Gone are the days when all foundations were thick, cakes and creasing in your lines and wrinkles half an hour after being applied.
Formulas have certainly moved on, and the best lightweight foundations now offer buildable coverage that’s hydrating, radiance-reviving and natural-looking.
If you don’t want to feel like you’re wearing a lot of makeup this summer, but still want enough coverage for even-toned skin, a lightweight foundation is ideal for you. They come in a host of different finishes, including matte and dewy, and there’s one for all budgets.
Many lightweight foundations are now also infused with skin-loving ingredients that will protect your complexion, like SPF, as well as nourishing goodies like hyaluronic acid that hydrates and plumps. You can make them last long and stay shine-free with our roundup of the best primers for oily skin.
Check out our guide to the best lightweight foundations below for breathable beautiful skin.
Best lightweight foundations 1. NYX Professional Makeup Born to Glow Radiant Foundation Best overall lightweight foundation
It comes in a huge range of colours
Creamy, buildable, soft and radiance-boosting, this lightweight foundation from NYX is a total dream for under a tenner.
Available in 45 shades to suit all skin tones, its vegan formula offers a dewy, iridescent finish, and is perfect for normal to dry skin that needs a little dash of fresh-faced fabulousness.
It offers a medium coverage that you can build upon if you want full coverage. It stays put and is easy to apply, as well as being perfectly blendable.
One fan said: “I’m just obsessed with the glow this foundation gives. It’s subtle and leaves your complexion dewy without a cakey look.”
2. It Cosmetics Your Skin But Better CC+ Cream with SPF 50 Best for full coverage
This one is perfect for a flawless base
Amazing, excellent, glorious, marvellous… there aren’t enough superlatives to describe this wondrous lightweight foundation, which leaves you with perfectly flawless skin.
Proof, if it were still needed, that you can get full coverage that’s creamy, light and bendable, like a second skin.
Infused with hydrolysed collagen, peptides, niacin, hyaluronic acid, antioxidants and vitamins, these skin-loving goodies ensure you’re hydrated and get a full-coverage foundation that won’t crack.
It reduces the appearance of wrinkles and pores, and helps to cover redness and dark circles, all while imparting a luminous, seamless complexion. We love (in case you couldn’t tell).
Best primers for oily skin that will keep your base looking flawless all day
3. Trinny London BFF De-Stress Tinted Serum Best for hydrating
It has a barely-there feel
Stressed-out skin? Give it some TLC with this tinted serum lightweight foundation that’s perfectly described as “stretchable”.
It offers buildable, breathable coverage with a glow-getting finish, and is packed with goodies like hyaluronic acid to infuse skin with hydration while plumping it up.
The product has garnered a dedicated army of fans, and one said: “This is a fantastic product, a little goes a long way and I can build up more coverage if needed. It glides on the skin, feels light, and makes my skin look and feel fresh.”
Buy now from Trinny London ( £39 )
4. No7 Lift & Luminate Triple Action Serum Foundation Best for dry or mature skin
The formula contains SPF 15 for protection against the sun’s rays
A serum-infused lightweight foundation is perfect for dry or ageing skin, offering an instant youth-boost.
This base boasts light-reflecting particles to immediately take the focus away from fine lines and wrinkles, giving a radiant glow. This foundation also evens out your skin tone, covering pores and pigmentation, without creasing into wrinkles. There’s also an SPF 15 to protect against the damaging effects of the sun’s rays.
A happy customer said: “I have looked for a foundation that didn’t look too heavy as we are coming into the summer months, and thought I’d give this a go. I was very pleasantly surprised… It went on my skin beautifully, you only need a small amount as it goes a long way, and my skin looked amazing, which was lovely after a year in lockdown.”
5. Charlotte Tilbury Light Wonder Foundation Best for medium coverage
A long-lasting and breathable foundation
Light-as-air, silky-soft, and breathable, this is your go-to for a lightweight foundation that simply glides on – and stays there.
It’s packed with silicones and mica, which make for a seamless application and offers a natural-looking medium coverage, which is also buildable.
One rave review read: “This is easily the best foundation I have EVER put on my face. It’s perfectly moisturising, never cakes on my skin, and wears fabulously throughout even the longest days.”
Best foundations for combination skin for 2021 including full coverage options
6. Glossier Perfecting Skin Tint Best lightweight vegan foundation
It offers light coverage and a dewy finish
In search of a sheer, lightweight foundation that’s like an “imperceptible wash of colour” that still manages to even out your skin tone? Cue Glossier’s Perfecting Skin Tint.
A breathable, ultra-sheer formula that comes in 12 shades, it won’t cake but it will enhance and leave you with a delectable dewy finish. Cruelty-free and vegan-friendly, too. This is a very light coverage for a sheeny glow, and might not be for you if you prefer full coverage.
One customer said: “I love it! I can’t feel that it’s there, it looks like skin, it improves the overall tone of my skin and makes my face look brighter.”
7. Elf Flawless Finish Foundation Lightweight, Medium Coverage & Semi-Matte Best for oily skin
If you’ve got oily or combination skin you may prefer more of a matte finish, and this budget-friendly lightweight foundation is ideal.
It works to improve uneven skin tone and texture, is super-blendable and offers medium-to-full coverage. It’s oil-free yet contains glycerin to hydrate and soften your skin, and it’s vegan-friendly and cruelty-free.
“I wanted this foundation to smooth out my skin, and still look natural,” says one Amazon review. “I think it does achieve this, it still makes my skin look natural but the darkness under my eyes has depleted.
“The foundation is really lightweight and non-sticky so my face feels soft and not tacky afterwards.”
8. Zoeva Authentik Skin Foundation Best for a natural finish
A super nourishing foundation
All about enhancing your skin rather than hiding it, this weightless foundation is silky-soft and barely-there but can be built to a medium coverage.
It’s infused with rosehip oil to protect the skin’s natural barrier and boost luminosity, and there’s 44 suits-all shades to choose from.
“Hands down the best foundation I’ve ever used,” said one Amazon user. “Goes on like a second skin and does not cling to any dry patches. A little goes a long way so this will last really well.”