Best foundations for men 2021: a complete guide to foundation for men

The instant face fix to add to your wash bag – these are the best foundations for men

Best foundations for men
(Image credit: Getty)

Good skin doesn’t happen overnight. Even in the lucky cases, the kind of face that would make a Korean boyband jealous typically requires an arsenal of bathroom big-guns and a minimum of six to eight weeks. But in a world of unscheduled video calls and last-minute invitations, what do you do when you need a quick fix?

According to professional groomer Shauna Taggart, this is when men's make-up comes in. "The idea of men wearing cosmetics is nothing new, but it's become an increasingly common way for guys to boost their confidence without much time or effort,” she says.

Of course, as with most things in life, any routine that involves a bit of beautification isn't worth much unless you've got the basics right, which means getting to grips with foundation.

"A foundation is the layer on which everything else sits, and should be what you turn to once you've graduated from using a tinted moisturiser or BB cream," adds Taggart. "They're particularly useful if you have skin that requires more coverage, such as with hyperpigmentation or blemishes."

Used alongside a dedicated skincare regime, a foundation can help give your complexion a uniform colour, hide imperfections and allow you to more easily apply products on top, such as concealer. 

Ready to ace your base? T3 went in search of the best foundations for men, and picked up a few tips to help your make-up pass the pub test along the way. We won’t tell if you don’t.

6 Expert Foundation Tips For Men

  • "Good make-up starts with good skincare. Ensure you have a clean, smooth canvas to work with by using a scrub twice a week, and find a serum designed for your skin type to apply just before the foundation.”
  • "Foundations vary in 'coverage' (how much pigment they contain) from light or sheer to medium and full. Generally, men should opt for light to medium coverage with a matte finish, which helps it remain undetectable.”
  • "When choosing a shade of foundation, always check how it looks in natural light. Swipe three shades on your jawline, wait 10 minutes then look in the mirror or take a selfie. The one that's invisible is the one for you."
  • "Remember that your skin changes tone from season to season. When this happens, you may need to use a foundation in a slightly lighter or darker shade, or mix in a small amount into your existing formula for a subtle change."
  • "Stay away from foundations labelled 'brightening' or 'illuminating'. These usually mean the product has a noticeable shimmer in them. The word 'dewy' should also be avoided as this generally doesn't work well with men's oilier skin."
  • "When it comes to putting on foundation, you don't need any fancy tools. Just use your fingers to apply pea-sized amounts across the face and then blend it into the skin. After, use a beard brush to remove any telltale buildup in facial hair or eyebrows."

The best foundations for men you can buy today:

Best foundations for men: Fenty Pro Filt'r Soft Matte Foundation

(Image credit: Fenty)

1. Fenty Pro Filt'r Soft Matte Foundation

The best foundation for men available in a huge number of shades

Reasons to buy
+Inclusive shades+Male tutorials
Reasons to avoid
-Medium-to-full coverage

Shopping for make-up is a lot like buying a suit, with the ultimate aim being to walk away with something that fits you perfectly. Fenty makes this task easy, offering 50 inclusive colour variations of its Pro Filt'r foundation, so you can find a shade that matches your skin as closely as possible. Better yet, the brand has also created a series of online video tutorials for men that you can follow at home when getting ready.

Best foundations for men: War Paint Foundation

(Image credit: War Paint)

2. War Paint Foundation

A foundation from the matcho 'men-only' make-up brand

Reasons to buy
+Designed for men+Vegan and cruelty-free
Reasons to avoid
-Limited shades

If the Marlboro Man were alive today, we'd bet our last blotting sheet he'd have a wash bag full of War Paint. Founded in 2017, the grooming brand creates make-up designed specifically for male skin, like its vegan and cruelty-free foundation which has a lightweight, buildable consistency. Is a 'men-only' make-up product strictly necessary? No. Is it a saviour for guys not yet ready to brave the beauty counter? You betcha, partner.

Best foundations for men: Maybelline Fit Me! Matte + Poreless Foundation

(Image credit: Maybelline)

3. Maybelline Fit Me! Matte + Poreless Foundation

An affordable foundation from one of the most popular brands around

Reasons to buy
+Affordable+Contains SPF
Reasons to avoid
-Coverage too light to cover large blemishes

If you want to avoid your foundation being described like a pastry, with words like "cakey" or "flaky", you need to look after the face underneath. An affordable favourite, Maybelline's Fit Me! Matte + Poreless Foundation is made with micro-powders that help to control shine and conceal blemishes, and it also has an SPF in it, so it'll protect your skin from the sun's harsh rays. Pores? Never heard of 'em.

Best foundations for men: Clinique Stay-Matte Oil-Free Foundation

(Image credit: Clinique)

4. Clinique Stay-Matte Oil-Free Foundation

An excellent foundation for oily-skin

Reasons to buy
+Good for oily skin+Doesn't clog pores
Reasons to avoid
-Requires a primer for best results

Foundation and oily skin usually go together like hot sauce and genitals. (That's not very well, in case you were unsure). Clinique's Stay-Matte Foundation is a grooming game-changer, providing a water-like formula that goes on smoothly but dries to a matte finish, with additional shine absorbers to mop up excess sebum. Layer on top of a simple primer and no one will know why you look so good.

Best foundations for men: Chanel Boy de Chanel Foundation

(Image credit: Chanel)

5. Chanel Boy de Chanel Foundation

Looking to indulge? Try this luxury foundation from Chanel

Reasons to buy
+Contains SPF+Good for dry skin
Reasons to avoid
-High price point

With concealer getting co-signs from celebrities like David Beckham and Daniel Kaluuya in recent years, it was only going to be a matter of time before designers jumped on the trend for men's make-up. Enter Boy de Chanel, which came along in 2018 offering a nourishing lip balm, eyebrow pencil and, crucially, a matte foundation that includes hydrating hyaluronic acid, making it ideal for guys with dry skin.

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