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Which waterproof foundations are best?

After you’ve finally gotten your makeup just right, the last thing you want is for your foundation to be ruined by sweat, rain, or humidity. You need a waterproof foundation to help keep your makeup looking flawless all day, even after a trip to the beach or a dip in the pool.

Waterproof foundation is formulated to have a longer wear time than regular foundation, with ingredients that allow it to stay in place when exposed to moisture. It works particularly well on oily skin, but there are also formulas with hydrating ingredients suitable for dry skin. If you want a full-coverage waterproof foundation that feels comfortable, the Smashbox Studio Skin 24 Hour Full Coverage Waterproof Foundation is a top option.

What to know before you buy waterproof foundation

Waterproof foundation benefits

If you’re not sure whether you need a waterproof foundation, understanding the benefits can help you decide. Waterproof foundations are formulated to resist moisture so they wear longer than traditional foundations. Not only are they water-resistant, but they are also sweat-resistant, making them ideal for outdoor activities like hiking, boating, and outdoor events. 

Because they hold up so well to moisture, they are great options for inclement weather and highly humid conditions. They are also ideal for oily skin because it won’t break down or melt the way other foundations usually do. 


As with any foundation makeup, it’s essential to consider a waterproof foundation’s formula to determine whether it’s a good fit for you. Waterproof foundation is typically available in three formulas: liquid, powder and stick. 

  • Liquid waterproof foundation is the most common option and works well for most skin types. Liquids are usually thin, but have a creamy consistency and a lightweight feel on the skin. This type is best applied with a makeup brush or beauty sponge, but you can also apply it with clean fingers. 
  • Powder waterproof foundation is an excellent option for oily skin because it’s highly effective at absorbing oil. However, it generally doesn’t offer the same wear time as a liquid waterproof foundation. It’s not the most flattering option for dry or mature skin because it can accentuate dry patches and fine lines. It’s best applied using a makeup brush.
  • Stick waterproof foundation is a lightweight cream formula that usually comes in a twist-up tube. You can apply it directly from the tube to your skin, and then use a brush, sponge or clean fingers to blend it in. This waterproof foundation works well for most skin types. 

Skin type

The majority of waterproof foundations are compatible with oily skin. That’s because nearly all waterproof formulas have a matte or semi-matte finish and effectively control oil. Still, it’s essential to choose a waterproof foundation that says it’s oil-free and non-comedogenic so the makeup won’t clog your pores and cause breakouts. 

If you have dry skin, you should be more selective when choosing a waterproof foundation. The usual waterproof formulas are typically too drying and matte for dry skin. Instead, opt for a waterproof foundation that contains hydrating ingredients like hyaluronic acid and glycerin to keep your skin looking its best. 

What to look for in a quality waterproof foundation


Waterproof foundations vary in their coverage, as some cover discolorations better than others. Consider how opaque you need your foundation to be to determine the best coverage for your needs. 

  • Sheer coverage foundation is best if you just want to even out your skin tone, as it usually isn’t meant to cover discolorations and blemishes. Many waterproof foundations offer sheer coverage because the lightweight formulas dry quickly.
  • Light coverage foundations are good for covering slight discolorations and blemishes. You can find quite a few waterproof formulas with light coverage.
  • Medium coverage foundation works well for most people because it covers moderate discolorations and blemishes and helps even out your skin tone. Some waterproof foundations offer medium coverage.
  • Full-coverage foundation is essential for a truly flawless complexion because it covers up nearly all discolorations and blemishes. The drawback is that it may look and feel somewhat heavy on the skin. Many waterproof foundations offer full coverage. 


Foundation should be as close a match to your skin tone as possible to ensure you don’t wind up with a visible line between your face and neck. It can be tricky to find a foundation shade that matches not only your skin tone — fair, light, medium, tan or deep/dark — but also its undertone. 

Your skin can have warm, cool or neutral undertones. If you have warm skin, you typically look best in foundation shades with yellow undertones. Cool skin usually looks best in foundation shades with pink undertones. Neutral skin looks most natural in shades with a blend of yellow and pink undertones. 

If you’re unsure of your skin’s undertone, check the veins on the inside of your arm. You are likely to have warm skin if your veins appear greenish, while you probably have cool skin if they appear blue. If your veins don’t look completely green or blue, your skin is most likely neutral. 

Some waterproof foundations are available in more than 40 shades, while other formulas only come in four or five. In general, the more foundation shades a waterproof formula offers, the easier it will be to find a shade match. In addition to providing online swatches of the foundation shades, most brands state whether a particular shade is warm, cool or neutral in the product description, making it easier to find a match. 


Since waterproof foundation is usually worn outdoors in the sun, brands often include sun protection factor, or SPF, ingredients to help protect your skin from the sun’s dangerous UV rays. Look for a formula with at least SPF 15 to ensure that your skin is well protected.


The most important ingredient to look for in waterproof foundations is silicone. That’s because silicone helps makeup wear longer on your skin and resists wear when exposed to moisture. Common silicone ingredients include dimethicone, methicone and phenyl trimethicone, but you can identify other silicones because they usually end in -cone or -siloxane. 

If you have dry skin, you’ll also want to look for ingredients like glycerin and/or hyaluronic acid that help hydrate the skin. However, people with oily skin should avoid any formulas that contain any type of oil. 

Wear time

Some waterproof foundations claim that they last for up to 24 hours on the face without fading or breaking down. In most cases, you won’t need your makeup to last quite that long. Formulas that provide 12-16 hours of wear time are usually sufficient for most people who work or go to school all day. 

How much you can expect to spend on waterproof foundation

Waterproof foundation usually costs between $10-$50. Drugstore formulas with low- to average-quality ingredients generally range from $10-$20, while higher-end waterproof foundations with high-quality ingredients typically cost $20-$38. Expect to pay $38-$50 for a waterproof foundation from luxury beauty brands. 

Waterproof foundation FAQ

Does waterproof makeup irritate the skin?

A. Waterproof makeup isn’t any more likely to irritate your skin than regular foundation. However, if you have sensitive skin, you should check the ingredient list to ensure you aren’t allergic or sensitive to any of its ingredients. Avoid formulas with oil if you have acne-prone skin, because they can contribute to breakouts.

What’s the best way to remove waterproof foundation?

A. Waterproof makeup can be difficult to remove because it’s designed to adhere to the skin. Your usual face wash or soap may not get the job done, so it’s best to start with an oil-based cleanser or micellar water to break down the makeup. Follow up with a mild cleanser to remove the remaining foundation and any other dirt and oil residue. 

What’s the best waterproof foundation to buy?

Top waterproof foundation

Smashbox Studio Skin 24 Hour Full Coverage Waterproof Foundation

Smashbox Studio Skin 24 Hour Full Coverage Waterproof Foundation

What you need to know: Despite being water resistant, this comfortable, full-coverage liquid foundation is weightless on the skin and suitable for all skin types. 

What you’ll love: It has a matte finish and controls oil with clay and bamboo powder. It also contains hyaluronic acid and vitamin E to hydrate and soften the skin. It doesn’t crease or settle in lines. The formula is paraben-, phthalate-, talc- and cruelty-free.

What you should consider: It’s pretty thick, so blending it out may require a damp beauty sponge. 

Where to buy: Sold by Ulta

Top waterproof foundation for the money

NYX Can't Stop Won't Stop 24HR Full Coverage Matte Foundation

NYX Can’t Stop Won’t Stop 24HR Full Coverage Matte Foundation

What you need to know: This budget-friendly foundation offers 24-hour waterproof full coverage that feels lightweight and doesn’t dry out the skin. 

What you’ll love: It has a creamy formula that glides on easily. The matte finish helps keep the skin shine-free all day. It’s available in more than 40 shades. It doesn’t transfer either.

What you should consider: It dries quickly, so it can be difficult to blend. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon and Ulta

Worth checking out

Estee Lauder Double Wear Stay-in-Place Foundation

Estee Lauder Double Wear Stay-in-Place Foundation

What you need to know: This full-coverage liquid foundation provides a natural matte finish all day, even in hot and humid weather. 

What you’ll love: It feels comfortable and light on the skin, despite its full coverage. It’s oil-free and helps control oil throughout the day. It’s available in more than 55 shades. The formula is fragrance-free.

What you should consider: It’s fairly drying, so it doesn’t work well for dry skin. 

Where to buy: Sold by Sephora and Ulta

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Jennifer Blair writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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