When it comes to foundation, it seems like there’s a launch hitting shelves on a weekly basis. However, there are a few tried-and-true bases that have (rightfully so) earned Holy Grail status for their unrivaled pigmentation, bulletproof staying power and flawless finishes. These foundations stay firmly put in makeup artist’s kits, and loyal consumers gush about their skin-perfecting wizardry.
While the pursuit of flawless skin that lasts through the day is never-ending for many makeup-wearers, luxe products come at investment-level price points that can feel like a frivolous splurge—especially with so many high-performing options becoming more readily available at the drugstore. Whether you’re looking for an affordable dupe to test out while your summer tan slowly fades or just can’t seem to fathom dropping $50-plus on a makeup product, here are the best affordable subs for five gold-standard foundations.
Estee Lauder Double Wear Foundation vs. Revlon Color Stay Foundation
This O.G. long-wearing foundation has been touted as one of the best wedding day foundations for its medium- to full-coverage finish and super-long-lasting waterproof formula. It gives the skin a natural matte finish that keeps oil at bay for up to 24 hours (though we don’t suggest wearing any foundation that long for your skin’s sake), even in humid (or tearful) conditions.
$42 at Estee Lauder
Like its high-end counterpart, Revlon’s best-selling Colorstay Foundation has been around for years and has earned a cult following for its buildable, full-coverage finish and up to 24-hour wear time. The original oil-free formula is ideal for those with oily and combination skin types, but the brand also debuted a second formula designed for dry and normal skin types that offers a bit more hydration without compromising its staying power.
$12.99 at Ulta
Giorgio Armani Luminous Silk Foundation vs. L’Oreal True Match Lumi Foundation
Giorgio Armani’s Luminous Silk Foundation is one of those industry icons that makeup artists swear by for its skin-like medium coverage with a subtle glow. This oil-free formula has light-reflecting properties that give a radiance to the skin without leaving behind excess shine or a highlighter-like glitter effect.
$64 at Giorgio Armani Beauty
While recent Reddit threads have touted the recently launched Photo Focus Foundation by Wet n’ Wild as a close dupe of this designer foundation, L’Oreal’s True Match Lumi takes the cake as the closer match, thanks to its satiny, skin-like finish that blurs imperfections with light-reflecting properties.
$11.99 at Ulta
Make Up For Ever HD Invisible Cover vs. L.A. Girl Pro Coverage HD Foundation
Another foundation beloved by both makeup artists and beauty bloggers alike, Make Up For Ever’s HD Invisible Cover Foundation offers buildable medium coverage for an even complexion that looks and feels like “second skin.” While many foundations of this caliber give the skin a flawless, airbrushed effect, this foundation does so without looking like you’re wearing makeup.
$43 at Make Up For Ever
This illuminating full-coverage foundation by über-affordable drugstore brand L.A. Girl has been a hit with beauty vloggers and YouTubers since it first launched a couple of years ago. While it’s not an ideal formula for those with oily skin, this creamy, ultra-hydrating foundation glides on the skin evenly blurring the appearance of fine lines and covering, well just about everything without looking cakey or feeling heavy on the skin. Unlike many dewy foundations on the market, reviewers applaud this product’s long-wear time of up to 24 hours.
$10 at L.A. Girl
It Cosmetics Your Skin but Better CC Cream vs. Physicians Formula Super CC Cream
While many CC creams and tinted moisturizers offer a sheer wash of color, It Cosmetics’ beloved Your Skin but Better CC Cream is one of the only products of this caliber that offers full coverage while still managing to look like skin. As a bonus, this multifunctional base also offers an SPF of 50 and is infused with anti-aging actives including hydrolyzed collagen and antioxidants, so it works to improve skin tone while it color corrects. At $38, this serum and foundation multitasker is a worthy splurge for many loyal fans, but it’s not exactly the most budget-friendly on the market.
$38 at It Cosmetics
Like its higher-end counterpart, this Pinterest-approved dupe is a makeup-skin-care hybrid that offers medium- to full-coverage color correction with a natural finish that blends seamlessly into the skin. It’s armored with a slew of skin-enhancing ingredients including anti-aging peptides, along with color-correcting micropigments to conceal redness and dark circles and restore radiance to the skin.
$13.99 at Ulta
Nars Sheer Glow Foundation vs. Neutrogena Healthy Skin Foundation
Nars Sheer Glow Foundation is the gold-standard base for a luminous glow with buildable coverage that never cakes or creases. The silky formula evens out skin tone, and its lightweight texture allows you to customize the coverage level without pilling or breaking up in problem areas. Makeup artists love this hydrating foundation because it instantly even the skin, blurs pores, and softens the appearance of fine lines without leaving excess oil and grease behind.
$47 at NARS
Neutrogena isn’t exactly the “cool girl” on the block when it comes hyped products and a regular rotation of new launches and fancy PR endeavors. However, this brand really does have some tried-and-true gems in its arsenal (and apparently some solid dupes). According to Redditors and several YouTube reviews, the Healthy Skin Foundation gives a similar skin-like effect that the Nars foundation is famous for. Another bonus? Unlike its pricier counterpart, this one has an SPF of 20.
$13.99 at Ulta
This is e-commerce content. If you purchase something by clicking on a link within this story we may receive a small commission of the sale.