Most of us already protect our skin with SPF and antioxidants, but the best foundations also provide another tool in your anti-pollution armory. A well-chosen base not only enhances the skin but creates a physical barrier to shield against pollution, along with a cocktail of active ingredients designed to fight its effects. These are the bases to buy for great coverage in the city, whether your skin is oily, dry or everything in between.
Best everyday foundation Westman Atelier Vital Skin Foundation Stick
Despite stick foundations having been around for decades, they cannot be beaten when it comes to a speedy application. This foundation created by Westman Atelier is a favorite because it’s easy to apply without a brush and doesn’t cake skin in pigment like a traditional stick foundation. It’s formulated around a coconut oil and camellia-seed oil blend, giving it a silky, creamy texture that melts into your skin without settling into fine lines and creases. We prefer to pat it on with a fingertip, and always keep it in our purse for quick touch-ups during the day.
Best foundation for dry skin La Mer The Soft Fluid Long Wear Foundation SPF20
Nothing makes skin look as juicy with moisture as this foundation. Its texture lands somewhere between oil and water and, although it applies sheer, it’s incredibly effective at toning down redness and any blemishes you might have. It makes skin feel silky and smooths dehydrated complexions without accentuating dry and flaky patches. We love that it can conceal former breakout marks but still allows freckles to shine through, which is no mean feat.
Best foundation for all-day coverage Charlotte Tilbury Airbrush Flawless Foundation
Lightweight and long-wearing aren’t qualities that normally work well together in foundations, but that’s exactly what you get with this hero product. Despite being full-coverage, transfer-resistant and waterproof, this formula feels virtually non-existent on skin. You can expect a lot of pigment in just a few drops, too, so it easily blends out redness, blemishes, enlarged pores and patches of excess pigmentation. Also good: this extensive collection contains 43 shades, with a range of undertones available, so there’s a match for everyone.
Best to even out skin texture Pat McGrath Labs Skin Fetish: Sublime Perfection Foundation
When you have a foundation that delivers long-wear, buildable coverage and treats skin like a skincare product, you know you’re on to something good. This customisable foundation contains hyaluronic acid and ceramides – two things you’re likely see in your serums – to help hydrate skin and strengthen its protective barrier. Meanwhile, the silky, slightly blurring formula smooths uneven texture and applies sheer but builds up to full coverage – allowing you to apply a little more where you need it. There are 36 shades, with multiple undertones.
Best foundation for oily, breakout-prone skin Chantecaille Future Skin Oil Free Gel Foundation
Great for skin that becomes congested easily, Chantecaille’s luxe, modern foundation offers a more flattering alternative to the overly matte offerings out there. The water-based gel formula balances oil but leaves skin dewy. Infused with green tea, a potent antioxidant to fend off city air, it offers a coverage that’s as protective and velvety as it is luminous.
Best foundation for combination skin Natura Bissé The Cure Sheer Oil-Free Fluid
Natura Bissé’s fluid base balances oil production (it’s oil-free, so won’t exacerbate breakouts) and is infused with hyaluronic acid. This drip-feeds skin with moisture, stopping it from looking dull (often the problem with oil-balancing foundations), while also plumping out and softening fine lines. Plus, it has watercress extract to eliminate impurities.
Best for city skin Elizabeth Arden PREVAGE® City Smart SPF50 Hydrating Shield
Elizabeth Arden has developed a tinted moisturizer for the 21st century, protecting complexions from urban environments with a combination of SPF50, antioxidants and anti-aging ingredients that also strengthen skin’s natural resilience. In a universal shade that suits most, if not all skin tones, it creates a blurring effect and can be worn alone or as a base underneath foundation.
Best foundation for uneven skin tone Hourglass Vanish Seamless Finish Foundation
When sun and pollution combine, uneven patches of skin pigmentation can increase threefold. This waterproof cream formula from Hourglass has double the amount of pigment for truly great coverage in just a few swipes. It won’t specifically protect skin from city air (so make sure you prime first with an SPF), but it is one of the best on-the-go foundations out there, and the high pigment content means it doubles as a concealer when layered.
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