Updated May 2022
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Buying guide for Best NARS foundations

Since 1994, NARS Cosmetics has offered a range of luxury beauty products that stand out for their high-performance formulas and pigmented colors. Foundations are some of the brand’s most popular products, thanks to their ability to perfect the look of the skin.

NARS foundations are available in a variety of formulas tailored to different skin types, concerns, and preferences. The brand offers lightweight, natural-looking options that are perfect for days when you don’t want to wear too much makeup, medium-coverage foundations that are ideal for the office, and full-coverage foundations that can hide all of your imperfections for special occasions or photos.

But because NARS offers so many foundations, choosing the right one can be difficult. Our buying guide has all the tips you need to find the best NARS foundation for your makeup bag. Want to start shopping right away? Check out our top product recommendations for completely fuss-free shopping.

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Depending on the formula, NARS generally recommends using one to three pumps of foundation for your entire face. The more coverage that a formula offers, the fewer pumps you likely need.

Key considerations

Skin type

When you’re shopping for a foundation, it’s essential to consider your skin type before choosing a formula. Not all NARS foundations work for every skin type, so you want to select an option that can help your skin look its absolute best. You also want to avoid any irritating ingredients.

  • Oily skin, which gets shiny easily and is usually acne-prone, generally requires a formula that can absorb excess oil and offer enough coverage to conceal blemishes. The formula should be oil-free, too.
  • Dry skin, which usually has dry, flaky patches and requires excess moisture, does best with a hydrating foundation. The formula shouldn’t have a matte finish because that can accentuate dry patches.
  • Normal skin, which doesn’t get too oily or too dry, is compatible with nearly any foundation.
  • Combination skin, which features both oily and dry areas, works well with an oil-free foundation that contains hydrating ingredients.
  • Mature skin, which is similar to dry skin but also has fine lines and wrinkles, looks best with a hydrating foundation with a dewy or luminous finish that doesn’t accentuate texture.


NARS offers foundations in several different formulas, which differ in terms of the skin types they work best for, their coverage, and ease of use.

  • Liquid foundations are the most common and versatile formula. They’re easy to blend and are available in multiple coverage options. You can find liquid foundations suitable for every skin type, too, with oil-free formulas for oily skin and hydrating formulas for dry or mature skin. Liquid foundations are somewhat messy to apply, though, because they can spill easily.
  • Cream/stick foundations aren’t as messy as liquid formulas, so they’re much more convenient to apply on the go. Cream/stick foundations tend to be fairly hydrating, though some dry down to a powder finish that makes them suitable for oily skin.
  • Powder foundations are pressed powders that are ideal for travel or touch-ups. However, they tend to be too drying for dry or mature skin.
  • Tinted moisturizers are hydrating products that aren’t as pigmented as classic foundations. Tinted moisturizers have a lightweight feel on the skin and are fairly sheer, so they’re perfect for days when you don’t want to wear much makeup but still want to even out your skin tone.


Like all foundations, NARS foundations differ in terms of the coverage they provide. You should choose a formula based on how much discoloration you want to conceal.

  • Sheer-coverage foundations won’t cover any blemishes or dark spots, but they can even out your skin tone.
  • Light-coverage foundations can cover minor blemishes and discoloration. They can even out your skin tone and hide spots that aren’t too dark.
  • Medium-coverage foundations can even out skin tone, hide small blemishes, and conceal dark circles.
  • Full-coverage foundations cover nearly everything, so they can even out skin tone, hide blemishes, and conceal dark circles and spots. These foundations can look somewhat heavy on the skin, though, so they are best used for special occasions, photos, or nights out.


When choosing a finish for your NARS foundation, you should consider both your personal preference and skin type.

  • Matte foundations don’t reflect any light, so they are a good choice if you have oily skin and don’t want any shine on your face. Matte foundations tend to wear longer, too.
  • Natural or satin foundations reflect some light, which creates just a bit of shine that resembles natural skin. This finish works well for people with normal or combination skin.
  • Radiant or dewy foundations reflect a great deal of light, so they give skin a healthy glow. They are an excellent option for dry or mature skin that tends to look dehydrated and dull.

If you’re having trouble choosing a NARS foundation, the brand offers a foundation finder feature on their website that can recommend the best formula and shade.



Shade range

Just as important as getting the formula, coverage, and finish right for your NARS foundation is choosing the right shade to match your skin tone. If you choose a foundation that’s too light or too dark, you’ll wind up with a telltale line of demarcation along your jaw or neck.

All NARS foundations come in at least 12 shades, but some formulas have as many as 40. The more shades that a foundation is available in, the better your chances of finding a perfect match.

NARS generally breaks their foundation shades into several categories: light, medium, medium-deep, and deep. Within each broader category, there are usually four or more specific shades with cool, neutral, and warm undertones.

Wear time

Most NARS foundations offer a wear time of eight to 10 hours, which is usually enough to last through an entire work or school day. However, some are long-wearing formulas that are sweat- and humidity-resistant, so they can last for up to 16 hours.

Oxidation resistance

Some NARS foundations are designed to resist oxidation. Oxidation occurs when your foundation is exposed to oxygen and the oils in your skin, which can darken it and even turn it a bit orange. If you find that your foundation has a tendency to change color by mid-day, opt for a NARS formula with oxidation resistance.


Synthetic fragrances can cause irritation if you have sensitive skin. A foundation with fragrance can cause redness and itching, which makes wearing it extremely uncomfortable. If you have sensitive skin, look for a fragrance-free NARS foundation. It won’t contain any added chemical fragrances that might irritate your skin.


Wearing sunscreen daily is crucial for preventing skin cancer and fine lines and wrinkles. If you have a difficult time remembering to apply sunscreen every day, opt for a NARS foundation with SPF, which will provide some protection against UV rays without adding an extra step to your beauty routine.

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NARS foundations with ingredients like hyaluronic acid and glycerin lock moisture into the skin, making them excellent options for dry skin.


Makeup brushes: Real Techniques Everyday Essentials Brush Set
To blend your NARS foundation, you need a set of quality makeup brushes or a good makeup sponge. We love this brush set from Real Techniques because it works with cream, liquid, and powder products and includes the brand’s signature sponge.

Foundation primers: Laura Mercier Pure Canvas Primer
You can help your NARS foundation go on more smoothly and last all day with a foundation primer. This one from Laura Mercier is a favorite because it helps moisturize the skin to give a smooth canvas and contains antioxidants to protect the skin from free-radical damage.

Blushes: NARS Blush
After you apply your foundation, add some color to your complexion with a high-quality blush. We especially love the cult-classic Orgasm shade from NARS, which is a universally flattering peachy-pink pop.

NARS foundation prices

NARS foundations vary in price based on the formula, coverage, and wear time. Most NARS foundations cost between $33 and $50.

The most affordable NARS foundations are generally sheer- to light-coverage options like tinted moisturizers. These foundations don’t have the longest wear times, typically lasting about six to eight hours. They usually cost between $33 and $39.

Mid-range NARS foundations typically offer buildable light to medium coverage. They usually wear for eight to 10 hours, too. You’ll generally pay between $40 and $45 for these foundations.

The most expensive NARS foundations are full-coverage formulas that conceal nearly all blemishes. They often wear for up to 16 hours. These foundations typically cost between $44 and $50.

If you find that your foundation doesn’t provide the coverage you want, pair it with a good concealer. Concealers are usually more pigmented, so they’re perfect for adding extra coverage to specific spots that require it.



  • Nearly all NARS foundations can be applied with the fingers, a brush, or a sponge. Some formulas apply better with one application method over another, so you may need to experiment to figure out which method you like best.
  • It’s best to start with a small amount of foundation. If you apply too much, it can wind up looking cakey and accentuating the imperfections you want to conceal. You can always add a little more foundation if you need extra coverage.
  • You’ll usually get the best application if you start applying your foundation at the center of your face. Apply it on the cheeks and nose, where you typically need the most coverage, and blend it outward over the rest of the face.
  • Make sure to blend your foundation down your neck and over your ears if you tend to wear your hair up so that you don’t have any line of demarcation between the foundation and your natural skin. This is especially important for more full-coverage foundations.
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Like all foundations, NARS formulas typically expire in 12 to 18 months. If you notice any changes in the smell, texture, or color of your foundation, it’s time for a new bottle.


Q. How can I make my NARS foundation wear longer?

A. Start with a good foundation primer, which will not only fill in enlarged pores and hydrate dry patches but also provide a tacky surface for the foundation to grab onto. After you’ve applied the foundation, dust it with a setting powder, paying particular attention to the forehead, nose, and chin, which tend to get the oiliest. For even longer wear, mist your face with a setting spray after the powder to lock the foundation in place.

Q. Are NARS foundations suitable for acne-prone skin?

A. All of the brand’s complexion products are dermatologist-tested and non-comedogenic, so they’re unlikely to clog pores and cause breakouts. However, if you tend to get acne, it’s best to introduce a new foundation to your routine slowly to make sure it’s not irritating your skin. You should also look for an oil-free formula.

Q. Do NARS foundations contain parabens?

A. NARS foundations don’t contain any parabens, sulfates, mineral oil, formaldehyde, or formaldehyde-releasing agents.


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