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7 different types of foundation finishes and how to pick the best one for you

January 1 | 4 minute read

Bestsellers Best Foundation For Different Finishes Hero 16x9

Words by Kerri Gordon and Gemma Dawkins

Originally published on | June 27

While colour matching is key when it comes to finding your foundation fit, there’s another big consideration to make. Here’s how to nail your photo finish.

With so many foundations on the market (and at MECCA!) picking just one – and the right one – can seem like a daunting task. There’s coverage to consider, as well as finding the perfect colour match, and one that meshes well with your skin. But what can have the greatest impact on your final look is the finish of your foundation (or tint, or moisturiser). While fresh, dewy skin has dominated the trend cycle for the past decade, more malleable matte finishes are paving the way for velvety, supermodel skin. So, where to start? We’re counting down our all-time favourite foundations, starting with the absolute glowiest, and wrapping up with our smoothest matte.
While this isn’t a traditional foundation, per se, it can be worn as a standalone base to smooth, blur and seriously illuminate your skin. Coverage is low, but the benefits are bountiful – inspired by Hollywood lighting effects and social media filters, Flawless Filter can be worn alone, underneath, mixed-with or on top of your favourite foundation to create a base that looks naturally radiant. No glitter, powdery-ness or stickiness, just pure, light-reflecting glow. Sweep it all over your face and use your favourite concealer to spot-target any concerns for super glowy skin with a no-makeup makeup feel.
Serum foundations have been all the rage of late, combining the skincare benefits of your daily actives with the comfort and light-to-medium coverage of a traditional tinted moisturiser. This serum skin tint from ILIA has been near impossible to keep on our shelves since it landed at MECCA. Lazy in application – but never in look – this miraculous multitasker combines your favourite skincare ingredients (hyaluronic acid, niacinamide) together with SPF 40 and 30 shades of tint to create a base that shrinks your morning routine into one skin-perfecting step. The finish is super dewy, for skin that looks (and actually is!) plump and hydrated. A little goes a long way, so we suggest popping your favourite SPF underneath for guaranteed protection.
The satin look is smooth and creamy-looking, with loads of dimension. It’s the perfect pick if you don’t love the reflectiveness of a super glowy base but are wary of looking ‘flat’ by going too matte. Too Faced’s iconic Born This Way Foundation nails the brief – it’s a natural-looking option that suits everyone, blurs imperfections and stays put throughout the day. The brand describes it as “matte with a lit-from-within glow”, with an ultra-lightweight liquid texture and buildable coverage that blends seamlessly into your skin. We consider it the perfect option for oily skin types who want to glow, not shine.
The perfect foundation is one that you can’t see. When you want that natural, your-skin-but-better glow, Kosas is all over it. With medium coverage in a natural finish, this formulation is infused with hero skincare ingredients like hyaluronic acid, niacinamide, peptides and squalane. The result? Foundation that smoothes and blurs while actively working to improve the skin’s appearance. Think: brightening, plumping and hydrating actives, plus SPF for added protection. A skincare lover’s dream.
A traditional matte finish is often associated with higher-coverage foundation formulas which, for some, are a bit much for everyday wear. On the other hand, many tinted moisturisers err on the dewy side. And that’s where Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturiser Oil-Free comes in. Coverage is sheer but buildable, and the finish is a velvety demi-matte. The beloved, and recently reformulated, tinted moisturiser has an airbrushed feel, without masking the freckles and beauty marks that make you, you. Being oil-free and non-comedogenic, it’s the perfect pick for oily, acne-prone and congested-pore types.

The matte foundation that conquered the world:

Estée Lauder Double Wear Stay-In-Place Makeup

Estée Lauder Double Wear is matte makeup at its best. The legacy foundation is buildable but never cakey, non-creasing, non-oxidising, easily customisable (mix it with the Estée Lauder Advanced Night Repair Synchronized Multi-Recovery Complex serum for a more sheer, dewy look!), and won’t budge for an impressive 24 hours of wear. Sweat, humidity, and heat-resistant, not only does this foundation go on matte, it stays matte. Believe the hype!
Blurred, soft-focus, ‘90s-esque matte skin is made easy with NARS’ Soft Matte Foundation, an oil-free formula that mattifies your skin seamlessly without ever drying it out. That’s thanks to the brand’s unique Hydramatte Balancing Complex, which balances excess sebum while keeping your skin hydrated with micro-algae and hyaluronic acid. The result? Ultra-smooth, supermodel-like skin that – no matter what – won’t let shine break through.

Related topics and brand tags

MakeupSkin tintTinted moisturiserCharlotte Tilbury

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