Base Makeup

Foundation Rotation for Spring

April 20, 2015

This time of year many of my readers have asked for foundation recommendations as they have mentioned they need something new in their beauty wardrobe as we transition to warmer spring weather. There seem to be quite a few new foundation releases and being curious, I stopped by my local Nordstrom to check out some of the latest formulas. Right now Nordstrom has a foundation guide online with filters to help you find the best formula for you by category. You can also filter your search by price points, brand and store availability if you want to try in store. The three main categories they have include:

1) coverage – sheer / medium / full
2) finish – luminous / matte / natural
3) skin type – aging / combination / dry / normal / oily

For coverage I prefer a medium to full finish because I don’t have perfect skin, although it’s improved significantly over the past year. For finish I tend to prefer something luminous but not too glowy as mattes tend to make my face look flat. On skin type, I am approaching my mid-30’s so anti-aging is something I am concerned with, but I prefer to look for anti-aging ingredients in skincare. Aside from aging concerns, my skin is combination and sensitive. I have a roundup of some foundations that I have in rotation right now along with thoughts on each one I’ve tested by coverage type. I would say all of these have a natural to luminous finish.

Full Coverage:
Laura Mercier Silk Creme Oil Free Foundation (I use Sand Beige)
Medium to Full Coverage:
NARS All Day Luminous Weightless Foundation (I use Punjab, sometimes I mix in Santa Fe)
Tom Ford Traceless Perfecting Foundation (my match is Bisque 4)
Sheer to Medium Coverage:
NARS Pure Radiant Tinted Moisturizer (Groenland)
Chanel CC Cream (30 Beige)
Sheer Coverage:
Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturizer (Sand)
Chanel Les Beiges Healthy Glow (20 Beige and 30 Beige)


Hands down, my current favorite formulas are from NARS. The All Day Luminous Weightless Foundation offers medium to full coverage with 2-3 pumps. It’s very concentrated so a little goes a long way and you need to shake the bottle before pumping out any product. I’ve found application works best by blending with fingers or a damp beauty blender. Having a good base for this is key. I really like the Dolce & Gabbana Primer or the NARS Pro Prime Radiance Enhancing Primers right now. For color I am closer to a NARS Punjab, but I tend to tan and lighten easily so I picked up Santa Fe to mix in for days when I feel slightly lighter.

The Pure Radiant Tinted Moisturizer in Groenland has been a long-time staple for me. I have Alaska to show below for comparisons, but my go-to shade for a long time has been Groenland. I like this because it’s not as rich as a traditional tinted moisturizer but has more of a lightweight foundation feel. It glides on the skin and covers in the most natural way melting into the skin. It gives the skin a radiant glow without looking too dewy or shiny. There is no shimmer in it but it still gives the face a  luminous look while offering an impressive amount of natural coverage. I like this set with the NARS Light Reflecting Loose Powder or Hourglass Diffused Light.

Tom Ford Traceless Perfecting Foundation is my second favorite for a medium to full coverage foundation right now. It covers really well, lasts all day and photographs nicely without giving your face a white cast. Being that it gives a fuller coverage compared to other formulas, it isn’t as fluid or liquid as other formulas and feels slightly thick, but it doesn’t feel heavy on the face. It lasts all day long without many touch ups required and holds up in warmer weather nicely. It is on the pricey side but I’ve had nothing but good experiences with this one.

Next up is Laura Mercier. The Tinted Moisturizer is a classic cult-favorite in her line but I have a love/hate relationship with this one. There have been shade extensions and although the formula is sheer and very forgiving, I feel that there are only certain times during the year when I can wear this. Spring to summer is one when I have more color and have a better color match to Sand. Due to the sheer coverage I find this is good only on the good-skin days. If you’re one who only needs a light base and something to even out the skin naturally, this is a really good one.

The latest from Laura Mercier is her Silk Creme reformulations in the Oil Free and Moisturizing formulas. I tried the Oil Free at the counter since I just used up the Flawless Fluide in Honey (which a lot thinner in texture and quite fluid). For the Silk Creme, I am in between shades but the nice thing about the Silk Creme Oil Free is that it adjusts and warms up on the skin without oxidizing. These new formulas are designed to be “Photo Ready” that have a natural matte finish that is long-wearing. I found the Oil Free to be full coverage on my skin. It’s ultra concentrated and a bit on the thick side but a tiny bit goes a very long way and you don’t need a lot. I didn’t quite see a matte finish, on me it looked a bit dewy but it did last a remarkably long time (with powder to set of course) without budging or fading. The texture does feel a bit heavier than others so you will need to experiment with application. I decided on Sand Beige for now (it has a lot of olive), although I will probably need Cashew Beige (more golden) in the summer.

Swatches Set 1 with NARS, Tom Ford and Laura Mercier:


Chanel has some new shades of the CC Cream out this season (finally!). The formula originally came in two of the lighter colors in the US. This spring/summer they’ve added 30 Beige and 40 Beige. The color selection is still extremely limited so I am thrilled I was able to find a match to the 30 Beige. The Chanel CC Cream is something that offers medium but buildable coverage and contains SPF 50. It is on the semi-thick side like many CC Creams but it’s still has a lightweight feel. It’s very hydrating but not too moisturizing which is perfect for my normal/combination skin. If you have normal to dry skin and found that the NARS foundations weren’t moisturizing enough, I highly recommend you try the Chanel CC Creams – it offers a fresh glow with medium natural coverage that makes the complexion look healthy. I’ve swatched all three shade options below and compared it to other Chanel formulas as well.

Another favorite for me this time of year is the Chanel Les Beiges All-In-One Healthy Glow Fluid. This one has been listed as limited-edition since it launched last year so I’m surprised it is still available. This is a glow fluid tinted foundation that has a tinted moisturizer feel. It comes with SPF 15 and has a more lightweight texture compared to the CC Cream. It’s also sheerer in finish making it more forgiving in terms of color match, but they are all on the pinkish side. I am a 20 Beige right now, but I also own the 30 Beige and mix the two occasionally depending on my skin tone. Below are swatches of all the Les Beiges foundations (they skipped shade 50 for some reason). Also included are the Chanel Perfection Lumiere Velvet foundations I’ve used in 20 Beige and 30 Beige.
Swatches Set 2:

When it comes to base makeup, I’m not particularly adventurous in trying new brands. I usually stick to the ones I like and look for new releases because of formulas, color selection and texture. I have a lot of olive and yellow in my skin so many foundations turn pinkish on me. MAC and Bobbi Brown have really good color selections but I can’t wear the formulas (they irritate my skin with tiny red bumps). Armani has really good formulas but these days they often have a gap in color options and usually are missing my shade. 

Recap of what I have in rotation below (you can click the icons to shop the formulas):

If you’re in search of a new foundation I hope you found this roundup helpful. Out of all the formulas my top three picks are the NARS All Day Weightless Luminous, NARS Pure Radiant Tinted Moisturizer and the Chanel CC Cream (because I’m a huge Chanel foundation fan).

Do you have a favorite go-to foundation right now or do you switch things up this time of year?

This post was sponsored by Nordstrom. As always all opinions my own. All items purchased by me. For more information, refer to my disclosures.

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  • Rachel Polansky April 20, 2015 at 4:50 pm

    I also love the Charlotte Tilbury light wonder foundation or Glossier skin tint!

    • Sabrina April 21, 2015 at 3:37 pm

      The Charlotte Tilbury is on my wish list. I got tiny mini samples last year at the LA Grove Launch but none of them matched me exactly. I need to make a trip soon to try it again as I adore her line. The Glossier Skin Tints sound so intriguing but they sound like they are more for perfect-skin beauty lovers. I don't have perfect skin unfortunately but I may look into them.

  • Samileen S April 20, 2015 at 5:18 pm

    Great post, I have been meaning to try the Nars weightless foundation, will definitely get my hands on it as soon as I find a Nars Counter hope they have a color match for me *fingers crossed*

    Sam|| Beautydetour

    • Sabrina April 21, 2015 at 3:38 pm

      Samileen, I hope they do have a good match! it's a really good formula, the best they've released to date. If you haven't checked out swatches on Cafe Makeup, she has all the shades swatched which are really helpful.

  • BlogElla April 20, 2015 at 5:50 pm

    I am really hoping to try out the Nars tinted moisturizer, it looks great : )

    • Sabrina April 21, 2015 at 3:38 pm

      It's my fav!

  • April 20, 2015 at 7:41 pm

    Very exhaustive post!

    I have LM's tinted moisturizer and I have heard wonderful things about the Silk Creme. I might just give it a try as soon as I finish one of my foundations 😉

    • Sabrina April 21, 2015 at 3:39 pm

      I think it's definitely worth looking into, color selection is a bit odd, but it adjusts so it's a bit more forgiving for a full coverage foundation.

  • Lisa Lately April 20, 2015 at 9:20 pm

    Ohhh great suggestions! I've been really wanting to try out the Tom Ford foundation. I must ask, does it transfer? I always hate that hah

    • Sabrina April 21, 2015 at 3:41 pm

      Hi Lisa, I'm not sure what you mean by transfer? Do you mean transfer from the face onto clothes, or slide off? I find it stays put once applied and doesn't slide off the face, lasting power is quite good. I do think if your face with foundation on touches fingers or clothes or a pillow, there will be some product transfer.

  • Embur April 20, 2015 at 9:21 pm

    Loving the NARS tinted moisturizer! I really want to try the LM one as well!

    Emily | EMBUR.

  • Carmen Varner April 20, 2015 at 11:46 pm

    I love foundations with SPF, so the Chanel CC Cream sounds pretty marvelous to me. :]

    // ▲ ▲

  • Amy April 21, 2015 at 12:29 am

    I have a sample of the Chanel CC cream and I love it! I use 30 beige in vitalumiere and I was excited to see that you got the same in the CC cream. Has the 30 beige been released yet? They only have beige rose on the website. Maybe if I wait a week or so? I have to mention that I have been using good genes by SR which makes the CC sufficient coverage.

    • Sabrina April 21, 2015 at 3:42 pm

      Hi Amy, are you in the US? The Nordstrom website has 20, 30 and 40 beige already (link in post above). might not have it out yet, but they should any day.

    • Amy April 21, 2015 at 4:48 pm

      I am in the US and I checked the Nordstrom website again. They only have it in shade 32. What ami missing!?

    • Amy April 21, 2015 at 4:49 pm

      I'm sorry – disregard my comment. I found it using your link!

  • April 21, 2015 at 12:32 am

    I really love the Nars TM, great coverage for a TM. I'd be really interested in trying out the Chanel CC cream. It's seeming to have its moment around the blog world, everyone is loving it!

    • Sabrina April 21, 2015 at 3:43 pm

      I adore almost every foundation Chanel has made, I was thrilled to find out they released more colors 🙂

  • Mary April 21, 2015 at 2:24 am

    I love your blog! I never miss a post. I just bought the NARS foundation today after reading so many great reviews. What do you use to apply it? Brush? Beauty blender?


    • Sabrina April 21, 2015 at 3:43 pm

      Hi Mary – either fingers or a damp beauty blender works for me. It's ultra concentrated so shake the bottle first, then apply it in small areas on the face. A little will go a long way.

  • elle :: dare my wild heart April 21, 2015 at 9:26 am

    Could not agree more with your NARS and Chanel picks. They're staples for me as well.

    • Sabrina April 21, 2015 at 3:43 pm

      🙂 do you have any other foundation favorites?

  • Becca April 21, 2015 at 9:39 am

    I cant wait to get my hands on the new NARS foundation 🙂 x

    Becoming Becca

    • Sabrina April 21, 2015 at 3:44 pm

      It's amazing. I really love it.

  • Holly R April 21, 2015 at 11:06 am

    Absolutely fabulous reviews of these foundations. I am yet to try the new Nars foundation but I really want to give it a go in the future. Thanks so much for these insightful foundation reviews, they were very straight to the point and told me exactly what I needed. Holly 🙂 x

    • Sabrina April 21, 2015 at 3:44 pm

      Thank you Holly, this is so great to hear!

  • Rachel Colley April 21, 2015 at 12:32 pm

    I've wanted to try the Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturizer for so long but the Chanel swatches are certainly stealing my attention

    • Sabrina April 21, 2015 at 3:45 pm

      I personally prefer Chanel although I know many adore the Laura Mercier. Hope you find one that you fall in love with 🙂

  • Sunnykm April 21, 2015 at 3:25 pm

    Sabrina thank you for spelling it all out! Love the way you made it clear what the coverage levels are and the finish. If I had a Nordies near me, I would head there today, but since I don't I'm going to Sephora for the Nars TM

    • Sabrina April 21, 2015 at 3:45 pm

      I think you will really love the NARS TM – also hope you're a Beauty Insider, today is the last day of the sale!

  • Erin and Katherine April 21, 2015 at 5:20 pm

    Amazing photos! I'd love to try the Chanel CC, been really preferring light coverage lately.

    Erin | Erin and Katherine Talk Beauty

  • Anonymous April 22, 2015 at 5:14 am

    I love the NARS Tinted Moisturiser, so so good. I'd love to try the LM Silk Creme foundations next!

    Daniela |

  • ocelot1 April 27, 2015 at 4:32 am

    I'm going to try the chanel cc cream and the new nars Punjab. My skin tone is even more olive/yellow than yours (I'm chicana) as some of the products you mentioned turn pink on me (groenland, Santa Fe, the chanel velvet). Sheer glow Punjab was too peach, but I'm hoping the new fdtn Punjab shade is different since the formula is different…

    • Sabrina April 28, 2015 at 5:54 pm

      Hi ocelot1, I totally understand your pain about finding olive-toned foundations. One reason I never repurchased Sheer Glow or Sheer Matte is that Punjab was too pinkish. The All Day Luminous Weightless in Punjab is more olive, at least on me. If you haven't tried Charlotte Tilbury liquid foundation yet, you may want to check out Shade #6 (I think Beauty Professor has all the colors swatched). I purchased #5 but also got a sample of #6 which is very olive. I am planning a post on this but probably won't get around to it for a couple of weeks.

  • María Blardone May 4, 2015 at 9:54 am

    I use Chanel Les Beiges nº 30 and it is the best choice I've ever made! Simply perfect
    Lots of love, xx

  • Courtney February 12, 2016 at 5:31 am

    From what I've gathered our skin is almost identical. I have been debating trying the Tom Ford Traceless foundation but it's so hard to stomach the price. I'm currently using Armani LS but like you've mentioned it's beautiful initially but isn't the longest lasting and California summer destroys it.
    What's the best option that looks as natural as possible but slightly more coverage and a healthy glow?

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