Like its name suggests, water based foundations mix well with water. However, this does not mean that they are “oil-free”. Water foundations are a thick liquid that pours out easily from its bottle and some of them contain oils and other slip agents. They are great for women with dry skin as they provide excellent moisturization functionality.

Good Water Based Foundations

In my professional makeup career, I have tried and use many different types water foundations. Here is a list of the ones that are the best:

RankImageFoundation NameKey Features
1Glam Air Airbrush Water-based Foundation
(Best used with Airbrush)
- 5 Shades
- Normal To Oily Skin
- Lightweight
- Non Cakey
2Belloccio Airbrush Makeup Foundation
(Use With Airbrush)
- 16 Shades
- Dermatologist Tested
- Oil free
- Fragrance Free
- Paraben Free
- Non-Comedogenic
- Medium Coverage
- All Skin Types
3Too Faced Born This Way Foundation
- 15+ Shades
- Full to Medium Coverage
- All Skin Types
- Oil Free
4Aeroblend Airbrush Makeup
(Use With Airbrush)
- 15 Shades
- All Skin Types (Including Sensitive)
- Long Lasting (8 Hours)
- Medium Coverage
- Fragrance Free
- Parabens Free
5COVER FX Natural Finish Foundation
(Best For Acne Prone Skin)
- 40+ Shades
- Medium to Full Coverage
- Dry and Sensitive Skin Ok
- Clinically Tested
- Vegan
- Non-Comedogenic
- Oil-Free
- Fragrance Free
6Xtava Sheer Matte Liquid Foundation
- 4 Shades
- SPF 30
- Matte Finish
- Sheer to Medium Coverage
- Made in Korea
7COVERGIRL Clean Makeup Foundation- 12 Shades
- Lightweight
- 4 Hours Coverage
- All Skin Types (Even Oily + Sensitive)
- Medium Coverage
8Youngblood Liquid Mineral Foundation
(Best For Dry Skin)
- 10+ Shades
- Deep Hydration
- All Skin Types including sensitive
- Parabens Free
9Clinique Even Better Makeup
- 30 Shades
- SPF 15
- Oil Free
- Medium to Full Coverage
- Parabens Free
Have You Used These Before? Which Water Based Foundation Would You Recommend To Others?

You can choose up to 2 to recommend

A Closer Look At The Best 9 Water Based Foundations

#1 – Glam Air Airbrush Water-based Foundation

My personal favorites are the air brush water based foundations from Glam Air. There are a number of reason for this:

1) It is very easy to apply. It simply glides on your skin. You apply it with an airbrush which is better, faster and gives you better coverage than traditional ways of applying foundation

2)It is very light and compact. It gives you a great look without it feeling heavy on your face

3)It is CHEAP! This is one of the most affordable brands out there and you can stock up on different shades without breaking the bank.

4)Works great even on oily skin! We all know oil and water don’t mix well. However, the airbrush breaks the foundation microdroplets which allows your skin to easily absorb the water. This leaves your skin hydrated!Airbrush Kit

You have to use this product with an airbrush. The one that I would highly recommend is the Multipurpose Airbrush Kit from Master Airbrush. The kit comes with everything you need which includes a ⅛” air hose and air compressor.

This airbrush kit is suitable for users of all levels and is made of high-quality materials. You can easily adjust the pressure which is very handy when applying foundation. If you want to try something other than the old traditional way of applying makeup, this one is truly worth a shot.

#2 – Belloccio Airbrush Makeup Foundation

Like Glam Air, Belloccio’s foundations works great with airbrush kits. This foundation is oil free and fragrance free. It works fast to conceal even the toughest of blemishes. Its non-comedogenic properties ensures that your pores won’t get blocked.  When used with an airbrush kit, this foundation creates a thin and lightweight barrier on your skin. You don’t need an airbrush in order to apply this foundation. However, I highly recommend using one because it makes it easier to apply.

#3 – Too Faced Born This Way Foundation

Too Faced offers their version of a water based foundation that is oil-free and works to diffuse lines between the makeup and the skin, creating a smooth, natural, and consistent appearance. This foundation offers medium to full coverage, which works exceptionally well to cover sun damage, acne, and oily skin. One application creates a flawless and natural-looking complexion. Too Faced foundation is infused with coconut water, which works to moisturize the face as you were the product. Additionally, Alpine rose and hyaluronic acid work to brighten your skin and improve elasticity to promote a more youthful appearance.

#4 – Aeroblend Airbrush Makeup

I’m surprised not many people know about Aeroblend and their foundations. I recommend this foundation because it is long lasting and works for pretty much all skin types. Like the other airbrush foundations that I recommend, this Aeroblend foundation doesn’t require an airbrush for application (But it’s good to have). This foundation works well to cover dark spots and acne! If you’re looking for a high-quality water based foundation that can be used with an airbrush, you may want to give this one a try.

#5 – COVER FX Natural Finish Foundation

If you’re looking for a foundation that works great for acne, you may want to consider this one from COVER FX. When it comes to dealing with acne, you need a foundation that is oil-free and non-comedogenic. This foundation ensure that your hard blemishes are covered and that your skin can breathe! It has been clinically tested to work well with acne and I highly recommend it.

#6 – Xtava Sheer Matte Liquid Foundation

Xtava offers this inexpensive option for a professional quality foundation. This sheer matte foundation contains SPF 30, which works to protect your skin from damaging UV rays. This product works to give you flawless skin that lasts all day without becoming oily. Xtava Sheer Matte Liquid Foundation works extremely well at covering dark spots and creating a consistent appearance across varying skin tones. This product goes on and creates an all-natural and light coverage that lasts. This water based foundation is also lightly scented, leaving your skin feeling fresh and smooth throughout the day.

#7 – COVERGIRL Clean Makeup Foundation

Got a budget? Try this Covergirl foundation. This drugstore water based foundation is less than $10. It’s a medium coverage foundation that can provide up to 4 hours of coverage. However, I’ve found that it was pretty easy to add touch ups during the day. This foundation feels lightweight and works on all skin types including dry skin and very oily skin. If you’re interested in drugstore water based foundations, check out my section on this topic here.

#8 – Youngblood Liquid Mineral Foundation

The liquid mineral foundation by Youngblood works to create an all-natural and 100-percent authentic coverage for your skin. This product provides long-lasting coverage, feels super silky to the touch when applying, and goes on smoothly without caking up. This foundation is excellent for sensitive skin and does not contribute to acne, skin rashes, or any other issues. This water based foundation can be applied by finger or with a sponge for an even and consistent finish that feels light and airy all day. Youngblood infuses their liquid foundation with deep-sea water rich in minerals and nutrients that work to hydrate your skin and leave an attractive radiant appearance.

#9 – Clinique Even Better Makeup

Clinique’s water based foundation works exceptionally well to provide full coverage that lasts throughout the day. This product works to reduce age spots while combating signs of aging. Clinique’s foundation is oil-free and has SPF15 to protect your face from harmful sun exposure. This product has a lasting freshness that is weightless while providing reliable coverage that lasts all day long. This foundation works great for individuals with any skin tone nad it works brilliantly to smooth uneven tones.

Why Use A Water Based Foundation?

If you hate to spend the extra time to slap on moisturizers, then you should consider using a foundation that is water based. This type of foundation does an excellent job of hydrating your skin. They have superior blending capabilities and is perfect for anyone looking to blend their blushes. The oil ingredients allow the foundations to be applied evenly over on your face. If you make a mistake, it is usually easy to correct it with a sponge. The emollient of the foundation is what gives most people the nice “glow”.


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You Should Stay Away From Your Water Based Foundation If…

If you have oily skin or if your skin is of the combination type, you should probably stay away from water based foundations. Why? the oil emollients mix with the oil that is already on your skin. This creates an unnatural glow that is simply not pleasing to look at. Even if you wash your face ahead of time, the oil will eventually build up. If you dampen the amount of shine caused by water based foundations, you can try to add a bit of loose powder. The powder soaks up the oil temporarily and this reduces the shine.

A word of caution, draining your skin oil with loose powder is just a temporary solution. I do not recommend doing this often. There are 2 reasons. First, the build-up of powder on your skin clogs pores which make it very hard for your skin to breath. Second, your skin will sense that there isn’t enough oil on the surface and will try to compensate by producing even more oil. You should never condition your skin this way.

If you have oily skin and want to consider using a water based foundation, be sure to look for one that is oil free.


Silicone vs Oil Free vs Water Based

There seems to be a lot of confusion about the difference between silicone based foundations, oil free foundations and water based foundations. Hopefully, this section of the post can help some people clear up their knowledge on the difference between the two.

Silicone Foundation – Like the name suggests, these foundations uses silicone as one of their primary ingredients. Most makeup products have some kind of silicone in them. This is because the silicone helps to fill in fine lines and wrinkles in your face. It also helps your skin breathe. Silicone allows makeup to be applied to your face easily.

Next time you are at a makeup store, look for products that have ingredients such as silica and dimethicone and you can be sure that the product has some kind of silicone in it.

I would generally recommend anyone who has sensitive skin to avoid the use of silicone foundations. As I had pointed out above, silicone helps to fill in the fine lines and wrinkles on your skin. However, when it is removed from the skin, silicone foundations have a tendency to cause breakouts for people with sensitive skin. Although some good name brands like Clinique have a reputation of allergically testing their products, if you are skeptical about the use of silicone based foundations, you should definitely consider using another type of foundation.

Water Based Foundation – Look for the ingredient “Aqua” in your makeup and if it is the first item that is listed then it means that the product is made mostly of water. It tends to not stay on your skin as long as silicone ones do but one of the main advantages of using this type of foundation is that it wouldn’t clog your pores. It is great for people who have sensitive skin. My general advice is to pair this type of foundations with water based primers. MAC Face & Body / LORAC Aqua Prime.

Don’t confuse water based foundations with waterproof foundations. They are completely different things. If you are looking for waterproof foundations, check out my post here.

Oil Free Foundation – We have all learned from experience that water and oil do not mix well together. Therefore, if you have decided to use oil free foundations, you should also choose a primary that is oil free. This ensures that your makeup will last on your skin all day. Generally, oil-free foundations are used for those who have very oily skin. I have written another post on this subject. Check out my oil-free foundation guide.


List of Popular Water Based Foundation Brands

With the enormous amount of foundation brands out there, you might get quite overwhelmed by what to select. In my 15 years of experience as a professional makeup artist, I have used many different brands of water based foundations on my clients. What I have learned over the years is that selecting top brands may not necessarily be the best choice. What is important is that you must pay attention to what these brands put into their makeup. Learn the ingredients that work for your skin, not the brand.

Below is a list of water based foundation brands that are popular amongst my clients:

Belloccio – My clients absolutely love this brand. It works out for me as well because the foundation applies easily and evenly when used with an airbrush. Foundations from this brand are usually free of paraben, oil, and fragrance. The brand uses Hyaluronic Acid and Glycerin as one of its main ingredients.

Glam Air – One thing that I truly love about Glam Air is that it seems to work nicely with all skin types. Foundations from Glam Air are usually oil free. It very easy to apply using an airbrush. It’s the brand I choose when I work with new clients because I know it works. Glam Air has had a great reputation on customer service. Products feel light on the face and I have had much positive feedback from my clients. Try this brand if you are looking for a brand that simply works!

CoverGirl Ok let’s face it, not all of us have huge budgets for foundations. My younger clients usually ask me what is the water based foundation that doesn’t need an airbrush to apply, is cheap and easy to get. My answer has always been CoverGirl. Why? If you have been to a drug store in your life, you would know that this brand exists in every corner of every store. It is popular and usually under $10 for an 1 oz bottle. My clients would sometimes say that it does feel heavier than other brands. But for $10 it’s a bargain. I would suggest that you pay attention to the ingredients before going after this brand. One popular ingredient, Proplylene Glyol, is known to absorb water which may not work for some people with really dry skin.

Aeroblend – This is a great brand for people who have medium to light complexion. Like most airbrush foundation, it works with just about any brand of airbrush. What I like about them is that they offer mini sets which include different shades. Very handy when I work with multiple clients as I don’t need to carry huge bottles. Choose this brand if you like to experiment with different color options.  


Should You Use Water Based Foundation on Acne Prone Skin?

For acne prone skin, as long as your foundation doesn’t have added oil, you would be fine. This means water based foundations are ok to be used on acne skin. Some people might suggest to not use any makeup at all during breakouts. However, that is simply not possible in most cases.

Keep in mind that all makeup products will block pores to some extent. During breakouts, it’s important to allow your skin to breathe. If you choose to use a water based foundation during breakouts, make sure you select one that is non-comedogenic (doesn’t block pores) and is oil free. The best water based foundation for acne prone skin that I have tried is COVER FX Natural Finish Foundation. This foundation satisfies all the requirements mentioned above and my clients absolutely love it! 

Best Drugstore Water Based Foundations

A question that I get asked a lot from my younger clients is: “What are some water based foundations that I can get at the drugstore? Are they any good?”

Honestly, I can understand where they are coming from. Drugstores are in every corner of the city and the makeup aisle is full of products on the cheap! The drugstore is the perfect place for any girl to try out different makeup foundations without breaking the bank.

In fact, if you know what you are doing, you can pull off a pretty decent look using drugstore makeup. Brooke Shunatona at Cosmopolitan compared cheap drugstore makeup with expensive department store makeup and proved that anyone can pull off a beautiful look using drugstore makeup.

When comparing drugstore water based foundations with high-end designer brands, you will notice that ingredients are not the determining factor for the price. In fact, most drugstore foundations and department store foundations will have the same ingredients.

Here are the best drugstore water based foundations that I recommend to my younger clients:

1) NYX Stay Matte But Not Flat Liquid Foundation– This foundation is full coverage and is oil free. It works great even on pale skin!

2) Maybelline New York Fit Me! Foundation – This on is my favorite. It’s fragrance-free and doesn’t clog pores. It’s lightweight. It simply works and is cheap too!

3) COVERGIRL Clean Makeup Foundation – Very good budget foundation with lightweight coverage. I’ve not had any issues with it being cakey. It works great on acne prone skin.