Foundation is a polarizing topic. As with other touchy products like
liquid eyeliner and red lipstick, some makeup wearers love it, some can’t stand it, and some fall somewhere in that zone of ambivalence. I happen to identify with the latter group, as I adore a full face of makeup right down to the perfect foundation but could just as easily skip that step in my day-to-day regimen.
What matters most to me is that any formula I’m wearing, whether all day or for just a couple of hours, needs to feel lightweight on my skin. We’ve all experienced heavy, cakey foundation that might look nice in photos but is an absolute nightmare to wear. It smudges, it transfers, and sometimes you can actually feel it clogging your pores. (No thank you!)
Even if full coverage is your goal, lightweight formulas can get you there. There are tons of gorgeous, weightless options that deliver impressive pigment and still feel like you’re not even wearing makeup. Ahead, check out our edit of the 16 best lightweight foundations that both makeup artists and editors praise.
This lightweight, full-coverage foundation also multitasks as a physical sunscreen, a brightening color corrector, a hydrating anti-aging serum, a smoothing primer, a dark-spot concealer, and a moisturizing day cream. In just one step, you get the look and feel of a full skincare, foundation, and concealer regimen. Whenever I ask my fellow beauty editor, Erin Jahns, for her favorite foundations, this one is always at the top of the list.
These liquid drops are super light and airy on the skin, so it’s kind of hard to imagine how Catrice has managed to pack them with such full-coverage pigment. Celebrity makeup artist Mai Quynh has been known to keep it in her rotation, too.
Celebrity makeup artist Georgie Eisdell is a fan of this foundation and has been known to use it on her A-list clientele including Gwyneth Paltrow, Florence Pugh, and Anya Taylor Joy. This oil-free gel-cream formula is bold and bouncy to the touch. The tiniest bit of product goes an extremely long way, so you can stretch it super thin for medium coverage or layer a bit more for a weightless full coverage.
This silky-smooth, organic, cold-centrifuged, coconut oil–based foundation is lightweight, stretchy, and, best of all, totally clean.
We love when a foundation touts its best qualities right in its name and lives up to it. This foundation is indeed weightless and also leaves your skin totally luminous, as promised.
Here’s another all-natural option that delivers a blurred, velvety finish that looks more like perfect skin than makeup. It’s so subtle in its coverage that celebrity groomer Marissa Machado has even admitted to using it on her male clients Nick, Joe, and Kevin Jonas.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: This affordable foundation seriously holds its own against the more expensive formulas. It’s buildable, soft, glowy, and completely weightless. I can’t say enough good things about it.
I’ve never met a Kevyn Aucoin foundation I didn’t like, and this one is no different. The name says it all. It offers the most gorgeous, weightless medium coverage; feels hydrating on the skin; and delivers an ethereal glow that stays put all day long.
Beauty editor Erin Jahns is a bona fide foundation encyclopedia (trust me—I’ve picked her brain more times than I can count), and this is another lightweight foundation she always calls out for its soft, dewy effect on the skin. It’s actually formulated to leave your skin looking as if you just treated yourself to a luxurious facial.
Fenty Beauty’s Blurring Skin Tint provides lightweight coverage that’s somewhere between a tinted moisturizer and a foundation. Its flexible formula is easy-to-apply and seamlessly blends to even out your complexion.
Added pseudo-ceramides make sure this formula stays soft and hydrating on the skin for up to 18 hours. You won’t catch it cracking or drying out, and you can apply it anywhere on the body that needs a little refining.
I’m no drugstore-foundation snob, but it still has to be said that Revlon continuously gets it right with its formulas. This one has prickly pear oil added in for an extra hydrating, glowy finish.
This hydrating skin tint feels like a thin oil-cream at first, but as soon as it dries down, you’ll literally forget it’s even there. It softly blurs imperfections while still letting your skin shine through. I love it (and so does Erin!) for those days when you just want glowy, hydrated, smooth-looking skin. See above for proof that it delivers on all those fronts. No filter required.
This cream foundation is probably the easiest you’ll ever use. All you need is warm, freshly washed fingers to get going. It’s stretchy and sheer at first, but you can also build all the way up to full coverage if you’re feeling led to do so. The best part is that the sleek metal case us re-usable, so once you make your way through the product, you can keep refilling it instead of tossing in the trash.
When we recently met Chanel Makeup Artist Kara Yoshimoto Bua, she couldn’t sing enough praises about this lightweight foundation that she used to create Saoirse Ronan’s Oscars makeup look. She loves the buildability and the blurring effect of this liquid formula and said that it helps her cover all sorts of pigment and texture on all skin types.
This bottle has been part of my beauty consciousness for a long time because it’s one that my mom fell in love with early on and still uses to this day. It dries down to the most beautiful demi-matte and can be used on the face as well as anywhere else on the body that might need a little color correcting. Up next, experts say these seven makeup cheat codes help you look more youthful. This article was originally published at an earlier date and has been updated.