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Foundation is arguably the most essential product for perfecting that flawless face base. From application to quality, nailing your foundation could be the Instagram filter in a bottle you didn’t know you needed.
Often people associate cosmetic quality with high-end price points, reaching for items based off brand name rather than individual product performance. However, with the drugstore industry booming with competitive quality and a fraction of luxury price points- maybe it’s time to rethink your spending and refresh your makeup bag affordably.
Typically, I reach for medium-full coverage foundations with dual performance. For instance, for an everyday look I prefer something light and breathable, but switch to a social event or occasion and I desire buildability and long-lasting wear without the dreaded nightmare of glaring oily shine, patchiness, or dry skin. Does a high-end foundation dupe exist that can do both?
With my day usually starting off in the gym followed by a full day in the office, my make up is subject to various temperatures and activities from early morning well into the late evening. As a second job I also work in a busy restaurant, on some days working from midday right through to midnight. This is the perfect climate to test the performance of a foundation due to the active nature of being a waitress, particularly in the busy hot summer months impacting the wear of a full face.
Immediately faced with endless affordable options and renowned drugstore names, I began my search for the perfect foundation base.
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Maybelline 30H Superstay
With Maybelline being one of the more classic drugstore names, I was initially very familiar with this brand however, I was yet to be converted to a newfound holy grail product that wasn’t a lip liner or mascara. After doing my research, particularly in the MUA and influencer realm, Maybelline 30H Super Stay appeared as a must have. The “30H” claim was a sweeping statement at that, making me excited to trial and test to see if it lived up to the hype.
To reduce loss of coverage I decided to apply this foundation with a brush followed by a beauty blender to pat off any excess liquid. First impressions left me feeling absolutely obsessed! The finish was satin and poreless without the appearance of thickness and lack of breathability which felt refreshing when using a typically full coverage foundation. The product description claims its ‘long-wear formula helps to unify tone and conceal the look of imperfections.’ For someone who often suffers with hormonal breakouts, using a foundation that unifies my tone rather than cakes over blemishes is so important for my confidence. This foundation does exactly that, working with my yellow undertones to breathe life back into my complexion with comfortable coverage.
I trialled this foundation to the max. I began my weekend with weight training followed by a 5-hour shift waitressing leading towards a night out with friends. My evening was also spent lapping up the evening sun drinking cocktails, notorious for turning my face base into an oily mess. However, after a few mirror touch ups throughout the day (as I would do with any foundation), my base seemed almost exactly the same from morning application at 7am right through to 10pm! No patchiness or uncontrollable oiliness in sight, I loved it.
For the price of £10.99 this affordable high-end dupe has 20 shades to choose from. It’s inclusive of all skin types and most shades however, my only criticism is a lack of inclusivity regarding tones within a shade category. Personally warm sun suited my desired complexion well however, depending on your undertone (olive, pink etc.) you might struggle. An alternative, due to the accessible price point, would be to use this foundation as a complementary mixer to another foundation. Adding to one of the many benefits of this full coverage drug-store foundation, perfect for beautifying yourself on a budget!
NYX Can’t Stop Won’t Stop
NYX has always been a makeup bag staple for me, however only certain products like their precision brow pencil or butter gloss has made the cut. On the other hand, until now the only foundation I had previously used from this brand was the Pro Drop Controllable Coverage Foundation. This having been over 3 years ago; I was curious to see how their face base product range had evolved. Claiming to preserve an ‘ultra-matte’ finish with high coverage that feels breathable, it sounded like the go-to foundation I was seeking. Slightly more expensive than its drugstore competitor Maybelline, but still well within the wallet capacity.
For my combination skin that’s subject to an active lifestyle, I’m forever in a dilemma wanting a full coverage foundation that feels lightweight. The bottle lived up to its description with a super-matte finish while mixing well with my other make up products from different brands. Alongside this, my face didn’t feel blanketed by the coverage, nor my pores clogged which was hugely surprising considering its waterproof claims.
To trial this foundation’s description in every aspect, I took this on holiday with me which included a day at the beach and swimming in the sea. After a full day of sun and water exposure, my face did have the slightest bit of wear however did so by transitioning from an ultra-high to a medium coverage which is what I’d typically reach for anyways! All in all, the foundation worked to control shine and mattify my complexion despite a full day of water and sun working against its wearability.
Hats off to NYX setting the example for inclusivity in both luxury and affordable markets with 45 shades available to suit every skin tone! My personal shade, neutral bluff, was perfect for my winter skin however towards the summer months where I tan more, I’d definitely use their shade advisory service. This helps to guide you with skin colour and undertones to ensure it’s easy to switch shades and accommodate to your undertones changing with multiple everyday life factors.
Coming in at the least expensive of the 3 tested foundations, L’Oréal is an award-winning cosmetic brand however one I’ve yet to purchase from. Initially from the description, one thing that immediately differentiates it from the others is its SPF 18 protection. We’re all well aware of the impact sun damage can have on our skin particularly facial, so to know this make up product offers a level of protection as well as full coverage, I was impressed.
I decided to apply this with a beauty blender due to its thickness. Compared to the others this definitely felt the heaviest in terms of liquid however surprisingly felt light weight and breathable once applied. The foundation claims to absorb unwanted oil, I can for sure vouch for this while it left a flattering matte finish and blended seamlessly with other branded products in my make up routine!
Like the other foundations, Loreal Infallible claims to resist sweat, water and heat as well as being ‘completely transfer proof’. To put this to the test I decided to trial it on one of the hottest days of the year (I know I couldn’t think of anything worse) but had to give it a good run for it’s claims. During this heatwave I worked from home (living in the UK means no aircon) followed by a 5-hour shift in a busy restaurant during the evening. It was 10pm and the foundation was applied at 8am giving this foundation a 14hr test period. One things I had noticed was my skin felt slightly dried out by the time I removed it however still maintained decent coverage and consistent tone.
I think the shade range for this product reflects in the price. With only 18 shades and no indication of tone guidance it was a slight challenge to get the best colour match online. On the flipside with this product having the least shade range it’s boosted by it’s mattifying ability and strength to withstand sweat and a busy lifestyle on the go. For oily skin I would 100% recommend this foundation, particularly if you like full coverage and are looking for a foundation that works with your skin type, not against it!
Overall, my go-to high end dupe foundation from the three on test is the Maybelline 30H Superstay. It met the demands of my combination skin and was a near perfect colour match without oxidizing. The coverage didn’t budge while giving me the option for medium to full buildability which suited my lifestyle. In terms of shade range, NYX Can’t Stop Won’t Stop wins all round. For a drug-store product this has more inclusion and diversity in shade matches than a foundation triple the price! With ultimate affordability coming in at under £10.00, Loreal Infallible is perfect for those on a budget that don’t want to compromise on quality or performance, particularly for the mattifying make up lovers out there.
Expert comment on the best high end foundation dupes
We spoke to an expert in beauty to find out her professional opinion on the best high end foundation dupes available in the drugstore. Here are the drugstore foundations she recommended that rival high end offerings and make your skin look flawless at a fraction of the price.
- L’Oreal Paris Infallible 24H Foundation: A dupe for Giorgio Armani Luminous Silk Foundation, this foundation provides a natural, long-lasting finish.
2. Maybelline Superstay 24 Hour Foundation: A dupe for Estée Lauder Double Wear Foundation, this foundation offers a medium to full coverage and a flawless finish that lasts all day.
3. Rimmel Lasting Finish 25 Hour Foundation: A dupe for Dior Forever Foundation, this foundation provides a radiant, long-lasting finish that lasts all day.
4. NYX Can’t Stop Won’t Stop Foundation: A dupe for Fenty Beauty Pro Filt’r Foundation, this foundation provides a medium to full coverage with a natural, matte finish.
5. Revolution Pro Foundation Drops: A dupe for YSL Touche Éclat Foundation, this foundation provides a sheer to medium coverage with a natural, radiant finish.
6. Maybelline Fit Me Matte + Poreless Foundation: A dupe for Estée Lauder Double Wear Stay-in-Place Foundation.
The Estée Lauder Double Wear Foundation gained popularity for its long-lasting, matte finish with full coverage. A budget-friendly alternative is the Maybelline Fit Me Matte + Poreless Foundation, which was often compared to the Double Wear Foundation. While the formulas are not identical, the Maybelline Fit Me Foundation provides good coverage and a matte finish, making it a popular choice for oily or combination skin types.