10 best foundations for pale skin that will actually match your complexion
Shopping for fair skin tones no longer needs to be a struggle with these tried and tested formulas
It doesn’t much matter if you find your holy grail foundation formula if you can’t get it in a shade that matches your skin tone. Thankfully, with brands under pressure to increase their shade offering across the range, paler-than-pale is no longer such a niche requirement.
We’ve been testing foundations in their very palest shades to find those that not only sit well on skin and last through the day but also colour match beautifully, whether you’ve got oily or dry skin, yellow or peach undertones.
We recommend going into store when buying a new foundation rather than ordering online so you can be sure of the shade. Consider whether you’d prefer a yellow tone to even out the pink in your skin – or vice versa – rather than matching your natural tone.
If you’re choosing a shade yourself, don’t swatch them on your hand: apply along the cheek under the cheekbone and along the jawline, where you’re less likely to have redness and you can see how well the shade blends to your neck.
Once you’ve applied in store, go away for 20 minutes to check the colour with a mirror outside in daylight and to give the foundation enough time to settle and oxidise, as it’s quite common for them to darken as they dry.
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Estee Lauder double wear stay-in-place make-up: £33.50, Estee Lauder
Estee Lauder’s long-standing favourite Double Wear now comes in a phenomenal 61 shades, with plenty of cool and warm tones. It offers medium, buildable coverage, is comfortable to wear and stays put all day, even through high humidity.
Fenty Beauty pro filt’r soft matte longwear foundation: £27, Harvey Nichols
Fenty Beauty was started with the promise of inclusion for all skin tones, and its pro filt’r comes in 50 shades. It goes on velvety smooth and blurs out redness or scarring, but it doesn’t dry too fast so you’ve got plenty of time to blend.
YSL all hours liquid foundation: £35, Feel Unique
This is our holy grail of long-lasting foundations: it’s lightweight with medium coverage yet also stays put all day without becoming patchy or sinking into pores. Thankfully it comes in a good range of pale shades too, with variations for cool and warm tones.
Bobbi Brown skin long-wear weightless foundation: £32, Bobbi Brown
The shade range of Bobbi Brown’s Skin long-wear foundation has been extended to feature more than 40 shades, and with its natural, matte-but-not-flat finish, we’ve yet to find a skin type it doesn’t suit.
Huda Beauty fauxfilter foundation: £32, Cult Beauty
Huda Beauty’s fauxfilter is a thin but medium coverage foundation with a blurring, satin finish that lasts all day no problem. It comes in a big shade range, with 12 falling into the light/fair categories. Drier skin types might find this too matte, so we’d recommend for oily or combination skins.
NYX pro foundation mixer: £8, NYX
If you’ve already bought a foundation that’s the wrong shade, you need to lighten up a summer foundation to suit you in winter or you’ve found a formula that you love but the brand just doesn’t make a shade pale enough, this is for you. It mixes with any foundation without changing the consistency and lightens it so you can get the right colour match.
Suqqu extra rich glow foundation: £68, Harrods
Suqqu is a Japanese brand and therefore mostly caters towards Japanese skin tones, which, while it has provoked criticism for its lack of diversity, is a positive for pale shades! Extra rich glow foundation is, indeed, rich, creamy and nourishing on the skin with a glowing finish, and it somehow lasts all day too, which is unusual for non-matte foundations.
Too Faced born this way foundation: £29, Too Faced
Our tester found this had a light, second-skin feel with a subtle, natural-looking glow and fairly full coverage. The shade range has been expanded since its initial launch (when even the palest shade was too dark for many pale skins!) and it now comes in 35 shades, including the gorgeously named "cloud", "snow" and "pearl."
Chantecaille future skin: £68, Space NK
This much-raved-about gel foundation feels thick and creamy on the fingers but melts into a smooth, thin, satin layer on the skin. The coverage is good yet it still feels lightweight. We particularly like it for dehydrated or more mature skins.The shade range isn’t huge, but there are several good pale shades.
Becca ultimate coverage 24 hour foundation: £32, John Lewis & Partners
This is a thick, creamy foundation with medium-full coverage and a glowy, smooth finish. We’ll admit we didn’t wear it for 24 hours straight so can’t say whether it lives up to the name, but it certainly managed 14 hours. It comes in a good range of pale shades, particularly on the yellow-toned side.
The verdict: Foundations for pale skin
Estee Lauder’s double wear is a bestseller for a reason: endlessly reliable, it’s also the most extensive range we’ve seen by far.
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