Drugstore foundation has come a long way since we were all in Year 9, and frankly, it's time to give your local chemist another chance. Whilst a luxury brand foundation may have the ability to give you a dewy glow fit for the red carpet, can you afford to be spending hundreds of dollars on makeup when there could be a product out there that does the same job for under $20? Experts have calculated the cost of 'basic beauty' for young women today, and the results are pretty sobering. The amount we're spending on what are now considered standard beauty treatments could be costing us up to $14,000 a year. Ouch, Beyoncé was right. Pretty hurts, and it's hitting us right in the bank account.
The biggest difference between drugstore foundations and high-end brands is that its harder to colour match a drugstore foundation in store. Sometimes there will be testers, sometimes there won't be. Whilst brands like Fenty Beauty are working to make the beauty industry more inclusive, launching 50 different shades of concealer after the initial launch of the 40 shade range foundation, your local pharmacy's beauty section can be very hit and miss. If you're dark-skinned, or if you're someone with very pale skin, the chances are your search for a drugstore foundation isn't going to be easy.
However, drugstore foundations remain popular because they offer value for money, and once you manage to locate a shade that's right for you, chances are you'll be able to rely on it for years to come. But how should you go about selecting the best foundation for you? We've researched Australia's top rated drugstore foundations, and categorised them by skin type, by formula and by level of coverage. It's ok, you can thank us later!
Shop By: Skin Type
Acne prone skin giving you the blues? Has winter got your dry skin out in full force? Then check out these drugstore foundations that get the thumbs up from those with your skin type.
1. Foundation for Combination Skin
Brand: Nude by Nature Natural Mineral Cover Foundation
Price: $19.97 from Priceline
Why We Love It: If you have oily skin in some places and dry skin in others, a powder foundation lets you simultaneously build up and scale back coverage according to your combination skin.
Pros & Cons: One small downside is that if you're not a fan of powder based foundation, this product may not be the one for you. However, a quick look on the Nude by Nature website tells us that this mineral foundation comes in 8 different shades. That's what we like to see.
Review: Based on 419 reviews on the Nude by Nature website, the Natural Mineral Cover Foundation has an average 4.9/5 star rating. One happy customer said -
"I was using another powder mineral foundation but wasnt completely happy so decided to give Nude By Nature a go and I love it! It gives me such a nice coverage but not too heavy that I feel like I need to wash my face ASAP. I also love that it doesn't transfer onto my white work uniform. I have been telling all my friends about this product and they love it too!"
2. Foundation for Dry Skin
Brand: Maybelline Dream Matte Mousse Foundation
Price: $7.99 from Target
Why We Love It: This creamy mousse foundation is designed to blend seamlessly into the skin without highlighting any dryness or patchiness.
Pros and Cons: From some customer comments, we can ascertain that the shade range is a bit limited. On the Maybelline website itself, there are four shades to choose from but if you fall either side of that, this won't be the drugstore foundation for you. There is no SPF in here, and that will be a positive or a negative depending on how sensitive your skin is.
Reviews: Maybelline Dream Matte Mousse Foundation has 191 reviews on Target's website and has a rating of 4.3/5 stars. One satisfied shopper said -
"I have used this make up for years. Would not ever think of using anything else. My skin looks flawless. No shine, just smooth and lovely. A must buy. Hope Maybelline keeps on making this."
3. Foundation for Oily Skin
Brand: L'oreal Infallible Pro-Matte Liquid Long Wear Foundation
Price: $24.99 from Chemist Warehouse
Why We Love It: This liquid foundation is lightweight, yet creamy. It's designed to give you full matte coverage no matter how oily you may be. A matte foundation is what you want when you're trying to combat oily skin.
Pros and Cons: We love the shade range L'oreal have made for this Infallible collection. It may not be on offer at your local chemist, but your shade is out there and it'll only take a bit of Google work to find.
Reviews: L'oreal Infallible Pro-Matte Liquid Long Wear Foundation has 11,005 Google reviews and has an average 4.3/5 star rating. One happy customer said -
"Absolutely recommend this foundation for anyone who has oily skin. I can NEVER ever find a foundation that lasts an entire day without looking super shiny after a few hours.
I always find that foundations targeted to oily skin that claim to be matte tend to be really thick and paint like which ends up looking cakey on me too, this one isn't like that!
Firstly, I usually will always buy the lightest shade in any foundation range as I'm quite pale with pink undertones. I generally buy a yellow undertoned foundation to counteract this.This shade - whilst not the most pale I've ever seen in a range - definitely suits me 100%. If you find this isn't quite light enough for you, I'd still recommend using it and then just use a lighter concealer shade on top underneath your eyes, bridge of your nose, forehead etc to highlight. After blending that in you'll notice it looks just pale enough without being ghostly white! The consistency is really nice too, it's not too thick but gives medium buildable coverage. The packaging is great as it's a squeezy tube with a thin nozzle instead of a pump which I prefer as I feel I can get all of the product out."
4. Foundation for Acne Prone Skin
Brand: E.L.F Acne Fighting Foundation
Price: $16 from Big W
Why We Love It: A mixture of salicylic acid, witch hazel, camphor, tea tree and aloe - all in a foundation? Sign us up! All these ingredients are designed to fight acne and future blemishes while you wear your makeup. That's the kind of multi-tasking we can get behind.
Pros & Cons: This is a lightweight acne fighting foundation, which may a positive factor or a negative factor depending on what you're after in your makeup. Depending on your type of acne, you may get visible results, or you may have to seek out something more targeted to clear up your complexion.
Reviews: E.L.F Acne Fighting Foundation has 2,235 Google reviews and has an average of 4.1/5 stars. One happy customer said -
"I have probably 6 or 7 foundations that I've been rotating, trying to like, trying to master, trying to get to cover my cystic acne, redness, and scars. Since my acne is hormonal, I never really cared for a "acne fighting" foundation because at the end of the day, topical treatments were useless. Out of all the "full coverage", matte, dewy, expensive foundations I have, this one has (luckily for me) matched the best, covered the best, and effected my already angry skin the least negative way. Any products with salicylic have always kept me away from this product as it's too irritating, but perhaps the witch hazel and aloe balances it out because my skin does not burn or tingle, and I see no developing acne after a day of wearing this like every foundation before. I can't believe I've found this foundation that is cruelty free, doesn't hurt my skin, is actual FULL coverage, and is only 6 dollars. I can't believe I've spent so much on other expensive luxury foundations that have worsened my skin."
5. Foundation for Mature Skin
Brand: L'Oreal True Match Super Blendable Foundation
Price: $24.99 from Chemist Warehouse
Why We Love It: L'Oreal continues to be one of the world's most popular drugstore brands. This foundation is designed to give your a fresh, flawless finish without sinking into any fine lines or highlighting wrinkles.
Pros & Cons: There is an impressive shade range out there, but you'll need to go to a chemist where there are tester bottles if you want to make sure you've got the right formula for you.
Reviews: L'Oreal True Match Super Blendable Foundation has 10,267 Google reviews and has an average 4.2/5 star rating. One satisfied shopper said -
"I'd run out of a brand I've been using for a while & as of late had been needing to use 2 different shades to achieve a better match so thought I'd give this a whirl trying to find my 'perfect' shade without all the mixing...and, jackpot! The color I selected was 'Classic Beige' C5...was kinda skeptical about this color, especially buying it online, but pleasantly surprised.
I'm of Italian descent with very light olive undertone, 'cool' per the color wheel, tan well/rarely burns, few wrinkles on my mature (49) skin which has been being quite sensitive with redness/breakouts/rashes and irritation, however for a months use now I've had no ill reactions. This foundation has good staying power and coverage (I do use primer and setting spray) no transfer, and no 'color chnaging' after application nor throughout day/use of other makeup products. Very rarely needs touch up, using only blotting paper. Goes on well, have used either a foundation brush or a silicone applicator, is not cakey and basically just stays put! I think this just may be my new foundation"
Shop By: Formula Type
When it comes to foundation we all have our formula preference. Whether you prefer to stick to a more traditional liquid foundation or you like to powder your nose instead, there's a drugstore brand out there for you.
1. Stick Foundation
Brand: Revolution Fast Base Full Coverage Foundation Stick
Price: $10 from Priceline
Why We Love It: 16 shades to choose from, each of them $10? Are we dreaming? No, we're just looking at the Revolution Fast Base Full Coverage Foundation Stick range.
Pros & Cons: At this price point, and with these range of skin tones catered for, it's difficult to find any negative aspects to talk about! If you don't stick foundation or you're not after something full coverage this won't be for you, but other than that we are extremely impressed.
Reviews: Revolution Fast Base Full Coverage Foundation Stick has 2576 Google reviews and has an average 4.1/5 star rating. One happy customer said -
"I have had the most difficult time finding a good foundation and concealer to mask/hydrate my fine lines and visible pores around my nose (on the inner cheeks). I've tried everything from 18 different "pore-filling" and "perfecting" primers (LIARS) to adding argan oil to my foundation (surprisingly delicious, but still falls short). I grabbed this stick in a rush because it was quick and convenient and I genuinely thought it was a concealer stick. Imagine my shock and surprise when I dot it on my inner cheek area and it makes every single line vanish instantly. Not only that, but it blended out like a full coverage foundation. That's when I looked closer at the product and discovered that I'd grabbed a full-coverage foundation stick and now my life will never be the same.
I don't exactly need full-coverage, so I should be clear about the fact that for someone with high-pigmentation or severe blotchiness, this may not be the right product. But for me, having light freckles and mostly just wanting to even my skin tone and blur my pores and fine lines (turning 30 should prove exciting in the skincare department), this was exactly the product I was looking for."
2. Liquid Foundation
Photo Credit: Outback beauty blogger @emmiesbeautylife
Brand: Revlon Photoready Candid Foundation
Price: $14.99 from Chemist Warehouse
Why We Love It: This Revlon liquid foundation is anti-pollution, anti-blue light and contains no parabens, phthalates, artificial fragrances and oils. Perfect for the city commuter or the office worker.
Pros & Cons: This foundation is available in 31 skin tone shades, so full marks for producing a product line that caters to more than 4 kinds of people. The downside is your chemist may not stock all of these 31 shades - however, at least you know they exist.
Reviews: Revlon Photoready Candid Foundation has 30 reviews on the Chemist Warehouse website and has an average 4.2 /5 star rating. One satisfied shopper said -
"This is the first perfect skin match I've ever had with a foundation. I got tawny and it is the perfect light/medium with actual olive undertones to match my skin!! No more close enough warms or neutrals!!!!! Thank you for making a foundation for lighter skinned people with Italian heritage. If you're olive and struggle, try this."
3. Serum Foundation
Brand: The Ordinary Serum Foundation
Price: $12.70 from Myer
Why We Love It: We know Myer can't be considered drugstore, but they are selling The Ordinary Serum Foundation at drugstore prices, so we're happy to make an exception. for a while, there was such a frenzy around this foundation that you simply couldn't get your hands on any, and there was a waiting list some 25,000 people long. So yeah - we've glad Myer have it in stock!
Pros & Cons: This foundation comes in both light coverage and high coverage, with 21 shades in each range which is a big positive, and they are vegan, cruelty-free and oil free (more big positives). The consistency is apparently quite 'liquid', but that's what you should be expecting when you buy a serum foundation.
Reviews: The Ordinary Serum Foundation has 1041 Google reviews and has an average 4.1/5 star rating. One happy customer said -
"I switched to the Ordinary after using much more expensive foundations after reading all the raves from beauty experts. I have rosacea and hyper sensitive skin, so I need something gentle and with good coverage but not heavy. The serum foundation is perfect. When you first pump some onto your hand it's liquid, not at all thick, and you might think you won't get coverage, but it's heavily pigmented. So that light liquid covers the red spots that rosacea sometimes gives me, without overloading my no longer young skin. The t 2.0 perfectly matches my hard-to-match skin colour. It's so odd how well it works. It doesn't look like I'm wearing makeup at all. It just looks like I have perfect skin. I use mineral sunscreen as a base and the combination lasts all day. I use blotting powder to soak up excess oil, with a dusting of rice powder to eliminate shine and that's me done all day. Highly highly recommend"
4. Powder Foundation
Brand: Max Factor Miracle Veil Radiant Loose Powder
Price: $29.95 from Priceline
Why We Love It: Technically this is a setting powder, but with other powder foundations on our list already we wanted to include a drugstore product that would keep your drugstore foundation in place! This translucent setting powder minimises the appearances of pores and won't settle into fine lines or wrinkles.
Pros & Cons: It's translucent, so you should be able to pair this setting powder nicely with any foundation you please.
Reviews: Max Factor Miracle Veil Radiant Loose Powder has 93 reviews on the Max Factor Australia website, and has an average rating of 3.9/5. One happy customer said -
"I usually use pressed powder but decided to try this loose mineral veil for a change. I did wonder if the colour would be too pale initially for my foundation but the colour matches just fine. The powder gives a flawless finish and lasts a very long time. I have normal skin but dry in parts and it doesn't dry my skin out at all which is why I really like the product. The powder itself is very lightweight and feels soft on my skin. I used a large brush to apply the powder and it was perfect, only a small amount of powder is needed for a good coverage so the product offers great value for money. I also found that this powder covered fine lines perfectly which is an added bonus. I would definitely recommend this product to others."
Shop By Coverage
Sometimes you want to flaunt that perfect 'no-makeup' look, with just a touch of foundation and a hint of blush. Other times, you want full coverage foundation that isn't going to let you down in the heat of the moment.
1. Light Coverage Foundation
Brand: Covergirl Outlast Stay Luminous Foundation
Price: $15 from Priceline
Why We Love It: You want natural luminosity that lasts all day? You got it! Outlast Stay Luminous Foundation is oil-free, non-greasy and hydrating, perfect for achieving dewy skin.
Pros & Cons: You can build this foundation up to a more medium coverage, so it's great to have that option available.
Reviews: Covergirl Outlast Stay Luminous Foundation has 52 reviews on the Beauty Heaven website and has an average 3/5 star rating. One happy customer said -
"I bought this foundation about 3 weeks ago as I was looking for a drugstore foundation with a medium coverage when I came across this on sale and decided to try it out.
I must say that I was impressed with the medium coverage that it did give and was even happier to see that it was a "natural"luminous foundation without any glitters or shimmers in it giving your skin that healthy glow.The packaging was simple and sturdy but I did not like the pump, although it was easy to control the product coming out of the pump, I found that the pump kept getting locked up."
2. Medium Coverage Foundation
Photo Credit: Outback beauty blogger @emmiesbeautylife
Brand: Maybelline FIT ME! Matte + Poreless Foundation
Price: $21.95 from Priceline
Why We Love It: When you you're not feeling a dewy look, but you don't want something full coverage either, this matte medium coverage foundation has your back!
Pros & Cons: Maybelline has produced a big shade range (top marks go to Maybelline) but it will just depend on what your local drugstore has in stock.
Reviews: Outback based beauty blogger 'Emmie's Beauty Life' had good things to say about this foundation during her 'Top Drugstore Foundations' review. She said -
"An oldie but definitely a goodie, Maybelline Matte + Poreless was my go to in my early 20’s. And it’s still very much the one I recommend to those folks with oily skin. Like the True Match, The Fit Me foundation has a pretty awesome shade range. Also like the True Match, it blends out to a nice medium coverage. Enough to cover imperfections with minimal effort. But it has a matte finish that’s great at holding back oils for a decent period of time. This is also the only foundation out of the three that doesn’t contain an SPF, so it’s a good one for flash photography. My only wish is that it had a pump just so it was a little easier to use."
3. Full Coverage Foundation
Photo Credit: Outback beauty blogger @emmiesbeautylife
Brand: Maybelline SuperStay 24hr Foundation
Price: $24.95 from Priceline
Why We Love It: Does exactly what it says on the bottle - has super staying power for 24 hours! Highly pigmented, long wear, and it gives you a flawless matte finish. Yes please, sign us up!
Pros & Cons: Some users report that if you have dry skin before using this foundation, primer is going to be a must. See what works for you though.
Reviews: Maybelline SuperStay 24hr Foundation has 21 reviews on the Priceline website, and has an average rating of 4.9/5 stars. One happy reviewer said -
"I recently tried this foundation & absolutely love it! It has fantastic coverage, is light on my skin and leaves my skin smooth and blurred to perfection. The packaging feels heavy and good quality in your hand and includes an easy to use pump which is very convenient. Highly recommend and I definitely will be repurchasing."