Pale Skin Swatches: Foundation

Good morning, y’all. The sun is shining, Carrie Fisher is president, and my wives Gwendoline Christie, Ruth Negga, and I are here to talk to you about how easy it is to find a foundation that matches your skin tone.

Wait — what do you mean that was only a dream? All of it? Even the part where Chris Evans and I are amicable exes?

Well, damn. Guess we have to do this the hard way, then.

Here are some of the foundations I have in my pale-ass library. For reference, I would put myself around a MAC N5-10, but I’ve not actually had much luck with MAC foundations to be 100% positive. (Face and Body is on my wishlist, though, before any of you start with me). My skin is breakout-prone even as I inch closer to thirty every day, and I’d say it’s combination/oily, save for a few weeks of the year. I like lightweight foundations generally, and while I want them to do something, I don’t personally like really full coverage for the day-to-day. Just something to keep in mind as you read my thoughts! Let’s get swatching.


From the bottom up:

Revlon ColorStay Combo/Oily Formula in 150 Buff: Overall, the Combo/Oily formula shades seem to run warmer and more yellow than the Normal/Dry skin version, and even when my skin is dry this is why I only use Combo/Oily. This is obviously too dark, but mixed with a white mixer the formula and tone of the foundation sit beautifully on my skin and last perfectly, even with no or minimal powder. This has been a go to for years and I will continue to keep a bottle on hand — I reach for this when I don’t have time to worry about my foundation either lasting or looking good. High-medium coverage, genuinely buildable but also easy to sheer out.

Kevyn Aucoin Sensual Skin Enhancer in SSx01: This is…pricey. Will I repurchase it, regardless? Yes. I haven’t found any one item that is this versatile, and with a shade that I can make match me at my lightest. And y’all, the coverage. There is absolutely a learning curve with this product, and while that’s its biggest downfall (price point aside), the finished result once you’ve learned how to work with it is really, truly, flawless. I may do a post just on this and how I like to use it (fingers, y’all. Not a sponge, not a brush — use. Your. Fingers)., but until then I know Renee at Bad Outfit, Great Lipstick has done several posts on this little gem that finally encouraged me to buy it in the first place. But you should be following her already and know that. Full coverage.

SheaMoisture Weightless Shea Serum Foundation in Porcelain: I was, frankly, shocked at how much I loved the color of this one once it was on my face. It’s a hair dark and a tad rosy but I can blend it out without a mixer and make it work, when it’s not the dead middle of winter. This is definitely something I’d suggest for dry-skinned folks, but it’s not the worst for combo or oily skin, either. I’d definitely suggest setting it with powder and you may feel the need to blot or something towards the end of the day if you really dislike any shine on your face (I don’t have much patience for that, myself. Embrace the oil slick, y’all), but it’s extremely light-weight, comfortable, and natural-looking. Give it a good shake before you pump any out, though. Medium coverage.

Burt’s Bees BB Cream SPF15 in Light: This is the dark horse of the group, y’all. I’ve never had any luck with any type of 3-shade range BB cream, and when I saw Phyrra’s swatch eeeeeonnnsss ago, I was skeptical AF, I’m not too proud to admit. Even in my swatch you can see it looks pretty dark! But it does blend in lighter than the swatch shows, probably because the coverage is so low. She mentions in her review that it doesn’t really totally set, and she is absolutely right. It also smells of overripe fruit and I kind of like it, regardless. I think the grey undertone it has really helps with my redness and it’s very comfortable and pretty hydrating, even if it rubs off my nose when I don’t powder. High-Light coverage.

Glossier Perfecting Skin Tint in Light: Uhhmmm. I dunno. I want to say this is a niche product but I might actually miss it when it’s gone. It’s definitely too dark, but it’s such light coverage it doesn’t matter as much as it would otherwise. I really do like how my skin looks when I have this on, around the stuff it doesn’t cover where my skin already looks decent — I think this might be just a bunch of silicones with the tiiiiiniest amount of pigment, so it really does make your skin look pretty smooth and a bit healthier — but it’s not so life changing that it justifies the price tag. Like, they straight up advertise this as being minimalist makeup or whatever. Little coverage, no SPF, no real skin-care ingredients…so what’s the dealio paying almost $30 for it? (I ask myself every day I try to use this). I mean like I said, it looks nice. You will absolutely have to supplement it with concealer, but it wears fine and doesn’t break me out. I got this as part of the Phase 1 Kit and I don’t think I’ll be repurchasing it once I run out. Even if you do have perfect skin or just want something light, there are maaaaaany options that are less expensive I’d encourage you to try. Negligible-Light coverage.

(Also this has changed consistency as I’ve had it. It’s much thicker now and is clogging the nozzle, which is that shit I don’t like).


From the bottom up:

BareMinerals Complexion Rescue Tinted Hydrating Gel Cream in Opal 1: I see Sephora has a shade of this called 1.5 Birch that I will be trying next because I love the formula of this, but the color doesn’t work for me. I don’t have a bottle on hand, but previously I had shade Vanilla 2, which despite being darker I did like better. Like with the Revlon ColorStay, the lightest shade is far too pink, and Vanilla works(ish) on the rare occasion I bust out my Jergen’s BB Body Lotion during the summer and don’t use too much. But otherwise, even with a white mixer they both look a little off. Still, the formula is so…elegant? It’s so smooth and silky and blends like a dream just with fingers, and is hydrating without being goopy or greasy so I can skip moisturizer with it, sometimes. (What I mean by this is some foundations or tinted moisturizers can be hydrating but aren’t really the same as slapping on a moisturizer. In the summer, especially, this one actually goes the distance). It’s on the higher end of what I would pay for a tinted-moisturizer type product, but it can double as a moisturizer and SPF for me where other TMs fail on one front or another while also giving me some beautiful coverage, so it’s a summer staple and I do like keeping a bottle handy. Fuller-side of Light to Low-Medium coverage.

Femme Couture Get Corrected CC Cream: Ok, I lied. I said Burt’s Bees was the dark horse but this is the actual surprise product here. Why has no one talked about this??? This color is sublime if you are a pale person and you don’t lean pink. This is so light and neutral it’s a good mixer for darker foundations that won’t take away any coverage. (I’m trying this one from NYX and sometimes that’s a problem). It does rub off on my nose without any powder after a few hours, but oddly doesn’t get oily anywhere else in the process and wears a nice amount of time. I don’t know why they called this a CC Cream, as it has no SPF or skincare, and even if it’s a hydrating/non-drying formula, this is dead-ass a foundation. Squarely medium coverage, buildable to a point.

Neutrogena Healthy Skin Anti-Aging Perfector in Ivory to Fair 10: Yeah. This is the lightest shade. I’d like to think this means their darker shades actually reach at least a semi-deep color, as Neutrogena especially sticks out to me as a drugstore brand with a historic problem of not going very dark, but I can’t say for sure if that’s the case.  I hope so, since this has got an absolutely wonderful formula. I really want it to allow me to love it. It’s hydrating but also matte  and so lightweight — I think they say this has a dewy finish on the bottle, though. Yeah, that’s a lie like the shade is a lie. This is for my oily-skinned brethren. It sits beautifully on the skin and lasts with dignity. I can make this work only if I spread like a quarter of a pump over my whole face and blend like my life depends on it, since the coverage is minimal. If you want a better alternative to the Glossier (in terms of price and also having actual skin benefits like SPF, their retinol claim notwithstanding) this and the Covergirl might be your best bets out of this crowd. Light Coverage.

Covergirl CG Smoothers BB Cream in 805 Fair to Light: I think this is the only one here that breaks me out. It’s more in line to the Glossier PST than the Neutrogena in terms of being an exact dupe — this is more moisturizing than PST, but just as light feeling, with just as minimal coverage. The Neutrogena was more matte where PST and this are dewy, PST setting a tad better than this, which stays tacky — and is a decent match on my arm but pulls very rosy on my face. It’s not bad, if you don’t really want coverage and just want something that will, in fact, smooth out the texture of your skin like the name implies. But I think this may have broken me out, like I said, so I don’t reach for it much anymore. Negligible-Light coverage. (Also, looking on Ulta’s website it seems to only have two shades; this one and “light-to-medium.” ??? What’s the deal, CG?)

Laura Geller Balance-n-Brighten Baked Foundation in Porcelain: Last year in the heat of SC summer when even my BareMinerals Complexion Rescue felt heavy, I went searching for a powder foundation I could slip on in two seconds before work and not feel like I was suffocating and dying. The color of this isn’t bad — it was even a bit light looking if I built it up and was using that Jergen’s BB lotion elsewhere, and I was surprised how easily you can build the coverage with it. But I do notice it has…a shiny finish? Not oily shiny, but sheen-y shiny. Some of the mineral pigments and binders in powder foundations like this, or even loose ones, can be almost reflective; this is another reason why you’re seeing such a flashback in these pictures which is another mark against it. So I liked it in some regards, but in getting it to combat sweaty, oily, shiny summer skin I don’t know how much good it did on that front. Wear was average, but on the upside, even for being pricey this will last a long time as it takes forever to make a dent in the domed bit. Light to Higher-end of Medium coverage, buildable.

I don’t have any on hand right now, but if you are looking for pale powder/mineral foundations, I’ve had good luck with Meow Cosmetics in the past. There are a lot of shades, which is great, except when it’s really overwhelming and hard to know where you fit. I highly encourage you to try their (very generously sized!) samples before ordering.

Those are all the swatches for today! I swear I thought I had a few more bottles rolling around in my totally organized makeup storage, so if I find any I may do a little addendum to this post or make a Part Deux so y’all can see what they look like. If you have any pale-people-friendly faves, please let me know! I’m always on the lookout for new ones to try.

* I’ve included links to all these foundations for y’all’s convenience, but none of them are affiliate links, if that kind of thing makes you uncomfortable. Also all of these were purchased (sometimes irresponsibly) with my own funds in the confines of our capitalist prison. 🙂 *

Hope everyone has a good weekend! If you don’t have any plans come binge the CW’s Beauty and the Beast on Netflix with me!! I might do a little discussion on it soon, since I have thoughts and feelings about it, and that way we can chat about it together.




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