Just as the name suggests, your foundation is the solid base of your makeup look – it covers up imperfections, smooths uneven skin tone, and provides a canvas for the rest of your makeup, whether you’re heading to the office or a night out.
It would be nice if finding the perfect foundation were as easy as wearing it, but in many situations, this simply isn’t the case.
What is the best foundation for oily skin? Dark complexions? Sensitive skin that’s prone to redness and inflammation?
A simple trip down the makeup aisle can feel daunting before you even bring in the need for cruelty-free foundations.
To make things a little easier, we’ve compiled a complete buying guide for vegan-friendly foundation by skin type and makeup preference. Read below to find the perfect product for you!
List of Vegan Foundation Brands
We know that, in addition to meeting our needs for our individual skin types and makeup preferences, it’s important to choose products from companies who do not engage in cruel tests on animals.
However, we know that just because a company writes “cruelty-free” on its packaging, it doesn’t mean the product is 100% kind to animals. Much like the word “natural” on a product, there’s very little regulation as to who can use these phrases on their products and what they mean.
To make the process a little easier, we’ve compiled a list of products that are guaranteed cruelty-free and noted which skin types they’ll work best with.
This is an incredibly light weight powder, and it’s a triple threat that you can use as a foundation, concealer, and a setting powder. It contains amino acids derived from coconut and is ideal for combination skin as well as oily and acne-prone skin.
We love that it has this silky smooth consistency with different shades that match well with any skin tone. It provides really good coverage, staying true to its promise of being a versatile powder that you can use as a concealer.
What We Love
This is a light powder that you can wear every single day without getting that heavy and lumpy feeling. It’s mineral based and quite well-pigmented, so it just blends in perfectly for a natural look.
Although it may look darker on paler shades, in the beginning, it usually adapts to the skin tone as you blend it together. It lasts for a long time and comes at an accessible price, so great value for money.
Although it’s excellent for combination and oily skin, it doesn’t work as well for dry skin types. It just looks all powdery and doesn’t give you that coveted natural look.
A look at YouTube or Instagram tells you that contouring is all the rage. By using certain colors and patterns, users of these kits can slightly alter the appearance of their face shape, define jawlines, and create fuller lips, just through the application of these products.
The Aesthetica kit contains three matte powders for contouring and three illuminating powders for highlighting.
The kit also contains step-by-step instructions so that you can follow along according to your own individual needs.
What We Love
This vegan contouring kit is perfect for sensitive skin, as it is completely free of parabens, gluten, talc, and animal products. With this product, you’re able to achieve defined coverage without risking irritation or inflammation on sensitive skin.
While this kit boasts that it is useful for an entire range of skin tones from pale to dark, reviewers with dark skin noted that even the darkest tones got lost in their skin and were not dark enough to have any effect. This particular kit seems to be best-suited for fair to tan skin tones.Check Price on Amazon
Oxygenetix is the ultimate in sensitive skin care – originally formulated for burn victims; the makeup is completely free of occlusive oils, fragrance, and preservatives.
The foundation uses soothing aloe vera and is safe enough to use on compromised and sensitive skin, even after laser facial resurfacing.
The formula is non-comedogenic, hypoallergenic, and doctor tested and approved. Additionally, the makeup can be worn to the gym, or even in the pool, and will still stay without issue.
What We Love
This foundation is lightweight and perfect for skin with yellow undertones, which can be difficult to match to. While the product is lightweight and doesn’t feel heavy, reviewers note it does a good job of covering redness and skin discoloration.
Some reviewers on Amazon have noted that they received products with problem packaging – some people received a dispenser with a broken pump, or where the bottle was half-empty or dried out. This can be problematic, as the foundation is on the pricier side for a relatively small amount of product.Check Price on Amazon
Too Faced’s Born This Way foundation is completely free of oil, which makes it perfect for oily, combination, and acne-prone skin.
It boasts that it blurs the line between makeup and skin, offering complete coverage of blemishes and imperfections while feeling lightweight and undetectable.
What We Love
Users on Amazon note the wonderful lightweight feeling of this makeup – it provides great coverage, but isn’t too heavy, and is great for everyday wear.
Reviewers with redness raved about how well this product evens out their skin tone, and the foundation is available in a wide variety of colors that match to multiple undertones.
While the oil-free status of this makeup makes it a good choice for oily, combination, and acne-prone skin, it contains harsh ingredients like alcohol glycerin, which can irritate sensitive skin and dry out skin in need of hydration.Check Price on Amazon
Colorevolution’s mineral foundation is available in a wide variety of colors, from very pale to very dark. Additionally, its ingredient list contains
100% natural ingredients, making it a good choice for people with very sensitive or allergy-prone skin.
They boast high-quality ingredients, including mica, titanium dioxide, and iron oxide, and are free of parabens, preservatives, and chemical dyes.
What We Love
Pale skin purchasers rejoice! This mineral makeup is a good match for skin with warm undertones, especially on the paler side of warm.
Reviewers note that the powder is incredibly smooth, and blends well for a flawless finish. It’s also good for aging skin, as the powder does not settle into wrinkles and lines.
Some users found that this product was drying on their face, and others noted that it irritated skin, causing itching. Additionally, this is a very light coverage product, so people that want a heavier, more full-coverage foundation to completely cover blemishes and imperfections may be disappointed by this product.Check Price on Amazon
If you’re unsure of your skin type or are hesitant to commit to a single need-based foundation, Pacifica’s Dreamy Cover Serum is a perfect one-size-fits-all to start with.
The serum’s shade-matching minerals work with your natural complexion and adjust to create the best match possible, and the lightweight fluid has incredible coverage that leaves your face feeling makeup-free.
It is free of silicones, animal ingredients, petroleum, and parabens.
What We Love
This serum has moderate coverage that you can build on to go from medium to full coverage, and stays put all day.
It is a good choice for sensitive skin, as the ingredient list is completely natural and free of harsh chemicals, and many reviewers noted it improved the overall health of the skin. Reviewers also liked how well the serum matched to their natural skin tone.
Some users with more oily skin found this formula to be very oily, and combined with the oil on their face, they found the foundation did not stay put throughout the day. Those with combination and oily skin experienced the makeup “transferring” to skin and fabric.Check Price on Amazon
Things to Consider When Buying A Vegan Foundation for Your Skin Type
Oily skin is determined by genetics and happens when the oil glands in your skin go into overdrive. The overproduction of oil by these glands can create the shininess that is characteristic of oily skin.
It can be frustrating to have your makeup completely perfect in the morning, only to find a big shine spot on your forehead and chin by the afternoon. In addition to shininess, oily skin can also push the makeup off your skin, undoing all your hard work.
People who suffer from oily skin should look for oil-free liquid foundations or pressed powders containing cornstarch – these minimize oil production and help soak up excess oil from the skin.
On the flip side, dry skin, which is characterized by uncomfortable scaling, itching, and cracking, occurs when the skin does not produce enough oil, and dries out. It can occur on several parts of the body, but facial dryness can be especially problematic as it produces flaking – and no one wants a flaky face.
People with dry skin should look for a foundation that is packed with moisture and is lightweight enough so it won’t feel heavy on dry skin.
As basically every foundation shopper knows, the look of a foundation on the bottle can be completely different when it’s rubbed into your skin – for better or for worse.
Fair skin can be particularly challenging to match due to the variety of undertones that can make up pale skin, causing the same foundation to look different on multiple skin tones. Many can appear to make skin look yellow, while others can appear too ashy, and it can be difficult to cover up bluish veins and redness with little help from any skin pigment.
Pale-skinned folks who are searching for the perfect foundation will want to look for a heavier foundation with more coverage, as well as one that can “adapt” to different shades of skin, despite any undertones.
Like pale skin, shopping for the perfect foundation for dark and black skin can also prove to be a challenge. Dark skin also has many different kinds of undertones, with yellow and red being the most common undertones in very dark and black skin. Finding out whether your dark skin is warm-toned or cool-toned could be the key that gets you that much closer to finding the perfect shade for your face.
Beauty bloggers suggest that those looking for a foundation to match their dark skin should use the daylight to find their undertones and go from there – the sunlight will bring out the true tone of your skin and make it easier to match to a shade of foundation.
Those who struggle with acne know that foundation can be a cruel cycle – you get breakouts, so you use your foundation to cover up the blemishes. However, in many cases, the makeup makes your skin break out even worse – it can feel like a never-ending cycle that just continually gets worse.
However, there have been breakthroughs so those with acne-prone skin don’t have to worry about causing more breakouts just by using makeup.
Those with acne-prone skin will want to look for a foundation that eliminates redness and shine, but doesn’t clog pores and cause more breakouts than it’s trying to cover up.
Look for formulas that don’t contain oil, are free of any shimmer (which can make shine worse), and contain ingredients that fight the bacteria that can make acne worse.
Finding suitable makeup for sensitive skin can feel like a lot of pressure – when nearly everything you try to use on your face can make you break out or experience an allergic reaction, an experience that should be easy and enjoyable can be stressful and frustrating. People with sensitive skin – where nearly every product causes burning or stinging – should look for two magic words on their foundation: hypoallergenic and noncomedogenic.
The term hypoallergenic was coined in a cosmetics campaign in 1953 and essentially translates to “below allergenic”. This means the product is less likely to cause an allergic or irritating reaction.
Noncomedogenic means the product will not clog pores or cause blackheads. While people with sensitive skin aren’t the only skin types that need to avoid acne, those with sensitive skin should take special care to avoid acne, as acne products can be especially stressful to skin.
People with sensitive skin have better luck with makeup that has organic and natural ingredients, as there is less potential to irritate and inflame.
Types of Foundations – Which Ones is Best for My Skin Type?
The texture of foundation you choose can also work with (or against) your skin type. Foundation comes in many forms, including liquid, powder, and cream, and each has specific benefits and downsides for different skin types.
Due to their fluid nature, liquid foundations can fill in lines, wrinkles, and pores, giving the face a smoother look while providing excellent coverage to create a consistent skin tone and hide redness and blemishes.
This type of foundation also creates a protective layer over the skin, which allows it to retain moisture. This can come in handy during the winter when skin is more likely to dry out, and in drying environments like airplanes or office environments.
Due to its superior coverage, liquid foundation is best for normal to sensitive skin, that struggles with redness and signs of aging. The protective layer provided by liquid foundation may backfire against oily or acne-prone skin, as it does not allow pores to breathe, so those with these skin types should choose another style of foundation.
When purchasing a liquid foundation, it’s important to find one that is lightweight, has added sunscreen, and does not include ingredients like mineral oil, petrolatum, and isopropyl palmitate, which can cause clogged pores and create a heavy, oily texture.
Unlike liquid foundation, powder foundations are extremely lightweight and need to be applied to the face with a makeup brush or makeup pancake.
Powder foundations are perfect for people with normal to slightly oily skin, as they can provide a smooth finish without clogging pores and irritating oil glands in the skin. Some powders include ingredients like cornstarch, which are capable of absorbing a small amount of oil. Powder foundations are also perfect to use over a daytime moisturizing sunscreen, as they can help reduce the shininess of many sunscreens.
Those with dry skin should avoid powder foundations; the powder can exaggerate even the slightest flakiness. Those with extremely oily skin should also avoid powder foundations, as they can look too thick or change color when the pigments in the foundation mix with excess oil and oxidize.
Breakout-prone skin should look for a powder foundation that includes salicylic acid, which helps dry up the oil-producing glands that cause pimples.
Made from natural ingredients, mineral foundation has the same texture as a powder but is perfect for people who struggle with sensitive skin or allergies.
While almost all makeup is “mineral” makeup, it comes down to what mineral makeup doesn’t include – which is parabens, fragrance, talc, preservatives, oil, or other harsh chemicals that can irritate skin.
When applied to the skin with a big brush, mineral makeup is lightweight and leaves skin with a smooth, flawless appearance. A larger powder or kabuki brush is key to perfect mineral makeup application, while brushes with a flat head provide heavier coverage and allow you to target specific areas. Mineral makeups also come in liquid form but are not as common as the powder variety.
When purchasing mineral makeup, pay close attention to the ingredient list, as some makeups masquerading under the phrase “mineral” might contain minerals coated in parabens or silicones, which can be drying. Always opt for the makeup that reads less-synthetic, as this will be gentler on your skin. True mineral makeup includes iron oxides, mica, and titanium oxide, while anything containing parabens, glycerin, or alcohols should be avoided.
A matte finish is a shine-free, sophisticated finish for your foundation – think Old Hollywood glamor or a smooth, Photoshop finish.
Matte foundation is perfect for people with oily or combination skin, as it reduces shine, helps control oiliness on the forehead, nose, and chin, and has a lower water content than other foundations, which helps it stay put even into the evening.
Matte finish is all about the flawless, high-definition perfection finish, so it tends to be much more high-coverage than other makeups and won’t look natural or dewy. It’s perfect for those with oily or combination skin, but those with dry skin should avoid a matte finish as it can settle into dehydrated cracks and lines, and can dry out skin that is already prone to dryness.
Cream foundations are the thickest and most luxurious foundations available.
They usually come in pots or sticks, are known for their full coverage and moisturizing properties, and have the most decadent texture.
Cream foundation should be applied with a synthetic powder brush or with your fingers, which are touted as the best tool for the job because they evenly spread the foundation on to the skin. If using stick cream foundation, you can simply paint it onto your skin and use your fingers or a sponge to blend.
Cream foundation is recommended for very dry skin due to its hydrating properties, but also for its full coverage – unlike more lightweight makeups like powder or liquid foundation, cream foundation covers redness and flaking without simply clinging to dry spots and emphasizing dry patches or other problem spots.
Like matte finishes, cream foundation provides a flawless finish for the face but tends not to look as “natural” as other, lighter weight makeups.
More info on cream foundation here.
A two-in-one product, foundation sticks can provide coverage as well as a concealer, which make them perfect for covering scars, birthmarks, and other large imperfections that other types of foundation might gloss over or accentuate. They are also great for keeping in a small handbag or clutch, as the size of the tube is compact and portable.
Foundation sticks are good for most skin types, and will be especially helpful to those who want medium to heavy coverage in their makeup, and a more matte finish. They’re also good to keep on hand while you’re out and about so you don’t have to worry about bringing your whole makeup collection with you on the go.
Wrapping It Up
A good foundation is the first building block of a vegan makeup kit – finding the perfect shade and type is important because it’s something you’re wearing on your face all day. Not only do you want to look your best, but you want to take care of your skin, too.
No matter your skin type, color, or makeup preferences, there is a foundation available that is kind to animals and your skin. If you are worried about committing to a certain type of foundation, many makeup stores will allow you to try them out first before purchasing.
With so many options available for such a wide variety of needs, there’s no need to turn to companies who choose to engage in cruel tests on rabbits, mice, and rats in order to stay beautiful. Vote with your dollars and purchase products that are just as kind to animals as they are to your face.