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Budget Beauty

The best high street foundations under £20

June 12th 2020 / Katie Robertson Google+ Katie Robertson / 3 comments


Here's our edit of the best budget brands whose cheap foundations are as good as (if not better than) their high-end counterparts, because when it comes to achieving flawless foundation, you don't have to spend big to win big

Wind back the clock a few years and the difference between an expensive foundation and high street or drugstore foundation 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 best cheap foundations from bargain brands that pack a serious bang for their buck.

The Ordinary Serum Foundation, £5.70 & The Ordinary Coverage Foundation, £5.90


One of our favourite budget beauty brands in terms of intelligent formulation and inexpensive price point, this new duo of daily cover-ups provides a great selection of finishes to choose from. Read our full review of The Ordinary foundations here.

Buy online

Boots No7 Hydraluminous Foundation, £15


A new front runner in the race for dewy skin from a high street brand, we loved No7's antioxidant packed formula with added vitamins A and C. Glowy in finish, this won't leave you with cake-face or settle into fine lines, making it a winner for more mature skins. The drawback is that the shade range is pitiful, although Boots promise to release a full range of 25 shades. Read our full No7 Hydraluminous foundation review here.

Buy online

Revlon Colorstay Foundation combination/oily skin, £12.99


Having a combination or oilier skin type can be tricky when looking for a foundation that will stay put without an unsightly shine, but Revlon have earned cult status with their budget option, Colorstay. Ideal for more problematic skin with its medium buildable coverage, this foundation does what it says on the tin. They have added a pump after much uproar, rejoice!

Buy online

Collection Lasting Perfection Foundation, £5.99


After the huge success of their Lasting Perfection concealer, Collection released the equally great foundation of the same name. You can achieve good coverage with this, just ensure you properly shade match, get into natural daylight and wait a few minutes as the formulation can oxidise a little deeper than initially applied. We're not arguing with that price point though, and the texture is that of a more high-end lightweight formula.

Buy online

L'Oreal Paris True Match Liquid Foundation, £9.99


L'Oreal's number one selling foundation became an overnight cult classic for its blendable, buildable coverage and satin finish. An excellent option for those with drier skins, the formula won't settle into creases or go patchy throughout the day; if you're oiler you may need a setting powder to touch up as shine develops. The shade range caters to warm and cool tones with 28 shades available, claiming to suit 98% of the population's skin tones.

Buy online

L.A Girl PRO.Matte HD Longwear Matte Foundation, from £8.50


If you struggle with extremely oily skin and foundation slides off within a few hours, this could be a purse-friendly foundation for you. The water-like consistency goes on smoothly, but will dry to a matte finish - so if you have any flakey patches, ensure you moisturise! But if you're on the hunt for a base that stays put and lasts all day with a matte, medium-full coverage, this is one of our favourites.

Buy online

MORE GLOSS: 12 outstanding beauty products under £25

Max Factor Face Finity All Day Flawless 3 in 1 Foundation, £13.99


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, £18.99


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).

Buy online

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Join the conversation

  • zoe
  • 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

  • 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
  • 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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