9 Under-$17 Foundations The Pros Swear By

We have a love-hate relationship with foundation. On one hand, what would we do without the stuff on mornings when we wake up exhausted, red-faced, and in major need of a complexion boost? On the other, attempting to find the right shade and formula when you're standing in front of a wall of hundreds is like trying to crack a nuclear code.
Thankfully, you no longer have to puzzle over finding the right base makeup. And you also don't have to spend more than $17. We tapped Refinery editors and professional makeup artists to share the drugstore picks they love. Whatever your skin type, desired coverage, or finish preference, there's guaranteed to be one that checks all the boxes. Click through to find the perfect one for you.
1 of 10
The Expert: Andre Sarmiento, Celebrity Makeup Artist

Best For: Oily or combination skin

"I really love the Combination/Oily version of the ColorStay base. It's a luminous, matte finish that feels super-modern even after it has set, and it applies like a dream. A lot of bases at this price point tend to dry too quickly for my taste, but this one gives you so much playtime to create a flawless base. Also, they have incredibly rich colors for olive, medium, or deep skin tones."

Revlon ColorStay Makeup, $12.99, available at Ulta Beauty.
2 of 10
The Expert: Elisa Flowers, Professional Makeup Artist

Best For: Normal to dry skin

"[This] is my favorite bargain foundation because it gives incredible coverage, yet looks like dewy skin. The shade range is gorgeous, too, ranging from warm to cool and light to dark. I like to apply this product by pressing a Beautyblender onto the cushion, then buffing it onto skin. The look is natural and luminous."

L'Oréal True Match Lumi Cushion Foundation, $16.99, available at Ulta Beauty.
3 of 10
The Expert: Alix Tunell, R29 Senior Beauty Editor

Best For: Normal to dry skin

"I'm a sucker for any product that contains argan oil — and when it comes in a tube that looks like a little Moroccan palace, well, SOLD. The formula is luxuriously creamy and more full-coverage than you'd expect from a BB cream, and it gives my skin a glowy, but never oily, finish. The only downside is the two-shade range: light and light/medium."

Physician's Formula Argan Wear Renew BB Cream, $8.59, available at Ulta Beauty.
4 of 10
The Expert: Mi-Anne Chan, R29 Beauty Writer

Best For: Combination skin

"I'm a huge fan of the BB-and-CC-cream category when it comes to base makeup. Why? Because these types of products manage to hydrate and conceal while maintaining the integrity of my skin's natural texture. This one from Bourjois offers medium, but buildable, coverage, and leaves my complexion smooth and plump."

Bourjois 123 Perfect CC Cream, $16.00 available at Asos.
5 of 10
The Expert: Khalea Underwood, R29 Beauty Wrtier

Best For: Normal, combination, and oily skin

"Typically, I'm a Nars kind of girl — and rarely let any other brand's base products touch my face. Not because I'm a snob, but because I don't feel like going through the grueling process of finding a shade that's a near-perfect match. I lucked out with Iman's BB cream, however. Even though it's lightweight, it still provides enough coverage for me to feel front-facing camera ready — and it was a cinch to find my color."

Iman Skin Tone Evener BB Cream SPF 15, $20.49, available at Walgreens.
6 of 10
The Expert: Molly R. Stern, Celebrity Makeup Artist

Best For: Normal skin

Stern says this range is great for someone who needs coverage, but doesn't want to feel like they have a mask on — plus, it comes in 25 shades!

Nyx Stay Matte But Not Flat Liquid Foundation, $7.49, available at Ulta Beauty.
7 of 10
The Expert: Jamie Greenberg

Best For: Oily skin

Greenberg recently stopped by the R29 offices to test dozens of drugstore foundations, and she fell hard for this formula. It treats blemishes as it covers, is lightweight, and sets to a matte finish that's perfect for oily skin types.

Almay Clear Complexion Blemish Healing Liquid Makeup, $14.99, available at Ulta Beauty.
8 of 10
The Expert: Kelsey Castanon, R29 Senior Beauty Writer

Best For: Oily skin

"Despite the fact that this oil- and- fragrance-free formula was designed with color-matching technology to adjust to your perfect shade, it doesn't hurt that the line also has 33 shades — juuust in case."

L'Oréal True Match Super Blendable Makeup, $9.99, available at Ulta Beauty.
9 of 10
The Expert: Samantha Sasso, R29 Beauty Writer

Best For: Combination skin

"This long-wearing, semi-matte formula is essentially the foundation version of the brand's liquid lipstick. Not only does it dry to a natural finish — matte where necessary — but it offers the kind of coverage that requires zero concealer. And for those reasons, my combo skin is sold."

Maybelline Super Stay Full Coverage Foundation, $11.99, available at Ulta Beauty.
10 of 10
Like this post? There's more. Get tons of beauty tips, tutorials, and news on the Refinery29 Beauty Facebook page. Like us on Facebook — we'll see you there!

More from Makeup


R29 Original Series