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Best foundation for combination skin 2023: The best liquid, powder and stick foundations from £13

We've rounded up the best foundations for combination skin, for a perfect complexion

An oily T-zone and dry patches on the cheeks are the trademarks of combination skin, and can make it tricky to find a good foundation. Get it wrong and you’ll wind up with whole areas that get no real coverage while other parts look cakey and powdery. So we’ve been on a mission to find you the best foundations for combination skin, which will stay looking good throughout your day.

Be sure to apply your foundation on top of a primer to guarantee a long-lasting finish. And do read our buying guide for more information on the different types of foundation available.

How to choose the best foundation for combination skin

Don’t all foundations suit all skin types?

No. Matching the right foundation to the right skin type is essential when buying foundation. Just because a foundation looks great on a model or friend, doesn’t mean it will be right for your skin. And since combination skin is the most challenging for which to find a match, it’s particularly important to do your homework first.

What are the different types of foundations?

Matte-finish liquid foundation – These have a lightweight texture and are easy to blend for buildable coverage. They’re well suited to blemish-prone skin, but some of them can exaggerate flaky skin or wrinkles – and if you attempt to remedy it after the product has set, you could wind up with streaking.

Moisturising liquid foundation – Having a satin or satin-matte finish, these foundations provide light to medium coverage. Great for achieving a natural look, they hydrate skin too without leaving it feeling greasy. Overall, we reckon they’re better for normal to dry skin, rather than combination skin, since the moisturising finish can make an already-oily T-zone look even shinier.

Anti-ageing and serum foundations – These formulas provide great coverage for all skin types – and, better still, they claim to counter the signs of ageing too. But don’t take too much notice of all the hype: manufacturers often make grossly exaggerated claims.

Pressed powder or loose powder foundations — Having a lightweight feel, powder foundations provide a convenient way to get a smooth finish when you’re out and about. But they’re only good for low-level combination skin – that is, slightly dry, normal or slightly oily skin areas. Very oily skin can result in the powder gathering around pores, and very dry skin can wind up looking even drier. Also, be aware that applying the powder over existing foundation can end up with skin looking cakey.

Powder foundations – These are easy to blend with a brush or sponge and set to a semi-matte or powdery finish. Some work very well for combination skin, but it’s essential to pick the right one; they can look heavier than other types of foundation and can exaggerate the shine or dryness.

Stick foundations — Sticks are great for hiding imperfections, especially for touch-ups on the go. But, be warned: some have a very thick, waxy texture that can look heavy and lead to clogged pores. They can be difficult to spread, too.

How we test foundation for combination skin

At Expert Reviews, we know that hands-on testing delivers the most complete understanding of a product. As such, we personally test all of the foundations in the roundup, either at home or in-store, and on more than one skin type wherever possible.

We first note the formulation of the foundation and then use it as directed with fingers, a beauty blender or a brush. We note the range of colours available, the pigmentation, and coverage of the product and pay close attention to how well the foundation builds and blends with additional layers. We wear the foundation for a day and note any issues with caking, dryness or patchiness, and check how long a single application of foundation lasts through the day on all areas of the face. We also note how comfortable the foundation feels on the skin, the fragrance of the product and the overall ease of use.

READ NEXT: Best full-coverage foundation

The best foundations for combination skin you can buy in 2023

1. bareMinerals Matte Foundation: Best powder foundation for combination skin

Price: £27 | Buy now from Feel Unique 

This award-winning foundation absorbs excess oil and eliminates shine for a smooth, lasts-all-day finish – without leaving dry areas looking cakey. It eradicates the appearance of pores and yet it feels surprisingly lightweight. It’s a hugely popular option among people with combination skin because the powder formula allows for buildable coverage in oily spots, while you can go easy on the drier areas. Plus, with SPF15, you get a bit of sun protection thrown in for good measure. Swirl a small amount of the powder in the lid until it disappears into the brush, tap away any excess before buffing into the skin in circular movements.

Key specs – Foundation type: powder; Finish: matte; Quantity: 8g; Number of shades available: 2

Buy now from Feel Unique

2. Estée Lauder Double Wear Stay-In-Place Makeup: Best foundation for combination skin

Price: £33 | Buy now from Look Fantastic 

This comes with a 15-hour promise, which we have to admit we were a little sceptical about. But low and behold – it works, providing a flawless, matte finish throughout the day and evening, without being so thick it looks unnatural. And if you do want to add a little pressed powder towards the end of those 15 hours, you can happily do so without fear of caking or clogging. It doesn’t transfer onto clothing, either – a major bonus, in our opinion. With an SPF10, there’s some sun protection, too. Our top tip: be sparing – a little goes a long way.

Key specs – Foundation type: liquid; Finish: matte; Quantity: 30ml; Number of shades available: 44

Buy now from Look Fantastic

3. Revlon ColorStay Makeup for Combination Skin: Best value foundation for combination skin

Price: £13 | Buy now from Boots

This great-value liquid foundation offer a matte – but not overly matte – finish that lasts all day. It’s been specially formulated for combination skin, but we found that it was slightly drying, making it better for combo skin that’s on the oilier side. For example, if you struggle to get foundation to sit on an oily T-zone because it practically slides off your nose, this is a great option as it sticks without clogging or caking. At not much more than a tenner, Revlon’s ColorStay foundation offers great value, performing better than some foundations at four times its price. If you’re lucky, you could pick it up on a “buy one bottle, get the second for half price” deal – even better!

Key specs – Foundation type: liquid; Finish: matte; Quantity: 30ml; Number of shades available: 22

Buy now from Boots

4. Oxygenetix Oxygenating Foundation: Best foundation recommended by dermatologists

Price: £47 | Buy now from Amazon

Award-winning – and often recommended by dermatologists – Oxygenetix makes some brilliant products for combination skin, including this oil-free foundation. It contains aloe vera to match the skin’s natural pH and a breathable ‘ceravitae’ formula to increase your skin’s oxygen intake. As a result, not only does this foundation look better on combination skin, but it feels better and is better for it too. We found it smooth on the skin, with good coverage that lasted well. The brand’s Acne Control Foundation is excellent too, with salicylic acid to fight acne while providing decent coverage. All Oxygenetix products are hypoallergenic, so won’t cause irritation if you have sensitive skin – but you do pay through the nose for it.

Key specs – Foundation type: liquid; Finish: matte; Quantity: 15ml; Number of shades available: 14

5. Charlotte Tilbury Magic Foundation: Best foundation for combination skin with SPF

Price: £32 | Buy now from John Lewis

It’s a bold claim to call your foundation “magic”, but Charlotte Tilbury – make-up artist to stars including Kate Moss and Kim Kardashian – has every right with this gorgeous offering that took five years to research and develop. Incredibly, it works for all skin types, skin tones and ages, and it provides decent coverage (on blemishes, too) yet feels lightweight and natural. Charlotte claims this foundation to feel like a second skin, and while such comments are easy to brush off, on application that’s exactly how it feels – and it lasts too. With an SPF15, you get some sun protection too, making it particularly good for the summer.

Key specs – Foundation type: liquid; finish: matte; quantity: 30ml; number of shades available: 12

Buy now from John Lewis

6. Tom Ford Traceless Foundation Stick: Best foundation stick for combination skin

Price: £66 | Buy now from John Lewis

We warned you in our buyer’s guide above that stick foundations often aren’t usually much cop for combination skin, since the thick, waxy texture can look heavy and lead to clogged pores. But there’s always an exception to the rule, and Tom Ford’s Traceless Foundation Stick is it. You can use this formula as a foundation or a concealer for a flawless, long-lasting matte finish that stands out above all others for being so versatile. Want a lightweight, “I’m not wearing any foundation” look, then use a little; if you want full-on, airbrushed evening glamour then pile it on without worry of it clogging up pores and looking heavy.

Key specs – Foundation type: stick; Finish: matte; Quantity: 15ml; Number of shades available: 20

Buy now from John Lewis