloe. It comes with a dropper-type applicator; use as many drops as needed to reach your desired level of coverage.
Price at time of publish: $54
Pressing it in with your fingers helps it melt into skin for the most seamless coverage.
Best Full Coverage: Kevyn Aucoin The Sensual Skin Enhancer
If you’re looking for a foundation that packs a serious coverage punch, reach for this guy. The cream formula is highly-pigmented, so much so that it can even cover tattoos (not to mention things such as acne, dark circles, and hyperpigmentation). But despite how concentrated it is, it never cracks or looks cakey or mask-like. It contains hydrating jojoba oil, vitamin E, and honey, though works equally well on all skin types. And while it only comes in 16 shades, they’re all fairly versatile.
Price at time of publish: $34
Best Stick: Hourglass Cosmetics Vanish Seamless Finish Foundation Stick
Long-wearing, waterproof, and super-concentrated, this packs the same amount of coverage as you’d get with any liquid or cream foundation—just in an incredibly easy-to-use stick. The triangular tip makes it easy to reach even hard-to-get-to spots (like around your nose or ears), and it blends in beautifully. We use it all-over as a foundation, though it also pulls double-duty as a concealer and/or touch-up product to keep on-hand in your clutch during the big day.
Price at time of publish: $48
What to look for in a wedding foundation
You want to make sure you look good in photos, yes, but also IRL. “Apply the foundation and then go out with friends that you trust and ask them how it looks in various lighting situations,” says Cantor. As a general rule of thumb, if it looks good in daylight it will look good in any light, since daylight is the most unforgiving. It’s also a good idea to take some photos in these various lighting scenarios and see how your skin looks on camera, he adds.
Cantor says most brides should look for a foundation that’s light to medium coverage, and use concealer on any spots that need more attention. “This will look much more natural both in-person and on camera, as light can pass through this level of coverage, as it does with natural skin,” he explains. One exception? If you have drastic discoloration all over your face, go for medium-to-full coverage, he says.
Consider skin type
“Look for a foundation that works for your skin type. If you have dry skin and use a mattifying formula, your skin will look thirsty and feel very uncomfortable. Likewise, if you have oily skin and choose a formula that’s too hydrating, it’s going to look shiny and can slide off your face,” suggests Cantor. Finding a formula that’s created to work for your skin type will ensure optimal results in both appearance and longevity, he says.
How should I apply foundation?
First of all, “always start your application at the center of your face and work your way outwards. The majority of people need the most coverage in this area and require less coverage at the perimeter of the face. Plus, the center of your face is the part that everyone looks at when they are speaking to you,” says Cantor. If you like applying with a brush, opt for a dome-shaped buffing brush, which gives a more natural finish with no brush-strokes than traditional, flat foundation brushes, he says. Tap the product on first, then buff it in circular motions.
If you prefer a reusable makeup sponge, like a Beauty Blender, wet it until it’s fully saturated, then squeeze all the water out and blot the remaining water out with a towel or paper towel. Dip the sponge into your foundation and bounce it onto your skin by tapping quickly and repeatedly until your face is completely covered in foundation. Come back after with more product and bounce it again on any areas where more coverage where needed, he says.
What’s the best way to make a foundation last?
According to Cantor, setting sprays and face powder are essential, and part of the tried-and-true routine he uses on all his brides. Prep skin with a setting spray, apply any cream or liquid products, then spray again. Dust on a translucent setting powder, apply any powder products, and finish with another layer of powder on the forehead, jaw, laugh lines, under the eyes and side of the nose to mattify those areas while leaving the rest of the face looking dewy and glowing, he suggests.
Why Trust Brides
Brides contributor Melanie Rud has over a decade of experience in the beauty industry, writing for some of the biggest magazines and websites out there. She’s also a newlywed, who wore the Armani foundation on this list for her wedding a few months ago.
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Levin, Jacquelyn, and Saira B Momin. “How much do we really know about our favorite cosmeceutical ingredients?.” The Journal of clinical and aesthetic dermatology vol. 3,2 (2010): 22-41.
13 benefits of using jojoba oil in your skin care routine. Healthline.