Can't find a shade light enough? Don't sweat it
Trying to find the best foundation for pale skin is no easy task.
As a teenager, your biggest beauty woes were probably a) you couldn’t find a high street buy that didn’t leave you streaky and b), that those free samples with magazines were always far too dark (althoughlord knows you tried them all anyway, just in case).
And don’t get us started on if you need to borrow foundation in an emergency, because you’ll be hard pushed to find someone who has a shade anywhere near light enough. Sigh.
Fortunately, we’ve tested out shade after shade to bring you the foundations that get it right. We’re certain that somewhere among these fail-safe formulas is your perfect match.
Best foundation for very pale skin
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 – but either way we recommend you go and test it out first before buying. That said, this one makes a great mixer should you need to lighten any foundation that’s slightly too dark.
Best shade for pink-toned skin: 02
Best shade for yellow-toned skin: 03
Best shade for neutral skin: 01 or 3.5
Best foundation for pale skin with yellow undertones
It might seem counter-intuitive to describe pale skin as ‘warm’, but skin tones that have yellow undertones do in fact fall into this category. You have yellow-toned skin if your veins appear green, probably have brown or hazel eyes and your skin tans easily. (Criteria for both pink and yellow-toned skin’s sounding familiar? If you can’t put yourself in one category or the other, you have neutral toned skin.)
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.
Best shade for pink-toned skin: Alabaster
Best shade for yellow-toned skin: Warm Porcelain
Best shade for neutral skin: Porcelain
Best foundation for pale skin with pink undertones
NARS Velvet Matte Foundation Stick, £30, Fabled
Skin tones with pink undertones are also known as ‘cool’ complexions. You have pink undertones if your veins appear blue (check your wrists now), your skin burns rather than tans easily, and you probably have green, grey or blue eyes.
NARS offer loads of pink-based shades across all their foundations, but the shades of their latest release, Velvet Matte, are particularly spot on for cooler skin tones. If you like a buildable, full-coverage foundation with a super matte finish, this one is for you – it even comes with a removable sponge tool for on-the-go application.
Best shade for pink-toned skin: Mont Blanc
Best shade for yellow-toned skin: Gobi
Best shade for neutral skin: Siberia or Deauville
Drugstore foundation for pale skin
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.
Best shade for pink-toned skin: 102 Fair Ivory
Best shade for yellow-toned skin: 100 Warm Ivory
Best shade for neutral skin: 110 Porcelain
Best foundation for pale dry skin
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 that’s also pale is that it’s packed with centella asiatica and argan oil for extra moisturisation. Huda, we applaud you for creating the best foundation for pale skin.
Best shade for pink-toned skin: Milkshake or Vanilla
Best shade for yellow-toned skin: Panna Cotta
Best shade for neutral-toned skin: Angel Food
Best foundation for pale oily skin
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.
Best shade for pink-toned skin: Snow or Pearl
Best shade for yellow-toned skin: Ivory or Almond
Best shade for neutral-toned skin: Swan
See more of the fairest foundations in our round up of the best below. Consider your quest for the best foundation for pale skin complete…
Tom Ford has something of cult status among fair-skinned community, and quite right too. This formula is seriously lightweight considering its high coverage, velvety smooth in finish and boasts excellent staying power. Its waterproof properties mean that it's a great buy for summer, perfect for holiday.
Best shade for yellow-toned skin: Linen
Best shade for pink-toned skin: Buff
Best shade for neutral skin: Cream
Whether you're just going for a couple of drinks or an all night sesh, this is one of the best night out foundation 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.
Best shade for pink-toned skin: 1.5
Best shade for yellow-toned skin: 1
Best shade for neutral-toned skin: 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.
Best shade for pink-toned skin: R210
Best shade for yellow-toned skin: Y215
Best shade for neutral skin: 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.
Best shade for pink-toned skin: 110
Best shade for yellow-toned skin: 130
Best shade for neutral skin: 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.
Best shade for pink-toned skin: 2 Fair
Best shade for yellow-toned skin: 3 or 3.5 Fair
Best shade for neutral skin: 1 Fair