20 Best Lightweight Foundations in 2023 – PureWow

20 Best Lightweight Foundations in 2023 – PureWow
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a collage of lightweight foundations with orange collageMcKenzie Cordell/PureWow,

Finding the right foundation for your skin can be tricky. You want to make sure it’s the right shade, it delivers adequate coverage and it stays on all day. While we love a full-coverage formula for special occasions, we prefer something light and breathable for daily wear. Luckily, lightweight foundations exist and we have an extensive list below to prove it. They often provide light coverage that feels like second skin and delivers a nice soft finish. Just look at our overall pick: Haus Labs Triclone Skin Tech Foundation ($45), which is loved by editors and experts alike. Want more options? We compiled the best lightweight foundations, vetted by us.

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The Best Lightweight Foundations at a Glance

1

Best Overall

Haus Labs Triclone Skin Tech Foundation

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$45 at sephora2

Best Natural Finish

Fenty Beauty Eaze Drop Blurring Skin Tint

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$32 At sephora3

Best Skin Tint

Glossier Perfecting Skin Tint

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$26 at sephora4

Best Splurge

Pat McGrath Labs Sublime Perfection Foundation

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$69 at sephora5

Best Shade Match

Rare Beauty Liquid Touch Weightless Foundation

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$30 at sephora

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Meet the Experts:

  • Sarah Tanno is a celebrity makeup artist and global artistic director for Haus Labs by Lady Gaga. She has 22 years of experience working with some of the biggest stars for red carpets, photo shoots and music videos. Her previous clients include Lady Gaga, Priyanka Chopra and Olivia Wilde.
  • Katie Mellinger is a celebrity makeup artist based in New York and Los Angeles. Her work has been featured in outlets such as Vanity Fair, i-D and W Magazine. Her previous clients include Tallulah Willis, Stephanie Beatriz and Zoe Lister-Jones.

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How We Chose the Best Lightweight Foundations

We asked PureWow editors and makeup artists to share their favorite lightweight foundations. We spent time testing each foundation for coverage, buildability, longevity and price point. We also looked at key ingredients that were lightweight, hydrating and breathable on our skin. The list also includes popular picks from Sephora, Ulta and Amazon straight from raving reviews.

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,best lightweight foundations aus Labs by Lady Gaga Triclone Skin Tech FoundationSephora

Best Overall

1. Haus Labs Triclone Skin Tech Foundation

What We Like

  • hypoallergenic
  • contains clean ingredients
  • offers long wear

What We Don't Like

  • can crease under the eye
  • not great for mature skin

Haus Labs

We are big fans of this lightweight foundation. It’s formulated with fermented arnica to reduce redness, medicinal herbs to calm your skin and antioxidants to protect against environmental stressors. We also appreciate that a little goes a long way in the coverage department. “Everyone is looking for more modern formulas and this one is weightless, clean and offers medium coverage,” says Tanno. “It’s almost undetectable and feels like you’re wearing your favorite skincare serum. My skin has never felt so good.”

Fast Facts

  • Coverage Type: natural finish
  • Shades Available: 51

$45 at sephora$45 at haus labs,best lightweight foundations fenty beauty eaze drop blurring skin tintSephora

Best Natural Finish

2. Fenty Beauty Eaze Drop Blurring Skin Tint

What We Like

  • buildable formula
  • transfer-resistant
  • Black-owned

What We Don't Like

  • not great for combination skin

Fenty Beauty

Quick question: Is there anything that Fenty Beauty can’t do? When the Eaze Drop launched, it quickly became a favorite among makeup wearers. The buildable formula features a HydraBlend complex that offers light-to-medium coverage and promises to leave your skin smooth without creasing throughout the day. With 1,000 5-star reviews, shoppers say it’s breathable, feels like second skin and can cover most blemishes/dark spots.

Fast Facts

  • Coverage Type: natural finish
  • Shades Available: 25

$32 At sephora$35 at ulta,best lightweight foundations glossierGlossier

Best Skin Tint

3. Glossier Perfecting Skin Tint

What We Like

  • offers sheer coverage
  • cruelty-free

What We Don't Like

  • watery formula

Glossier

This skin tint is the ultimate choice for non-makeup wearers who want a little bit of coverage. Its lightweight formula contains diamond powder, which gives a brightening effect while minimizing the appearance of pores. It also features glycerin to keep your skin nice and moisturized. We love that it can blur our minor imperfections, without feeling at all heavy. One editor noted, “I don’t expect it to cover pimples, but it does cancel out redness nicely and I find it helps my concealer blend in more seamlessly with my skin.”

Fast Facts

  • Coverage Type: radiant finish
  • Shades Available: 12

$26 at sephora$26 at glossier,best lightweight foundations pat mcgrath labs sublime perfection foundationSephora

Best Splurge

4. Pat McGrath Labs Sublime Perfection Foundation

What We Like

  • hydrating formula
  • offers medium coverage
  • Black-owned

What We Don't Like

  • pricey
  • watery formula

Pat McGrath Labs

Pat McGrath Labs reigns supreme in the makeup space and this foundation offers clear evidence as to why. We found it’s super lightweight, easily buildable and blends effortlessly with some moisturizer. With over 1,000 5-star reviews, the Sublime Perfection Foundation builds from sheer to medium coverage. Its creamy formula (featuring polymers, amino acid pigments and diamond powder) also makes blending the product a breeze for the most natural finish.

Fast Facts

  • Coverage Type: natural finish
  • Shades Available: 33

$69 at sephora$69 at ulta,best lightweight foundations rare beautySephora

Best Shade Match

5. Rare Beauty Liquid Touch Weightless Foundation

What We Like

  • great for oily and combination skin
  • offers medium coverage

What We Don't Like

  • not buildable

Rare Beauty

If you’ve ever had a tough time finding a foundation match, Rare Beauty can help. It has 48 shades and a serum-like consistency that has a forgiving application and finish. We found it was a great pick for dry skin and matches well with all skin tones, especially those with dark skin. Plus, the nourishing formula includes lotus, gardenia and water lily to smooth and blur your skin without clogging your pores.

Fast Facts

  • Coverage Type: natural finish
  • Shades Available: 48

$30 at sephora$30 at kohl’s,best lightweight foundations kosasKosas

Best for Dry Skin

6. Kosas Revealer Skin-Improving Foundation

What We Like

  • contains clean ingredients
  • offers long wear
  • contains SPF 30

What We Don't Like

  • not great for sensitive skin
  • isn’t transfer-resistant

Kosas

A lightweight foundation with SPF 30 is a great choice, especially for dry skin. We appreciate that it’s packed with skincare ingredients, which hydrated and plumped our skin. The formula features niacinamide and caffeine to brighten and even skin tone, as well as squalane and hyaluronic acid to hydrate and balance excess oil. The shade range also assured we had a perfect match with our undertones.

Fast Facts

  • Coverage Type: natural finish
  • Shades Available: 36

$42 AT SEPHORA$42 At Kosas,best lightweight foundations caliraySephora

Best Clean Pick

7. Caliray Freedreaming Lightweight Skin Tint

What We Like

  • great for dry or combination skin
  • hydrating formula

What We Don't Like

  • limited shade range
  • watery formula

Caliray

This Caliray foundation just launched in 2022 and it’s already become a staple in our makeup bag. We love how it blurs imperfections and reduces redness, while gliding smoothly on our skin. While the formula can come out a bit watery at first, a good shake is all you need to do to bring the shade to life. Formulated with prickly pear extract, glycerin and natural silica, it helps even skin tone and provide a natural finish for daily wear.

Fast Facts

  • Coverage Type: natural finish
  • Shades Available: 15

$32 At sephora,Best lightweight foundations covergirl clean fresh skin milk foundationUlta

Best Drugstore

8. CoverGirl Clean Fresh Skin Milk Foundation

What We Like

  • contains clean ingredients
  • offers natural glow
  • great for sensitive skin

What We Don't Like

  • limited shade range

Covergirl

This drugstore pick offers light coverage and a dewy glow. It’s infused with nourishing ingredients like coconut milk and aloe extract to maintain moisture and plump your skin. Its vegan blend also promises a smoother, even complexion. If you’re looking for a daily foundation, this one can’t be beat. In a review of the budget-friendly pick, associate editor Chelsea Candelario raved, “Aside from how it blended well with my complexion, it felt fresh on my skin. There were times throughout the day when I forgot I was even wearing foundation in the first place.”

Fast Facts

  • Coverage Type: natural finish
  • Shades Available: 12

$12 at ulta$13; $6 At Amazon,best lightweight foundations lys beautySephora

Best for Dull Skin

9. LYS Beauty Triple Fix Serum Foundation

What We Like

  • offers medium coverage
  • great for uneven texture
  • Black-owned

What We Don't Like

  • not a long wear foundation

LYS Beauty

If you’re dealing with redness or dark spots, this LYS Beauty foundation should be on your radar. Its ingredient list features ashwagandha to reduce the appearance of fine lines, turmeric to brighten and even skin and hyaluronic acid to boost hydration. We believe this product delivers a natural finish for any occasion in your calendar—whether we’re using a brush, fingers or a makeup sponge.

Fast Facts

  • Coverage Type: natural finish
  • Shades Available: 35

$24 at sephora$24 At LYS Beauty,best lightweight foundations MAC Cosmetics Studio Face And Body FoundationUlta

Best Matte

10. MAC Cosmetics Studio Face and Body Foundation

What We Like

  • offers a radiant glow
  • waterproof
  • buildable formula

What We Don't Like

  • limited shade range

MAC

This tried-and-true pick has been a staple for celebrities, makeup artists and regular folks for many years. Formulated for all skin types—yes, even sensitive skin—the Studio Face and Body Foundation is waterproof and offers sheer coverage. We love that it’s buildable, it feels breathable on the skin and provides long-wear (for up to eight hours) without ever getting cakey.

Fast Facts

  • Coverage Type: matte finish
  • Shades Available: 7

$42 at ulta$39 At Nordstrom,best lightweight foundations smashboxUlta

Best for Daily Wear

11. Smashbox Always On Skin-Balancing Foundation

What We Like

  • offers 16-hour wear
  • buildable formula
  • transfer-resistant

What We Don't like

  • not great for dry skin

Smashbox

Whether you’re a pro or a beginner, this foundation is a great choice for daily wear. We found it’s transfer-proof and hydrating on the skin. Formulated with hyaluronic acid and adaptogens, this foundation helps balance oil production, hydrate the skin and be buildable for light to full coverage. Plus, it promises to wear for up to 16-hours without feeling cakey

Fast Facts

  • Coverage Type: natural finish
  • Shades Available: 30

$45 at ulta$45; $38 At Smashbox,best lightweight foundations trinny londonTrinny London

Newcomer

12. Trinny London BFF All Day Foundation

What We Like

  • comfortable formula
  • contains vitamin B3

What We Don't Like

  • finicky pump

Trinny London

This Trinny London foundation recently launched in September 2023 and we can’t praise it enough. First, we appreciate the shade range, which offers option even for hard-to-manage undertones (and FYI, the brand’s site has a shade finder to find your exact shade match). After testing it out, we like how it feels almost like a moisturizer as it glides smoothly on the skin. While it doesn’t cover pores and dark circles, we highly recommended this for those with tighter skin.

Fast Facts

  • Coverage Type: natural finish
  • Shades Available: 18

$50 at trinny london,best lightweight foundations charlotte tilburyCharlotte Tilbury

Best for Mature Skin

13. Charlotte Tilbury Skinbeautiful Foundation

What We Like

  • offers medium coverage
  • buildable formula

What We Don't Like

  • heavy texture

Charlotte Tilbury

This Charlotte Tilbury foundation checks all of the boxes. Not only does it feel like nothing on, but it also illuminates, smooths, hydrates and visibly minimizes pores and dark spots thanks to hyaluronic acid and rose complex in the formula. It’s one editor’s everyday foundation for a dewy glow. She explains, “It has a good shade range and it’s packed with hyaluronic acid for a dewy, moisturizing glow and it doesn’t settle into cracks or creases.”

Fast Facts

  • Coverage Type: natural finish
  • Shades Available: 30

$49 at charlotte tilbury$44 at Net-a-Porter,best lightweight foundations ilia super serum skin tintSephora

Best Skin Tint

14. Ilia Super Serum Skin Tint

What We Like

  • oil-free formula
  • contains clean ingredients
  • contains SPF

What We Don't Like

  • not great for dry skin

Ilia

Keep your pores clear and your skin glowing with this clean beauty pick. Made with plant-based squalane—a lipid that moisturizes your skin—this paraben- and formaldehyde-free tint will keep your skin looking supple, while also covering any pesky blemishes. It also has niacinamide to refine uneven tone and hyaluronic acid to plump the skin. Still not convinced? See how our editors rated the product here. We praised the tinted serum for offering a natural glow, hydrating our parched skin and offering some SPF to protect our face from the harsh rays.

Fast Facts

  • Coverage Type: radiant finish
  • Shades Available: 30

$48 At Sephora$48 At Ilia,best lightweight foundations typologyTypology

Best Everyday

15. Typology Tinted Serum

Typology

While we could bombard you with facts about this Typology tinted serum, commerce director Nicole Briese sums it up as such: “It’s light—incredibly light—and when it’s fully blended in, you can barely tell a difference between your skin and where you put it on (which is kind of the point). Normally, I like something with heavier coverage, as lighter formulas don’t tend to do much for my red spots or dark circles, but this offers a great balance, so I don’t have any complaints there. It also doesn’t pill on my uber-dry skin—something I see a lot with lighter ‘hydrating’ formulas.”

Fast Facts

  • Coverage Type: radiant finish
  • Shades Available: 6

$43 At Typology,best lightweight foundations Bobbi Brown Skin Long-Wear Weightless FoundationSephora

Best for Oily Skin

16. Bobbi Brown Skin Long-Wear Weightless Foundation

What We Like

  • 16-hour wear
  • contains SPF
  • offers medium coverage

What We Don't Like

  • it’s not transfer-resistant

Bobbi Brown

This water-based and oil-free formula works wonders for oily and acne-prone skin (because we don’t do clogged pores around here). It aims to provide a natural matte finish that won’t leave your T-zone shiny. Lightweight as it feels, it still offers impressive coverage for up to 16 hours, so your skin looks more even without feeling like you’re wearing a ton of makeup. It’s also MUA-approved, as one expert previously praised the foundation for being user-friendly, blendable and comfortable on her skin.

Fast Facts

  • Coverage Type: natural finish
  • Shades Available: 26

$54 AT SEPHORA$54 at ulta,best lightweight foundations armani beautySephora

Best for Natural Glow

17. Armani Beauty Luminous Silk Foundation

What We Like

  • oil-free formula
  • offers medium coverage

What We Don't Like

  • very light formula

Armani Beauty

If you’re searching for a no-makeup makeup look, this Armani Beauty foundation should be on your radar. Loved by celebrities (like Meghan Markle, FYI), content creators and beauty experts, this buzzy item delivers a luminous glow and a natural finish. It’s formulated using Micro-fil technology, which helps blend the product seamlessly for a buildable medium-coverage look. The foundation also promises to hydrate the skin and improve your texture without feeling greasy or cakey later on.

Fast Facts

  • Coverage Type: natural finish
  • Shades Available: 40

$69 At Sephora$69 at nordstrom,best lightweight foundations Tower28 SundayDays Tinted Sunscreen FoundationSephora

Best with SPF

18. Tower28 SundayDays Tinted Sunscreen Foundation

What We Like

  • contains SPF 30
  • great for acne and blemishes

What We Don't Like

  • not great for dry skin

Tower28

This hybrid offers lightweight coverage and sun protection. It’s formulated with prickly pear and white sage extract to reduce redness, restore moisture and protect against blue light. You’ll also find zinc oxide, which protects the skin from UVA/UVB damage. It’s editor- and expert-approved, as Mellinger explains, “As someone with eczema, I love everything from Tower28 as everything is specifically formulated for sensitive skin. SunnyDays contains mineral sunscreen, which is not only better for sensitive skin for everyday use, but better for everyday use in general.”

Fast Facts

  • Coverage Type: natural finish
  • Shades Available: 17

$32 at sephora$32 At Tower 28 Beauty,best lightweight foundations diorSephora

Longest-Lasting

19. Dior Forever Skin Glow Foundation

What We Like

  • 24-hour wear
  • hydrating formula
  • contains SPF

What We Don't Like

  • not great for dry skin
  • pricey

Dior

Looking for a day to night foundation that won’t budge or crease? Check out Dior’s Forever Skin Glow Foundation, which promises up to 24 hours of wear. Formulated with iris extract, hibiscus extract and wild pansy extract, the creamy formula hydrates, brightens and protects the skin all day. We appreciate the lightweight formula that’s buildable, reduces the appearance of pores and contains SPF 30.

Fast Facts

  • Coverage Type: radiant finish
  • Shades Available: 42

$55 At Sephora$55 at ulta,best lightweight foundations rem beautyUlta

Best Shade Range

20. R.E.M Beauty Sweetener Foundation

R.E.M. Beauty

Brace yourself, this foundation has 60 shade options (the most on the entire list), so you can finally account for your warm or cool undertones. “I have a hard time finding foundation that doesn’t look too light or too dark on my skin, so I was shocked to find one that offers an exact match, which looks like second skin,” says Candelario. We found this one to be super hydrating with skincare favorite ingredients like niacinamide, hyaluronic acid and raspberry leaf extract. We love the soft matte finish that never felt drying or cakey throughout the day. Bottom line: The formula is creamy yet buildable, which allows us to apply it for a natural luminous finish.

Fast Facts

  • Coverage Type: soft matte finish
  • Shades Available: 60

$35 at ulta$35 at r.e.m beauty,

Frequently Asked Questions

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What Are the Benefits of a Lightweight Foundation?

Whether you have oily skin, dislike the feeling of makeup on your skin or live in a warmer climate, a lightweight foundation offers light to medium coverage that won’t feel too heavy. “I always reach for a lightweight foundation because it doesn’t feel like makeup sitting on your skin,” explains Tanno. “Your skin feels lighter and breathable. It also looks softer than the full-coverage heavier formulas that just sit on top of the skin.” Plus, if you’re targeting specific concerns (i.e redness, dark spots or blemishes), a lightweight foundation may be a better choice than your go-to regular foundation.

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What to Look for in a Lightweight Foundation

The experts we interviewed gave us these three key features to look for when finding the best lightweight foundation for you.

  • Find common keywords. “Oil-free,” “buildable formula” and “weightless,” are great indicators that you picked up a lightweight foundation.
  • Look for nourishing ingredients. “Lightweight foundation will usually have water at the top of the ingredient list, as well as water-soluble actives like hyaluronic acid, peptides and fermented extracts that are highly compatible with the skin. [These formulas] absorb easily and enhance the skin-like feel,” adds Tanno.
  • Check out coverage level. Most lightweight foundations offer light to medium coverage to assure it doesn’t feel heavy on the skin and cakey after a long day of wear.

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Can All Skin Types Use Lightweight Foundation?

Short answer: Yes. However, you want to keep your skin type in mind. If you have oily skin, look for oil-free or matte foundations that will help control oil and a greasy T-zone. On the flip side, people with dry skin should look for hydrating formulas to maintain moisture.

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What Is the Best Way to Apply Lightweight Foundation?

When it comes to applying lightweight foundation, there are a few factors to consider including your skin type, texture and desired coverage. Here are a few helpful tips from our experts:

  • Apply primer before your foundation. Regardless of which foundation you choose, applying a primer first can increase its wear time. If you have dry skin, Tanno recommends using a cream-based primer, whereas oiler skin type should opt for a mattifying formula.
  • Apply a quarter-sized amount of foundation. For many foundations, a little goes a long way. Mellinger suggests using no more than 1/2 to one tablespoon of foundation for your entire face.
  • Use your fingers to apply the product. This method is especially great for skin tints and moisturizers. Tanno suggests using your fingertips and gently applying the foundation, starting at the center of your face and blending outwards, for a sheer to light coverage.
  • Or use a damp beauty sponge or brush. If you’re looking for medium to full coverage, consider using a beauty sponge or makeup brush to blend the product onto your skin. “A damp sponge will sheer out the product even more and can make any foundation appear more lightweight,” adds Mellinger.

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