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Hair & Makeup

7 of the best lightweight bases

The best foundation has to tick a lot of boxes – evening out skin, concealing without masking, giving a glow while still looking natural… SUZANNE SCOTT puts the best lightweight formulas to the test


Despite the current social-media trend for ‘Instagram makeup’ (typically the heavier side of full coverage), in real life, most women want something that subtly flatters skin. “A lightweight base mimics the look of real skin,” says Anna Priadka, NARS global makeup artist. “It should melt in and blend easily, so you still look like you, just more radiant and flawless.”

If you’ve been searching for a base that levels out skin tone without hiding natural texture and individual characteristics such as freckles, read on.


BEST FOR OILY SKIN Marc Jacobs Shameless Youthful Look 24 Hour Foundation

The downside of most velvety matte foundations is a heavy-looking finish, but Marc Jacobs’ Shameless has raised the game. Once on the skin, this formula settles very fast, so apply it quickly – we recommend using a Beautyblender sponge.

BEST FOR DRY SKIN Hourglass Vanish Seamless Finish Foundation Stick

Don’t be put off by the thick appearance; when this hits the skin, it blends easily into a sheer finish, making it a great option for dehydrated skin. You only need a small amount to soften redness and conceal blemishes.

BEST FOR VACATION Sarah Chapman Skinesis Skin Insurance SPF30

If you’re traveling, this is all skin needs. It contains broad-spectrum sun protection and a hint of color to even out skin tone and reduce redness, though you’ll need to apply concealer afterwards to disguise blemishes. It feels like a moisturizer, so it’s best to massage it in with fingertips.

BEST FOR SENSITIVE SKIN Zelens Youth Glow Foundation

If you have rosacea or acne, you will love how this foundation tames redness without irritating your skin further. The oil-free formula blurs the lines between skincare and makeup with collagen-boosting beta-glucans, hydrating hyaluronic acid, and anti-inflammatory antioxidants.

BEST FOR DEHYDRATED SKIN Edward Bess Ultra Dewy Complexion Perfector

This is more like a BB cream than a foundation: it provides more coverage than a BB, but shea butter makes it just as moisturizing. It has a slippery texture so it’s easy to blend into skin and creates a dewy finish. If you tend to get oily during the day, lightly powder your T-zone.

BEST FOR ALL-DAY WEAR NARS Sheer Glow Foundation

If you have oily skin will know it’s not uncommon for foundation to slip or separate after only a few hours. This lightweight base is a rare exception; it delivers a sheer coverage that enhances – but does not conceal – and won’t budge for eight hours minimum.

BEST FOR LONG-LASTING RADIANCE Kevyn Aucoin The Etherealist Skin Illuminating Foundation in Light EF01

This thinly textured foundation is so comfortable it feels as though you’re not wearing anything at all. It’s best applied with a makeup brush and then patted in with warm fingertips to even out redness and disguise imperfections. The finish is glowy without looking too shimmery.

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