Struggling to find a shade light enough for your skin tone? We've got you covered
Trying to find the best foundation for pale skin hasn’t always been the easiest of tasks. As a teenager, you probably remember all too well not being able to find a high street buy that didn’t leave you with an orange jawline. Ah, the streaks.
Thankfully, these days foundation shade ranges are so much broader and better that we have no doubt your match is out there.
What to look for to find the best foundation for pale skin
‘Firstly, it’s good to have an idea about your undertone, whether your skin has warm yellow tones or pinky cool tones under the skin,’ explains Bobbi Brown Pro Artist Aimee Morrison. ‘There are several ways to find out. For example, if you feel you look better in gold jewellery you probably have a warm undertone, and if you look better wearing silver jewellery you may well have a cool undertone.
‘Or, if you look and feel better wearing rose gold jewellery, there’s a good chance you have a neutral undertone – meaning you have a balance of both pink and yellow tones in your skin.’
‘Know if you want your foundation to be the identical colour of your skin or if you want it a little warmer – this can depend on the time of year you’re buying foundation and if your surface tone will be changing. For example, if you have a holiday booked and know that you will have a tan, or if your surface tone stays fair all year round.’
Finally, the golden rule in finding your perfect match is to be shade matched. ‘At Bobbi Brown cosmetics we will always sit you down and shade match you to help you find your perfect foundation. You will also receive a complimentary seven day sample to take home and make sure that your 100% confident in the shade and formula.’
Pro tip: ‘Avoid trying to find your perfect match by trying product on the back of your hand, the skin here is actually a different colour to that on your face.’
We’ve tested out shade after shade to give you head start in your search. Keep reading for the Marie Claire edit of the best foundations for pale skin…
The Mother finally launched her first foundation last year, and boy is it gorgeous. Buildable coverage that looks like your skin but 100% times better – basically the signature Pat McGrath glow. Yes, it's spenny, but nobody will judge you for splashing out when your skin looks this good.
Pink undertones: Light 1
Yellow undertones: Light 5 or 7
Neutral tones: Light 3
It doesn't matter whether you're going for a couple of drinks or an all night sesh, this is one of the best long-wearing foundations on the market. Matte without being too drying or flat-looking, the formula is super pigmented without leaving you chalky, and you can rest assured it'll last. All. Night. Long.
Pink undertones: 1.5
Yellow undertones: 1
Neutral undertones: 0.5
This one is so flawless that it's one of makeup artists' go-to foundations when making up anyone for the camera. In a whopping 40 shades, you'll be hard pressed not to find a pale shade that's right for you.
Pink undertones: R210
Yellow undertones: Y215
Neutral undertones: Y205
You've no doubt already heard about how great Rihanna's foundation range is – but if you haven't, know that pale girls have been raving about it on Instagram from the moment it dropped. Providing buildable coverage, the formula buffs into the skin nicely and easily lasts a whole working day and beyond. Ri-Ri, we salute you.
Pink undertones: 110
Yellow undertones: 130
Neutral undertones: 100 or 120
This foundation was dubbed 'Magic' because it targets just about every skin problem under the sun. Mushroom extract tightens pores, hyaluronic spheres plump and hydrate the skin, Vitamin C brightens the complexion and it has an SPF of 15. Plus, its coverage is strong and it has serious staying power.
Pink undertones: 2 Fair
Yellow undertones: 3 or 3.5 Fair
Neutral undertones: 1 Fair
Gone are the days when trying to get a pale budget foundation is nigh-on impossible, as a lot of high street brands now have a lightest shade that's actually, well, light. The new Matte + Poreless foundation from Maybelline is a great buy for the summer heat, keeping you shine free and photo ready all the day long.
Pink undertones: 102 Fair Ivory
Yellow undertones: 100 Warm Ivory
Neutral undertones: 110 Porcelain
Make-up mogul Bobbi Brown changed the beauty industry as we know it when, in the nineties, she launched a line of stick foundations that brought yellow-based makeup to the masses – previously, consumer foundation was predominantly pink-based and didn't work on a lot of skin tones. The clever part is that its combination of moisturising and oil-controlling ingredients (namely shea butter and specialised minerals) adapt to your skin's needs to keep it in place all day.
Pink undertones: Alabaster
Yellow undertones: Warm Porcelain
Neutral undertones: Porcelain
With already oily skin, you need a foundation that's non-comedogenic (non pore-clogging) and that won't exacerbate the high oil levels of your skin. As a general rule of thumb, you can't go wrong with an oil-free foundation.
Enriched with both hyaluronic acid and coconut water for non-oily hydration, Born This Way's oil-free formula is ideal for those who find themselves looking shiny by lunchtime because of a naturally oily complexion. Providing medium to full coverage, it'll leave your skin radiant and glowing and can be built up for a non-cakey finish; the best foundation for oily skin that's also very fair.
Pink undertones: Snow or Pearl
Yellow undertones: Ivory or Almond
Neutral undertones: Swan
The lightest shade in this particular foundation (01) is so pale that, if you've never managed to find a foundation that's light enough for you, this could be the winning ticket (although it is always best to test before buying). That said, this one also makes a great mixer, should you need to lighten a formula that's too dark.
Pink undertones: 02
Yellow undertones: 03
Neutral undertones: 01 or 3.5
Huda Kattan, the brains behind Huda Beauty, sent fans into a meltdown when she announced that she was releasing a full coverage foundation and #FauxFilter certainly did not disappoint; a heavy duty foundation that covers all level of blemishes and uneven skin tone in a broad spectrum of 30 different shades.
A bottle will last anyone ages (you need less than a pea size to do your whole face) and it's so thick and pigmented it can be mixed with a little moisturiser for a more dewy finish. What makes it the best foundation for dry skin is the centella asiatica and argan oil in the formula, for extra moisturisation. Huda, we applaud you for creating the best foundation for pale skin.
Pink undertones: Milkshake or Vanilla
Yellow undertones: Panna Cotta
Neutral undertones: Angel Food
This beautiful iconic foundation can be sheer or built up for more coverage. It's natural looking and mimics the look of skin, so those with oily-spots should use with powder. The shades are divided up by undertones: N = Natural; C = Cool; W = Warm
Pink undertones: NC25 or NW10
Yellow undertones: C40 or NC5
Neutral undertones: NC10 or NC12
Everyone knows you can rely on a Nars foundation. It's a little on the spenny side, but it's worth it. This is lightweight, but offers day-long coverage that blends beautifully.
Pink undertones: OSLO
Yellow undertones: GOBI
Neutral undertones: MONT BLANC
If you're after a matte formula that stays in place all day, then you'll love this foundation. There are warm, cool and neutral tones in the collection too.
Pink undertones: BR05
Yellow undertones: BD10
Neutral undertones: B10
This brand new foundation is ideal if you have dry skin and want fresh, natural-looking coverage. This is a skincare, make-up hybrid. Even though there are only nine shades, the brand claims that they match 99% of UK skin tones.
Pink undertones: 0.5-2
Yellow undertones: 2-3
Neutral undertones: 3-4
A true icon in the foundation world. The reason being that it suits all manner of skin types. Given its name because it looks like a veil of silk on the skin. And who wouldn't want that?
Pink undertones: 2
Yellow undertones: 1.5
Neutral undertones: 2
This super creamy, semi-matte formula is a standout. Works well on dry and combination skin type. Lancôme has previously invested heavily in world-wide skin tone and shading research and it shows.
Pink undertones: 007 Beige Rosé
Yellow undertones: 011 Beige Cristallin
Neutral undertones: 023 Beige Aurore
This formula does not mess around. It's heavily pigmented and a little goes a long way. If you suffer from pigmentation this does well and evening everything out. Shiseido's shades ranges are decent and they do particularly well with lighter skin tones.
Pink undertones: 150
Yellow undertones: 240
Neutral undertones: 220
If you've never tried this famous foundation then do yourself a favour a correct that. There's a reason why this is so many people's go-to base. It suits all skin types, it has an extensive shade range and it looks damn good on the skin.
Pink undertones: 0N1 Alabaster
Yellow undertones: 1N1 Ivory Nude
Neutral undertones: 1C0 Shell