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Budget Beauty: The best high street foundations under £20

February 22nd 2016 / Katie Robertson Google+ Katie Robertson / 3 comments

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When it comes to achieving flawless foundation you don't have to spend big to win big. Here's our edit of the 6 best budget brands that are as good as (if not better than) their high-end counterparts

Wind back the clock a few years and the difference between an expensive foundation and those found on the high-street was staggering. Cakey, oily and just plain useless, the cheaper versions didn’t begin to scratch the surface on the possibilities of those such as Chanel, Dolce and Gabbana or Lancôme.

Nowadays however, the technology of makeup and skincare has advanced rapidly for both the high-end and high-street market - so much so, that often two vastly different brands will use similar ingredients that work to the same effect. The result? Shelves and shelves of complexion perfecting foundations that work as well as a designer douzy but cost less than a lunch from Prêt.

So, whether you’re looking for some serious coverage, a radiant dewy complexion, or a way to help fight that midday shine, there’s a low-cost option for all. Here’s our edit of the six best bargain brands that pack a serious bang for their buck.

Bourjois Healthy Mix Serum Gel Foundation, £10.99

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A favourite name here at GTG HQ, French beauty brand Bourjois never fails to provide products that rival that of their high-end counterparts - and this Healthy Mix Foundation is of no exception. The most lightweight of all those sampled, this vitamin-rich, fruit therapy formula glides onto skin and blends seamlessly for a truly flawless finish - while the subtle gel texture helps to keep your complexion looking healthy and radiant. The staying power was also incredible, with touch-ups not needed even 10 hours later (which also makes this a great option for oilier types who find constant re-applying a logistical nightmare!).

Buy online

MORE GLOSS: 12 outstanding beauty products under £25

Rimmel Wake Me Up Foundation, £8.99

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When you’re having a ‘down day’ (otherwise known as a hangover) and your complexion is in need of a serious pick-me-up, this Rimmel foundation works absolute wonders - and regularly makes the cut above more expensive options. Created with a 100% poreless coverage formula and radiance boosting pearls, this is one of the best products I’ve tried for lifting and illuminating tired and sallow skin. A light sweep is the perfect disguise to leave your complexion looking reinvigorated and full of life - all you have to do is wake up and glow.

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Maybelline Dream Flawless Nude Foundation, £8.99

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Make like a model and take on the challenge of a nude and natural face, achieved with Maybelline's silky, soft foundation. Bright and breathable, this super light formula is perfect for nailing the no makeup makeup trend. With a slightly watery consistency, it offers slightly less coverage than the other products mentioned here, but is nevertheless ideal for those summery, warm days when just a light touch of blemish-controlling colour is all you need.

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MORE GLOSS: The 15 best makeup brushes on the planet

L’Oreal Lumi Magique Foundation, £10.99

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Arguably the best of the bunch, this L’Oreal Lumi Foundation does exactly what it says on the tin and is pure magic. Providing the perfect mix of invisible style coverage with blemish-covering qualities, just a touch gives you the makings of a gorgeously dewy complexion and the ever elusive ‘lit from within glow’. With an ultra-hydrating formula, it’s also ideal for drier skin types who need a moisturising boost to keep them looking fresh and flawless throughout the day.

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Max Factor Face Finity All Day Flawless 3 in 1 Foundation, £12.99

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When talking about value for money, this Max Factor 3 in 1 beauty has to come up top trumps. Overtaking all the others in terms of technicality and superior performance, this foundation works by priming the skin with a flexi-hold technology that creates a strong, yet lightweight film on top of the skin. Next, micro-correctors within the formula operate like little mechanics to defend against external influences such as sweat and sebum, while the added presence of SPF20 delivers a perfectly protective, matte finish. The result? A marvellous multi-purpose product that acts as a primer, concealer and a foundation. Oh and did I mention it smells divine?

Buy online

KIKO Liquid Skin Second Skin Foundation, £18.90

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As a slightly more expensive option, this KIKO foundation may require you to dig a little deeper - but the results I found were worth it. Jam-packed with smart technology and powerful ingredients such as hyaluronic acid, vitamin C and resveratrol, it works equally well as both a skincare saviour and a perfecting piece of makeup. Ultra-fine and leaving skin with a velvety, silky finish, it’s the ideal option for those looking to achieve modelesque complexion clarity. (And, if you’re really trying to be frugal - the pipette dropper means over pumping too much product becomes a thing of the past, allowing this pot to last a lifetime).

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Follow us on @getthegloss and Katie @KatieRob20.

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  • zoe foulds
  • June 18th 2016

Hello, I use stay matte by rimmel and it's really good but I want a change however I do have sensitive skin, I want something long lasting, good coverage and not too expensive... Any suggestions? Thanks! X

  • KATIE ROBERTSON
  • April 14th 2015

Hi Debra,

Lovely to hear from you - so glad you liked the article. Sorry to hear about your makeup troubles but I'm sure it's nothing that can't be fixed! The Bourjois Healthy Mix Serum sounds like it might work really well for your skin type. It's really lightweight so won't cake your skin and leaves a lovely healthy glow without being too shiny or oily. Alternatively, if you're willing to spend a little more then NARS Luminous Weightless Foundation is a great option - it's super long-lasting, mattifying and just a few drops gives a full face of coverage. Let us know how you get on!

Katie x

  • Debra Phillips-Machin
  • April 12th 2015

Hello and thank you for this article. Nice to see the less pricey options being reviewed positively.
I'm going to ask for a little advice, if you don't mind. I'm 57 yrs with a not too good complexion after a life time of working outdoors and not using skin care properly until the last ten years. Yes I have wrinkles and some quite deep!
Add to that the fact I'm now disabled with fibromyalgia (amongst other things) that causes my skin to have periods of sensitivity and those horrible sweats we call Charlie Horses where my whole body turns into a river. You can see I've got makeup problems!! Lol.
I'm asking this, which of the products mentioned in this article do you think would be more suitable for me? I don't want heavy caked coverage, just something to give me a little boost and make me look a bit smoother faced. Obviously I'm not expecting miracles, not even polyfilla would make my face look perfect. Lol.
Over to you experts. Thank you in advance. X

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