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10 best foundations of 2019: Satin, matte and dewy finishes for every skin type

Whether you're acne prone or oily, perfect your complexion with one of the finest formulas of the year

Pippa Bailey
Friday 20 December 2019 15:40
<p>We’ve tried these foundations with an array of brushes and sponges, but they all apply beautifully with finger tips, too</p>

We’ve tried these foundations with an array of brushes and sponges, but they all apply beautifully with finger tips, too

The quest for the holy grail foundation continues, and 2019 has added a wealth of brilliant formulas to our list of potentials for the title.

Whether you like a full-coverage satin finish or a sheer, glowy formula in liquid, cream or stick form, there are brand new goodies for you.

There are fresh takes on favourite products from Fenty and RMS Beauty, the much-talked-about new foundation from Charlotte Tilbury, a gorgeous addition to Chanel's les beiges line, plus a surprise hero product from Stila.

We’ve tested these on multiple skin types for a full day of wear, observing how well they blend on application, what kind of coverage they offer, where the finish falls on the matte-dewy scale, and how well they last, with an eye on the shade range, too.

We’ve tried them with an array of brushes and sponges, but they all apply beautifully with finger tips, too. We wouldn’t hesitate in recommending you buy a single one.

You can trust our independent reviews. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formed from real-world testing and expert advice. This revenue helps us to fund journalism across The Independent.

Fenty Beauty pro filt’r hydrating longwear: £27, Harvey Nichols

Rihanna’s beauty line has released a new take on its pro filt’r foundation, for those who found the original too matte and drying. It’s a hydrating, creamy, bouncy-skin formula for normal to dry skin. It gives medium coverage that easily covers redness and minor scarring, and has a natural, glowy finish. It comes in the same 50 shades as the original pro filt’r, so if you already know your shade, order away.

Buy now

RMS Beauty “un” cover-up cream: £53, Beauty Bay

Aside from its slightly disappointing shade range of just 16 products, RMS’s foundation – twin to its already very popular “un” cover-up concealer – is gorgeous. Scooped from the pot with the metal spatula provided, it is a soft, thick cream with an almost whipped texture. It applies beautifully with fingers to give a medium coverage and dewy finish that doesn’t dry out winter skin.

Buy now

Charlotte Tilbury airbrush flawless: £34, Cult Beauty

Charlotte Tilbury’s latest foundation launch, airbrush flawless, is typically dressing-table worthy, with its frosted glass and ridged, rose gold lid. It’s a full coverage, matte finish that stays put well throughout the day; we found it required only a slight touch-up around the nose pre-dinner. Drier skin types may find it too dehydrating. Its available in 44 shades which is what we expect of a make-up brand.

Buy now

Chanel les beiges water-fresh tint: £48, John Lewis & Partners

This is a beautifully dewy, refreshing-feeling, light coverage addition to the les beiges range. Its clear formula has beads of coverage suspended within it, which burst on the skin, releasing colour. We love it applied with fingers or with the brush provided; the key is to apply directly to the face, not to the back of your hand first, otherwise the beads will release their coverage in the wrong place. It’s only available in six shades.

Buy now

Stila hide & chic: ​£24.80, Cult Beauty

Stila is one of the unsung heroes of make-up, and this thin, lightweight, glowy formula was certainly a surprise to us. It’s comfortably cushioning on dry skin and gives buildable, medium coverage without feeling heavy and a satin, natural finish. Sold in 30 shades.

Buy now

Anastasia Beverly Hills luminous: £43, Cult Beauty

ABH’s luminous foundation feels quite thick when first dispensed, but it melts beautifully into a light and creamy texture on the skin. Used without setting powder it gives medium coverage and a glowy finish that doesn’t dry out on the cheeks and forehead during the day. Available in 50 shades.

Buy now

Clarins everlasting youth fluid: £29.75, John Lewis & Partners

“Ever-lasting youth” might be over-egging it slightly, but this does give buildable medium coverage that balances out redness nicely, with a natural, satin finish, leaving skin feeling smooth and silky to the touch. We tried applying it with a brush and a sponge, but preferred the finish when applied with fingers. Available in 24 shades.

Buy now

Kevyn Aucoin foundation balm: £42, Space NK

Kevyn Aucoin’s foundation balm is unlike anything else we tried. From the look of it in the pot we were expecting it to be thick and paste-like, but when applied with the brush provided it’s a super-soft, easily blended formula that almost turns to powder on the skin. The finish is a soft matte, though, being a full coverage foundation, it is definitely perceptible on the skin. Those with dry skin may find it settles into patches too much. It's available in 20 shades.

Buy now

Laura Mercier flawless lumiere radiance perfecting: £36, Cult Beauty

If you’re after something that’s not super dewy but also not flatly matte, this is a perfect soft-focus satin formula, with some radiance but no shine. It doesn’t wear off easily and stays put on greasier areas around the nose and forehead. Our tester said it made her look refreshed and healthy, even in the middle of five-hours-sleep party season. Available in 30 shades.

Buy now

Mac studio fix soft matte stick: £27, Mac

Mac’s studio fix line is always reliable, and this is no different. It gives medium coverage with a satin-y, natural finish that doesn’t set down too quickly for blending or dry out skin, as many solid formulas can. It’s a small package compared to the other foundations we tried and the stick formula makes it perfect for chucking in your handbag for make-up on the go. Available in 33 shades.

Buy now

The verdict: Foundations of 2019

There have been so many new launches for 2019 that we’re hard-pushed to choose, but for the combination of shade range and reasonable price, we love Fenty’s pro filt’r hydrating longwear. Oily skins or those who like a full-coverage, matte finish will love Charlotte Tilbury’s latest launch, while for a lightweight, buildable finish, Stila hide & chic is quietly brilliant.

IndyBest product reviews are unbiased, independent advice you can trust. On some occasions, we earn revenue if you click the links and buy the products, but we never allow this to bias our coverage. The reviews are compiled through a mix of expert opinion and real-world testing.