Lightweight Foundation for Sheer Coverage and Natural Radiance

Curated by Claudia Shannon / Research Scientist / ishonest

The best lightweight foundation will punch well above its weight. If you're looking for a sheer base your top priority is likely to be a formula that looks and feels light on the skin. But a great low-coverage foundation can offer so much more besides that, with skincare ingredients, SPF, and a variety of finishes from dewy and glowing to a soft-focus blur or velvety matte.

There are plenty of reasons a light formula might be the best foundation for you right now. You might be a fan of a natural makeup look, and feel a sheer base compliments your nude lipstick or makes a breezy canvas for the skin-perking powers of the best cream blush. Or perhaps you like to switch to a lighter base for lazy Sundays, trips away or warmer days.

Whatever the reason you're seeking the best lightweight foundation, we've got you covered. Our recommended tinted moisturizers balance skincare ingredients with makeup pigment and have buildable bases that can be layered up for medium coverage on the days you need it. And there are also silky-smooth lightweight foundations, for a little extra coverage. Whether you have dry, oily, blemish- prone or sensitive skin there is a no-fuss light makeup base perfectly suited to your skin type and cosmetic desiresand this guide will help you find it.

How we tested and selected the best lightweight foundation

Narrowing down the very best lightweight foundation isn't as simple as finding your foundation match and rubbing a drop of it into the back of your hand. There is a lot to consider, including ingredients, finish, skin types, and even packaging.

The starting point for us was the texturethis is the best lightweight foundation guide after allso every product included should feel, at best, completely invisible and at least, extremely comfortable on the skin. The next consideration was finish. There is a whole spectrum of looks that can be achieved within the remit of light makeup bases. This includes a very sheer high-glow finish, which lends itself to the best foundations for dry skin, and more robust formulas that dry down to a soft matte finish, which will fit the bill for oily and combination skin types.

Every foundation here had its ingredients list thoroughly scrutinized, with skincare actives and base liquids assessed, then each was applied to the face and worn for at least a day, often several. Many formulas promising superlative lightweight coverage look great at first but don't withstand real-life wear, making longevity as important a factor as first impressions.

Finally, a close eye was paid to packaging and value for money. Comparing a 60 foundation with one that costs 9.99 isn't apples for apples, so the cost to performance ratio was carefully considered. The same goes for packaging. A fancy glass bottle is all well and good on a dressing table or in a drawer, but if you want the best lightweight foundation for a gym bag or travel, a nifty tube is likely to be your best bet. Luckily, due to an abundance of options of light foundation, tinted moisturizers et al, there is a bottle, budget, formula and finish to suit everyone.

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