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

Ace the trending no-makeup look with the right kind of base for your skin type.

By Chaitra Krishnan
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If you are looking for a foundation that gives you a natural glow with a flawless coverage, you must get your hands on the best sheer foundation out there. Foundations are a makeup staple for most women. However, few may not like the heaviness and layering feel and effect of a regular liquid foundation. Moreover, if you don’t know how to apply it well, you make end up with a cakey look or a meltdown any time of the day. That’s when a sheer foundation can save the day for you. Not only does its weightless formula feel soft and silky on your skin but it also blends in easily giving you that effortlessly flawless look. While it may not provide you full coverage of your acne scars and blemishes, it still manages to even out your skin tone perfectly to give you a more natural finished look. Also with its buildable and light formulation, you can layer it up without looking typically whitewashed. Just be sure to pick the right shade, and you are ready for that “no-makeup” makeup look. To help you pick the right one from the many options, we have shortlisted the 13 best sheer foundations available today.

Our Top Picks
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Best Non-Comedogenic Formula:L'Oreal Paris Makeup Infallible 24HR Fresh Wear Foundation
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Best For All Skin Types:Neutrogena Mineral Sheers Loose Powder Foundation
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Bet Light coverage:COVERGIRL Clean Fresh Skin Milk Nourishing Foundation
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Best Natural Luminous Finish:Maybelline New York Dream Radiant Liquid Hydrating Foundation
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Best Vegan Option:Pacifica Beauty Ultra CC Cream Radiant Foundation
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Best Oil-Free Foundation:NARS Sheer Glow Foundation
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Best Weightless Formula:Dior Diorskin Nude Air Serum
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Best Creamy Texture:Bobbi Brown Skin Weightless Powder Foundation
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Bet Dermatologist Tested Option:ILIA True Skin Serum Foundation
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Best Lightweight Formula:WINKY LUX Diamond Powder Foundation
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13 Best Sheer Foundations For A Natural Makeup Look

1. Best Non-Comedogenic Formula: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. Have a look at this video to learn more about the product.

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

2. Best For All Skin Types: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. Here is an informative video that tells you more about the product.

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.

3. Bet Light coverage: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. For more information about the product, click this video.

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

4. Best Natural Luminous Finish: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

5. Best Vegan Option: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

6. Best Oil-Free Foundation: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

7. Best Weightless Formula: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

8. Best Creamy Texture: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.

9. Bet Dermatologist Tested Option: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

10. Best Lightweight Formula: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.

11. Best Cruelty-Free Foundation: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.

12. Best Breathable Option: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

13. Best Semi-Matte Finish: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

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.

Foundations are an important step of the makeup process. They act as a smooth base for the makeup to look flawless. However, few liquid foundations can be heavy on the face. They can melt down, giving you a chalky appearance. To avoid such disasters, you need sheer foundations that are lightweight and gentle on the skin. They blend easily into the skin to hide imperfections and acne sports. These products are available in various shades to match every skin tone. Pick the right sheer foundation that suits your skin tone.

Why Trust StyleCraze?

The author of this article, Chaitra Krishnan, is a fervent makeup lover who spends her time looking for affordable makeup products that can be easily used in your everyday look. She put her excellent analytical and research skills to use and compiled this list of the best sheer foundations for her users. These foundations even out your skin tone flawlessly, providing the perfect base to build the look your choice.

Frequently Asked 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.

What does sheer coverage foundation mean?

A sheer coverage foundation is transparent that offers the least amount of color payoff. It just brightens your complexion but does not hide the scars on the skin.

How can I make my foundation sheerer?

Here are various ways to make your foundation sheerer:
• Layer the foundation with a finishing powder.
• Add a shade-adjusting foundation.
• Dilute foundation with a primer or a face moisturizer.
• Blend your makeup with a lighter shade of foundation.

What is a sheer to medium coverage foundation?

A sheer foundation is a lightweight makeup that is enough to create an even skin tone but will not hide scars or dark spots. It makes your skin look more natural even when you apply it less. A medium coverage foundation creates an even canvas while maintaining your natural glow.

Which foundation is best for daily makeup?

The Pacifica Beauty Ultra CC Cream Radiant Foundation will protect your face breakouts and is best for daily makeup application. However, make sure you follow a proper skin care routine to keep your skin moisturized and healthy.

What type of foundation should I use for normal skin?

Satin-matte or satin finish foundations are perfect for dry and normal skin types. You can also opt for foundations with a slight sheen that provides a youthful-looking glow.

What foundation do most makeup artists use?

The Bobbi Brown Skin Weightless Powder Foundation is best suited for the Indian skin tone and is most used by makeup artists.

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Chaitra has a triple main bachelor’s degree in journalism, communicative English, and economics from St. Aloysius College, Mangalore, and a... more

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