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I have to say, I’m a bit of a foundation junkie. I’d be willing to test just about any foundation (cruelty-free and vegan, of course).
But, I totally get that you want to spend your money wisely and only try things that have a good chance of working for you.
Here are 9 cruelty-free and vegan foundations for $16 or less! I have written descriptions of each one, and made a handy-dandy chart at the end for quick comparisons.
I have tried some, not all, of these foundations. If I try them in the future, I will add my thoughts to the list. (For reference, I have normal-to-oily skin with occasional dry patches, depending on the time of year).
I will be updating this list as new products are released! Leave a comment and let me know what other categories you’d like to see in a list format.
The selection process.
When researching for this list, I chose only foundations with decent ratings (at least 3.5 stars) on Ulta’s website, and with at least 20 shades. 20 shades is still a pretty small range. I hope to see more brands get closer to the 40 mark.
Why $16? Well, that seems to be the magic number with drugstore-priced foundations. I was able to add a few more to the list by bumping up from $15 to $16. Drugstore brands tend to have sales and discounts more often than mid-to-high end brands, from what I’ve noticed.
If you don’t see your fave on this list, it’s either: not cruelty-free, not vegan, over $16, has poor shade range, or bad reviews. Or maybe I just missed it, let me know in the comments!
As with all products mentioned on abbyhoang.com, all brands are determined to be cruelty-free via cross-referencing Logical Harmony and Leaping Bunny.
For more information about what “cruelty-free” and “vegan” means, check out this post.
(All products are cruelty-free at the time of posting. Products followed by a * are owned by a parent company that tests on animals. See this post for more info on which brands I consider to be cruelty-free.)
9 cruelty-free and vegan foundations $16 or less.
The e.l.f. Cosmetics Flawless Finish Foundation retails for $6 and has 26 shades.
It has a natural finish, and the product description does not specify the coverage level, but my best guess is medium.
I have tried this foundation in the past. The shade I chose did not match well, so I may try again in a different shade. They have expanded the shade range quite a bit since then.
I remember a strong smell that did not seem to fade as the day went on, so maybe avoid this if you’re sensitive to fragrance.
It definitely was not my favorite foundation as I prefer more matte full coverage, but if you’re looking for a natural finish then give this one a try!
The NYX Cosmetics Born to Glow Naturally Radiant Foundation* retails for $10 and has 45 shades.
It has medium coverage with a dewy finish. It is marketed for dry skin types.
I have not tried this foundation, but am interested maybe in the winter when my skin gets drier.
The Milani Screen Queen Foundation retails for $14 and has 45 shades.
It has buildable light-to-medium coverage and a luminous finish. It also contains “Digital Bluelight Filter” technology to help protect your skin from blue light damage from screens. Milani says this is for all skin types.
I just received this in the mail and tried it for the first time today! I will update on my thoughts. So far I definitely agree with the light coverage. I found that it applied better with a brush, it was almost nonexistent with a sponge.
Edit: I have tested this foundation and it is a great option if you want a lighter coverage with a natural finish. It definitely applies best with a brush, and does not seem to cling to dry patches. The coverage was enough for most of my acne scarring but not for new spots, which conveniently appeared before I started testing it haha. Check this video on my YouTube channel for a demo! I have the shade 100 but could probably go up to the next shade.
The NYX Cosmetics Total Control Drop Foundation* retails for $14 and has 30 shades.
It has customisable sheer-to-full coverage and a velvety finish. The idea is that more drops = more coverage. It is recommended to use their Pro Total Control Drop Foundation Brush*.
I have used up a bottle of this foundation. It is a very thin, watery consistency, and can tend to settle into dry patches. But overall, I enjoyed it. I would recommend for any skin type, as you can easily mix it with a more dewy product like a liquid highlight. I did not use their brush, I used my Real Techniques Expert Face Brush.
The NYX Cosmetics Can’t Stop Won’t Stop Foundation* retails for $15 and has 40 shades.
It is full coverage with a matte finish, and is waterproof. Best for normal to oily skin types.
I have tried this foundation and can say it’s one of my favorites! It’s my go-to when I need my foundation to last all day. It can get a bit heavy, so I do not suggest it for drier skin types. NYX suggests to use it with their Can’t Stop Won’t Stop Foundation Brush*, but I generally use a sponge.
The Colourpop Cosmetics Pretty Fresh Foundation retails for $16 and has 29 shades.
It has a natural finish with buildable medium coverage. It looks best for dry skin types.
I have not tried this foundation, but I think it would only work for me in the winter months.
The Pacifica Alight Clean Foundation retails for $16 and has 30 shades.
It has a satin finish and claims “flawless coverage.” I would rate it as medium buildable.
I have tried this foundation and like it. It’s definitely not my favorite but it’s still nice. This is one of those foundations that, on me, looks better as it wears. At first, it can look a little paint-ish, but as it blends with my skin and the natural oils come through, it starts looking better and more flawless.
The Ulta Beauty Moisturizing Foundation Stick retails for $14 and has 24 shades.
It has medium coverage and a natural finish.
I have not tried this foundation. I’ve had a few other stick foundations and I must say that I’m not in a hurry to try another one. Some people prefer the formula and convenience of stick foundations. I do find that in almost every brand, they don’t have a great shade selection.
The Milani Conceal and Perfect Smooth Finish Cream to Powder Foundation retails for $10.99 and has 22 shades.
It has a soft matte finish with buildable full coverage, and is sweat-proof and waterproof.
I have not tried this foundation. The full coverage does appeal to me, so maybe if you’re needing a full-coverage waterproof foundation, this may be the one for you.
(Please note that the Milani Conceal and Perfect liquid foundation is not vegan! Milani has started marking vegan products on their website, which is really helpful.)
Choosing the best foundation for you.
I read a lot of reviews when gathering this list. It appears that many negative foundation reviews come from people not choosing the best foundation for their skin type or coverage needs.
The brand will generally list the targeted skin type and coverage level in the product description. So if you have dry skin, a foundation made for oily skin probably won’t work for you, and vice versa.
Same thing with coverage. If you get a product with light coverage, it’s not going to give you full coverage. Or, if you get a product that is full coverage, there’s a chance it will look cakey. That’s why it’s important to consider your skin type and how much coverage you want. Keep in mind that you can always add concealer.
You’ll also want to consider your application method. Some brands will specify if you should use a sponge or a brush. Certain formulas can break down with a wet sponge, or not apply as well. But most of the time, I will try a foundation with several different applications before reaching my final thoughts.
I’ve made the chart below to help you choose a foundation that has a good chance of working for you!
(In no particular order, I just put them in the same order as I listed above).
9 cruelty-free and vegan foundations $16 or less.
|Foundation||Coverage||Finish||Skin Type||# of shades||Price|
|e.l.f. Flawless Finish||Medium||Semi-Matte||Dry-Normal||26||$6|
|NYX Born to Glow*||Medium||Dewy||Dry||45||$10|
|Milani Screen Queen||Light/med||Luminous||All||45||$14|
|NYX Total Control Drop*||Any, customisable||Matte||Normal-Oily||30||$14|
|NYX Can’t Stop Won’t Stop*||Full||Matte||Normal-Oily||40||$15|
|Colourpop Pretty Fresh||Medium||Natural||Dry||29||$16|
|Ulta Moisturizing Stick||Medium||Natural||Dry-Normal||24||$14|
|Milani Cream to Powder||Full||Matte||Normal-Oily||22||$11|
Breakdown of the foundations. Suggested skin types are based on what the brand says, as well as my best guess from the formula. Products followed by a * are owned by a parent company that tests on animals.
Let me know if you have tried any of these foundations and which ones you want to try next!
I’ll be updating this list of cruelty-free and vegan foundations under $16 as I try new ones and discover more options.