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The Budget Foundations That Rival – And Do Better Than – Their Luxury Counterparts

All about that base.

I have a love-hate relationship with foundation.

On one hand, what would I do without the stuff on mornings when I wake up exhausted, red-faced, and in major need of a complexion boost?

On the other, attempting to find the right shade and formula that doesn't cost a hundred euro when you're standing in front of a wall of hundreds is like asking me to chose between Harry Styles and Tiomthée Chalamet...impossible.

Well, the good news is that affordable foundation has come along since you tried it last. It's true that as recently as a few years ago, it was almost impossible for most women to find a good-quality foundation that came in shades other than 'ivory' at a pharmacy. 

As a result, most beauty-enthusiasts headed to department stores, where they'd be willing to shell out extra cash to find ones with more quality finishes and a larger shade range.

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Thankfully, you no longer have to puzzle over finding the right foundation. And you also don't have to spend more than €20.

We scoured the beauty shelves of drugstores both physically and virtually and put cheap foundations to the test. Keep scrolling to shop the best budget foundations.

best budget foundations:

Best For...A Dewy Finish

For those that want a lighter-coverage formula, this ticks all the boxes. Courtesy of The Ordinary - the no-nonsense brand that took the beauty industry by storm - this serum foundation is everything you could want from a low coverage foundation and more. It gives a natural, fresh finish that enhances the skin without masking it.

Serum Foundation, €8.30, The Ordinary

Best For...Full Coverage

Full coverage foundations have a reputation for being bad news for dry skin. But this option from Carter Beauty will do no such thing. Its creamy lightweight texture won’t make skin feel parched and it won't look it either. Instead, it glides on smoothly, covering up imperfections, while still allowing your skin to breathe. And hey, it comes with the Kourtney Kardashian seal of approval.

Full Measure HD Foundation, €9.95, Carter Beauty

Best For...Somewhere In The Middle

This is one of the first foundations I ever wore and even to this day it remains a staple in my beauty bag. Its silky, satin texture with a medium coverage leaves you with a dewy finish, and the shade ranges are extensive too (although only selected pharmacies stock the full range). This one tops my beloved Kat Von D foundation and is three times less expensive.

Rimmel Match Perfection Foundation, €10.49, Boots

Best For...Long-Lasting Coverage

A new front runner in the race for dewy skin from a high street brand: No7's antioxidant-packed formula with added vitamins A and C. Glowy in finish, this won't leave you with cake-face or settle into fine lines, making it a winner for more mature skins. What's more, although it feels ultra-light on the skin, it will last the entire day.

No7 HydraLuminious Moisturising Foundation, €20, Boots

Best For...Shade Range

First thing's first: This line of foundation comes in 45 shades. That's major. Its noncomedogenic ingredients will glide right on to your skin, quickly mattifying for all-day wear. It's super breathable, though, so you'll probably forget that it's there. 

NYX Can't Stop Won't Stop Foundation, €19.50, Boots

Best For...Instagram

If you’re doing your makeup just for the ’gram (no judgment here), this foundation is for you. The pigments, which offer full, matte coverage, were tested under seven different kinds of lighting to promise zero white cast when the flash hits your face.

Wet N Wild Photo Focus Foundation, €5.59, Boots

Best For...Acne-Prone Skin

This medium-coverage foundation is infused with both witch hazel and tea tree oil, making it the holy grail for anyone with oily skin, acne-prone skin, or both. The witch hazel acts as a natural astringent to mattify oily skin, while the tea tree oil softens and clears out clogged pores without irritation. There's even a dose of calming camphor in the formula, which means you’ve got a true acne-fighting powerhouse in a tube.  

Acne-Fighting Foundation, €6, E.L.F.

Best For...Oily Skin

When naturally oily skin leaves you shiny no matter how many blotting papers and powdery primers you use, switch to a mattifying foundation, like this creamy, long-wear formula. It stops oil from breaking through all day (allegedly for 24 hours, but you're realistically looking at about 12-hour staying power), and it won't melt into a patchy mess, no matter how hot it is outside.

L’Oreal Paris Infallible 24HR Freshwear Foundation, €13.99, Boots

Best For...Dry Skin

Because this foundation contains hyaluronic acid; the molecule which holds 1,000 times its weight in water, making it a crucial ingredient in maintaining skin's moisture barrier. It hydrates the skin while you're wearing it and should last up to 24 hours. Thanks to the demi-matte finish, your skin will still have a glow without looking oily or dry. 

Revlon Colorstay Foundation, €18.99, Boots

Main image by @samvissermakeup

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