Finally, inclusive foundation colours are easily available at every price point
Foundations have been available in broad shade ranges for eons. But until last year, most people weren’t talking about diversity in beauty. Then Rihanna launched her makeup collection, Fenty, which includes 40 shades of Pro Filtr Soft Matte Longwear Foundation, and women started to speak up and be heard. The complaints? They could find colours but only from pricier brands or hard-to-access locations, so while their friends could get a decent foundation from Shoppers at under $15, they would have to schlep downtown and spend $40. They were limited to sheer products because shade matching is less tricky than with medium- or high-coverage foundations. Or they had to use products that were too warm- or cool-toned so their skin looked orange or ashy.
“I never could have anticipated the emotional connection that women are having with the products and the brand as a whole. Some are finding their shade of foundation for the first time, getting emotional at the counter,” Rihanna told Time magazine a few months after Fenty launched.
As the months have gone on, the beauty industry has reacted. Premium brands are further increasing the number of shades they’re offering—M.A.C has just set the new standard with a collection of 64. Lancôme has even developed a foundation where you can get your perfect shade blended for you at the counter, though it’s not available in B.C. yet. Drugstore favourites are expanding their ranges too, so everyone has the same choice at every price.
Here are seven foundations to try...
1. Maybelline New York Fit Me! Matte + Poreless Foundation
You can now get this long-lasting, oil-free, medium-coverage foundation in 40 shades, up from 16. It contains micro-powders that control shine and make pores appear smaller, though you may still need a primer underneath for a truly flawless finish.
$9.99, at drugstores and mass-market retailers
2. Covergirl Trublend
This matte, full-coverage foundation is now available in 40 shades, up from 14. Colours are evenly weighted into four categories—light, medium, tan and deep—meaning there’s genuinely a good spread of shades for all skin tones. Transfer-resistant, comfortable and long-wearing, it covers everything from redness to zits without looking mask-like.
$13.99, at mass-market retailers
3. NYX Can’t Stop Won’t Stop Foundation
Super matte, but not drying, and lightweight but full coverage, this foundation comes in 45 shades curated by Youtube star Alissa Ashley. It’s waterproof, transfer-resistant and long-wearing—up to 12 hours without streaking or changing colour.
$18, at NYX stores and selected drugstores
4. M.A.C Studio Fix Fluid Foundation
This Canadian-born brand deserves huge kudos for being inclusive before it was cool. Previously available in 42 shades, this foundation now comes in 64 options so there’s definitely one to suit your skin tone. It’s matte, buildable and has an SPF15. M.A.C has also extended its shade range of powders, concealers, and contour/correction palettes.
$35, at M.A.C locations, Mac and Sephora
5. Fenty Pro Filtr Soft Matte Longwear Foundation
This foundation gives medium to full coverage with a finish that’s matte, but not flat. Light, long-wearing and oil-free, it’s supposed to resist sweat and stay colour true all day, though some reviewers have said that it oxidizes and gets darker over time. It comes in 40 shades.
$42, at Sephora
6. Estee Lauder DoubleWear Stay-in-place Makeup
The best long-wear foundation out there now comes in 56 shades. It doesn’t make darker skin tones look grey or ashy, lasts at least 12 hours without oxidizing, and gives a flawless matte finish.
$50, at Estee Lauder locations, Estee Lauder and Sephora
7. Face Atelier Ultra Foundation
Rather than adding umpteen shades to its range, this Canadian brand has 13 colours and five ‘adjusters’ that you add to the medium, buildable foundation to lighten, darken, warm or cool it. Yes, you may need to buy more than one product and figure out how to mix them (a trip to one of Face Atelier's IRL retailers is recommended for this), but afterwards you’ll have makeup that perfectly matches your skin tone, and will be able to adjust it yourself if your skin tone changes with the seasons.
$52, at Face Atelier and selected retailers