Where Are You at Right Now in Terms of Your Foundation Coverage? Have You Been Wearing More Full Coverage, Medium or Sheer and Why?

Published in: Just For Fun, Makeup

Wearing a medium coverage foundation, Dior Diorskin Nude Air Serum in 40

Wearing medium-coverage Dior Diorskin Nude Air Serum foundation in 40. I love the velvety finish, which isn’t quite a flat matte.

Full coverage was my jam for a really long time. I was all about opaque coverage (sometimes, um, it was even borderline cakey).

I think this was partly because of some skin issues I had a few years ago. I was breaking out badly, and I felt like I had to cover everything up.


Then, slowly but surely, my skin started to improve, but it took a long time. I made some changes in my diet (mainly more water, less dairy) and started using different skin products. My skin grew less fussy (although by no means was it ever perfect), and I started to feel more comfortable.

But I kept wearing full coverage.

I still have pigmentation issues here and there and other blemishes and fine lines, things like that. I also have my share of freckles, but I’m at a point, at least for now, where I’m more comfortable with that.

I wear medium and sheer coverage a lot now, but I don’t know if you can always tell in pictures, because I think I’m getting better at manipulating the concealer. That’s a big key. Instead of caking all of that foundation on or using tons of full-coverage foundation, I’ll go as light as I can with foundation, and then very purposefully place concealer to cover — not cover up, because I hate words like “cover up” and “mask” — and even out the skin tone. The idea is to let the concealer do all of the heavy lifting.

I think I’ve also gotten better about using primers. I used to think they were total B.S. and just an extra step, but no, they really make a HUGE difference, and not just in terms of how long your makeup lasts, but also in terms of the texture of your skin.

There’s a lot of great options out there now for primers that smooth the surface and blur pores, making whatever you put on top of them look more natural, and letting you use less makeup overall.

Wearing a full coverage foundation, Laura Mercier Flawless Fluide in Chai

Wearing the fabulous full-coverage Laura Mercier Flawless Fluide in Chai

Smashbox On the Rocks

Also wearing Laura Mercier Flawless Fluide in Chai

It’s also the time of year. Here in Northern California, it’s starting to warm up a little, so I haven’t been wanting to wear a full-coverage face, where you just feel all of that makeup sitting on your skin. I like the idea of heading into spring and summer wearing less makeup, and my skin being able to breathe.

But it’s still been a change. When I went to brunch last Saturday, I wore a lot less makeup than usual, less foundation and less makeup in general. I just wore a bit of the Dior foundation without any concealer, and it was surprising to see those uneven areas peeking through in the mirror.

I think the surprise is partially in my head, though, because I’m so used to seeing myself in full coverage, and the whole, “this is how my skin looks??” but this is how my skin looks. I do have some parts that are not as even toned as others, and that’s completely fine.

How about you, my friend? Where are you at right now in terms of your foundation coverage? Have you been wearing more full coverage, medium or sheer and why?

Your friendly neighborhood beauty addict,



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  1. Katherine M says:

    I think I went through the same stages as you on foundation. When I first started wearing makeup, I also had some acne/skin issues that I was trying to cover up, and due to my lack of knowledge about make-up, thought that full coverage was the way to go. I even had bought a Revlon full coverage foundation that was meant for active wear (you could wear it to the gym and it would not come off) and didn’t realize how bad it looked until I saw pics of myself one day. On that same token, I used to be obsessive with how my hair looked and straightened it quite a bit.

    Now I mainly wear BB and CC cream. I use Physician’s Formula Organic CC cream most days, and when I have those lovely chin breakouts, I use Maybelline BB Cream with salicylic acid. I like enhancing what I have because it looks more natural that way and is actually easier to touch up. I’m also a lot less obsessive about how my hair looks on a day to day basis. If what I try in the morning doesn’t work, I go to an old standby of a French braid, bun or ponytail with a thick Goody cotton headband at the hairline. I only straighten it once in a while. From a psychological perspective, it shows that when I was 20 and obsessive with full coverage and straight hair, I wasn’t sure of myself and where I was going to end up, who I was, etc. I could keep it together on the outside, but on the inside I felt shaky (this was also due to major life events as well). Now, at 27, I’ve had a lot of time to go through the tough stuff more gracefully and realize that not everything is perfect all of the time. Sorry for the long-winded post, but the psychology major in me likes to look at the parallels between makeup and life – thanks for having these posts!

  2. Torrie B says:

    In my late 30s…finally embracing that I have pretty good skin that doesn’t need much coverage. I’ve been wearing medium/full in Diorskin Flash foundation…absolute love. I’m getting better at the concealer and primer game too. Right now I love the Diorskin Flash concealer and Bobbi Brown corrector. But haven’t fallen in love with a primer. Any suggestions?

  3. Kim says:

    I have pretty good skin in terms of not getting many breakouts and not having significant pores or fine lines, but I have the kind of ultra fair skin tone that means 90% of my face is covered in freckles. When I’m self-tanned, I like a sheer foundation to let the natural glow of my skin peek through since my skin tone looks a lot more even then. When I’m my natural pale shade, I prefer medium to full because I think the freckles combined with seeing red or blue tones under the skin make me look kind of splotchy and sickly.

  4. Fran says:

    Due to sun-sensitive rosacea, I need to wear all-mineral high SPF product of some kind in daylight. Rather than attempt to wear that kind of sunscreen plus foundation (difficult to pull off at best) I’m wearing IT Cosmetics CC Cream SPF 50. I love the glow-y coverage. Back when my skin was oily, I relied on TMs an BB creams from Tarte. The IT CC Cream is has buildable coverage from light to almost full. I wear it at a medium coverage level and add concealer (IT’s Bye Bye UnderEye or Bye Bye Redness) where needed. For a more casual day (without *too* much sun exposure) I’ll use the Too Faced BB cream, which is also nice and glow-y, but has a lower SPF and coverage from sheer to medium, with Make Up For Ever full cover concealer for the broken capillaries. I actually didn’t wear a base product (or much makeup) until I figured out how sensitive to both sun and chemical sunscreens my rosacea is about five years ago (I’m 58 now). All those rosacea-related zits just looked worse when I tried to conceal them with product! Prescription products never helped my rosacea, but sun protection and salicylic acid have gotten it under substantial control. So my makeup really is one of the most important parts of my skin care!

  5. Tracy says:

    I’m in the latest my 30s are gonna get (39) and also like the above poster have pretty good skin. Over the past 6 mos I’ve been more into skincare (removing fragrance) than makeup however I do like to even things out a bit. So I’ve been using the Cover FX Illuminating Primer, Dior Hydra Life BB Creme (center of my face blended out), Cover FX Contour Kit and the Cover FX Illuminating Setting Powder. I’ve gotten more compliments on my skin rather than on my makeup and it’s always a good day when the SA in Sephora thinks you’re in your 20s. When people ask how my skin is so clear I tell them that it might have to do with the fact that my mom chased me around slathering on sunscreen from the age of 2 and I was always wearing some sort of hat and or sunglasses growing up. Guess it paid off.

    • Marcia says:

      Hi Karen. I have always gravitated towards full coverage foundation primarily because my skin is oily and acne prone. I finally found two great skin products which have seemed to control the acne issue (Kate Somerville HydraClear Acne Gel and Philosophy No Reason to Hide serum). I use powder foundations, so I’m rotating between Bare Minerals, It Cosmetics, Too Faced, Becca, Bobbi Brown, and Studio Gear. Glad to hear your positive comments about primer. I’ve been hesitant about trying primers, but I’ll have to try one and see how it looks with my foundation.

  6. Agata says:

    I like wearing full coverage foundation too but I’m fine with medium coverage. Everyone has some skin imperfections, nobody really has a flawless face. I just got a sample of the Dior serum foundation. I can’t wait to try it.
    Agata recently posted … What’s In My Makeup Bag- Las Vegas Edition

  7. Meghan says:

    I’ve never been about full coverage but my skin hasn’t been perfect. I have oily, sometimes reactive blemish prone skin (like if a use a moisturizer or foundation that’s too heavy, I’ll break out). I’ve been using mostly light for a long time and the occasionally medium coverage. I’m still not always sure about concealer (I have a hard time with match/ texture) so I struggle with that. I wish I knew how to do that better!

  8. Jennifer says:

    First of all, love the jewelry in all the photos, especially the ear cuff. I’ve been wanting an ear cuff for a while now but haven’t found the right one. And I love your lips and cheeks in the first photo, is it a coral hue?

    Anyhoo, I really feel like I need at least medium coverage these days, what with the fine lines, age spots and what not all over my freakin’ 45-year-old face.

    I’m really loving a Makeup Forever right now but I can’t remember the name or the formulation because I’m posting this comment while I’m at work 🙂

    And thanks for the primer reminder. I have a few in my drawers I just forget to put them on…

    Please kiss my nephew for me.
    Jennifer recently posted … Links I Love #33

  9. KK says:

    I’m into full Coverage foundation applied it 2/3 light layers blending like cray! (Hello Beauty Blender)

    Thanks to you, loreal dream lumi is my current jam!

  10. Medium coverage is what I aim for these days. I had my share of full-on days, but that was when I was around 16-20 years, then went through a no-makeup at all phase when I started working (sounds silly, but I had the feeling I wouldn’t have been taken seriously if I wore more than mascara and a little blush) and finally started experimenting again around the age of 30.
    I have acne scars, mainly on my cheeks and jawline. Wearing a medium coverage means they are still showing a little, but I am fine with that. Using a light coverage leaves them way to noticeable for my liking. Concealer is a great option, but they are many and shattered, and I can’t be bothered to conceal them one by one in the mornings.
    LindaLibraLoca recently posted … Light in coverage, but heavy duty in skincare – MAC Prep+Prime Beauty Balm SPF 35

  11. Ruchita says:

    For the longest time, I’ve been all about full coverage foundation. But lately, I’ve been wanting to go with more medium coverage. I picked up the Ready Set Gorgeous foundation from Cover Girl and I’m really liking it. It’s actually a good match for my skin color, which is always a plus!

  12. Rachel R. says:

    Honestly, I’m all over the place. The last couple weeks, I’ve had hormonal acne and cystic acne breakouts (perimenopause is so fun…NOT!), so I’ve been going with medium-full coverage with a little concealer. Fortunately, I don’t get these kinds of breakouts very often. Most of the time, I’m light-to-medium coverage. I very rarely can get away with no foundation.

  13. Actually, I’ve been going mostly foundation-free! I felt like my skin needed a break from years of wearing foundation.
    Kiss & Make-up recently posted … Ultrasun: find the right sunscreen product for you

  14. Jenny says:

    Your makeup looks amazing in all these photos. I’ve been wearing the Laura Mercier Flawless Fluide foundation as well and I LOVE it. But, for about the past two weeks, the foundations I’ve been wearing for quite a while are starting to oxidize and turn orange on my face almost as soon as I put it on. What the crap? I can’t figure out what the eff is going on because I haven’t changed my routine at all. I wash my brushes weekly, I use a silicone based primer, I let everything dry between steps, and I try not to use a crap ton of powder. What the heck is going on with my makeup?! It’s been a bummer.

    My undertone is so strange, which makes it difficult: one half of my face is more pink, and the other half is more yellow. It makes it hard to decide what type of undertone I should go with for foundations.. pink, yellow or neutral? Dilemma, dilemma.
    Jenny recently posted … Cotton Candy Eyes

  15. Meahlyn says:

    I hear ya sister! I used to wear medium-full coverage too (Tarte amazonian clay foundation) and still do on occasion. However, lately I’ve been looking into more lighter coverage foundations for the same reasons you stated. While reading one of your more recent posts, I noticed how radiant your skin looked and I just had to go out and try a sample of the Dior foundation. To my luck, it didn’t break me out and the coverage is as you said it was, sheer to medium. It’s almost comparable to my bare minerals foundation, which I like.

    Anyway, I’m off to try another makeup concoction, inspired by you of course! Thanks for all the awesome posts, can’t read wait to read the next one!

  16. Molly says:

    You have lovely skin!
    I’m very pale and quite goth-y. I have used the lightest shades of a few foundations such as Nars, Touche Eclat lquid etc but I really wanted a sooth, porcelain effect, so I’ve started using MAC face + Body in White. I’m a bit happier with the truly pale look, I think it’s more ”me”.

    It’s just opaque enough when I use a bit of white powder on top, but the powder I’m using is actually a matte white eyeshadow :/
    I was looking at chanel’s poudre universelle in Merveille, online, but it seems to have sparkle in it!
    The only other powder I own is Mac studio fix, which is too dark to go with white foundation.

    Ay ideas for a matte white powder I could use on top of the white f&b foundation, please?

    I don’t mind spending a bit more on it 🙂

  17. Dawn Peterson says:

    Turned 50 last year but have been all about coverage that’s as sheer as possible since about my mid thirties. I’m on a perpetual hunt for a “holy grail” concealer – using Nudestix right now and I really like it – not like a crayon texture at all but smooth, creamy and blendable. I think skincare is actually more important than anything else. Up until my early forties I was still having issues with hormonal breakouts until I had an epiphany about cleansing my face – I’d always followed a regimen and been religious about cleansing and have used Retin A since my thirties, so I could never understand why I kept breaking out – till one day when I was came home from the beach, coated in mineral sunscreen, and I used some olive oil on my face, rubbed it around, tissued it off, then got in the shower and cleansed as usual. Immediately my face felt cleaner than usual – and literally by morning, looked and felt better. I just think I wasn’t really getting my skin clean, and it stands to reason, if you habitually wear physical/mineral sunscreen, try it for yourself. Put your sunscreen on your hands – then try to wash it off with your usual facial cleanser, using the same manner you use to wash your face. Then put it on and try to remove it with oil, and rinse thoroughly. That’s what I did, anyway. Anyhow – I feel like I was into oils long before they became a big trend – and they truly work. Over the years I’ve experimented ALOT and found what works for me – I cleanse my face with sunflower oil, moisturize my body with safflower oil, and I like passion fruit oil as well as PTR Oilless Oil for my face on top of Retin A. I discovered from doing that, that I could use Retin A pretty much 7 nights a week if I like, without drying up and turning into a flake monster. Anyway – sorry for the long post, I just feel like -with good skin- any makeup I wear looks better, and I rarely get zits anymore, and having bad skin SUCKED so bad and made me feel so self conscious, and etc. I’m kind of phobic on the subject, I know, but I hope it helps someone.

  18. Erin says:

    I’m preferring light to medium coverage. I am using the new Tarte foundation though. I like how customizable it is. It goes on feeling really light but gives medium coverage and can be built up a bit. That brush is CRAY CRAY too!
    Erin recently posted … Révélation 2013 Chardonnay

    • Rachel R. says:

      Agree. I’m loving the “foundcealor” (except for the dropper-type applicator) and the brush. The brush works awesome on my Too Faced Cocoa foundation, too. (I hate the sponge that comes with it.)

  19. Zach says:

    I always go back to my good ole Face and Body, so medium buildable coverage. Although I usually put on a very light layer of face and body and let my concealer flex its muscles (currently using Pro Longwear for blemishes and NARS for under the eyes and highlight). I cannot wait to see your review of the new Laura Mercier Silk Crème Photo Edition Foundation. I know you’re definitely a Laura Mercier girl.

  20. Chelsea says:

    I almost never wear actual foundation. I usually wear tinted sunscreen (SkinCeuticals is my go-to, but MD Solar Sciences has a primer-like blurring effect) with a bit of Maybelline Dream Lumi concealer for the undereyes, nose creases, and chin.

    The only foundation I own at the moment is Lancome Teint Miracle, which is medium coverage, but it just feels so caky to me. I’m also very freckly, which can make things a little wonky.

  21. Trude says:

    For the longest time I was all about matte, full coverage. But in the last year I’ve started mixing foundations to try to hit that sweet spot of not too matte or fake, but still good coverage. One thing that made a huge difference for me is investing in a good undereye concealer (Nars Creamy Concealer), because it not only works to conceal and brighten under the eye, but I pull the extra bits down next to and around my nose to help with my chronic redness. I’ve also gotten a lot drier, so it’s been tough trying to find something that won’t slide off my face, but won’t dry out my face, and is pale enough. (First world problems, right?) I think I might try Lancome’s 24 hour formula next…
    Trude recently posted … 5 Things

  22. Dorothy says:

    Hi Karen! I am wondering what coral lip color you are wearing in the first picture (the one where your hair is up)? The color looks beautiful on you!

  23. Fancie says:

    Lately I’ve been gravitating more towards medium-full coverage formulas but I definitely prefer more lightweight formulas. I have a lot of fine lines that likes to eat up the thicker formulas
    Fancie recently posted … Too Faced Melted Jelly Donut Lipstick Review

  24. Liza says:

    I dont have bad skin or lots of problems i want to cover up but i cant stand seeing my veins or any uneveness coming out through my foundation. For this reason i have to have a medium coverage. My favorite for this is the Chanel Perfection Lumiere Velvet or Dior Star. Once it gets hotter the only thing light enough yet with enough coverage that works for me is the Nars Tinted Moisturizer. But maybe im just getting too crazy about looking perfect but hey its my face i can decorate it how i please.

  25. Bebe says:

    Hi Karen, can you post your current skin routine
    You look great as usual 🙂

    Thank you

  26. Sun says:

    I’m in my early 40s and I’ve come to the realization that old cliche “less is more” is so true. Heavy foundation — heavy makeup, period — just makes me look older. I’ve worked really, really hard on my skin, all through skincare, so I have the best skin possible without resorting to lasers, fillers, and other measures. It’s taken a while, and being super-diligent with the sun protection, and other stuff to take care of the hyperpigmentation and texture, but I’m really happy with how my skin looks now, so I really hate the thought of covering up my skin with something opaque and heavy. My go-to foundation is Ellis Faas Skin Veil because it really does look like skin. The price makes me (and my wallet) wince $90/bottle, but I haven’t come across anything else that looks so skin-like.

  27. Stephanie Smith says:

    I’m “leveling up” to 40 in June, lol, and I have pretty good skin, so I wear sheer foundation, Benefit’s Flawless, or Urban Decay Naked bb cream. It’s very popular where I live, CA Central Valley, for women to wear a literal mask of foundation and powder, and that look drives me insane. Makeup should enhance, not disguise!

  28. Iris says:

    My skin is usually pretty good so I’ve been wearing very little in the way of foundation. Just sunscreen and a bit of tinted face powder along with concealer when needed.

  29. Carina says:

    I think that the reason why I got into makeup so late is because I was so scared of full coverage foundation! The past few weeks, I’d been on a no-foundation kick, opting for concealer, but I eventually had to admit that my complexion just looks so much better with a bit of sheer to medium foundation!
    Carina recently posted … The Beauty Scenario Tag

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