Foundation Swatches with Very Fair/Pale Skin NC5-10: Drugstore and High End

I made a video with all sorts of swatches on my hands but it turns out they were a little hard to see, so I have inserted pictures into the video but wanted to post them here as well! I know I prefer to see swatches in a blog post, so hopefully this will be helpful for anyone looking for ideas with very fair/pale skin. I will embed the video at the end of this post if you're interested, but have summarized my thoughts here. My video also has links to demos of a few of these products if you're interested!

I have dry to very dry cheeks, oily t-zone with an acne-prone chin; most liquid foundation and concealer settles into my pores and is altogether rather frustrating. My shade is around NC5-10 with neutral to warm undertones on my face, my neck is a bit lighter. My hands are about the same as my neck and chest, but these swatches were done on my inner arm which is lighter than my neck/hands/chest. But hopefully this will give you an idea of how deep the shades are and what sort of undertones they have. I have also rediscovered a very good, quite light drugstore option that's mentioned in the bottom image that I purchased after this video. :)

  • Missha Signature Real Complete in shade #13: very fair and pink clay/beige, doesn't agree with my skin and looks dry - but compares in lightness to L'Oreal True Match W1 and NARS Siberia but with a pink clay/beige undertone
  • MAKE UP FOR EVER Face & Body #38 Pink Porcelain: a little dark but works with my skin, wish it was lighter and more yellow
  • Laura Mercier Creme Smooth Foundation in Porcelain Ivory: extremely yellow - and I generally prefer yellow shades - doesn't sit that great on my dry cheeks, too emollient for my oily/acne prone areas
  • Maybelline Fit Me Foundation in #110: more neutral toned, doesn't sit well on my skin but may try again soon
  • OCC Skin Conceal in Y0: I use this mainly sheered out across cheeks and on brow bone to tone down freckles near my crease, it's okay but too emollient for oily areas as well

  • CoverGirl Outlast Stay Fabulous 3in1 in 805 Ivory: dark, too matte and doesn't sit well on my skin but others like Kristin Gehm get it to work on their dry skin so it's worth a shot!
  • Revlon Colorstay Combo/Oily in 110 Ivory: this seems to oxidize more than most, it changes to quite a strong peachy color after about 20 minutes; too dark and too matte
  • MAC Mineralize Skin Finish Natural in Light: one of my current favorites, it's a little dark (feels like it oxidizes a bit on my face) but I like that the finish is a little satin without the heavy shine of the next mineral powder (I plan to repurchase this)
  • Laura Mercier Mineral Powder in Soft Porcelain: this is the best color I have, it doesn't settle into my pores, but I do need a pore minimizing primer because it has quite a bit of shine (favorite primer I've tried so far with this is Hourglass Veil)
  • MAC Matchmaster in 1.0: MAC says this is about NC10 but I find it still a little dark and it doesn't sit well on my skin
  • MAKE UP FOR EVER Full Cover Concealer in #1: it's not the best match but the formula works really well on my acne and sits reasonably well on my nose and even cheeks when sheered out
  • Laura Geller Balance-n-Brighten in Porcelain: this is very light but fairly pink toned, it didn't photograph too well unfortunately; it also has a fair amount of sheen
  • Paula's Choice Sheer Matte Tint in Level 1: if this was lighter, I'd wear it every day - I can slap it on without any thought and it looks great without settling into my pores
  • Rachel K CC Cream in Fair: this is being discontinued, I picked it up from LisaLisaD1; it's quite pink but lighter than most products I have

Updated 3/11/2015:

So after trying a couple samples of high end foundations, they both didn't settle into my pores and I bought one I tried - the Dior Diorskin Nude Air in 010 on a rather impulsive high of excitement over hopefully finding a foundation I could easily apply with fingers. The color seemed workable though too dark (of course). Turns out it sits really poorly on my dry patches of skin so I will be returning it, and really it is fairly dark. When it applies in that patchy way, you can really see the yellowy tone. But given hope that I could wear foundation if it was a fresh bottle (I am thinking that old bottles may be an issue, and old testers when getting samples) I went back to one I knew was very light, L'Oreal True Match in W1. I had this many years ago and as I remembered, it's just about the lightest option I have except for the Laura Mercier Mineral Powder in Soft Porcelain and the Missha Signature Real Complete in #13. Here's swatches with my other very light options.

  • Dior Diorskin Nude Air Serum de Teinte in 010: looks lovely from a distance but up close is quite visible, especially in dry patches, more matte than I prefer and too dark
  • Laura Mercier Creme Smooth Foundation in Porcelain Ivory
  • L'Oreal True Match in W1: less matte, very light and warm/neutral - similar to the Missha Signature Real Complete #13 but less pink
  • Maybelline Fit Me Foundation in #110
  • Missha Signature Real Complete #13

Updated 4/25/2015:

And lastly, I got samples of NARS All Day Luminous and Sheer Glow in Siberia to compare to L'Oreal True Match in W1 Porcelain. They are a similar lightness, but the L'Oreal has a little peach tone compared to the more true yellow of the NARS.

NARS Luminous Siberia, NARS Sheer Glow Siberia, L'Oreal TM W1, LM Soft Porcelain, MAC MSFN in Light
 Here's the video! (or click here to go to youtube)


  1. I was at Sephora yesterday spending a fortune on Hourglass Ambient powder, and I noticed Marc Jacobs foundations. I was looking at all the foundations. I'm pretty happy with my Bobbi Brown stick foundation in porcelain, but Marc Jacobs has foundations in Light Ivory 010, their palest shade. I thought it looked delightfully yellowish and very light, especially compared to all the others I'd been looking at. If I decide to try it, I'll have a real test on my skin, but it was light enough to get my hopes up. I'd love to hear what you think.

    I then went to Macy's to pick up a couple of things at the Mac counter and made the mistake of asking a lady with Estee Lauder if I could have a sample of their Double Wear foundation. It's the only foundation they have that might come in a shade I can wear, but she poopoo'd that one because she was sure it's too matte for me and bullied me into letting her test my skin for shade. I told her I need a very pale foundation that leans yellow and has at least medium coverage. My skin isn't just pale, it's also translucent and shows every little vein. She slathered their BB cream on my face (sheer coverage). She insisted it was light enough for me (not) and that I really need a neutral shade (no), even though the stuff looked decidedly pink on my skin. I accepted a sample from her to make an end of it, but it was completely wrong. I believe I can cross Estee Lauder off my list entirely.

  2. Okay maybe you never heard this but this Swatches were very helpful so thank you! My only suggestion is the Paula's Choice Resist Foundation in the lightest shade 0. It made me look ghostly white although I am already pretty pale. Since you seem to be familiar with the brand you know that they ship sample sizes. Maybe worth a try :)


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