Best Foundations for Pale Skin

Best Foundations for Pale Skin

When you’re pale, it’s hard to find the perfect foundation. It seems like the lightest shade in most foundation lines leave me orange or pink, not a good look! So today I’m sharing the best foundations for pale skin. These foundations are all cruelty free and many are vegan.

You don’t want to miss my 49 face swatches of pale and fair skin foundations.

Best Foundations for Pale Skin

Pr + purchased by me.

Of course, you can always add white to any liquid or cream foundation to make it a better match for your skintone, but sometimes it’s just nice to not have to mix. I hate having to mix my foundation to match my skintone daily. Most of the time I just want to put on my foundation and go.

What I’m looking for in a foundation is one that will hide my redness from rosacea, even out my skintone, and last at least 8 hours. I’d like it to be hydrating, or at least not emphasize my dry skin and fine lines. And of course, I want it to match my pale skin, as opposed to be too dark for me.

@KatVonDBeauty gets pale skin. I’ve swatched KVD foundations and concealers next to each other, Cover FX and NARS Chantilly for reference. It’s surprising how ‘dark’ Chantilly is in comparison, and I would never consider it dark. I think D35 is a color that some people would use to contour, but as you can probably tell, it turns orangey on me, so wouldn’t be natural or flattering looking. I also swatched my sample of KVD Light 42 from Sephora next to the KVD Light 42 that I was sent. Photo on left is studio lighting. On the right is outside in late day sun light. . Row 1 – KVD 41 Light Neutral (liquid foundation) – Cover FX N0 (liquid foundation) Row 2 KVD 42 Light Neutral (liquid foundation) – NARS Chantilly (radiant creamy concealer) Row 3 KVD 42 Light (sample from sephora) – KVD L1 Neutral (concealer) Row 4 KVD 45 Light Neutral (liquid foundation) – KVD L3 Warm (concealer) KVD D35 Neutral (concealer) – KVD White Out (concealer) #vegan #crueltyfree #katvondbeauty #crueltyfreebeauty #lockitrevolution #Phyrra #PhyrrasFault #MyUnicornLife #altbeauty #altfashion #instagood #photosinbetween #howyougglow #redditmua #bbloggers #theblogissue #prsample

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Some pale foundation swatches to share with you. I took photos in indirect sunlight and direct sunlight at around 5pm. To me KVD Light Neutral 41 looks pinker than Light Neutral 42 which looks more peachy, Nyx HD Nude looks like a pale peach, Senna Alabaster is a light peach, Hot Makeup NP30 looks like a pale peachy pink neutral, Ulta Fair Porcelain looks like a lighter version of NP30, Oxygenetix Opal looks like a light peach, bareMinerals Opal looks like a peach, Jouer Opal looks very peachy (darkest of this set), Tarte Fair Honey is an ultra pale peach, It Cosmetics Illuminating Fair is a light peach, and Nyx Alabaster an ultra pale peach. Something to keep in mind, when you’re trying to match a foundation, match the foundation to your neck/chest, not your wrist or face. Matching to your neck means that you won’t look like a floating head with the wrong color. Also remember, these are swatched fairly heavily, not really blended out, so that you can see the differences in the colors. The bottom row is It cosmetics fair & Nyx alabaster. With these foundations, the shades that I feel like I can wear are KVD 41 & 42, Nyx HD Nude, Tarte Fair Honey, Nyx Alabaster and Hot Makeup NP30. I haven’t worn the Ulta stick yet. I can probably add white foundation mixer to the rest of the shades to make them workable. Currently doing a wear test on the Nyx Nude + Alabaster and I will be doing a wear test with the NP30 too. I think the reason that I can wear the Nyx Nude foundation is because of the Alabaster powder, which I love. Best thing I’ve bought from Nyx all year! The Tarte Fair Honey is the only foundation I can wear from tarte, everything else they make is too dark. #vegan #crueltyfree #katvondbeauty #crueltyfreebeauty #lockitrevolution #Phyrra #PhyrrasFault #MyUnicornLife #altbeauty #altfashion #instagood #photosinbetween #howyougglow #redditmua #bbloggers #theblogissue #hudabeauty #cakefaceconfession #tartecosmetics #tarteskin #nyxcosmetics #tampablogger #makeupaddict #makeupjunkie #bblogger #styleblogger #ABMlifeissweet #ABMlifeiscolorful #ABMHappylife #ABMHappyhour

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Oily to Normal Skin Types

Kat Von D Lock-It Foundation (vegan)
Kat Von D Lock-It Foundation has a lot going for it. In addition to offering 2 shades pale enough for me – 41 Light Neutral & 42 Light Neutral – she also has all global shades of beauty, too. There are 32 different shades. Lock-It foundation is ultra full coverage and has a matte finish.

Now, if you have oily skin Lock-It will be your best friend. If you have dry skin, like me, you’re going to have to put in extra products to make it work for you. Right now, I’m mixing in Nyx Pro Foundation Mixer in Opalescent and Paula’s Choice Hyaluronic Acid Booster when I want to wear Lock-It. You can also add a few drops of Josie Maran Argan Oil to it too.

Anastasia Beverly Hills Stick Foundation (vegan)
ABH says this is a light to full coverage cream foundation stick with a natural-looking demi-matte finish. It currently comes in 24 shades. I bought the shade Warm Alabaster (for pale, warm toned skin). There are several other shades for pale skin, such as Alabaster (for pale skin with cool tones), Porcelain (deeper than Alabaster) and Warm Porcelain (deeper than Warm Alabaster). I think this is probably best for oily skin, though I’m still experimenting to see if I can make it work with my dry skin. Currently Alabaster and Warm Alabaster are only available at Anastasia’s website.

Cover FX Pressed Mineral Foundation (vegan)
Pressed Mineral Foundation is available in 40 shades. I wear shade N0. It’s best suited for oily skin, as it is infused with kaolin clay.

Geek Chic Cutie Foundation (vegan)
Cutie Foundation comes in 6 shades. Kahlan is the pale neutral. This is especially good for sensitive, oily skin.

Meow Cosmetics Foundations (vegan)
Meow Cosmetics will blow you away with their shade range. It comes in a staggering 86 different shades, plus multiple formulas for normal to oily skin. It’s been too drying for me to wear for the past several years, but I do love the colors. I wore Inquisitive Siamese and Inquisitive Sphynx, but I did mix in Snow Lynx to lighten it to match.

The All Natural Face Pressed Powder Foundation (vegan)
This pressed powder foundation is available in 50 shades. When I last wore it, I wore Porcelain Kissed by Honey.  This is good for normal to oily skin.

Urban Decay All Nighter Foundation
Available in 24 shades, this is ideal for oily skin. Beware, as it oxidizes pretty dark. I have shades .5 and 1.0, but I have to add a lot of white to them to make them match me. They need a .25 – ultra pale neutral.

Hard Candy Glamoflauge Foundation
I’ve had many people tell me that this is their holy grail drugstore foundation for pale skin. It only comes in light to medium shades. I have Porcelain. It’s oil free, too.

Dry to Normal Skin Types

Illuminare Moisturizing Mineral Foundation (vegan)
This comes in a very small shade range of about 5 colors. Alabaster is a great match for me. This foundation is fragrance free, gluten free, salicylate-free, bismuth oxychloride free, talc free, mica free, dye free, and oil free. It’s great for dry, sensitive skin. See my wear test video.

Tarte Amazonian Clay Airbrush Foundation (vegan)
The Amazonian Clay airbrush foundation is like a loose mineral foundation. It comes in 16 different shades, mostly light to medium tones. It does have bismuth oxychloride in it, which can cause irritation in some sensitive skin types. I have the shade Fair Honey, which is a good match for my pale skin. It does a good job of covering up my redness from rosacea. This is my favorite foundation from tarte.

Tarte Confidence Creamy Powder Foundation (vegan)
The Tarte Confidence Powder Foundation is only available in 10 shades – from light to light medium. It claims to be a 2-in-1 foundation with makeup and skincare benefits. It’s supposed to be medium to full coverage. I have Fair Neutral, which is a good match for my skintone. You can apply this wet or dry. It’s good at evening out my skintone and masking redness.

Illamasqua Skin Base (vegan)
Illamasqua Skin Base is supposed to provide a realistic skin effect. It comes in 26 different shades from light to dark. I wear 02, which is described as pink with yellow. See my review.

Cover FX Total Cover Cream Foundation (vegan)
Available in 40 shades, Total Cover Cream is perfect for dry skin. N0 is a great match for my pale skin. Because it’s a cream you can sheer it out for light coverage, apply it for medium coverage or build it up for full coverage.

Cover FX Natural Finish Foundation (vegan)
Natural Finish Liquid Foundation is also available in 40 shades. This is a water-based liquid foundation that is ideal for dry skin. I wear shade N0. Lately I’ve found that to get it to look the way I want it to look I need to mix in a little bit of Nyx Opalescent.

Lucy Minerals Original Foundation (vegan)
So this loose foundation is completely customizable. I use a mix, Courtney, which is 50% Snow White / 50% Light. You just need to order a try me size of the shades closest to you and figure out how much white vs. how much of the correct undertone. Light is light neutral. Pale Olive is for pale olive skin, Fair is for pale cool toned skin, and Cream is for pale yellow toned skin. While I love this foundation, I do get tired of having to press it myself.

The All Natural Face Vegan Cream Foundation (vegan)
Available in 50 shades. I wear Porcelain Kissed by Honey. Cream foundation made with organic jojoba oil, organic argan oil, candelilla wax, mica, oxides, titanium dioxide and zinc oxide. This is great for normal to dry skin.

Urban Decay Naked Skin Foundation (vegan)
Available in 24 shades, this is a great foundation for dry skin. Beware, as it does oxidize darker. I have shade .5, which I have to add white to if I want to wear it. They need to make .25 – an ultra pale neutral.

Urban Decay One & Done Foundation
Available in 6 shades, this is ideal for dry skin as it’s very moisturizing. Beware, the shades run very dark. I literally mix 50% or more white foundation mixer with Light, the palest shade. They need an ultra pale neutral color.

It Cosmetics Celebration Illumination Foundation
This is only available in light to medium tones, which is unfortunate. The shade Fair is a bit dark for me, but it does a great job of covering up my redness from rosacea. This is a good powder foundation for fair, dry skin. I really hope they offer a paler neutral shade soon! I’ve emailed the company to request it.

Josie Maran Vibrancy Argan Oil Foundation Fluid
Vibrancy Argan Oil Foundation Fluid comes in 14 different shades. Dynamic RG5 is a good match for my pale skin. It’s their palest neutral. This is best for dry to very dry sensitive skin.

NARS Sheer Glow Foundation
NARS Sheer Glow was my go-to foundation for a long time. It comes in 18 different shades. Siberia is what I wear in this line. It’s a pale neutral that leans yellow.

bareMinerals BarePro Foundation
With 30 shades available, bareMinerals barePRO powder foundation works for a lot of skintones. The lightest shade is Fair 01, which is too pink for me. I wear Dawn 02, which is more neutral toned, though it’s a bit darker than me. If you’re pale and yellow toned, you may want to look at Champagne. I like it because it’s my quick and easy go-to foundation. It covers up my redness and evens out my complexion. See my review of Fair, Dawn and Champagne.

Tarte Empowered Hybrid Gel Foundation
Tarte recently expanded this foundation to 16 shades, from Porcelain to Mahogany. I bought the shade Porcelain, which is supposed to be for very fair skin. It’s best suited to ultra dry skin. I’m mixed on this foundation. The packaging is absolutely horrible. I had to depot mine into an airless pump because the jar packaging is such a mess. The shade Porcelain does match my skintone decently. It’s really moisturizing for dry to very dry skin types. It does not work well with a primer, such as Hourglass Veil Mineral Primer. It just sits on top of it.

Hourglass Vanish Seamless Finish Foundation Stick
The Vanish Foundation Stick is an ultra luxury foundation and concealer in one that promises to provide 12 hour coverage. It comes in 26 shades. It says it applies with the ease of a liquid and melds into your skin. The shade Blanc is a good match for pale, cool-toned skin.

Buxom Show Some Skin SPF 30
This is a light coverage hydrating foundation suited for dry skin. It comes in 12 different shades, with Tickle the Ivory being the closest shade I can wear. It’s still a bit dark but it’s doable.

Nyx Hydra Touch Powder Foundation
Nyx Hydra Touch Powder Foundation comes in 20 different shades. Porcelain is for fair skin with neutral undertones. This is a delicate powder. My pan cracked when I touched it with a brush. It’s still one of the better options available at the drugstore.

How to Fix a Foundation That’s Too Dark for Pale Skin

The easiest way to fix a foundation that’s the right undertone but too dark for you is to use a white foundation mixer. There are quite a few available these days.

  • Nyx Pro Foundation Mixer in White
  • Kat Von D Lock-It Concealer Cream in White (vegan)
  • The Body Shop Shade Adjusting Drops in Lightening (vegan)
  • Manic Panic Dreamtone Foundation in White (vegan)

How to Make a Foundation Work for Dry Skin

The number one thing that you can do to make a foundation work better for dry skin is to add a drop or two of oil to it. Oils will  help it to meld with the skin and not cling to dry patches. I also like to prep my skin by applying a beauty oil in the morning before I put on my SPF.

See me swatch and wear 49 foundations for pale skin!

What are your picks for the best foundations for pale skin? Is your skin type dry or oily? Let me know!

The Pale Girl’s Guide to Beauty 



  1. Thanks for the great articles! I’m currently using the cover fx cream foundation with the milk blurring stick. I’m a musician so need the full coverage and since i’m getting older, the blurring effect is also must. My skin is super dry though and after a couple of hours it looks awful – new creases all over, makeup starting to cake, etc. can you recommend a super hydrating primer that might help with that?

  2. What a great post. I’m corpse pale 😉 and I recently started using Pur Minerals LIquid Veil in Light. It goes on like a dream with a brush, sinks in and blends just seamlessly and covers areas of redness on my chin and nose. It’s perhaps a tiny bit too dark for me but is fine with powder over it. It’s honestly the best foundation I’ve ever used. I’m so impressed with my first purchase from Pur.

  3. Hi Courtney! I was wondering if you have ever tried or if you were interested in trying and reviewing Face Atelier HD Ultra Foundation. I’m starting my freelance mobile makeup business and using all cruelty free products. I’m trying to find my go to cruelty free foundation for clients, I would love to hear your thoughts. Thanks in advance xo ?

  4. Thank you so much for these swatches, very helpful to see so many pale foundations together. I’m looking at the Cover FX Natural Finish Foundation in N0 and I was wondering how you think it compared to Nars RCC in Chantilly (my best colour match) in terms of the shade? Cover FX isn’t sold in my country so I can’t test it myself unfortunately. Thanks!

    1. Hi Hayley! I just updated the post with a photo of Cover FX N0 next to NARS Chantilly. N0 is paler than Chantilly 🙂

      1. Oh wow, definitely surprising that Chantilly is dark compared to N0… so the search continues! Thanks heaps for updating the post 🙂

          1. Beautylish kindly sent me some samples a while back, including one of N10 but it was a bit too dark! I’m considering mixing something else in because I loved the formula, and I can always hope that one day I’ll find the perfect shade and formula haha! Thanks again for your help 🙂

  5. My skin is so dry and sensitive (and I have eczema, dermatitis and rosacea) I can’t wear liquid or cream foundation, as it gets caught in – and emphasizes – my dry patches. After a few layers of moisture the best I can do is a very very light dusting of Meow loose MM; if I go too heavy this clings to the dry patches too so it really does have to be light. I’m always jealous of people who can wear foundation and look polished, as my skin doesn’t let me. I just have to be glad that my skin is pretty good most of the time, and usually a bit of concealer can cover the worst of the dermatitis etc.

    1. You might want to try a sample of Lucy Minerals. It’s the most moisturizing powder foundation I’ve ever found. I stopped being able to wear Meow because it dries me out.

      1. Thanks, I haven’t tried them. Have you tested the ‘Lucy Light’ formula? I’m not sure how my skin will cope with the added extras in the Original formula (especially the magnesium ascorbyl phosphate), but they may be what makes it moisturising.

          1. I might try a few samples. Unfortunately, being in Australia, I’m stuck between reasonable postage with a very very lengthy wait, or ridiculous postage for a shorter wait. At least the samples are well priced.

  6. Thank you for these reviews! I really want to try the Josie Maran and the It Cosmetics now. I’m about an N20 in Cover FX – do you think I’d be Fair or Light in the It Cosmetics Celebration Foundation Illumination? Thanks!

      1. Thank you for the recommendation. I was wondering what kind of brush you like to use with this? I used the ELF flat top powder brush and it made such a mess. I probably ended up with more powder kicked up in the pan than I used on my face! I’m afraid I’m going to blow through it using it like that. Thanks!

  7. Hi Phyrra, I hope you and your family had a lovely Christmas. Ours was great, but very hot and humid.

    It is very difficult to get a really pale porcelain shade, as I well know. I have pink undertones and lots of them are either neutral or too warm for me and oxidise badly. Quite a few of the products you listed above aren’t always found in Aus or not the whole shade range.
    There are many great suggestions above and thank you once again for your indepth research and analysis.

    1. Thank you! We had a great Christmas. It’s been pretty warm here in Tampa, too. It’s so difficult to find the perfect pale shade that doesn’t oxidize orange.

  8. I miss my Illamasqua Skin Base. I still have white that I use to with other foundation but I found 02 to turn orange on me in photos…. I’m just that olive tone. lol

  9. Do you find adding the oil results in the foundation breaking down or sliding off sooner than it would otherwise?

  10. Your swatches are so helpful. I’m not as fair as you though I consider myself to be quite fair so I love seeing your swatches. I have trouble with powder foundation since it emphasizes dryness.

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