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Which full-coverage foundations are best?

Of all the makeup techniques in the world, flawless foundation application is among the most difficult to master. Instead of working with lightweight formulas that may not deliver optimal results, use a full-coverage foundation to get a second-skin finish.

Full-coverage foundations are buildable formulas that offer opaque coverage over blemishes, dark spots and hyperpigmentation. One of the leading full-coverage foundations is Estée Lauder Double Wear Maximum Cover Camouflage Foundation, which is long-wearing and suitable to use on both the face and body. 

What to know before you buy full-coverage foundation

When to use full-coverage foundation

Full-coverage foundation can be worn day or night, depending on your coverage preferences. Some individuals prefer using full-coverage foundation as their everyday formula, whereas others use it for special occasions. 

Because full-coverage foundation is heavier and thicker than most formulas, some individuals limit its use to cooler-weather months. Unfortunately, some of these formulas are prone to sweating off or migrating in warmer weather or humid conditions. Other full-coverage foundations are suitable for all-season wear because they’re sweat- and transfer-resistant. 

Do I need to use concealers or color correctors with full-coverage foundation?

For some individuals, full-coverage foundation offers enough coverage where they don’t feel the need to use concealers or color correctors. Other people prefer using these products together to achieve a near-flawless application by concealing blemishes or dark spots. There are also some individuals who find themselves applying less concealer and color corrector when using full-coverage foundations compared to light- and medium-coverage foundations. 

Full-coverage foundation formulas

Full-coverage foundations are available in liquid, cream and stick formulas. Liquid formulas have thin consistencies that are easy to spread across skin. Cream formulas are thicker, some of which may require less product to achieve full coverage. Stick formulas, which also have a creamy consistency, offer quick application because they only require a few swipes around the face that are then blended into one another. 

What to look for in a quality full-coverage foundation

Long-wearing formulas

While several full-coverage foundations are long-wearing, the ones that last the longest are water-resistant, sweat-proof or transfer-resistant. These formulas often contain ingredients, such as silicones, that repel moisture by forming a protective yet breathable barrier over skin. Some of the most common silicones used in foundations are dimethicone and cyclomethicone. 

However, silicone-based foundations have a mixed reception. While they may be effective at extending foundation wear times, they may trap dirt and debris in pores. As a result, some individuals experience breakouts or irritations when using these formulas. 


A few full-coverage foundations include sunscreen in their formulas, rendering them convenient two-in-one products. Depending on the formula, they may contain SPF 15-50. These foundations are ideal for individuals who spend more time outdoors, particularly those who are prone to burning. However, some people stay away from formulas with sunscreen because they may clog pores.

Formulas for sensitive skin

There are a few full-coverage foundation formulas that are suitable for sensitive skin. Some are marked with terms like “nonacnegenic” or “hypoallergenic.” It’s important to note that these terms aren’t officially regulated, and more than anything, they’re labels that beauty brands assign to their own products.

If you’re searching specifically for sensitive skin formulas, look for ones that are free of ingredients that may trigger reactions. Foundations made without synthetic dyes, fragrances, parabens, sulfates and phthalates are believed to be less likely to cause reactions. 

How much you can expect to spend on full-coverage foundation

Drugstore full-coverage foundations — including several long-wear formulas — cost $7-$14. Full-coverage foundations made by premium beauty brands range $22-$55, while those manufactured by luxury beauty brands may run as high as $150. 

Full-coverage foundation FAQ

How do I find a similar shade of full-coverage foundation if mine is discontinued?

A. Try the shades just above or below the shade that was discontinued to see whether they are a suitable match. Another option is to contact the manufacturer directly and inquire whether the shade has been discontinued, what the next closest shade is or if the shade has simply been renamed. 

Is it difficult to remove full-coverage foundation?

A. Full-coverage foundations can be removed with facial soap and water. However, if you’re looking for a gentler method of removing makeup, begin your face-washing routine by massaging your face with a cleansing balm or oil. This will loosen foundation and other makeup, which results in less rubbing with soap and water to remove the rest.

What’s the best full coverage foundation to buy?

Top full-coverage foundation

Estée Lauder Double Wear Maximum Cover Camouflage Foundation

Estée Lauder Double Wear Maximum Cover Camouflage Foundation

What you need to know: With a liquid-cream formula, this foundation has a reputation for easy, effortless application. 

What you’ll love: The long-wearing formula covers tattoos, scars, blemishes and most hyperpigmentation. While it’s a thicker formula, it’s nonacnegenic and has a natural finish. It also contains broad-spectrum sunscreen. 

What you should consider: The foundation has a limited shade range, and some individuals feel it has a greasy finish. 

Where to buy: Sold by Ulta and Macy’s

Top full-coverage foundation for the money

Revlon ColorStay Dull Cover Longwear Matte Foundation

Revlon ColorStay Dull Cover Longwear Matte Foundation

What you need to know: This affordable drugstore formula has a mousse-like consistency that spreads easily across skin.

What you’ll love: The foundation has a matte finish and works well beneath eye and face makeup. It offers up to 24 hours of wear, plus it’s sweat- and humidity-resistant. The foundation comes in a mess-free squeeze tube that is travel-friendly. 

What you should consider: While it has lasting power, some people said touch-ups may be required around blemishes during the day. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

Dermablend Cover Creme

Dermablend Cover Creme

What you need to know: Suitable for face and body, this Dermablend foundation is well received for its natural color and long-lasting coverage. 

What you’ll love: The high-pigment formula doesn’t require too much building and blending to achieve optimal coverage. It has a natural, noncakey finish that is inconspicuous in person and photos. The formula is smudge- and sweat-resistant, plus it’s suitable for sensitive skin.  

What you should consider: The foundation may require setting powder to maximize wear time.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon, Ulta and Macy’s


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Sian Babish writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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