The best waterproof foundation
Heat and humidity are two of makeup’s worst enemies. There’s almost nothing worse than the feeling of your foundation separating and melting off onto your fingers or clothes, but a good waterproof foundation can keep your makeup looking fresh throughout the hottest, stickiest days. For example, if you want a buildable foundation with a lasting, natural finish, Dior BACKSTAGE Face & Body Foundation would be an ideal choice. Here’s how to find the best waterproof foundation to help your look weather the elements.
What to know before you buy a waterproof foundation
Give your skin extra TLC
Waterproof foundations tend to include longer-wearing ingredients that make it lasting, but also heavier on your skin. They may not be non-comedogenic, meaning they risk clogging your pores, and they stay on so well that you’ll need to cleanse your face thoroughly to protect your complexion. Try double-cleansing or use a specialized makeup remover to clean your face at the end of the day.
How waterproof foundation works
Waterproof makeup is formulated differently than standard makeup, using adhesives and other chemical compounds to make the foundation stick to skin regardless of whether you’re sweating through a 100-degree day or jumping in the pool on vacation. Polymers like silicones deliver makeup pigments to skin, then evaporate, leaving behind oil- and water-resistant makeup. These films and sealants help makeup block out water so it doesn’t dissolve or get washed away.
Coverage level varies
While most waterproof foundations tend to be heavier and provide full coverage, some waterproof foundations offer buildable, sheer-to-medium coverage for a more comfortable and natural look. Shop beyond the foundation shelf, too: Many BB and CC creams are also water, sweat and humidity-resistant, and they may offer more skincare benefits than foundation.
Waterproof foundation features
Look for hydrating ingredients
Choosing a waterproof foundation with emollients like shea butter, lanolin or waxes can help make wearing the foundation more comfortable. These hydrating ingredients contribute to the foundation's creamy texture and help skin retain moisture and feel healthier. Additional skincare ingredients, like glycerin, hyaluronic acid or Vitamin E help protect and moisturize the skin under your makeup.
Long wear time
The ingredients that make waterproof foundation so resilient also help it last a long time without looking cakey, creasing or separating. Some waterproof foundations can last more than 24 hours.
Waterproof foundations usually offer a matte finish, which is good news for those with oily skin concerns. However, waterproof foundations that leave a natural or radiant finish are also available.
Waterproof foundation cost
Drugstore and beauty retailer house brand waterproof foundations can range from $6-$15. Midrange waterproof foundations tend to cost $30-$40, while luxury and prestige brands can be $45-$65.
Waterproof foundation FAQ
How should I remove waterproof foundation?
A. What you use to wash off your makeup at the end of the day often comes down to personal preference, but for days when you wear waterproof foundation, you’ll want to make sure you have a good makeup remover on hand because your everyday cleanser may not be strong enough to wash off the sealants that make waterproof makeup so effective. Oil-based cleansers formulated with botanicals like rosehip, camellia and seed oils are great at removing waterproof makeup, but depending on your skin concerns, you may prefer an oil-free makeup remover. No matter what you use, avoid scrubbing, especially around the delicate eye area. If you have to scrub to get your foundation off, try a different makeup remover.
Is waterproof foundation bad?
A. Like most makeup, it depends on the ingredients and how diligent you are about your skincare. Many foundation formulas offer SPF protection, which defends skin cells from UV damage. Some also contain hydrating ingredients that contribute moisture to help skin maintain its elasticity and a youthful appearance. However, waterproof foundation is frequently formulated with silicones and added fragrance, which can irritate sensitive skin. Plus, waterproof makeup needs to be removed with care, since scrubbing your skin too hard can damage it.
Which waterproof foundation should I get?
Best of the best waterproof foundation
Dior BACKSTAGE Face & Body Foundation: available at Sephora
Our take: This buildable foundation is trusted by makeup artists to withstand intense situations like fashion runways and royal weddings.
What we like: It’s non-comedogenic and sweat and humidity-resistant and is formulated without parabens, phthalates and mineral oil. It comes in nearly 40 shades and leaves a radiant finish. The cruelty-free formula can be used on the body as well as the face.
What we dislike: Coverage starts out sheer, so users may need to apply a lot of product to achieve fuller coverage. It may not last as long on those with oily skin.
Best bang for your buck waterproof foundation
Our take: This comfortable foundation can stay put for up to 24 hours and costs less than $20.
What we like: Available in 40 shades, this lightweight, breathable foundation offers buildable coverage and a natural finish. It provides SPF 25 protection and is transfer, water and sweat-resistant.
What we dislike: It only offers a few shades for medium and deep skin tones. The fragrance may be too strong for those sensitive to added fragrance.
Honorable mention waterproof foundation
MAC Pro Longwear Nourishing Waterproof Foundation: available at Ulta
Our take: This medium- to full-coverage foundation can cover up redness and blemishes while resisting creasing and caking for up to 36 hours.
What we like: The formula is non-comedogenic and resists transferring, sweat and humidity. It’s made without phthalates, parabens or mineral oil. It’s available in 36 shades with four different undertones and leaves a satin finish.
What we dislike: It doesn’t have SPF protection. Some users report issues with a formula change that makes the foundation settle and apply unevenly.
Laura Duerr is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money.
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