Makeup trends come and go, but one thing that will always be in style is fresh-looking skin. Personally, I find that skin tints don’t always provide me with enough coverage to adequately blur imperfections, while full-coverage foundations can be too heavy and mask-like. The solution? Medium-coverage foundations offer sufficient coverage while maintaining more lightweight formulas and skin-like finishes. And considering how many new products in this category have been launched, I figured there’s no better time than the present to narrow down the best options.
So, I’ve spent the last few months diligently testing nearly two dozen medium-coverage foundations, evaluating their formulas, how seamlessly they apply and look on the skin, how well they wear, and their shade ranges. Ahead, find my in-depth list of the best medium-coverage foundations on the market.
Giorgio Armani Luminous Silk Foundation
Smooth, skin-like appearance
Gorgeous radiant finish
Gets a bit oily after several hours of wear
The love and attention that this foundation gets is justified. I adore so many things about it—the light consistency, blendability, and buildability, to name a few—but what really stands out is the finish. There are few foundations in my collection—medium-coverage or otherwise—that look this natural and airbrushed on the skin. Just one layer blended out with a damp sponge, or buffing brush works beautifully to blur imperfections and create an even canvas for makeup. A second layer creates a more perfected complexion while somehow maintaining an authentic, real skin appearance. While it does get a bit dewy throughout the day, especially on oily skin, it doesn’t settle into lines or break up, making it a reliable pick for long days, nights out, or anything in between. A light dusting of translucent powder works to mitigate excess shine and prolong the wear. Both cream and powder blushes and bronzers layer on top seamlessly, making this foundation an easy pick regardless of the type of makeup look I’m planning to create and no matter what other makeup products I’ll be pairing it with. If you’re looking for a radiant, medium-coverage foundation, I can’t recommend this one enough.
Price at time of publish: $69
Shades: 40 | Finish: Radiant | Size: 1 oz | Cruelty-Free: No
Best Overall, Runner-Up
Lancôme Teint Idole Ultra Wear Care & Glow Foundation
Natural radiant finish
Contains skincare ingredients
Texture is a bit thick
If I’m ever unsure of which foundation to wear, this is the one I reach for. Why? It combines all of the qualities I want and need in a base product. I’m talking long-wearing capabilities (it looks almost perfect after 12 hours of wear), a subtle glowy finish, and the perfect level of coverage. Although the consistency is a bit thicker than I prefer when pumped out of the bottle, it blends out with minimal effort and works to cover redness and dark spots without emphasizing skin texture. Unlike a lot of formulas that appear to sit on top of the skin, this one blends in seamlessly to mimic the appearance of natural skin. It dries down to a radiant finish that isn’t overly glowy or greasy, and I love that while it does get a bit more luminous throughout the day, it doesn’t break up, fade, or settle into my smile lines.
A bonus is that it’s packed with skincare ingredients, like hyaluronic acid for moisturizing benefits, mandelic acid to help smooth skin texture, and SPF 27. It’s a high-quality, extremely reliable formula that I think a wide range of people with varying skin types would absolutely love.
Price at time of publish: $57
Shades: 30 | Finish: Natural radiant | Size: 1 oz | Cruelty-Free: No
Chantecaille Future Skin Oil-Free Gel Foundation
Limited shade range
Not the most long-wearing
Last year, I couldn’t scroll TikTok without seeing this foundation on my FYP. After all, it was revealed that this was the go-to foundation used on the stars of Euphoria during filming, so I’m not shocked that fans rushed to get their hands on it. I, too, became intrigued, so I was thrilled when I received it from the brand. And let me tell you, it seriously impressed me and has remained in my rotation since I got it.
The formula feels extremely luxurious (it should, considering the price tag)—it’s lightweight, ultra-creamy, and incredibly smooth. It contains aloe and arnica to soothe the skin, as well as rosemary and green tea for antioxidant protection. It blends across the face in seconds, creating a veil of light-to-medium coverage that can be slightly built up to cover imperfections. It’s definitely on the lighter end of medium coverage, so I think it’s a great option for anyone who finds skin tints to be too sheer but traditional foundations to be a bit too much. I was concerned that the radiant finish would lean greasy on my oily skin, but it doesn’t—it just looks beautifully dewy. The formula isn’t the most long-wearing—I typically get about six hours of wear before it begins to fade—so I reach for this option when I want to flaunt a luminous complexion for a relatively short period of time.
If I could change one thing about this foundation, it would undoubtedly be the shade offering. The range lacks depth, and the colors lean a bit peachy, so I really hope the brand expands it. But if you can find a shade that works for you and you want to try a luxe product, I certainly recommend this one.
Price at time of publish: $89
Shades: 15 | Finish: Radiant | Size: 1 oz | Cruelty-Free: Yes
Maybelline Fit Me Matte + Poreless Foundation with Clay
Extensive shade range
Shades oxidize a bit
Can emphasize texture
This foundation has been a drugstore staple for years, and it’s no wonder why. Aside from its affordability, the formula is a fantastic option for people with oily skin or those that prefer a matte finish. The lightweight liquid blends out with ease and offers medium coverage that can be built up to almost full coverage. It creates a blurred effect on the skin, though it’s worth noting that it will emphasize dry patches, so I recommend exfoliating and moisturizing prior to application. It dries down to a completely matte finish that manages not to look mask-like, and it wears nicely for upwards of 10 hours. If you have oily skin and struggle to find foundations that wear well on you, I absolutely recommend checking this one out. And if you have dry skin, I recommend mixing in a drop of moisturizer or face oil to ensure it’s hydrating enough for you.
The shade range is really extensive, especially for the drugstore, but beware that the colors do oxidize a bit once the formula dries on the skin. However, I appreciate that there’s an even distribution of depth and tone in the range, making this formula a great option to try if you struggle to find your shade at the drugstore.
Price at time of publish: $9
Shades: 40 | Finish: Matte | Size: 1 oz | Cruelty-Free: No
Shiseido Synchro Skin Radiant Lifting Foundation SPF 30
Natural radiant finish
Layers nicely with cream and powder products
A little bit goes a long way
Can emphasize pores
When I need a foundation that’s going to hold up during a long day or special event, I reach for this one. It provides a perfected, glamorous look, making it a perfect choice for events or glam makeup looks. The name is really fitting because it truly catches the light in the most beautiful way, and it’s radiant and fresh-looking without bordering on being greasy. The consistency is incredibly easy to blend out with a sponge, and I love that I can layer absolutely any makeup on top of this formula, and it will look seamless.
It creates a smooth, even, and radiant finish, but in order to achieve it, you have to be sure not to over-apply. If you apply too much, it has the potential to look heavy and settle into pores. I highly recommend applying just one pump to the entirety of your face with a damp makeup sponge, as I’ve found that this application method creates the best results. Once you figure out the appropriate amount to use and how to best apply it to your skin, I think people with all different skin types and skin concerns will love it. It’s hydrating, smooth-looking, radiant, and incredibly long-wearing.
Price at time of publish: $47
Shades: 30 | Finish: Natural radiant | Size: 1 oz | Cruelty-Free: No
Best for Everyday
Dior Backstage Face & Body Foundation
Lightweight, liquid consistency
Emphasizes dry patches
If you hate the feeling of foundation on your skin, I recommend trying this weightless formula. The liquid consistency is incredibly easy to apply, and it feels totally undetectable on the skin. It provides light-to-medium coverage, and while it’s not the most buildable formula I own, it can be built up slightly, and it layers beautifully under concealer. The finish is natural and skin-like, and I love that I can make it look like a matte foundation with a light layer of powder or a dewy foundation if I apply it over a luminous base—it’s an extremely versatile product.
It’s breathable and comfortable to wear, making it my go-to when I’m in the mood to opt for more minimal makeup while still sporting an even complexion. In terms of longevity, it’s impressive, but with a caveat. If you apply it on moisturized and exfoliated skin, you’ll likely be super pleased by how well and how long it wears. But be warned that it will emphasize dry patches, and this tends to look worse throughout the day. To prevent this, I always make sure that I apply it on freshly exfoliated and hydrated skin. It’s waterproof and sweat-proof, making it a go-to for summer (the lightweight texture is also ideal for warm weather), though I think it’s a great choice for daily wear year-round.
Price at time of publish: $40
Shades: 40 | Finish: Natural | Size: 1.6 oz | Cruelty-Free: No
Tom Ford Traceless Foundation Stick
Stunning, natural finish
Comes with a ton of product
Gets a bit greasy after several hours of work
This is, without a doubt, the best foundation stick I’ve ever tried—and I’ve tried plenty. The price tag gave me a jumpscare at first, but it does come with significantly more product than other stick foundations on the market, so keep that in mind when you consider the value. On average, they usually have about eight grams of product, while this one has 15. In addition to how much product you get in the component, the formula is another thing that makes this foundation stand out among the competition. Just a few swipes across the face are all you need to adequately coat the skin in an even layer of smooth, natural-yet-perfected-looking coverage. Unlike some foundation sticks that are dry and difficult to blend, this one is creamy and pretty much just as effortless to blend as liquid formulations.
After blending it in the first time I used it, I was taken aback by how gorgeous it looked. My skin looked stunning—it was completely even, especially smooth with a tiny touch of radiance, and overall more perfected. I’ve since used it countless times, and my opinion has only improved. The formula layers beautifully with other makeup, it wears well minus a bit of greasiness that’s easily tamed with translucent powder, and every time I wear it, I get compliments on my skin. I’ve also recommended it to a friend and her mother, both of whom have different skin types, and they’ve since fallen in love with it, too. If you’ve been looking for a medium-coverage foundation stick that’s super blendable and subtly luminous, this is the one for you.
Price at time of publish: $90
Shades: 39 | Finish: Natural | Size: 15 grams | Cruelty-Free: No
Best Shade Range
Haus Labs by Lady Gaga Triclone Skin Tech Foundation
Contains skincare ingredients
A little bit goes a long way
Can look heavy if over-applied
With a whopping 51 shades, Haus Labs delivered a foundation that caters to a diverse group of consumers—this should be the standard. Not only does the range feature an impressive mix of dark, medium, and light shades, but it also has a white shade that can be used to mix with other foundations to customize your color. The impressive color offering is arguably the thing that makes this product stand out the most, but I’m also really impressed with the formula.
I appreciate that it contains skincare ingredients, like arnica, to reduce redness, and it actually feels like skincare as you apply it. It has a rich, almost oily texture (but in the best way) that blends into the skin with ease and feels comfortable once it dries down. The coverage works to completely counteract redness and hyperpigmentation while still letting a bit of natural skin shine through, and the finish is natural with a drop of radiance. I’ve worn it on long office days and have been impressed with how well it lasted, but I will warn you that if you over-apply it, it will emphasize texture and become patchy throughout the day. I’ve found that it’s best applied in one light layer with a damp sponge, and then you can add a bit more coverage in spots where you need it with your fingers. Overall, it’s a high-quality product with an impressive shade range and formula that I think will work on different skin types.
Price at time of publish: $45
Shades: 51 | Finish: Natural | Size: 1 oz | Cruelty-Free: Yes
Bobbi Brown Skin Long-Wear Weightless Foundation SPF 15
Great for a range of skin types
Can emphasize texture
Despite having oily skin, I find that some matte foundations look dry and cakey. This is one of the few matte formulas that I think would work beautifully on various skin types. It’s matte enough to balance out oily skin, but it’s not so matte that it would look flat on dry skin. It’s formulated with glycerin for hydrating benefits, and it feels comfortable and non-drying throughout the day. The coverage is true medium—it effectively covers redness and blemishes, but it doesn’t totally mask out your natural skin. And unlike other matte formulas that lean dry, this one plays well with cream products applied on top of it. It wears all day with minimal fading or creasing, and it warms up to the skin without getting greasy.
This is another formula that I recommend applying after exfoliating and moisturizing your skin because it will likely emphasize flakiness. While it does highlight dry patches, I’ve found it to be really effective for blurring the appearance of breakouts which is a major bonus. If you’re looking for a medium-coverage matte foundation with impressive staying power, this one has my stamp of approval.
Price at time of publish: $52
Shades: 42 | Finish: Natural matte | Size: 1 oz | Cruelty-Free: No
NARS Light Reflecting Advanced Skincare Foundation
Natural radiant finish
Not the most long-wearing on oily skin
The goal of a radiant foundation is to give the skin a lit-from-within glow, and this one delivers. It creates a non-artificial, subtle glowy effect on the skin via a lightweight texture that blends out in seconds. Just one to two pumps provide enough product to cover the face and create light-to-medium coverage, while a second layer builds the coverage seamlessly to more adequately cover imperfections. It contains biomimetic oat to reduce redness, as well as Japanese lilyturf to moisturize the skin. It’s easy to blend, has a weightless feeling as you wear it, and looks seriously natural once it sets. A bonus is that it photographs so well—I’ve noticed how smooth and beaming my skin looks in photos whenever I’m wearing it.
As for the wear, I find that it’s pretty long-lasting during cool months, though it’s not the most long-wearing on hot and humid days or super oily skin. I highly recommend setting it with translucent powder if you’re prone to getting a greasy t-zone. So while I won’t reach for this foundation on long summer days, it remains one of my favorites for nights out, brunch days, and mild weather.
Price at time of publish: $50
Shades: 36 | Finish: Radiant | Size: 1 oz | Cruelty-Free: No
Saie Glowy Super Skin Lightweight Hydrobounce Serum Foundation
Excellent shade range
Stunning glowy finish
Not long-wearing on oily skin
While radiant foundations provide a subtle, authentic-looking luminosity, dewy options up the ante when it comes to a glowing finish. Though this formula gets undeniably shiny on my oily skin after a few hours, I’ve been blown away by how beautiful it looks nevertheless. The weightless liquid formula blends into the skin effortlessly to create an even complexion that looks smooth, healthy, and plump. I’ve seen some online reviewers note that it settles into fine lines, but I haven’t experienced that myself. If creasing and settling into lines is something you often deal with, I recommend applying just a light layer of this foundation and setting those areas with loose powder. I’ve noticed that applying too much product is often the catalyst for this issue.
One layer provides light-medium coverage while a second layer effectively builds up the coverage for a more perfected—but still skin-like—look. I’ve typically found that ultra-dewy foundations don’t play well with powder blushes and bronzers, but this one has layered beautifully with everything I’ve worn it with. After about four hours, I notice quite a bit of shine in my t-zone, but it’s easy to mattify with a bit of setting powder. This won’t be my go-to foundation during the humid summer months, but I cannot stress enough how gorgeous and glowy it looks on the skin—making it a wonderful choice for events and mild weather days. If you have dry or balanced skin or you’re looking for a dewy foundation that isn’t thick or heavy, I highly recommend trying this one out.
Price at time of publish: $40
Shades: 36 | Finish: Dewy | Size: 1 oz | Cruelty-Free: Yes
Laura Mercier Real Flawless Weightless Perfecting Foundation
Lightweight, silky texture
Clings to dry patches
This foundation has one of the most unique textures I’ve tried in quite some time. It has an incredibly lightweight, liquid consistency that almost feels powdery when you rub it between your fingers. This powdery feel is likely due to the inclusion of priming powders and bamboo silk powders in the formula, and if I had to guess, these ingredients are also what makes this formula appear so blurring on the skin. Liquidy and powdery might sound like a dichotomy, but the combination makes for a stunning finish—it looks airbrushed while maintaining a skin-like appearance.
In terms of the application, it’s quick and easy—unless you’re dealing with dry patches. This formula definitely clings to flakiness, so I recommend exfoliating and moisturizing your skin prior to using it. Once applied, the product feels completely breathable on the skin and remains in great condition for about eight hours. It layers nicely with concealer and other complexion makeup, and I appreciate how it gives me the appearance of a smooth, even skin tone, even when I’m experiencing redness and minor breakouts. If you’re looking for a lightweight, medium-coverage, fragrance-free foundation to blur the appearance of imperfections, I believe this one is worth trying.
Price at time of publish: $48
Shades: 30 | Finish: Natural | Size: 1 oz | Cruelty-Free: No
Pat McGrath Labs Skin Fetish Sublime Perfection Foundation
Weightless feeling on skin
Plays well with other makeup
Separates in bottle
Shade range lacks truly neutral undertones
If you look up reviews of this foundation, you’ll find people expressing that the consistency is watery, and it is—in the bottle. The formula is an incredibly lightweight liquid, meaning that it’s imperative to shake the bottle before pumping it out and applying it. If you bypass this user error, I have faith that a wide range of consumers would love how well it performs and even see the value in the ultra-liquidy texture.
I find the liquid consistency to be super easy to blend out and pretty much undetectable in terms of how it feels on the skin. It strikes a nice balance between being matte and radiant, and I appreciate how it blurs pores, redness, and hyperpigmentation while maintaining a skin-like finish. It works with my skin year-round, although I do need to set it more frequently during the summer. It layers smoothly under cream and powder products, and I get a typical eight hours of wear with it.
The shade range is pretty extensive, but many of the shades have strong yellow or pink undertones, making it tricky for people with neutral skin to find a match. But if you do find a color that suits you and you’re looking for a completely breathable formula that still packs coverage, this is a great option.
Price at time of publish: $68
Shades: 36 | Finish: Natural | Size: 1 oz | Cruelty-Free: No
Best with SPF
IT Cosmetics CC+ Nude Glow Lightweight Foundation + Glow Serum
Packed with skincare ingredients
Diverse shade range
Not ideal for oily skin
Although it’s important to apply a separate SPF prior to makeup application, doubling up on sun protection by opting for a foundation that contains SPF is great. This one is fantastic because it’s lightweight and creamy, contains niacinamide to smooth the skin, provides buildable medium coverage, and of course, has SPF 40. It really does have a serum-like consistency, making it incredibly easy to blend into the skin and comfortable to wear throughout the day. The finish is quite glowy—it gives the skin a juicy, plump appearance.
I adore this foundation, but it does lack staying power and transfer resistance. Because it never truly sets down, it will slip and slide around in humid conditions and on oily skin. I’ve been able to make it work on my oily skin during mild weather months by setting my greasy areas with powder and locking in my look with a matte setting spray. With that said, I think it’s a more ideal option for those with dry skin, but if long-wearing capabilities aren’t important to you, it’s a wonderful option with SPF.
Price at time of publish: $44
Shades: 22 | Finish: Dewy | Size: 1.1 oz | Cruelty-Free: Yes
LYS Beauty Triple Fix Serum Foundation
Lightweight, serum-like texture
Gets a bit greasy throughout the day
Packaging is bulky
If you prefer sticking to makeup formulas that are marketed as clean, I recommend checking out this foundation from LYS Beauty, the first Black-owned clean brand at Sephora. It has the Clean at Sephora certification, meaning that it’s free from a host of potentially irritating or banned ingredients, like phthalates, synthetic fragrances, oxybenzone, and more.
The formula is lightweight and serum-like, allowing it to blend out smoothly and feel comfortable and hydrating throughout the day. It starts out with a natural finish, but over the course of a few hours, it does begin to air on the luminous side—potentially even a bit greasy if you have oily skin. Despite this, I find that it blurs the look of redness and texture, creating an even base that lasts for around eight hours. It’s relatively affordable, considering how luxe and high-quality the formula feels, and while I don’t love that the packaging is a bit clunky, I do appreciate that it comes in a glass bottle with a pump. If you’re intrigued by this clean, medium-coverage foundation, I think it’s absolutely worth trying out.
Price at time of publish: $24
Shades: 36 | Finish: Natural radiant | Size: 1 oz | Cruelty-Free: Yes
My number one medium-coverage foundation recommendation is the Armani Beauty Luminous Silk Perfect Glow Flawless Oil-Free Foundation. It’s lightweight, radiant, and buildable. It gives the skin a next-level smooth and luminous appearance that’s perfect for everyday or special occasion makeup looks. But if you’re looking for a matte option, you can’t go wrong with the Bobbi Brown Skin Long-Wear Weightless Foundation SPF 15.
How I Tested
In order to recommend the best medium-coverage foundations to you, I spent several months testing nearly two dozen of the most popular and highly-rated formulas on the market. I evaluated them based on their formulas, how seamlessly they applied and looked on the skin, how well they wore, and their shade ranges. I then scored each product in each category, and those that received the highest scores overall appear on this list.
Other Options I Tested
Rare Beauty Liquid Touch Weightless Foundation
The shade range of this popular liquid foundation is incredibly impressive, but I struggled to blend this formula, and I found that it clung to dryness and texture.
Westman Atelier Vital Skin Full Coverage Foundation and Concealer Stick
I love the creaminess of this luxury foundation stick, but it felt heavy on my skin, and I only got a couple of hours of wear out of it before it became all too shiny.
L'Oréal True Match Super-Blendable Foundation
Major points to the brand for adding a pump to this popular and newly reformulated foundation, but I struggled to get an even application—it settled into lines and clung to even minor dryness.
What to Look for in a Medium-Coverage Foundation
One of the most important things to consider when buying a foundation (specifically one with medium or full-coverage) is the shade range. If you buy a shade that doesn’t match your skin tone, your end result will look off—even if the formula suits your skin type. If you struggle to find foundations that match your skin tone and undertones, look for options that come in tons of shades, like the Haus Labs Triclone Skin Tech Medium Coverage Foundation.
The finish for you ultimately comes down to your preferences, but it’s also wise to keep your skin type in mind. For people with oily skin, a foundation with a matte or natural finish will typically wear best on you. I recommend the Bobbi Brown Skin Long-Wear Weightless Foundation SPF 15 and the Dior Backstage Face & Body Foundation. If you have dry skin, radiant and dewy options will help you hydrate your skin and enhance luminosity. My picks for dry skin are the Saie Glowy Super Skin Lightweight Hydrobounce Serum Foundation and the It Cosmetics CC+ Nude Glow Lightweight Foundation + Glow Serum with SPF 40.
What’s the best way to apply a medium-coverage foundation?
Regardless of the amount of coverage in a foundation, the best way to apply it really comes down to your preference. If you like yielding maximum coverage, I recommend applying it with your fingers or a dense buffing brush. If you prefer a more hydrated, skin-like finish, blend it out with a damp makeup sponge.
What’s the best medium-coverage foundation for mature skin?
Hydrating foundations that aren’t overly emollient look best on people with mature skin. If a foundation is too matte, it could emphasize fine lines and detract from the luminosity of the skin. If a foundation is too emollient, it will sink into fine lines and wrinkles. One with a subtle radiant finish and a lightweight texture, like the Nars Light Reflecting Advanced Skincare Foundation, is best because it will even the skin tone and provide a hint of glow without looking too heavy.
Why Trust Byrdie
Alyssa Kaplan is an experienced writer in the beauty industry and product tester specializing in cosmetics. She received a bachelor’s degree from the Fashion Institute of Technology, where she studied marketing and product development in the cosmetics industry as well as fashion business marketing. Alyssa has been a commerce writer at Byrdie since 2022, where she covers all things beauty.