Gorgeous Medium Coverage Foundations


I’m a recovering “full coverage foundation every single day” makeup user. Don’t get me wrong, I still love a full coverage foundation on days I know I’m going to be photographed or if I’m attending a more formal event, but for every day wear I am much more likely to wear a medium coverage foundation.

I’ve tried a few different medium coverage foundations recently, from matte to radiant finishes, and I’m going to break down the pro’s and con’s of each in this post!

Whenever I talk about foundations I get questions about how to determine the right foundation color. If you want to do it yourself, go into a beauty store and apply a swipe of foundation along your jawline. You should look for something that blends in as best as possible. You can refer to this post for more details that may help!


Medium Coverage Foundations, in order based on my personal preferences:

Nars Sheer Glow Foundation. I’ve been using this foundation for years. I absolutely love the finish, and it’s the easiest to use if you need to build it up to fuller coverage. If I want light coverage, I’ll apply it with my fingers. If I want more full coverage, I’ll apply it with a foundation brush. It doesn’t settle into lines, it looks natural and radiant on the skin, and it would easily be my top choice of foundation if I had to choose only one to use for the rest of my life. That being said, I’m between shades so I use a pump of 4.00 and 4.75 in order to get the right color for my skin! In the summer I can usually just use the slightly darker shade, but otherwise mixing the two together is easy and gives me the best result.

Dior Forever Skin Glow 24hr Wear Radiant Perfection Skin-Caring Foundation. This is newer to my line-up and I am thrilled with it. It’s a radiant, natural, skin-like finish. It wears like a true medium coverage but could easily be built up to create a fuller coverage. It allows freckles to shine through but still evens out my face. It lasts all day, which is vital for a medium coverage foundation and glides on the face easily.

Urban Decay Stay Naked Weightless Liquid Foundation. This is a beautiful option for a matte finish. The coverage is absolutely perfect for a medium foundation, and the matte nature of the finish means it easily lasts all day looking just as good as it did when you first applied it. I don’t love a matte finish for myself, but I’ve found that using this foundation and finishing it with a bit of the Laura Mercier Translucent Setting Powder in Glow creates a really beautiful look on the skin.

Anastasia Luminous Foundation. This is a nice foundation but I could live without it. It’s on the lighter end of a medium coverage foundation and does look very luminous on the skin. If you love to glow, you may love this foundation!

Bobbi Brown Skin Longwear Weightless Foundation. This was my least favorite of the new foundations I’ve tried. I can’t really put my finger on why other than I felt like I need to apply a lot of the product to get decent coverage. In my opinion, this is a great sheer foundation, but not an ideal choice for those of you that are looking for true medium coverage!

In this post:

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Comments (35)

  1. Laurie Oglesby says
    Posted March 5, 2020

    Hi Kate! Thanks for the post. Question-I recently had my makeup done and the artist matched my foundation to my chest. What do you think of this method? Thank you!

    • Kate says
      Posted March 5, 2020

      Hmm, I think that seems like a bit of a stretch for matching..? I’d try to match much closer to your face!

  2. Melissa says
    Posted March 5, 2020

    How does the Dior compare with Armani Luminous Silk?? I have worn this for years & haven’t found anything else I love.

    • Kate says
      Posted March 5, 2020

      You know, they are pretty similar! The Dior may have a bit more luminosity to it but both are beautiful finishes!

  3. Danae says
    Posted March 5, 2020

    Do you have any recommendations for medium coverage powder foundation? I have never like the feel of liquid foundation on my skin (or perhaps I just need the right liquid?).

    • Kate says
      Posted March 5, 2020

      I really like Bare Minerals loose powder foundation, as well as Tarte Amazonian Clay loose powder foundation!

    • Lynn says
      Posted March 5, 2020

      Urban Decay has a new powder foundation called The Fix. I LOVEit!

  4. Posted March 5, 2020

    Thanks for the recommendations as always! 🙂

    Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog

  5. Jen says
    Posted March 5, 2020

    Definitely interested in the Nars Sheer Glow Foundation!!! Could you recommend a concealer for brightening up the under eye. I’ve tried several and my dry skin always ends up looking really cakey. It ages me and looks very unflattering.

    • Kate says
      Posted March 5, 2020

      I really like Charlotte Tilbury Magic Away concealer!

  6. Tiffany says
    Posted March 5, 2020

    What is the name of the two shades you mentioned for the Nars foundation? Sephora only lists the shade names, not the numbers you mention (4.00 and 4.75).

    • Kate says
      Posted March 5, 2020

      Copenhagen and Deauville are the names!

  7. Melanie says
    Posted March 5, 2020

    Any chance there will be a powder foundation tutorial soon? I just purchased the BM foundation and I’m a newbie to powder. TY!!

  8. Posted March 5, 2020

    I’m a BB cream girl now because foundation has always look cakey on my face. Do you have any suggestions on how to not have that happe ?

  9. Erin says
    Posted March 5, 2020

    Which option would you recommend for super dry skin? Or are all good with that?

  10. Posted March 5, 2020

    I’m a BB cream girl now because foundation has always look cakey on my face. Do you have any suggestions on how to not have that happen?

  11. Abbey says
    Posted March 5, 2020

    Can you tell me your thoughts on Dior Airflash! I have had it suggested but it’s on the pricier side and I wanted to know your thoughts.

  12. Wendy says
    Posted March 6, 2020

    Hi Kate!

    I love your post. I am super excited to hear that you will also be testing drugstore foundations. I currently use IT products and love them but would love to find something cheaper with the same coverage. I can’t seem to find anything drugstore wise that is the same.

  13. Angie Nunnelee says
    Posted March 6, 2020

    Is it better to use a brush, sponge or fingers for applying foundation? Pros and cons? Thank you!

  14. Rachel Gadow says
    Posted March 6, 2020

    Any drugstore recommendations?

  15. Kaitlyn B says
    Posted March 6, 2020

    Hi Kate, I’ve been using a tinted moisturizer for a few months now but occasionally I will apply foundation for date night, weekend events, etc. However, when I do a full face of makeup I am noticing my under eyes get severely dry and irritated.
    Could it be the the way I’m applying the product or just my skin’s reaction to the products?
    I’ve also realized maybe I should start incorporation an eye cream into my daily routine. What is your recommended under-eye cream?

  16. Sara Berry says
    Posted March 6, 2020

    Little confused on the Nars Sheer Glow. You have numbers listed as shades, but when l go to the website there are shade names listed? What would 4.0 and 4.75 be in the shade names? Thanks!

    • Kate says
      Posted March 6, 2020

      If you look at Sephora’s website, you can swipe through the photos to see which number corresponds with the name!

  17. Amber says
    Posted March 6, 2020

    Hi Kate! Favorite full coverage fountain? Or a better way to cover redness? Thanks!

  18. Posted March 8, 2020

    We love and like Charlotte Tilbury Magic Away concealer! Thanks

  19. Jennifer says
    Posted March 8, 2020

    Thank you for introducing me to NARS sheer glow. I have been loving it for many months!!

  20. Haley says
    Posted March 8, 2020

    What foundation brush do you use?

  21. Posted March 11, 2020

    Some gorgeous foundations!

  22. Cynthia says
    Posted March 23, 2020

    Great tutorial! Can you post all the brushes you used also!

  23. Maria says
    Posted March 31, 2020

    Thank you, Kate! Could you please share what brush you love best for applying the NARS?

  24. Cathie Collins says
    Posted March 31, 2020

    I have to tell you that I followed your advice about putting on foundation first than concealer. I have done the opposite for 40 odd years (haha), your method is so much better.
    Thanks for the tips and I look forward to your stories. I almost feel like you are one of the moms from the school pick up line talking about your day!
    Stay healthy!

    • Kate says
      Posted April 1, 2020

      I’m glad to hear this! Thank you, you too!

  25. Leah says
    Posted April 24, 2020

    Have you ever used Laura Mercier – Flawless Lumiere Radiance Perfecting Foundation? and if so; what did you think?

    thank you!

    • Kate says
      Posted April 24, 2020

      You know, I believe I have but I’m not totally sure. Search my site! There is a search box at the top right corner!

  26. Nancy says
    Posted April 19, 2021

    Your NARS write-up makes me want to try it! With COVID, we can’t try colors in-store so I’m trying to figure my shade(s). When you list 4.0 & 4.75, what colors are they? The link takes me to Sephora, who calls them by names like Mont Blanc or Fiji. So complicated, lol!
    Thanks for any help you can offer.