Battle of The Drugstore Foundations: Which ones deserve the raves?

It’s a struggle to find an affordable foundation that won’t let you down. We expect high-end foundations to perform well, so it's exciting is when we find a drugstore option that delivers awesome results. Luckily, we now have a lot of inexpensive options that can put high-end foundations to shame!  

For this challenge, I'm putting five of the best-selling drugstore foundations to the test: do they live up to the raves, and which one is the best of the best? To level the playing field, I skipped using primer and setting spray, and only applied a light dusting of setting powder. Also note that I have combination skin: my T-zone and cheek areas are very oily but the rest of my face is prone to dryness. To check for the best application method, I also used two beauty tools; the left side with a beauty sponge and the right with a buffing brush.

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Wet n Wild Photofocus Foundation in Golden Beige (P500 at Chedelyn’s Cosmetics)

This claims to deliver flawless and camera-ready makeup, even when doing flash photography. True enough, a single layer looks very photogenic upon application, as though a blurring filter had been applied. In reality though, it did not completely cover my skin imperfections. The effect looks very natural both up close and from afar. It also has a demi-matte velvety finish and feels very lightweight. I liked that it did not emphasize my dry patches and blended like a dream with both sponge and brush. It also has no flashback, so it stayed true to its claims of being photo-friendly.

By the eight-hour mark, my forehead and cheekbones looked oily, with some fading on the I see minimal fading on areas where I oil up the most.  With that length of wear, I am pretty impressed because my skin looked healthy despite the presence of oil.

GET THIS IF You want a light foundation that looks picture-ready for special events. It will not last very long though, especially if you have oily skin, so you may have to retouch. The bottle also does not come with a pump but has a spatula-like applicator so dispensing product is a bit of hassle. Wet n Wild is available in department stores, however, this particular foundation isn't yet available in the PH yet so I got mine from an online store.

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Covergirl Stay Fabulous 3-in-1 Foundation (P797 at Covergirl counters)

A long-lasting formula with the benefits of a primer, foundation, and concealer in one bottle? It makes big promises! This foundation comes up with a pump (yay!) and offers SPF20, which gives additional sun protection but also flashback in photos.

Using a small amount instantly covered my blemishes, and it can be built to full coverage with a second layer. Blending was a challenge because of its thick formula so using a hydrating primer beforehand is highly recommended for smooth application. It requires thorough blending both with the sponge and brush for an even application but once applied properly, the formula dries very quickly so powder may be optional to prevent it from looking too cakey. Surprisingly, the brush side blended more easily than the sponge side.

By the 8th hour mark, the foundation had started caking up on my drier areas and you can definitely tell that I have foundation on. There's a bit of oil peeping through my T-zone but it only started to appear at around the 6th or 7th hour, which is highly impressive!

GET THIS IF You have normal-oily combination skin and in need of something that's good for everyday. Expect medium to full coverage with a very matte finish.

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L'Oreal Infallible Pro Matte 24HR Foundation in 105 Natural Beige (P700 at L'Oreal Counters)

Definitely a crowd-favorite, this foundation has won the hearts of many due to its mattifying properties. The foundation is stored in squeeze type packaging, which makes it travel-friendly. It promises 24 hours of wear made comfortable by an air-light texture in a demi-matte velvety finish. The foundation has a runny liquid consistency, which sets very quickly so I have to work fast to blend it onto my skin.

You only need a small amount to cover the whole face, and you can't really layer it on because that makes it look very cakey. That's fine though because it offers medium coverage in a single application. There is no tacky feeling once dried and it truly feels like I don’t have any foundation on. You also don’t need to put powder on top because of its demi-matte finish. Though it doesn't have SPF, it surprisingly has a slight white cast when I use flash.

The foundation remained intact after 8 hours of wear but I noticed that it sank into my pores and fine lines, and creased on my undereye area. In terms of oil control though, my T-zone looked more dewy than shiny!

GET THIS IF You have an oily T-zone and want a demi-matte everyday foundation that can last with minimal to zero touch-ups.

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Maybelline Fit Me Matte and Poreless Foundation in 220 Natural Beige (P399 at Maybelline counters)

This foundation has micro-blurring powders that help control shine and leave skin looking smooth and pore-fect. This foundation does not come with a pump which can be messy when you try to get product out from the bottle. Even with the first few strokes, I noticed how it immediately blurred my pores and mattified my skin with a very lightweight finish.

Two drops of this runny foundation gave me light to medium coverage with a very silky powdery finish. I can still see my redness and blemishes peeking through. It has a slightly more airbrushed look when applied with a brush. With flash, there is a slight white cast but doesn’t look powdery in photos compared to Covergirl's formula.

After a few hours, the foundation kind of set in and oxidized on me, turning one shade darker. I recommend getting a shade lighter than your usual shade match to prevent oxidation. By the 8th hour mark, the foundation had noticeably melted off my face and my T-zone has gotten unmistakably oily. I managed to stay shine-free for only 3 to 4 hours.

GET THIS IF You have oily-combination skin and want a matte, just-powdered look for running quick errands or short appointments that don't go past 4 hours.

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Revlon Colorstay Foundation Combination/Oily Skin in Warm Golden (P825 at Revlon counters)

Revlon Colorstay is considered as the frontrunner when it comes to the best long-wearing foundation in the drugstore arena. This cult status fave has garnered major raves from makeup artists because of its oil-free formula with a flawless matte coverage. Thankfully, Revlon listened and released a new packaging with a pump! 

The foundation instantly covers my redness and blurs pores with just one layer of the foundation. I can still see some of my dark scars but you can build it up to full coverage if you have large problem areas. You only need a small amount to cover the entire face, and it dries completely matte so you can opt to skip the powder. Both applications gave the same result but I prefer using a brush side because it made the thick formula easier to blend. It has a slight white cast during the flash test, probably because it has SPF15.

By the 8th hour, my blush and bronzer was still intact but my foundation was starting to get patchy on my undereye and nose areas. In terms of oil control, this is the only foundation that kept me shine-free for 8 hours!

GET THIS IF You have extremely oily skin and need a heavy-duty foundation that will keep you shine-free from day to night.

AND THE WINNER IS...the Revlon Colorstay Foundation! This offers the best wear time, shine control, and coverage. Now we know why it's such a cult favorite!

Have you tried these drugstore foundations? How did they fare for you? What other drugstore foundations do you swear by?