13 Best Sheer Foundations For Light, Medium, And Buildable Coverage

by Mayuri J Ravi
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If even skin tone and natural glow are what you want to achieve but sans the heaviness, you have arrived at the right place. We bring to you the best sheer foundations you should get your hands on immediately!

Foundation is a beauty staple that most women can’t do without. From concealing scars and imperfections to providing flawless coverage, it can do it all, especially a full-coverage foundation. But this type may not be ideal during summer, when you are in a rush, or if you want a no-makeup makeup look. This is why a good sheer foundation is a must-have. A sheer foundation is a weightless formula that feels light and silky on the skin. Although it does not cover acne and freckles completely, it does offer enough coverage to even out skin texture without masking your natural skin. Also, thanks to its buildable nature, it’s easy to layer on more without creating a cakey effect. However, how do you find the right one with a multitude of options to choose from? It’s simple, scroll through our list of the 13 best sheer foundations and pick the one that works for you.

Products
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L'Oreal Paris Makeup Infallible 24HR Fresh Wear Foundation
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Neutrogena Mineral Sheers Loose Powder Foundation
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COVERGIRL Clean Fresh Skin Milk Nourishing Foundation
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Maybelline New York Dream Radiant Liquid Hydrating Foundation
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Pacifica Beauty Ultra CC Cream Radiant Foundation
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NARS Sheer Glow Foundation
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Dior Diorskin Nude Air Serum
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Bobbi Brown Skin Weightless Powder Foundation
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ILIA True Skin Serum Foundation
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WINKY LUX Diamond Powder Foundation
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13 Best Sheer Foundations For A Natural Makeup Look

1. L’Oreal Paris Makeup Infallible 24HR Fresh Wear Foundation

One of the best drugstore sheer foundations, this one by L’Oreal Paris Makeup, tops our list for all the right reasons. A first of its kind, this foundation is lightweight and has an all-day staying power. All while allowing your skin to breathe, thanks to its breathable-skin technology. Suitable for all skin types, it provides medium to full buildable coverage that feels comfortable to wear. Its ultra-thin formula ensures that it glides on easily and blends evenly to smoothen the skin texture and give a healthy-looking complexion. Moreover, you won’t have to worry about color fading with this formula, as it is waterproof and sweat and transfer-resistant.

Pros

  • 24-hour wear
  • Includes SPF 25
  • Breathable texture
  • Non-comedogenic
  • Minimizes imperfections
  • Color stays true all day
  • Available in 30 shades

Cons

  • Might be too liquidy

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2. Neutrogena Mineral Sheers Loose Powder Foundation

If you have sensitive skin and are looking for a lightweight foundation that offers skincare benefits, Neutrogena Mineral Sheers Loose Powder Foundation is an excellent choice for you. It is formulated with naturally derived minerals and contains vitamin A, C, and E, all of which help even and enhance your skin tone and clarity to deliver a natural-looking finish. Best of all, it is free of fragrances, dyes, and talc. This mineral foundation provides sheer to medium buildable coverage that helps minimize imperfections and reduce the appearance of redness. It is available in 8 natural-looking shades and comes packed in a round compact that you can easily tuck in your purse.

Pros

  • Suitable for all skin types
  • Lends a natural-looking glow
  • Buildable and breathable coverage
  • Contains minerals and vitamins
  • Clinically proven to reduce redness

Cons

  • Does not come with an applicator brush or sponge
  • The foundation has a shiny effect that may make pores more noticeable.

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3. COVERGIRL Clean Fresh Skin Milk Nourishing Foundation

Enriched with creamy coconut milk and aloe vera extract, this sheer coverage foundation hydrates and nourishes the skin while lending a fresh, dewy glow that lasts all day. One of the best sheer foundations for oily, normal, and sensitive skin types, it also conceals imperfections and creates an even skin tone. This nourishing liquid foundation is an excellent option for those who don’t want any bad stuff on their skin as it is 100% vegan and is formulated without parabens, sulfates, phthalates, formaldehyde, and talc. For best results, apply COVERGIRL TruBlend Face Primer before using this foundation.

Pros

  • Light coverage
  • Lends a dewy finish
  • Vegan and cruelty-free
  • Available in 14 shades
  • Infused with good-for-skin ingredients

Cons

  • Might have a gritty texture
  • May not have a pleasant odor

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4. Maybelline New York Dream Radiant Liquid Hydrating Foundation

Keep dry, patchy skin at bay with this fluid sheer foundation by Maybelline New York. Thanks to the addition of hyaluronic acid and collagen, this dermatologist-tested formula moisturizes your skin while offering a naturally luminous finish. Delivering a medium coverage, it keeps your skin radiant and plumped for 12 hours! Besides, it also provides even-looking and smooth skin. This lightweight foundation is also known for its breathable texture that feels so comfortable that you will never want to take it off.

Pros

  • 12-hour wear
  • Smoothes skin
  • Buildable formula
  • Provides a radiant complexion
  • Hydrating sheer foundation
  • Does not clog pores

Cons

  • May not be suitable for mature skin

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5. Pacifica Beauty Ultra CC Cream Radiant Foundation

True to its name, Pacifica Beauty Ultra CC Cream Radiant Foundation, really does provide a radiant glow instantly. This tinted foundation is formulated with color-correcting reflective minerals that smoothen and illuminate your skin, while skin-loving ingredients like ginseng, coconut, and kelp keep your skin moisturized. Available in 2 shades – warm/light and natural/medium – this CC cream offers medium coverage and is suitable for all skin types. This award-winning formula also features SPF 17 to protect your skin from UV rays.

Pros

  • Hydrates skin
  • Gives your skin a youthful glow
  • Provides 100% SPF protection
  • 100% vegan and cruelty-free
  • Does not contain parabens, phthalates, mineral oil, and petroleum

Cons

  • May not be suitable for sensitive skin

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6. NARS Sheer Glow Foundation

The name of this lightweight foundation says it all! It is sheer yet buildable, which means you can apply a little or a dollop to give yourself a natural finish and enhance your skin’s appearance. All this, while delivering what it promises – a subtle glow. Loaded with ingredients like turmeric, glycerin, and vitamin C, you can rest assured that it will not only even out your complexion but also reduce inflammation and provide all-day hydration. Here’s a pro-tip: apply this foundation with your fingertips as the warmth of your hand and fingers will make it smooth and easy to blend.

Pros

  • Brightens and smoothens skin
  • Buildable coverage
  • Oil-free and non-comedogenic
  • Comes in 40 different shades
  • Paraben, fragrance, and alcohol-free
  • Ophthalmologist and dermatologist-tested

Cons

  • Expensive

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7. Dior Diorskin Nude Air Serum

This Diorskin Nude Air Serum is one of the best sheer coverage foundations to use if you want to achieve a natural makeup look. With its ultra-fluid consistency and weightless property, this foundation blends smoothly to deliver a light, breathable coverage that feels like it’s barely there. This luxurious formula is formulated with Oxygen Activ™ technology, which includes a combination of hyper-oxygenated oil, cranberry oil, rosemary leaf extract, and vitamins that revitalize and beautify your skin with every application. All you’re left with is an enhanced complexion and a healthy glow. It comes with a dropper applicator for precise and mess-free application.

Pros

  • Layers beautifully
  • Weightless and ultra-thin formula
  • Suitable for all skin types
  • Infused with anti-aging ingredients

Cons

  • Slightly expensive

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8. Bobbi Brown Skin Weightless Powder Foundation

Tired of using a foundation that turns your skin into a complete greaseball by noon? This powder foundation is the perfect choice for you! Touted as being as light as air, this silky, cashmere-like powder provides a natural-looking matte finish. If you’re looking for a sheer finish, use a powder brush to dust this foundation on your face. But for days when you prefer a medium coverage, you could use the included dry sponge to apply it. This oil-free formula effortlessly blends into your skin to even skin tone, conceal fine lines and pores while keeping your skin fresh and shine-free, even through heat and humidity.

Pros

  • Creamy texture
  • Feels comfortable
  • Buildable coverage
  • Blends evenly and smoothly
  • Suitable for normal and oily skin
  • Available in 20 shades

Cons

  • Expensive
  • The product might crack and crumble after a few uses.

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9. ILIA True Skin Serum Foundation

If you have just begun to embrace the clean beauty trend, this ILIA True Skin Serum Foundation is ideal for you. This formula provides light to medium coverage with a velvety finish that is undetectable to the eye. Powered with botanical actives like aloe leaf, rosehip, jojoba, and marula oils, this sheer cover makeup product nourishes your skin while also color-correcting, soothing irritation, blurring imperfections, and minimizing pores and fine lines. It gives your skin a natural appearance and a lit-from-within glow without causing any breakouts. Despite its lightweight quality, this clean sheer foundation is buildable and can be layered on without it looking cakey.

Pros

  • Gives your skin a radiant look
  • Non-comedogenic
  • Dermatologist-tested
  • Breathable coverage
  • Cruelty, gluten-free and vegan
  • Lends a smooth and refreshed skin

Cons

  • Slightly expensive
  • Might flake after a few hours

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10. WINKY LUX Diamond Powder Foundation

Make your skin shine bright like a diamond with this diamond powder foundation. It is infused with real crushed diamonds that brightens your complexion to diffuse the appearance of lines, wrinkles, and skin imperfections. This skin-illuminating sheer foundation creates a soft-focus effect and a shine-free matte finish that lasts all day. It provides light coverage but is also buildable, allowing you to layer on until you have achieved your desired coverage.

Pros

  • Lends a natural glow
  • Lightweight
  • Cruelty-free
  • Buildable coverage
  • Velvety texture
  • Gluten, sulfate, and phthalate-free

Cons

  • Some people may not like the sparkly effect it creates in the sunlight.

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11. Pixi H2O SkinTint

Is your regular foundation caking or creasing in hot weather? Then what you need is a water-based formula such as Pixi H2O SkinTint. This water-resistant tinted face gel is super light and blends seamlessly to enhance your complexion and help you achieve a beautiful no-makeup look. Infused with green tea, rose water, and lavender, this light sheer foundation provides hydration and soothes irritation, leaving your skin feeling silky-smooth, supple, and refreshed throughout the day. It is considered lighter and more breathable than traditional foundations, making it a perfect summer alternative.

Pros

  • Long-lasting hydration and coverage
  • Fragrance and paraben-free
  • Cruelty-free and vegan
  • Ultra-light and comfortable
  • Suitable for all skin types

Cons

  • Might make your skin look patchy if not used with a moisturizer.

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12. MAC Studio Face And Body Foundation

MAC Studio Face And Body Foundation is quite popular among professional makeup artists and celebrities alike, and for a good reason. This water-resistant and long-lasting sheer foundation provides a subtle wash of color that enhances skin texture and minimizes imperfections on the face and body. Formulated with moisturizing emollients, this foundation keeps skin hydrated, while allowing you to glide and blend the foundation onto the skin smoothly. This multifaceted product is lightweight and delivers natural-looking sheer to medium buildable coverage and a satin finish, making it ideal for all-day everyday wear.

Pros

  • Comfortable wear
  • Breathable
  • Stay-true color
  • Moisturizing formula
  • Natural satin finish

Cons

  • Might take a long time to dry down

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13. Perricone MD No Makeup Foundation Serum

Combining makeup and skincare in one formula, this No Makeup Foundation Serum by Perricone MD delivers a semi-matte finish with buildable coverage while also offering skincare benefits. It contains neuropeptides and daisy flower extract that visibly improves uneven skin tone and dark spots, diminishes wrinkles and pores, and restores skin’s natural radiance. This skin-softening lightweight foundation is formulated with broad-spectrum SPF 30 and is available 8 universal shades.

Pros

  • Buildable coverage
  • Blurs imperfections
  • Skin-improving formula
  • Offers SPF 20 protection
  • Fragrance and talc-free
  • Cruelty-free and vegan

Cons

  • May not be suitable for sensitive or acne-prone skin

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Now that you have taken a look at some of the best sheer foundations let us look at a few important points that might help you pick the right one.

How To Choose A Sheer Foundation For Light, Medium, And Buildable Coverage

  • Shade: When choosing the right sheer foundation, you must pick the shade that matches your skin tone. When you are trying out a shade, it doesn’t necessarily have to be an exact match, but can also be a bit lighter since foundations tend to get darker as the day goes. Make sure you test the product in the right natural lighting conditions. In addition to that, you should also consider the undertones of your skin. While neutral or warm shades work well for most skin tones, you could opt for a shade with yellow undertones if you have warm complexion and pink undertones if your skin tone is cool.
  • Skin type: Not all sheer foundations are suitable for all skin types. Foundations come in various formulations such as powder, liquid, and mousse. Suppose you have dry or normal skin, it’s best to opt for sheer dewy foundations that have hydrating and moisturizing properties. A powder foundation that provides matte and shine-free finish or liquid formulas that deliver a mattifying effect are the perfect sheer foundations for combination skin and oily skin type. As for mature skin, foundations with satin or semi-matte finish work best as they do not emphasize lines and wrinkles.
  • Coverage: As we already know, sheer foundations deliver light to medium coverage. Thanks to its buildable quality, you can add layers of this foundation until you have achieved your desired coverage without worrying about it weighing your skin down or looking cakey.

With more and more people opting for barely-there makeup coverage, sheer foundations are getting increasingly popular. Besides being incredibly lightweight, these foundations have a smooth texture and glide effortlessly onto the skin. No matter how much you apply, they make your skin look natural but better. Have you taken a look at these 13 best sheer foundations that provide light, medium, and buildable coverage? Which is your favorite from the list? Let us know in the comments below!

Expert’s Answers For Readers’ Questions

What is a sheer foundation, and who should use it?

A sheer foundation is a lightweight makeup product that provides sheer to medium coverage, which is enough to create an even skin tone but won’t hide scars or spots on the skin. It makes your skin look natural even when you apply liberally.

Sheer foundations work well for normal to dry and mature skin types. People with oily skin could also use sheer foundation as long it is oil-free or a powder formulation.

What makes sheer foundation so sheer?

A sheer foundation is generally made of silicone, which makes it glide on smoothly. Plus, it contains the least amount of pigments, which means it provides enough coverage to brighten your complexion and make your skin look natural.

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Mayuri J Ravi

Mayuri J. Ravi is a content writer and journalist and holds a Post Graduate Diploma in Print Journalism. Her love for writing and desire to influence people for the better with her stories led her to pursue a career in this creative and dynamic field. She creates engaging content on a wide range of topics, such as beauty, fashion, and wellness. She is an ambivert and an avid foodie who also loves reading, dancing, and baking.
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