The 3 Best Lightweight Foundations I've Tried, Ranked

Finding the right foundation isn't easy.
Publish date:
October 19, 2014
clinique, foundation, L'oreal, yves saint laurent

Cosmetically speaking, I feel like I’ve finally come full circle since I started experimenting with makeup at age 11, when I began a short-lived but thrilling life as a tween model.

This was around 2000, when trends and photo lighting dictated that foundation and powder be piled on “cake style.” I don’t know whose idea it was to convince an 11-year-old that she needed to spend an hour applying makeup to be “pretty,” but hey, I got over it.

By the time puberty was finished with me, so was modeling and I moved on, diving head-first into more theatrical realms, where stage and costume makeup took over where photoshoot makeup left off. When I finally stopped doing ALL of that, I sort of left makeup behind for a bit, too.

These days I tend to focus on skin care and good hair instead of a “done” face, but lately I’ve felt like its time I came back around to foundation. I think most people could do with lighter coverage, and I also firmly believe (at least for my own skin) that wearing foundation every single day can have adverse effects on skin. But, for photography and fancy events, foundation is great and useful.

I wanted a lightweight foundation with more coverage than a BB or CC, because I get blemishes on occasion. Mostly I just needed to even out my skin tone and provide a solid base to work off of. I’ve been testing out all kinds of foundations for a few months now, and here are my top three contenders for my new go-to foundation.

Third Place: L’Oreal Paris Magic Nude Liquid Powder Bare Skin Perfecting Makeup

I picked this up a few months ago after seeing it on some blogs. I will pretty much buy anything with the word “magic” in the name. The liquid to powder aspect of this stuff is pretty neat. The coverage is lightweight, but because you have to apply it with your fingers rather than a brush, I found it was more difficult to blend and build upon. Because it dries to a powder finish, it ends up a smidge too matte for me. I prefer something with a little more sheen to it for everyday life, but I’ll definitely be keeping this stuff in my arsenal.

Second Place: Yves Saint Laurent Le Teint Touche Éclat Illuminating Foundation

I moved on to slightly more upscale products, starting with the YSL Le Teint Touche Éclat Illuminating Foundation (which I hope you will, respectfully, not ask me to pronounce out loud. I took Spanish, not French.). I’m on a lifelong mission to look “illuminated,” and this foundation utilizes the brightening powers of the cult classic Touche Éclat pen. The formula is, indeed, brightening and lovely, but the coverage was too heavy for my preferences and my sensitive skin. It’s important to me that my skin still feels like it can breathe, you know? This stuff is great when I need a LOT of coverage for something like a costume or photoshoot, but it’s not my One True Foundation.

First Place: Clinique Even Better Makeup

I tried about a dozen other foundations during this process, and I was tired. Is this the way online dating feels? I wondered in exasperation.

I had turned back to my ride-or-die, Clinique Moisture Surge CC Cream, when I decided to give foundation one last try. Clinique has yet to steer me wrong in this world, so I got my hands on some of their classic Even Better Makeup and whoa--it was love at first wear.

Even Better Makeup is lightweight, easy to apply with your fingers OR a brush (I prefer brushes), oil-free, fragrance-free, and comes in 30 shades for ladies of all skin tones. (That’s something we definitely value here at xoVain.)

My skin is warm-toned, and lots of warm foundations read as too orange on me. Because Clinique offers so many shades, I was able to find one that works perfectly on my mug.

Even Better blends easily onto my skin, covering blemishes and redness without looking or feeling heavy or matte. (I can even blend a drop or two of it with some moisturizer or face oil for a sheerer look.) It’s buildable, long-lasting, and dermatologist-tested to be safe for even the most sensitive of skin. Usually, if I wear foundation for longer than six hours, I’m guaranteed a zit or six, but that isn’t the case with this stuff.

Though I once doubted it was possible, I’ve finally found the foundation for me.

  • What do you look for in a foundation?
  • Do you wear it every day, or just on certain occasions?
  • What's your HG ride-or-die foundation?
  • Have you tried Clinique Even Better? Tell me everything in the comments!