9 Expert-Approved Best Foundations That Actually Improve Your Complexion

Skin experts offer tips on how to find the best foundation to improve your complexion without clogging your pores or drying out your skin.

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Set of decorative cosmetic. Foundations, facial powders. pastel colored. Blue background.
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What is the best foundation for your complexion?

Foundation makeup can sometimes be accused of being heavy, cakey, or smudgy, or thought to clog your pores or dry out your skin. However, foundation comes in a variety of formulas and finishes, ranging from hydrating to lightweight, based on your skin’s needs.

Now, when it comes to choosing the best foundation, especially if you want to improve your complexion, you have to look at the ingredients list. This will let you know whether the formula contains cheap fillers and preservatives that could wreak havoc on your skin.

To take the guesswork out of finding the best foundation for your complexion, we spoke with several skin experts who share some of their top picks.

it cosmetics confidence in a compact
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Serum-packed foundation


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IT Cosmetics Confidence in a Compact with SPF 50 is a full coverage foundation blended with serum, and it’s one of the best foundations for your skin. It transforms skin with an anti-aging combination of hydrolyzed collagen, hyaluronic acid, squalane, antioxidants, and ceramides, plus SPF 50 to protect against the sun’s damaging UV rays, which can speed up the aging process. “What it does not contain is one of the true testimonies of how unique this product is,” says Graceanne Svendsen, senior certified aesthetician at Shafer Plastic Surgery in New York City. “It has very few synthetic ingredients and fragrance is the very last ingredient, which usually means it has less than one percent in the product.” (Don’t miss the makeup tricks to make scars, spots, and dark circles disappear.)

rms beauty foundation
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Natural hydration helper


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A quick glance at this RMS Beauty “Un” Cover-up Concealer/Foundation‘s ingredients makes an ideal product for anyone looking to simplify and detoxify their beauty ritual. “First off, I love seeing a short ingredient list; it suggests a formula without loads of cheap fillers and preservatives,” says De Anna Joy Brooks, head aesthetician at Silver Mirror in New York City. “This formula is anhydrous (lacking water), which allows the rosemary extract to act as the only needed preservative, and the hero ingredient, coconut oil, is a wonderful hydrating emollient, which increases the rate of the cell cycle in skin.” Not only does it cover imperfections and moisturize skin, but with regular use, fine lines and wrinkles will be less pronounced. Your morning skin care routine can have a major impact on your complexion.

perricone MD no makeup foundation
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Skin-loving foundation


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Perricone MD No Makeup Foundation SPF 20 offers the same imperfection-covering abilities as traditional foundation formulas but with a lot of added benefits. It improves your complexion by infusing broad spectrum non-chemical SPF 20 with alpha lipoic acid and vitamin C ester. “The alpha lipoic acid refines texture, tone, and pores and works synergistically with vitamin C ester for double the antioxidant protection against free radicals, which can cause premature aging,” says Svendsen. Plus, it’s free of toxic ingredients like phthalates, sulfates, and parabens.

aveeno positively radiant moisturizing foundation
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Radiance-boosting cream


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Aveeno Positively Radiant Broad Spectrum SPF 30 contains soybean extract to even skin tone and glycerin for hydration” says Debra Jaliman MD, board-certified dermatologist. The soy-powered formula both covers and visibly improves tone, texture, and brown spots, while the SPF protects against future damage. (Learn more about SPF with the sunscreens dermatologists use themselves.)

Complexion rescue


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BareMinerals Complexion Rescue Tinted Hydrating Gel Cream is a nice sheer to medium coverage foundation with botanical ingredients and marine extracts, which are anti-inflammatory and anti-aging for the skin,” says Svendsen. “Squalane, hyaluronic acid, and glycerin are excellent for hydration,” adds Dr. Jaliman. Plus it has SPF 30 to protect against UV and environmental damage. “Environmental stress is a real issue in today’s modern society, and this formula contains an antioxidant called heart-leaf globe daisy that protects against free radicals,” says Svendsen.

2nd skin foundation
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Antioxidant-rich foundation


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“The product ingredient list of 2nd Skin Foundation reads like a serum; it’s almost unbelievable that it has pigment in it,” Brooks says. “It’s packed with olive-derived squalane, which is not only an awesome natural emollient, but also highly efficient at actually getting into the skin because of its molecular structure.” The rest of the ingredient list reads like a “who’s who” of natural antioxidants. “One standout is raspberry, which not only reduces redness in the short-term, but also addresses long-term inflammation issues by strengthening capillary walls.” (Find out the ways to erase broken capillaries—and prevent them completely.)

juice beauty anti aging CC cream
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Anti-aging CC cream


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Formulated with skin-loving natural fruit extracts and oils, Juice Beauty Stem Cellular CC Cream is a major multi-tasker. “It contains resveratrol [from organic grape juice], a very potent antioxidant, as well as malic acid (from organic apple juice), a natural alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) that works to exfoliate skin” according to Dr. Jaliman. Coupled with moisturizing sunflower and jojoba oils, antioxidant-rich vitamin E, and anti-inflammatory aloe, it covers and corrects the signs of aging, including uneven tone and texture and fine lines and wrinkles.

oxygenetix oxygenating foundation
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Breathable foundation


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Oxygenetix Oxygenating Foundation use natural mineral pigments to camouflage and conceal imperfections in the skin. The coverage is so complete that it virtually erases bruises and redness from cosmetic treatments. “Our patients love how sheer, moisturizing, and non-greasy the aloe vera gel base is. The patented yeast extract peptide, Ceravitae Complex, hydrates and oxygenates the skin for a fresh, natural look,” says Svendsen. Plus, its camouflaging abilities, enhanced by its anti-inflammatory and healing properties, make it perfect for sensitive or acne-prone skin.

colorescience natural finish pressed foundation with SPF
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Easy-to-wear, weightless SPF


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For women who don’t like the feeling of foundation, Colorescience Natural Finish Pressed Foundation SPF 20 is for you. “I’ve been a fan of Colorescience brush-on sunscreen for years and it’s nice to see the high concentrations of zinc oxide and titanium dioxide repeated in a pressed powder,” says Brooks. The addition of carrot seed oil and iron oxide further boosts the UV protection of the formula, while the silicones ensure a nice finish with coverage that won’t sink into fine lines or pores. (Next, find out how bad it is to sleep with makeup.)

  • Graceanne Svendsen, senior certified aesthetician at Shafer Plastic Surgery in New York City
  • De Anna Joy Brooks, head aesthetician at Silver Mirror in New York City
  • Debra Jaliman, MD, board-certified dermatologist in New York City
Medically reviewed by Elizabeth Bahar Houshmand, MD, on November 04, 2020

Lindsay Cohn
Lindsay Cohn has a B.A. in Creative Writing & Communications from the University of Miami. Her work has appeared in Reader's Digest, Brides, Fodor's, Travel + Leisure, PureWow, USA Today, and more.