A waterproof foundation can be a lifesaver in the summer, on vacation, or whenever you need your makeup to last all day and night without turning into a muddy, cakey mess. But finding the right formulas can mean the difference between a clear, polished complexion, and a sticky, coated, smudge-y one. “Waterproof foundations are a great solution for when you want to wear a full face of makeup, but don’t want to constantly worry about touch-ups or looking like you’re melting,” Emily Amick, New York City-based Makeup Artist, told InStyle. The trick is finding a formula that strikes the right balance delivering a breathable lightweight texture with impressive staying power, and one that works into the skin, instead of caking on top of it.
“Our skin creates natural oils over the course of the day, and waterproof foundation will endure the buildup of natural oils,” Deney Adams, celebrity makeup artist at Blonde Artists, told InStyle. With more options hitting the market than ever before, we’re helping you weed through the clutter, and find the high-quality, outperforming formulas that will hold up despite water, sweat, and tears.
MAC Studio Radiance Face and Body Radiant Sheer Foundation
What We Love: The formula feels light and comfortable on skin.
What We Don’t Love: The coverage may be too sheer for some.
Don’t let the new name fool you. This bottle houses the same beloved formula as the MAC Studio Face and Body Foundation, just with a fancier name and more shade options to choose from. It’s the familiar bottle you’ll find in almost every professional makeup artist’s kit because of its ability to withstand the elements — no matter if it’s long days on set or the sweat and tears of a hot summer wedding — while still looking fresh and natural. The formula strikes the hard-to-find balance of being delightfully creamy and hydrating without feeling heavy on the skin. It’s a buildable formula that starts sheer, adding a natural dewy finish to the skin, but can work up to medium coverage and will last all day and night without melting away.
Price at time of publish: $39
Shade Range: 30 | Coverage: Buildable | Size: 1.7 oz
Make Up Forever HD Skin Undetectable Longwear Foundation
What We Love: The long wear formula is vegan.
What We Don’t Love: The matte finish can be dry for some skin types.
As the name suggests, this high-performance formula was originally designed to be undetectable under any light and look natural even under the most high-definition lenses, like those used in television production and on fashion runways. “The formula is beautiful for skin that really looks like skin but has the coverage to hide any imperfections,” Amick told InStyle. “It is long-lasting, waterproof, and designed to be undetectable on HD cameras, so it’s perfect for someone who fears cakey-ness and just wants luminous, perfect skin (a.k.a, all of us!).”
Price at time of publish: $43
Shade Range: 40 | Coverage: Medium | Size: 1.01 oz
Dior Backstage Face & Body Foundation
What We Love: It’s great for use on face and body.
What We Don’t Love: May not be hydrating enough for dry skin.
If you’re looking to even out skin anywhere on your face or body, this buildable, lightweight formula will do the trick. It provides enough flexibility to build up to your desired coverage level, while also delivering the staying power to withstand a sweaty workout or hot day at the beach, without wiping away. “This foundation looks like a second skin and is buildable so you can layer it to the desired coverage,” Tobi Henney, celebrity makeup artist to Megan Fox, Barbara Palvin, and Poppy Delevingne, told InStyle. “This is the perfect option for someone who wants to even out their skin tone because you can build it up in areas where you need a little more coverage,” Amick added.
Price at time of publish: $40
Shade Range: 40 | Coverage: Medium | Size: 1.6 oz
Revlon ColorStay Longwear Makeup
What We Love: The texture is impressively lightweight and comfortable on skin.
What We Don’t Love: It may be too drying for some skin types.
Don’t let the friendly price tag fool you. This high-quality formula feels luxurious on the skin and has a staying power that rivals that of its higher-priced counterparts. The oil-free formula and natural matte finish are great for combatting the greasiest, sweatiest days, or anyone who battles a naturally shiny T-zone come the afternoon. A small dab is enough to provide medium coverage and even out any redness or dark spots on the skin, so your complexion appears flawless. It also layers nicely if you need a little extra coverage in certain areas. The best part: you don’t have to worry about this budge-proof base wiping away in the summer heat, and it’s spiked with a shot of SPF 15 sun protection, too.
Price at time of publish: $10
Shade Range: 43 | Coverage: Medium | Size: 1 oz.
Milani Conceal + Perfect 2-in-1 Foundation + Concealer
What We Love: The budget-friendly price tag.
What We Don’t Love: Some noted it can look orange against fairer complexions.
Here’s a multi-tasking formula that delivers on its promises as both a quality concealer and a high-performing foundation base. “I was surprised by its performance when I first tried it, but this affordable formula really holds its own,” Amick told InStyle. “It’s a great semi-matte, water-resistant foundation that packs a lot of coverage without looking heavy.” We also love the impressively inclusive shade range and the versatility of this product which helps to even skin tone and effectively disguise dark under-eye circles without caking or settling into fine lines.
Price at time of publish: $12
Shade Range: 45 | Coverage: Full | Size: 1 oz.
Best for Sensitive Skin
Morphe Filter Effect Soft-Focus Foundation
What We Don’t Love: The coverage may be too light for some.
We love a good makeup product spiked with skincare benefits, and this long-wear foundation is exactly that. The texture strikes a delicate balance being both soft, but not watery, and creamy, but not heavy, giving skin natural coverage that looks like your skin, but better. It’s formulated with hyaluronic acid and vitamin E, which deliver added hydration and a dose of skin-loving antioxidants that help improve skin texture overtime. The formula blends seamlessly into skin, without caking on top of it, and adds a natural dewy glow that won’t wipe away at the first sign of sweat or moisture.
Price at time of publish: $20
Shade Range: 40 | Coverage: Medium | Size: 0.94 oz.
Best Matte Finish
NARS Soft Matte Complete Foundation
What We Love: It helps to reduce shine.
What We Don’t Love: Some note it can settle into fine lines.
The luxurious formula may come at a price, but let that be your first clue that this is not your average foundation formula. The high-quality, sweat-proof makeup base is packed with oil-absorbing powders and micro-algae extract that eliminate any excess grease or shine from skin, even on the hottest, stickiest summer nights. It’s also spiked with hydrating hyaluronic acid to help keep skin supple, while still managing to give complexion the most gorgeous natural matte finish. “It looks great in photos and has great longevity,” Henney told InStyle. A small dab goes a long way in delivering full coverage wherever you need it, and rest assured that even base will stay put until you decide it’s time to wash it all away.
Price at time of publish: $40
Shade Range: 34 | Coverage: Full | Size: 1.5 oz.
Best Natural Finish
Charlotte Tilbury Airbrush Flawless Foundation
What We Love: The natural matte finish won’t leave skin dry.
What We Don’t Love: The fancy formula, comes with a fancy price tag.
A full-coverage, waterproof foundation that doesn’t feel heavy on the skin is hard to find. That was until the beloved celebrity makeup artist, Charlotte Tilbury, gifted us the prettiest bottle of dewy, hydrating perfection that feels like a second skin. The creamy foundation strikes the delicate balance of delivering full coverage, without feeling like a heavy blanket of pigment on the skin. It also features a host of skincare benefits including wrinkle-fighters that help to improve skin’s appearance long-term, instead of just temporarily covering things up. “This is such a stunning foundation, that’s sweat-proof, humidity proof, and transfer-proof and can last from day to night,” Henney told InStyle.
Price at time of publish: $46
Shade Range: 44 shades| Coverage: Full | Size: 1 oz.
Hourglass Cosmetics Vanish Seamless Finish Foundation Stick
What We Love: The creamy stick makes for easy application.
What We Don’t Love: It has a higher price tag, and comes with less product.
Every element of this fancy foundation stick was designed with intention to make for an easy, fuss-free application, and flawless, long-lasting coverage. The unique slanted, triangular tip allows you to effortlessly navigate the hard-to-reach nooks and crannies around your face and nose. The creamy formula glides onto skin, making it easy to apply as foundation to cover larger areas for all-over coverage, or double as a concealer dabbed onto targeted spots like under the eyes. The coverage is substantial, yet still manages to feel lightweight and comfortable on skin. Plus, thanks to its impressive long-wear and waterproof benefits, you’re safe against the elements all day and night.
Price at time of publish: $48
Shade Range: 32 | Coverage: Full | Size: 0.25 oz.
Fenty Beauty Pro Filt’r Soft Matte Longwear Foundation
What We Love: The extensive shade range ensures a perfect match for most.
What We Don’t Love: The coverage might be too light for some.
A quick Google search will surface over 50,000 four- and five-star reviews of the beauty universe celebrating this beloved formula for a plethora of reasons. For starters, the all-inclusive range features 50 distinct shade options across the light to deep spectrum, delivering the perfect shade match to more beauty lovers than ever before. The meticulous formula balances tone and texture, delivering comfortable, all-day wear that isn’t too heavy, too matte, or too shiny. The gorgeous soft matte finish looks like your skin, but better, and is buildable so you can work up to your desired coverage level, without feeling like you’re caking on pigment. Added bonus: this polished base will remain flawless through sweat and tears.
Price at time of publish: $39
Shade Range: 50 | Coverage: Medium | Size: 1.08 oz.
Smashbox Studio Skin 24 Hour Full Coverage Waterproof Foundation
What We Love: It’s easy to blend.
What We Don’t Love: It can feel heavy on skin.
This is a feel-good formula for multiple reasons. One: it feels impressively pampering thanks to hyaluronic acid and vitamin E, which keep skin feeling smooth and hydrated. Two: special pigments help to create a special blurring effect which gives the complexion a polished, matte finish, without leaving skin dry and cakey. Three: it’s a formula built to last and one that will take you from humid beach days to all-night dance parties without wiping away. We also love the cruelty-free formulation which just adds to the feel-good factors.
Price at time of publish: $38
Shade Range: 30 | Coverage: Full | Size: 1 oz.
What to Keep in Mind
When to Use
There’s no wrong time to use a waterproof foundation. From hot summer days and nights, to beach vacations, or anytime you’re looking for your makeup to last for a long period of time. “If you’re a full-face-at-the-gym kind of person, or a stage performer, you might consider a waterproof formula for daily use! There’s no harm in wearing waterproof year-round as long as you’re cleansing properly at the end of the day,” Amick told InStyle.
Be sure to check out the ingredients when choosing a foundation. It’s often misunderstood that waterproof foundations are heavy and drying. “We all have different skin types and skin needs, you’ll want to choose a foundation with ingredients that work best with your needs,” Adams, told InStyle. “For example, if you have oily skin you might look out for foundation with zinc oxide or serecite.” There are also formulas spiked with hyaluronic acid to help keep skin hydrated.
Not all waterproof foundations are full coverage. There are many great formulas on the market today that offer medium, buildable coverage so you can be in control of the desired effect. You can also find waterproof foundations with both matte and natural finishes, so you can best meet your skin needs.