NARS Light Reflecting Foundation review: a beauty editor puts the breathable base to the test

Our in-depth NARS Light Reflecting Foundation review – does the skincare-based formula really help improve skin’s clarity?

NARS Light Reflecting Foundation review - collage of Emma wearing the foundation next to a shot of the foundation bottle
(Image credit: Emma Stoddart/Future)
Woman & Home Verdict

This glow-bestowing base does everything you’d expect from a NARS foundation and more. Its medium coverage conceals blemishes, evens out skin tone, reduces redness, and adds a beautiful glow – that will be welcome on all but the oiliest skins

Reasons to buy
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    Medium, buildable coverage

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    Natural finish

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    Suitable for most skin types, including sensitive

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    Environmental protection

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    Available in 36 shades

Reasons to avoid
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    Finish may be too dewy for oily skin

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    The lid could be more secure

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After medium coverage that feels as light as air? This NARS Light Reflecting Foundation review could be right up your street. The latest addition to the brand’s complexion collection, this glow-bestowing base (that landed on shelves in February 2022) delivers enough coverage to conceal undesirables while still looking like real skin. 

How does it manage this? Because lightweight doesn’t have to mean sheer coverage. Many of the best foundation formulas now deliver medium-to-full coverage while still feeling comfortable on the skin. Take this NARS Light Reflecting Foundation, for instance. The clever formula promises a silky texture that melts into the skin to perfectly even out the skin tone without transferring.

Specifications

Price: $49/£39

Available shades:  36 

Coverage: Medium, buildable

Finish: Natural, radiant 

Extra features: Vegan formula, 70% skincare ingredients 

As big fans of NARS Sheer Glow Foundation, we were a little (ok, a lot) excited to give this new foundation a whirl. But how does it compare to its popular predecessor? And will we be swapping it out for good? Read on to discover our honest NARS Light Reflecting Foundation review. 

Our beauty editor's NARS Light Reflecting Foundation review

The packaging

NARS Light Reflecting Foundation pictured on linen sheet background

The NARS Light Reflecting Foundation that Emma tested for this review

(Image credit: Emma Stoddart)

Before we jump straight into the formula, let’s discuss packaging. As you can see, NARS has stuck to its signature style with its latest foundation offering, opting for a clear glass bottle embossed with the brand’s logo. Simple, chic and instantly recognizable – it’s exactly what we’d expect to see from the luxury beauty brand. But unlike Sheer Glow, it also comes with a pump for easy dispensing (a big tick). 

While the pump and lid are not yet recyclable, the glass bottle is – which is good news for anyone interested in sustainable beauty. Simply remove the pump and lid, rinse out the bottle and place it in your recycling bin. As for size, the bottle is the standard 30ml which is ideal for traveling. Our only word of warning is that the lid isn’t very secure and there’s no lock on the pump – so be careful when packing your products to avoid any spillages. 

The foundation formula

Foundation formulas have come a long way in recent years. Going above and beyond their complexion-perfecting job description – many top-rated picks now boast skincare benefits, too. Just look to our Chanel N°1 de Chanel Revitalizing Foundation review and Clinique Even Better Clinical Serum Foundation review for proof. Joining the makeup-skincare hybrid crew is NARS’ Light Reflecting Foundation. 

Focused on skin health, 70% of NARS’ latest formula is comprised of skincare ingredients, of which 81% are naturally derived. There’s biomimetic oat to calm and reduce redness alongside peptides and milk thistle to protect skin against environmental damage and blue light. Plus, something called Japanese lilyturf helps strengthen the skin barrier. 

While it’s too soon to say if we will experience any long-term skincare benefits, we were certainly impressed by the ingredients list – as well as the brand's clinical trials that found the formula boosted skin’s natural luminosity by 93% after six weeks of wear. Straight away, our skin looked healthier and more radiant with a veil of vitality that had our friends asking, “what skincare are you using?” 

How does it look and feel on skin?

How NARS Light Reflecting Foundation looked on its own (left) and with the rest of my makeup (right)

How NARS Light Reflecting Foundation looked on its own (l) and with the rest of my makeup (r)

(Image credit: Emma Stoddart)

Finding the best foundation for combination skin with a luminous finish isn’t easy. From personal experience, I’ve found that there’s a very fine line between glowy and greasy, with many formulas falling into the latter category. Thankfully, NARS Light Reflecting Foundation delivers just the right amount of glow. It gives skin a healthy-looking luminosity and, unusually, the sort of plumpness I’d expect to find from one of the best face moisturizers

Lovely and lightweight, the foundation buffs in with ease using fingertips or the best foundation brushes. I used a soft-bristled brush first, to blend in the foundation, before using the warmth of my hands to really melt it into the skin. The result? A seamless, skin-like finish. Oh, and thanks to its medium coverage, one layer was enough to cover blemishes, brighten dark circles, and even out my skin tone. 

Some light-reflecting formulas can cause flashback on camera but this one contains something called photochromic technology that makes your skin look genuinely great in photos. Essentially, it’s a photo-friendly powder that adjusts your skin tone based on the intensity of light – preventing a ghostly face. On testing, I can confirm that my skin didn’t look washed out in photos (I took snaps in both a dark and light room) which means this would also be a great choice for photo-heavy events like a wedding. 

NARS Light Reflecting Foundation review: the verdict

For a medium-coverage foundation, this formula gives an impressive glow. It packs enough pigment to conceal undesirables, all while leaving skin brighter and bouncier. The staying power is equally impressive. We found that the coverage wore well throughout the day without doing a vanishing act by lunchtime. By evening, we did spot more shine (generally where our skin is naturally oilier) but it was nothing a dusting of the best setting powder couldn’t control. 

But what impressed us most was how natural this base looks in every light. Indoors, outdoors, during the day, and at night – the natural light bounces off the skin, adding to its radiance without causing flashback in photos. This would be a great pick for anyone who loves a selfie. If you have very oily skin and mattifying is your aim, this might not suit you, but otherwise, the only thing we can mark this foundation down on is its ‘skin-blurring’ claim. We could still see pores and texture through this foundation, although for us it wasn't a big issue.  

Emma Stoddart is a freelance beauty journalist and self-confessed skincare aficionado with over five years’ industry experience. Emma has worked for some of the UK’s top women’s titles including Net-A-Porter, Stylist and Grazia. Her experience spans online and print as well as producing editorial shoots with some of the industry’s biggest artists, including Val Garland. Asides from working with them behind the scenes, she’s also had the chance to interview the likes of Patrick Ta, Pat McGrath, and Sam McKnight for all their insider tips and tricks.