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Top 3 Drugstore Foundations for Your Skin Type


Drugstore foundation for your skin type

Finding a great foundation can be a difficult and even overwhelming experience. Your friend raved about one foundation, but maybe another one didn’t like it. You read tons of rave reviews about a different foundation online, but when you bought it yourself, it didn’t work for you. Sound familiar?

In general, there are a lot of amazing drugstore foundations out there, but it certainly takes some digging to find them. And the key to finding the one that’s perfect for you? Skin type. It’s the reason one foundation may look amazing on one person but horrible on another. That’s why it is crucial that you assess your skin type before purchasing the product in order to have the most flattering look.

Below, I’ve broken down each of the four most common skin types, and a great drugstore foundation for each (with the exception of “normal” skin, which can wear all three foundations).

Skin Types

In general, there are four main skin types: normal, oily, combination, and dry.

  • Normal: Luckily for you, your skin appears evenly toned and you suffer from few breakouts. Your skin is not overly dry or oily. You can pretty much wear whatever foundation you want – they will all work for you, more or less.
  • Oily: If you notice that your face tends to get shiny after a short period of time, then you probably have oily skin. This is more obvious in the T-Zone area, which is across your forehead and down the bridge of your nose. Oily skin types typically don’t have many dry areas.
  • Dry: Your skin often feels tight and looks flaky. You may get dry patches especially around the nose and chin area. This usually gets worse in the winter.
  • Combination: Your skin displays characteristics of both oily and dry skin. You likely have an oily t-zone (nose, forehead, and chin), but dry patches on the rest of your face.

Now that you have an idea of your skin type, on to the foundations!

Oily Skin – Neutrogena Healthy Skin Liquid Makeup

Neutrogena Healthy Skin liquid makeup - best drugstore foundation for oily skin
Neutrogena Healthy Skin Liquid Foundation – $11.99

Neutrogena’s Healthy Skin foundation is perhaps the best drugstore foundation for oily skin. As a general rule, Neutrogena foundations will not clog your pores or add grease to already-oily skin. In addition, Neutrogena is known for their acne-fighting skincare products, so it makes sense that their foundations would work for problem skin. If you have a history of breaking out due to your foundation, you should definitely consider Neutrogena.

Foundation rundown:

  • Coverage: The coverage of this foundation is moderate to medium. It blends in with your skin beautifully and most importantly looks natural.
  • Biggest Pro: This foundation contains lots of great ingredients and is actually proven to help improve the quality of your skin.
  • Biggest Con: Application can be a pain with the screwtop cap – spilling is usually unavoidable, and don’t even try to get all the product out of the bottle. It’s not going to happen.

Dry Skin – Revlon Colorstay Foundation

Revlon colorstay foundation - best drugstore foundation for dry skin
Revlon’s Colorstay Foundation – $12.99

Although the package says “for combination and oily skin”, I’ve found Colorstay to be the best drugstore foundation for dry skin. Foundations for dry skin typically contain more moisturizing ingredients, and Colorstay fits the bill. In general, if you have dry skin, look for foundations that emphasize their hydrating ingredients. Also, girls with dry skin should always exfoliate before applying foundation. This will help get rid of some of the dry, dead skin cells so the foundation can go on more smoothly.

If you are looking for something a bit lighter than a full-coverage foundation, I also recommend tinted moisturizers for a hint of color minus the heavy look. For example, Covergirl’s CG Smoothers SPF 15 has the perfect ingredients for dry skin users.

Foundation rundown:

  • Coverage: The reason why I recommend Revlon Colorstay over CG Smoothers is because Revlon has much better coverage. Tinted moisturizers for the most part have sheer coverage, while foundations have medium to full.
  • Biggest Pro: The great thing about the Colorstay line is that they have a great variety of colors for all skin types. The coverage is also amazing. I used it on my friend’s sunburned skin once and you could not tell she was sunburned afterwards.
  • Biggest Con: This foundation can feel heavy on your face and sometimes looks too cakey if applied with a heavy hand.

Combination Skin – Revlon PhotoReady Foundation

Revlon PhotoReady Foundation - best drugstore foundation for combination skin
Revlon’s PhotoReady Foundation – $13.99

Combination skin can be tricky to work with. I have combination skin myself and I find that the seasons largely dictate what foundation I wear. For example, during winter, my skin can get really dry so I need a more hydrating foundation, while during the summer, my skin gets shiny the second I walk out into the heat.

If you have combination skin, you may need two foundations – one for winter, and one for summer. That said, I’ve found that Revlon PhotoReady is the best drugstore foundation for combination skin because it works well year-round: wear over moisturizer in winter and under powder in summer.

Foundation rundown:

  • Coverage: Photoready Foundation has beautiful coverage that helps even out your skin tone. The coverage is more moderate than Colorstay.
  • Biggest Pro: This foundation blends in beautifully with your skin tone and doesn’t look unnatural or too cakey.
  • Biggest Con: It does contain shimmer, which may be a problem for ladies with skin on the oilier side. Shimmery foundations can have a tendency to highlight open pores and oily areas, so be sure to use a powder on top if you’re worried about it.

Your thoughts?

I know a bunch of you requested this post so I hope it fit your expectations! Now I want to know what you think – what foundations do you guys enjoy using? Feel free to recommend any other products in the comments section, and be sure to note your skin type.

Posted on on February 17, 2010 / Filed Under: Beauty & Hair / Tags: , ,

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41 Responses to “Top 3 Drugstore Foundations for Your Skin Type”

  1. 1
    February 17th, 2010 at 12:49 pm

    The Neutrogena Healthy Skin makeup is actually one of the worst to use on oily skin. It won’t clog your pores, but neither will most foundations these days. The Healthy Skin makeup makes you look oilier. It’s best for dry skin.

    My favorite drugstore brand is Covergirl clean makeup in the oil control formula. It’s one of the cheapest and it works wonders on oily skin!

  2. 2
    February 17th, 2010 at 1:21 pm

    I’ve tried so many foundations trying to find the right one, and from that review I think Revlon’s PhotoReady will be the next one. I just hope I can find the right color. I’m super pale and usually the lightest makeup offered in a line is still a shade or three darker than my skin. Latley I’ve been using TrueMatch in Alabaster (I’d read that it worked for other fair girls), but even that is a bit dark, and I hate the texture on my dry spots.

  3. 3
    February 17th, 2010 at 1:29 pm

    I agree with chelsea. I use Neutrogena Healthy Skin makeup on my extremely dry/ flake-prone skin and it’s definitely one of my favorites.

    A helpful tip when looking for makeup for dry skin is to look for make-ups that were designed for older women(revlon age rewind for instance) they tend to be more moisturizing. Also make-ups containing SPF seem to help keep my skin softer!

  4. 4
    February 17th, 2010 at 1:43 pm

    My problem with Drugstore foundation is not that the coverage is bad, but that I am incredibly pale (translucent) so nothing is my skin tone. I must say for canadians, the Annabelle Liquid Foundation is really lovely, semi-matte and very smooth and natural.

  5. 5
    February 17th, 2010 at 1:53 pm

    Hm, interesting about the Neutrogena stuff! I have oilier skin and like Neutrogena foundations in general, although I’m with you Luinae – I’m too pale for most of the drugstore brands, year round! :(

  6. 6
    February 17th, 2010 at 1:57 pm

    Thanks for the post! I’d say I have combination skin. I have tried the first two foundations and didn’t love or hate either of them. After reading this I will definitely see how well the Revlon PhotoReady foundation works!

  7. 7
    February 17th, 2010 at 3:59 pm

    I’m running low on foundation and have been looking for a new kind to try (I haven’t used the same kind twice yet) and I think PhotoReady will be next!

  8. 8
    February 17th, 2010 at 5:06 pm

    I love, love love love CG Smoothers- I have really dry skin and it gives me great coverage for daily use. I also use ColorStay, but I use the formula for dry to normal skin. I promise I have some of the driest skin, but this stuff is gold and has NEVER caked on me and looks awesome.

    Love this post!

  9. 9
    February 17th, 2010 at 11:26 pm

    Do you have to wear foundation? I never wear it; the one I have makes my skin break out and it feels better without it, and also I’m already pale, so foundation makes me look white as a ghost. But you have to wear foundation with concealer right?

  10. 10
    February 18th, 2010 at 11:13 am

    I was recently recommended by a dermatologist the Jane Iredale mineral foundation and I love it. It’s a little pricey, but for something that’s going to stay on your face all day long I think it’s totally worth the money!

  11. 11
    February 18th, 2010 at 12:48 pm

    yay!!! Thank you!!!

    Im so happy you made this post. Im going to go out and try your recommendations right now :D

    I love collegefashion

  12. 12
    February 24th, 2010 at 5:47 am

    Hey girls, sorry it took me a while to reply I’ve been absolutely crammed with midterms. But I always love reading your feedback and answering your questions.

    I really do recommend the Photoready foundation to anyone. I was actually at Ulta recently and I saw this mother/daughter duo scanning between Colorstay and Photoready. I told her I’d recommend Photoready and I think she bought the product! Overall, I think finding the right foundation is trial and error.

    @Maria: No, you definitely should not feel obligated to wear foundation. In fact, I RARELY wear foundation unless I’m going out and want a more glamourous look. On a day-to-day basis, I always wear a tinted moisturizer for some coverage. But honestly, if you’ve got the gorgeous skin to flaunt there’s no need to bother with any face product :)

    @s. You’re welcome! Don’t hesitate to keep the requests coming! I love reader requests :)

    Thanks guys for the feedback!

  13. 13
    March 8th, 2010 at 10:59 pm

    Good review! these are surprisingly quite affordable!

  14. 14
    July 14th, 2010 at 1:23 am

    Hi i think this is really a wonderful post especially for us college girls on a very strict budget. I was wondering, what drugstore blush or eyeshadow would you recommend?

  15. 15
    October 19th, 2010 at 4:19 pm

    I am always always looking for the best foundation. For the last two and a half years i’ve never gotten the same foundation twice. I still look around the internet to see what other people’s opinions are. But I’ve had all three foundations on this list and was disappointed to read that these are considered the best. Mostly because I like trying new things. But anyways a quick run down on each of the products with my experiences..
    Neutrogena Healthy Skin:
    I loved the idea that it makes your skinn feel better. And it did sort of feel better. But after a while, it seemed to disappear almost like my skin was immune to it haha. &also it sort of felt gross on my skin. But it was still probably 2nd on my list.
    Revlon Colorstay:
    I’ve just ran out of this. I loved the coverage. But it’s so cakey. I can still blend it to make it look more natural but the way it feels as you’re putting it on your face is gross. I purchased the normal/dry and it didn’t help the dry areas but it did make them look oily. Plus I have to top it off with bronzer and powder or else it just doesn’t work well. this is my least favorite of the three.
    I just remember loving this one, It was a few months ago and it worked really well wasn’t too cakey and I loved the extra sparkle. I’m actually thinking about getting it today, but it’s a bit pricey for ME.

  16. 16
    November 11th, 2010 at 2:52 pm

    I have a slightly oily t-zone and there has been a noticeable decrease in the overall oiliness of my skin since I started using the pH Balanced Moisturizer from Made from Earth skincare line. I would recommend this and a face wash in conjunction if you have oily skin.

    I use my face wash in the shower and then apply the PH Balanced Moisturizer when I get out.

  17. 17
    November 23rd, 2010 at 9:31 pm

    i love revlon’s photoready foundation. i use makeup forever foundation and i think this is a more afordable version of that. i have normal skin type and i just love the photoready foundation alot. it has great coverage and it’s my everyday foundation.

  18. 18
    December 5th, 2010 at 2:30 am

    I was really excited to use the new photoready makeup. I went back to the drug store twice to find a the right shade (which is still to dark) but the thing that is the worst it that it burns my skin around the eye area. My eye area is pretty sensitive, but whatever was in it made my skin burn and a few days later flaky. I thought the coverage was great but if you have sensitive skin do not use!

  19. 19
    March 6th, 2011 at 1:29 pm

    What is the best drugstore tint moisturizer. I tried olay tint moisturizer & it just looked cakey.

  20. 20
    March 6th, 2011 at 4:18 pm

    Hey Bonnie! Thanks for reading my post! I use Sonia Kashuks tinted moisturizer and I love it. The coverage is good and it blends in beautifully. However, Sonia Kashuk is only at Target. At CVS and such I would reccomend Neutrogena’s Healthy Skin Enhancer as an alternative. They are both great products. Hope that helps :)


  21. 21
    May 10th, 2011 at 12:10 pm

    I agree with the other posts that the Neutrogena Healthy Skin is not a good foundation for oily skin. My face is crazy oily and this stuff made it look even oilier. It also felt continuously wet and sticky, and didn’t provide any coverage. It was pretty gross! Luckily CVS has a good return policy and I took it back.

    Almost no drugstore makeup works for me but if I had to use one I would choose Maybelline’s Liquid Minerals. It’s gentle, provides ok coverage, lasts a long time, and doesn’t add to the oiliness. I wear it with my trusty Mattify Ultra Powder and that helps a lot with the oil problem.

  22. 22
    May 14th, 2011 at 11:36 am

    I have problems with oily skin on my face when I want to wear foundation at a party event. I will try with Revlon. Hopefully really suitable for my skin… :(

  23. 23
    June 3rd, 2011 at 8:17 pm

    Colorstay is good for when you have to have makeup on for hours, like going out at night, But it makes you look very opaque, like a bulldozer went over and cleared your face. So you would need bronzer and setting powder to add definition. But I don’t recommend it as an everyday foundation.

  24. 24
    July 16th, 2011 at 4:23 pm

    I love the revlon colorstay for combo/oily and i really like it. i use it more for special occasions. it is full coverage. i’ve been wanting to try photoready

  25. 25
    August 19th, 2011 at 2:48 am

    Hey there, I have combination skin (T zone) as well.. The moisturizer I use is from Shielo.. It’s called Shielo Complexion AntiAging Moisturizer .. I don’t know if you’ll find the similar one where you stay.. But this moisturizer from Shielo is for oily or combination skin .. I really like this brand.. It doesn’t cause me any break outs.. Hope this helps!!

  26. 26
    September 5th, 2011 at 6:41 pm

    I have dry skin and constantly break out, but after an hour of wearing foundation and setting it with powder, my cheeks get crazy shiny. I’m constantly trying new foundations and have yet to find something that doesn’t leave my face crackly or shiny. I’m going to try Revlon Colorstay in hopes that it’ll work!

  27. 27
    December 16th, 2011 at 7:17 pm

    Hi! I have the Revlon Color-stay active foundation! It’s the winter now, and my skin gets severely combination. I know this sounds weird, but my cheeks, chin, and forehead get so dry that they flake, But my nose is still oily. I don’t want to use the photo-ready foundation, because my skin flakes, i have marks because i used to suffer from acne, and i have large pores. if you have any comments, please help!!! and this page is great, BTW!!! (:

  28. 28
    January 10th, 2012 at 11:50 pm

    I have really dry, flaky skin, and I would NOT recommend the photoready makeup. The coverage is amazing, but I can only use it as a concealer for undereye circles because everywhere else it flakes off and puts my pores in a spotlight! Not cool. This dry-skinned chica may try the revlon makeup…still looking for a good foundation.

  29. 29
    January 12th, 2012 at 2:59 pm

    This post was very helpful! i currently use the Revlon Colorstay with my combination skin. i am open to try the Photoready! especially since it has a pump! i just hate useibg two diff. colors to get my shade.

  30. 30
    February 1st, 2012 at 8:02 pm

    Hey everyone! I am 13 and I just bought the Revlon colorstay foundation to help cover my mild acne and even out my pale skin that becomes ever so much paler in the winter :) I was just wondering if this would look natural and cover everything?

  31. 31
    February 21st, 2012 at 6:29 pm

    @ Cat,
    I have very sinilar skin issues as you and I’m thinking about trying ColorStay for its coverage. You didn’t mention how its working for you. Id be really curious to know. Particularly w reference to pores, coverage, shininess, but as much info as possible would be great.

    I’m using ALMAY Cclear Complexion w .6% salicylic acid which btw, I think has really GREAT coverage for anyone wantin to cover light-moderate acne/pigmentation. Just hope they hav a color that suits you cus the selection’s slim & runs light. (For all u pale ladies, I hear its great. Tho I can’t say how the coverage is in lighter tones as I’m medium) Google reviews. It comes pretty highly recommended.
    Anyway, thanx a lot guys. Def influenced my next purchase.
    Anyway, thanx a lot Nicole

  32. 32
    February 23rd, 2012 at 2:58 pm

    I tried a tinted moisturizer based on the advice here- I only wanted sheer coverage to even out my skin tone- and I LOVE it! Couldn’t find the CG so I got Physicians Formula Organic Wear. Good stuff, I highly recommend it. Thanks for the info!

  33. 33
    March 2nd, 2012 at 8:14 pm

    Hey, I was debating on wether or not getting the Revlon colorstay??? I have the Maybelline SuperStay and i love it!!! I have heard that it is really simliar to Revlon Colorstay and have been kinda thinking about trying it. But the only thing is i have pretty normal skin for the most part. Definatly don’t have dry skin, but i think i might be just a little oily in the T-zone like after school. But other then that i don’t get oily ever. So i am confused on which one i should get.But i am wondering which one would be better for me? If someone could give me more details Colorstay oily vs. dry that would be great…thanks :)

  34. 34
    March 2nd, 2012 at 8:16 pm

    oh and i have the Neutragena one, but for some reason I like it better as summer foundation. Feels kinda weird in the winder on my skin.

  35. 35
    March 9th, 2012 at 2:06 am

    This was really helpful, thankyou! :)

  36. 36
    March 21st, 2012 at 1:20 am

    @RobynMu2 where did you get the moisturizer from/how much does it cost?!
    I have extremely oily skin and am willing to try anything!

  37. 37
    July 27th, 2012 at 8:46 am

    I’m in need of a foundation that would even out my skin tone but still be lightweight and non clogging or cakey. My main priority is my under eyes which I already use a concealer from MAC but I’d like to even it out with foundation. I have pretty normal skin. I’ve also considered getting a tinted moisturizer. Any suggestions?

  38. 38
    September 20th, 2012 at 8:51 pm

    revlon colorstay mixed with my dry skin makes me look ridiculously cakey

  39. 39
    September 22nd, 2012 at 6:44 pm

    I have combination skin, severely oily in my t-zone area and annoyingly dry around my eyes and creases of my nose not to mention disgusting acne and poc holes. I just bought Revlon Colourstay combination formula and putting it on in terrible lighting I was impressed with how smooth my skin looked, of course, until I looked closer at my skin in the light. Overall not impressed, however I am going to put some loose power on to see it that will cover the dry/cakey look. Particularly dry around and on my pimple. :/

  40. 40
    June 3rd, 2013 at 9:35 pm

    Yeah I tried the Neutrogena (based off of this post and other reviews) and did not like it. I have combination/oily skin and it 1. Was annoying to put on because of the packaging.. which is weird because loreal true match does not have a pump but the consistency or something is easier for me to apply/get out of the bottle. 2. Made me more oily. and 3. Made me break out! I returned it (yay CVS!) and now use the Covergirl 3-in-1 foundation with the blue top and it has been AWESOME!! Truly controls the shine and good staying power.

  41. 41
    December 26th, 2013 at 2:26 pm

    I think you have your foundations a little mixed up. The formula in the Revlon Color Stay will make dry skin look cakey. And for that particular Neutrogena product will not just make someone with oily skin more oily, but it will make them break out. Someone with oily skin wants a foundation with a matte finish, NOT dewy! TO PEOPLE WITH OILY/PROBLEMATIC SKIN: upon buying cosmetics, make sure the packaging says “oil-free” or “non-comedogenic”. This will give you reassurance that the product will not cause breakouts.

    BTW, just because Neutrogena makes OTC products for acne, does not mean their makeup with help condition their problem. Read the packaging first…

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