The Best in Base: COSMO's 2019 Foundation Awards

The results are in (and you can shop them RN!)

Finding the perfect foundation has been a never-ending battle for women of colour for decades now. The clear misunderstanding of our undertones was typically the origin of all errors, which often led to near-perfect nudes tainted by ashy finishes. However, with the introduction of Rihanna’s highly-impactful Fenty Beauty campaign, we gradually saw more and more locally-available brands play their part in the inclusivity and diversity of makeup shades, and we’ve seen a greater expansion of colour choices within their foundation lines.

Last month, we challenged our beauty team and beauty-loving readers to try, test and rank the best in base. After a week-long survey that ran on our website, 16 came out on top. Scroll down to see if your current fave made the cut…

The Best Hydrating and Skin-Illuminating

Light Coverage

LANCÔME Skin Feels Good Foundation (R495 at Edgars)

As the name suggests, this foundation was created to mimic the appearance of flawless skin, and it definitely delivers. Not only does it give sheer coverage that hides imperfections but it also contains antioxidants to protect against free radicals and pollution while you are wearing it. Plus, it’s oil-free and contains SPF, so you don’t have to worry about breakouts or sun damage.

POND’S Flawless Radiance BB+ Cream SPF 30 All-in-One (R130 at Clicks)

This budget-friendly buy is great if you want minimal but effective coverage and a glowy finish. It is created with GenActiv technology – a breakthrough formula that reaches deep into your skin to regulate and adapt to the DNA that produces melanin. So while it might look like a regular BB cream, it is actually making your skin more radiant while you are wearing it

DOLCE & GABBANA Millennial Skin On-The-Glow Tinted Moisturizer SPF 30 (R780 at Edgars)

This tinted moisturiser has the word ‘millennial’ in its name because it was designed to match the on-the-go, unstoppable lifestyle of our generation. The formula is lightweight and oil-free and comes in 10 shades that offer a fresh, luminous finish for that your-skin-but-better look. It also nourishes the skin by keeping it hydrated for up to eight hours, which is great if you suffer from dryness.

Heavier Coverage

CLARINS Skin Illusion Natural Hydrating Foundation (R515)

The standout feature of this great base is the fact that it offers buildable coverage. So if you want to keep it light or if you need something to cover imperfections, this gem can achieve both. The serum-like formula makes it comfortable to wear and it will revive radiance with its HD light optimising complex and promotes skin clarity thanks to its array of skin-beneficial ingredients.

LA GIRL Pro Coverage HD High-Definition Long Wear Illuminating Foundation (R175 at Dischem)

This foundation proves that you don’t have to fork out tons of cash to get a flawless finish. If you are conscious about what chemicals you are putting on to your body, you’ll be happy to know that this formula is free from parabens with added antioxidants that help to hydrate and improve the skin’s appearance. The shade range is also decent and they sell shade-adjusting drops so you can create your perfect match.

LA MER The Soft Fluid Long Wear Foundation (R1 750 at Edgars)

Sure, the price tag might be hefty, but this bougie foundation is worth every penny. The formula is infused with their famous miracle broth, so you are essentially getting makeup and skincare in one product. It can be applied using standard beauty tools or even just your fingers because it blends easily into the skin to give luminous cover that conceals pores, blurs imperfections and lasts all day.

The Best Matte Powder Foundations

Light Coverage

BLACK OPAL True Color Ultra Matte Foundation Powder (R299 at Edgars)

A foundation powder that lightly mattifies skin, leaving it with a soft, velvet-like texture. The pigments of the powder are quite light but definitely buildable, so you’re able to use it as a primary base or as a regular pressed powder too. Expect more of a sheer, second-skin coverage with a subtle brightening effect.

Heavier Coverage

MAC Studio Fix Plus Powder (R485).

MAC is trusted by industry professionals, so you know it delivers great results. It offers medium to full buildable coverage that keeps skin shine-free all day. The velvety texture means that your skin is still able to breathe while you’re wearing it, making it the ideal choice for those who struggle with oily, acne-prone skin. And the shade range? Impressive!

L’ORÉAL Infallible 24H Powder Foundation (R230 at Clicks)

If you’re looking for a powder foundation with much heavier coverage, L’Oréal’s provides just that. What’s made it stand out for many is its ability to conceal redness and even out skin tone quite well. Use a rounded, densely-bristled powder brush for a light-to-medium layer of makeup or a beauty sponge if you desire a more saturated finish on targeted areas.

The Best Velvet-Matte Liquid Foundations

Light Coverage

ESTÉE LAUDER Double Wear Stay-in-Place Makeup (R600)

This foundation is loved by professionals, influencers and us regular folks alike, and that’s because of its incredible staying power, light, velvety feel and impressive shade range. And they haven’t just taken the outer skin tone into consideration but the undertones as well. It also doesn’t transfer after application, so your clothes (and your partner’s!) are safe! The colour also stays true and won’t oxidise during the day, so no nasty surprises when you walk past reflective surfaces later.

DIOR Backstage Face and Body Foundation (R705 at Edgars)

If you’re the kind who opts for natural-looking, runway-like coverage as opposed to a heavier, full glam foundation look, Dior’s Backstage Face and Body are highly-recommended. It’s lightweight in texture and finish but still succeeds in camouflaging imperfections while reviving a dull complexion, giving it more a more healthy appearance. It sets quite quickly and has noteworthy staying power, thanks to its water-resistant formula. A tip? Apply an illuminating primer or strobe cream beneath it for a beauty balm-like effect.

Heavier Coverage

REVLON ColorStay Full Cover Foundation (R179 at Woolworths)

Another beauty buy that won’t break the bank, this full-coverage foundation applies like a dream. The creamy formula offers plenty of hydration, doesn’t look dry or become cakey and will hide any and all imperfections effectively. It has a matte finish, making it a good choice for oily skin, and it uses time-release technology that keeps skin balanced for a continuously fresh look.

The Best Concealing Foundations

Light Coverage

BOBBI BROWN Skin Foundation Stick (R580)

There is so much to love about this multiple-award-winning foundation, from the incredible range of 40 diverse shades to its handbag-friendly swivel-up packaging. It is formulated with a unique transparent base and skin tone correct pigments for the most natural-looking, skin-like finish. The innovative formula features Smart Technology for targeted moisturisation or oil control depending on what your skin needs. Just swipe, blend and you are good to go.

YARDLEY Even Complexion Foundation (R190 at Clicks)

A foundation that provides exactly what is required from it with that extra bonus of affordability. With Yardley’s foundation offering, you ultimately get the best of both worlds – if you’re in the mood for a sheer, ‘naked’ foundation look on Monday perhaps and then a more pigment-rich, heavy-wear coverage on Friday night, it guarantees both – depending on the number of layers that you apply and with what tool (brush or sponge). Also, we have to add that if skin irregularities, especially uneven tone, are what you aim to conceal with your foundation, Yardley’s does a good job in reducing their appearance.

MAYBELLINE Fit Me Foundation (R109.95 on Foschiniforbeauty.co.za)

A foundation that’s developed a cult status for several reasons. 1. It’s shade range, which offers variety, 2. its pore-minimising and skin-blurring formula that refines your skin’s texture with every layer, resulting in a seamless, filter-like finish. ‘An airbrushed effect’ best describes it as it evens out your complexion flawlessly without it looking too heavy or cakey. And lastly, buying this won’t break your bank – which is always a great plus.

LANCÔME Teint Idole Ultra Wear 24HR Foundation (R550 on Foschiniforbeauty.co.za)

This particular foundation is quite special. Despite its incredibly lightweight texture, it still packs a serious punch when it comes to pigments, and conceals imperfections seamlessly. Lancôme also gets the undertones just right, and we see this especially in their darker shades. More importantly, like many of the foundations featured in this piece, they offer a good shade variety for people of colour.

Heavier Coverage

ESSENCE Soft Touch Mousse Make-up (R79,95 at Foschiniforbeauty.co.za)

This is a great entry-level foundation for people who are wanting more coverage without the high price tag. The shade range is small but nevertheless quite broad, and the light mousse formula makes it easy to apply, either with a blending sponge or your fingers. Because it’s failsafe like that. The finish is matte but natural, and your skin will still be able to breathe rather than feeling cakey and clogged. This is perfect for the beauty bargain hunter, and the results will still be top notch.

SORBET Cover & Go Concealer and Foundation (R300 at Clicks)

Sorbet’s Cover & Go not only provides the perfect amount of cover-up but it also supplies skincare benefits beneath your coverage. This incredible and practical foundation-concealer-duo (foundation at the bottom, and matching concealer at the top, in the lid) is antioxidant-rich with vitamin A, C and E to boost skin health, moisture and radiance; caffeine is also included too, to help promote circulation and reduce puffiness around the eye area.

1. LANCÔME Skin Feels Good Foundation

This foundation feels and looks like your skin but better, and provides an even, dewy finish that lasts all day.

R495 Edgars SHOP NOW

2. POND'S Flawless Radiance BB+ Cream SPF 30 All-in-One

This BB cream is friendly on your skin, making it more radiant as you wear it, and just as friendly on your wallet.

R130 Clicks SHOP NOW

3. CLARINS Skin Illusion Natural Hydrating Foundation

This foundation has a serum-like formula and offers buildable coverage, giving you plenty of options to suit your coverage preferences.

R515 Clarins.co.za SHOP NOW

4. LA GIRL Pro Coverage HD High-Definition Long Wear Illuminating Foundation

Another budget-buy, this inexpensive formula will still give you an expense finish while it keeps skin looking flawless and feeling hydrated.

R175 Dischem SHOP NOW

5. LA MER The Soft Fluid Long Wear Foundation

If a luxurious look and feel is what you’re after, and you are prepared to spend more for it, you can’t go wrong with this fancy and fabulous foundation.

R1750 Edgars SHOP NOW

6. BLACK OPAL True Color Ultra Matte Foundation Powder

If you are looking for a matt finish without the heavy, cakey coverage, then this light, perfecting powder is a must-have.

R299 Edgars SHOP NOW

7. MAC Studio Fix Plus Powder

This pro product offers buildable coverage and the velvety texture and finish makes skin matte but not flat.


8. L'ORÉAL Infallible 24H Powder Foundation

If you want to banish redness and even out your skin tone, then this high-coverage powder foundation needs a spot on your ‘to buy’ list.

R230 Clicks SHOP NOW

9. ESTÉE LAUDER Double Wear Stay-in-Place Makeup

This foundation is fast becoming a cult product. People love it because of its diverse shade range and it’s lightweight, lasting finish.

R600 Estee Lauder SHOP NOW

10. REVLON ColorStay Full Cover Foundation

Full, flawless coverage that won’t break the bank is exactly what this oil-free foundation is all about.

R179 Woolworths SHOP NOW

11. BOBBI BROWN Skin Foundation Stick

Not only does this offers medium to full coverage that mimics skin, but the packaging makes it perfect for on-the-go touch-ups.

R580 Bobbi Brown SHOP NOW

12. YARDLEY Even Complexion Foundation

If you struggle with pigmentation issues but don’t want caked-on makeup, then this liquid, buildable formula is a winner.

R189.95 Clicks SHOP NOW

13. MAYBELLINE Fit Me Foundation

This foundation is super popular, and not just because of its impressive shade range, but also it’s matte finish, staying powder and price.

R109.95 Foschini for Beauty SHOP NOW

14. LANCÔME Teint Idole Ultra Wear 24HR Foundation

The perfect undertones are part of what make this foundation such a winner, and it works hard to conceal imperfections while still being lightweight.

R550 Foschini for Beauty SHOP NOW

15. ESSENCE Soft Touch Mousse Make-up

This foundation is perfect for beginners, and offers medium to full coverage, a velvet finish and easy application.

R79.95 Foschini for Beauty SHOP NOW

16. SORBET Cover & Go Concealer and Foundation

Everyone wants to get more bang for their buck, and this foundation and concealer combo offers just that – foundation and concealer in one product.

R300 Clicks SHOP NOW

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