Best on a Budget: Four foundations I've tried & tested | 9Lives
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These days I feel everything costs a small fortune. The other day I realised half a dozen eggs cost nearly R30! When did that happen? While I love a splurge beauty buy now and then, I simply can’t afford to splash half my salary on cosmetics. Luckily the consumer brands have come a long way with their technology and you can get some gems without breaking the bank.

I decided to start a new series on the site where once a month I will take a look at Best on a Budget buys, which will hopefully help you pinch a few pennies without compromising on your appearance.

I am always a little paranoid when buying a new foundation. Most brands have thankfully developed beyond those thick, cakey formulations that seep into every pore and fine line on your face, but now and then you still get a bad egg between the good ones and there is nothing worse than being disappointed with your purchase. So I thought I would start my series with four budget-friendly options that I had in my beauty cupboard.

These foundations are all under R300. Each has been tested on blendability as well as the best way to apply it, coverage, finish, and how long it lasts.

Since the weather plays a huge part in how oily my skin gets through the day, I’ve added the daily temperatures. On warm days my skin tends to be more oily than cool ones.

I didn’t use a primer while testing these. I only used a setting powder on my forehead to prevent my fringe from turning into an oil slick. I didn’t use any powder on the rest of my face in order to test the oil control of the product.

Here are four budget friendly foundations I’ve tried & tested


1. Almay Age Essentials Makeup in Medium Cool

Price: R269 for 30ml, Dis-Chem, Clicks & Foschini;

Does it blend easily? I found this product blends easily when you use your hands.

How is the coverage? You get medium to full coverage

What is the finish like? The first time I used this foundation I found it a little powdery and it showed some dry bits of skin around my nose. When I used it a second time I was completely happy with the finish. It has a soft, satin finish.

Does it last all day? I saw a little oiliness on my T-zone around midday but mostly the foundation lasted well. It was still looking good at 5pm. Temperature on the day: 22°C.

Shades: The Almay Age Essentials Makeup is available in 7 shades ranging from Light Neutral to Medium Deep.

Anything else? They have formulated this foundation with anti-aging ingredients like collagen, hyaluronic acid and peptides, so over time it should help somewhat with fine lines and dehydration. It also has an SPF15.

2. Revlon 2-in-1 Compact in Nude

Price: R299 for 11 g foundation and 1.3 g concealer,

Does it blend easily? I found this foundation easy to blend using a sponge. Their applicator works well but I used my Original Beauty Blender.

How is the coverage? I would say you have medium to full coverage with this one.

What is the finish like? I found it slightly powdery, with a velvet finish.

Does it last all day?  The product promises to keep your skin oil-free all day and I think it succeeded. I only noticed a little bit of oil by the end of the day. Temperature on the day: 20°C.

Shades: Revlon ColorStay 2-in- 1 Compact Makeup & Concealer comes in 14 shades that will cover most South African skins.

Anything else? I love the two-in-one element, which makes this a brilliant budget buy. The compact also has a mirror and a triangle-shaped sponge that is pretty decent.

3. Maybelline Dream Velvet Soft-Matte Hydrating Foundation in Sun Beige

Price: R139,95 for 30ml,

Does it blend easily? It blended easily using my fingertips. You can run a foundation sponge over your face to remove any excess if you find it necessary. As a side-note, I found this foundation works a lot better if you use it without a primer.

How is the coverage? Medium. Start with a little foundation and rather build to get more coverage.

What is the finish like? As the name suggests the finish is velvety. It was slightly powdery around my nose but otherwise I was happy with it.

Does it last all day? I thought this foundation lasted really well through the day. I didn’t notice any movement and my skin didn’t look oily by the end of the day. Temperature on the day: 24°C.

Shades: The Maybelline Dream Velvet foundation is available in 7 shades from Ivory to Coconut

Anything else? The Dream Velvet foundation contains a gel technology that has been whipped into the powder. This, they say, helps to blurs imperfections, mattify the skin, and also hydrate through the day.

4. Catrice 12h Matt Mousse Make Up in Natural Beige

Price: R104,95 for 16g,

Does it blend easily? This foundation was easy to blend with my fingers, a sponge or my brush

How is the coverage? I got medium to good coverage without it looking pasty.

What is the finish like? It has a matt finish but the product isn’t powdery or cakey. It looked velvet on my skin.

Does it last all day? My skin didn’t get oily through the day and the foundation stayed put. Temperature on the day: 18°C

Shades: The Catrice 12h Matt Mousse Make Up is available in four shades from Soft Ivory to Natural Beige

Anything else? I was really impressed by this foundation. It looked natural, gave good coverage and lasted well through the day. The only disappointing element is the shade range, which is only fit for light to olive skin.

Did you enjoy this post? And would you be interested in more Best on a Budget articles? What would you like me to test next? Please pop any requests or recommendations in the comments below. I would love to hear from you. 


I am a lifestyle blogger from Cape Town trying to find the best ways to spend my time, take care of my body and express myself. I am slightly obsessed with fragrances, sneakers, Jamie Oliver and Masterchef Australia. Oh, and I probably drink way too much wine.

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