Our Editors Reveal Their Favorite Liquid Foundations Of All Time

The number of sticks, powders, and liquid foundations that regularly flood the New Arrivals section can be overwhelming — even for us beauty editors. It seems like just when you were ready to spend your coins on the hottest new launch, another buzzy formula was stealing the show on Instagram. With so many new things getting hyped on the internet, it can be hard to know which launches are actually going to work. That's when we thank the stars for our tried-and-true formulas.

These all-time favorites have earned a permanent spot in our collections. Any new formula we try has to match or surpass the standards these holy-grail options set, and they are the ones we turn to when a new foundation disappoints.


Because we're not ones to keep rave-worthy products to ourselves, we've decided to reveal the liquid foundations we're in committed relationships with — including the 2020 Beauty Innovator Award winner we've relied on throughout quarantine. Check them out, ahead.

At Refinery29, we’re here to help you navigate this overwhelming world of stuff. All of our market picks are independently selected and curated by the editorial team. If you buy something we link to on our site, Refinery29 may earn commission.

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ILIA Super Serum Skin Tint SPF 40

"My daily makeup routine has been pared down significantly since the beginning of the year for obvious reasons, and this skin care-meets-makeup-meets-sun protection hybrid is now the star of the show — as in, it's the only thing I wear most of the time. The coverage, while lightweight, still covers the blemishes and under-eye circles I want it to cover, and the glowy finish makes me look a lot more radiant than I have any right to after sitting in my apartment for 12 straight days." — Rachel Krause, deputy beauty director
2 of 8

Kosas Tinted Face Oil

"For me, this is more of a skin-care step than a makeup one. Yes, there’s a tint — I use the shade 3.5, though I could probably go one or two shades in either shade direction because it’s so sheer — but it’s really a hydrating face oil. After shaking the bottle and dripping two droplets onto the back of my hand, I use a brush or my fingertips to press it into my face. Afterward, my skin looks and feels like my skin, just even and dewy, and it stays that way all day." — Megan Decker, beauty editor
3 of 8

Estée Lauder Double Wear Stay-in-Place Foundation

"I’ve been around the block with foundations, and few of the ones I've tried come close to Estée Lauder’s Double Wear. The cult-favorite liquid formula is my — hands-down — favorite. It completely covers my hyperpigmentation without looking and feeling like a mask. The formula stays put for hours, and I can go a full workday without looking greasy when it’s time to go home. If I could use one foundation for the rest of my life, this would be it." — Aimee Simeon, senior beauty writer
4 of 8

Pat McGrath Labs Skin Fetish: Sublime Perfection Foundation

"Ok, yes, this product hasn't been out long, but it's so good that it's already on my list of all-time favorites. I always get asked what I have on my face when I wear it. But more importantly, it leaves my face glowing, while feeling smooth on the skin. I apply it like a serum with my hands and dab a little extra wherever I need it. While it's definitely on the pricier side, I know I'd use the last of my coins on this liquid gold." — Thatiana Diaz, senior editor
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Maybelline Fit Me Matte + Poreless Liquid Foundation

"I'm lucky enough to be sent tons of foundations to test as part of my job, but Maybelline's lightweight liquid foundation is one that I'll readily shell out the $8 for if I forget to pack one when I travel or need a tried-and-true pick in a pinch. The 40-shade range is one of the best you'll find at the drugstore, and the fluid-thin texture feels amazing — and is totally invisible — on my oily skin." — Karina Hoshikawa, beauty & wellness market writer
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Cover FX Power Play Foundation

"A few carefully placed dots of this creamy foundation is enough to cover hyperpigmentation and dark spots on my skin. The best part? It never feels like my face is coated in spackle. This blends right into my complexion and is super lightweight; I almost always forget I'm wearing it." — Simeon
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Exa High Fidelity Foundation

"I never expect a new foundation to change my life, but when I tried Exa’s (actually) clean foundation, it was love at first pump. The texture is lightweight and blendable, and the coverage is exactly what I look for in makeup: flexible enough that I can add more where I need it, but still allow my real skin to shine through. Soothing ingredients and an inclusive shade range make it a true winner in my book." — Hoshikawa
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It Cosmetics Your Skin But Better Foundation + Skincare

"I've been disappointed by IT Cosmetics complexion products in the past, so I had my reservations about this new launch, but I was pleasantly surprised with this foundation-skin care hybrid. A small pump of the creamy liquid is all I needed for natural-looking, even coverage that doesn't feel thick or heavy. It's buildable, so when maskne is at its peak, I can apply more foundation where needed." — Simeon
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