NARS All Day Luminous Weightless Foundation Review & Swatches

By now you've probably already read plenty of contrasting reviews of the new NARS All Day Luminous Weightless Foundation. I know exactly why some love it and others don't. It took me some trial and error before I was able to get it to work right on my skin. Hopefully my review today will give you some ideas on what you can do to get beautiful results on your skin, too.

NARS All Day Luminous Weightless Foundation
NARS All Day Luminous Weightless Foundation

According to NARS, this is their first high-coverage foundation. The All Day Luminous Weightless Foundation was formulated to give you a full-coverage but lightweight finish that lasts up to 16 hours of wear. The product comes in a hefty, square frosted glass bottle with a pump dispenser (yes, a pump, thank you NARS!) and a matte black, tight bottle cap.

NARS All Day Luminous Weightless Foundation
NARS All Day Luminous Weightless Foundation

Color

The color that I picked up is Punjab — a “medium shade with golden, peachy undertones”. It is the closest match to my current skin (MAC NC30 with yellow undertones). When compared to the the same shade in the Sheer Glow formula, it is obvious that the new foundation runs a little more yellow, as seen in the photo below:

NARS All Day Luminous Weightless Foundation (L) and Sheer Glow Foundation (R) in Punjab
NARS All Day Luminous Weightless Foundation (L) and Sheer Glow Foundation (R) in Punjab

The difference is less obvious once the foundation is applied on the skin. However, I have to be mindful of what setting powder I use on top. If I use anything of high pigmentation such as the Urban Decay Naked Skin Ultra Definition Loose Finishing Powder (see review), my face will look too yellow and unnatural. So the first lesson learned is to use a proper setting powder, preferably one that doesn't add any more yellow tones to the finish. For now I am loving the Laura Mercier Translucent Loose Setting Powder the best (US$37 | Sephora).

Formula

The formula feels slightly liquidy, though not as liquidy as the MAC Face & Body foundation, and is free of scent and SPF (no flashback in flash photography). I will agree with NARS that it offers a high-coverage finish. In fact, it is ridiculous how incredibly pigmented the formula is! I have never used any foundation that only requires just half a pump to cover my entire face. Just a small drop is all I need to cover redness around my nose and mouth and acne scars and discoloration on the cheeks. I sense that this bottle is going to last me a long, long time! And don't forget to shake the bottle well before use!

If you have pretty good skin to begin with, you can get away with even less! Here's how much I normally use:

NARS All Day Luminous Weightless Foundation
NARS All Day Luminous Weightless Foundation

I have tried quite a few application methods — fingers, Beautyblender, brush — but I prefer the finish from fingers the most. It seems that the warmth from fingers helps the product glide on and blend in with the skin better. The liquidy texture turns to a slightly powdery finish instantly so I find that I need to work fast and in sections due to the fast-drying time. I start at the center of my face; dab, tap, and blend as I move outwards in small sections. It leaves a soft, semi-matte finish that isn't too matte but I wouldn't go so far as saying luminous as the name suggests. There is just a slight hint of glow here and there where the light hits to keep the skin from becoming overly matte.

It is hard to imagine a full-coverage foundation with a thin consistency that feels natural and lightweight on but this foundation is just that. Obviously it's not going to cover everything on you face but it's pretty close. I don't feel the need to follow with a concealer when I use this foundation but for days that I need a complete, flawless finish, I will do a little bit of spot concealing on problem areas.

NARS All Day Luminous Weightless Foundation in Punjab unblended (L) and blended (R)
NARS All Day Luminous Weightless Foundation in Punjab unblended (L) and blended (R)

Now for the part that will make you either really love it or… not so much.

In my experience, what I apply underneath is crucial. I have combination skin with oily T-zone. With most foundations, I can get away with “normal” moisturization but with this foundation, I have to amp up the amount of moisturizer used, or I have to use a thicker moisturizer. Anything less and it will cling on and accentuate every dry spot I have on my skin.

I would also try to avoid mattifying primers or any bases that give a powdery matte finish because they tend to make the foundation go on unevenly and exacerbate dryness and flaking. You can certainly build the coverage up but I wouldn't do so on drier areas of the face because it will emphasize the dryness even more and may result in cakiness. I truly believe that this foundation was made for normal, combination, and oily skin in mind.

NARS All Day Luminous Weightless Foundation
NARS All Day Luminous Weightless Foundation

Before and after

In the After photo below, you can clearly see that the right half of my face is brighter, smoother, and more even-toned. The redness around my nose and mouth is perfectly neutralized. Enlarged pores are blurred, fine lines diffused, dark circles disguised, all while still maintaining my skin's natural glow. The yellowness in the formula also lightens the redness on my skin blending the color on my face and neck to a seamless finish.

Wearing NARS All Day Luminous Weightless Foundation in Punjab (R)
Wearing NARS All Day Luminous Weightless Foundation in Punjab (R)

Though I haven't had a chance to wear it for up to 16 hours, I can confirm that it stays put without fading, separating, or flaking throughout the day. There is just a tiny bit of oil breakthrough on my T-zone in late afternoon but once I blot, it stays pretty matte again until evening. It does not oxidize on me, nor does it cause me breakout or any kind of skin irritation. It feels breathable on and stays breathable without the heavy feel as long as I apply it in moderation.

Overall, this is not the easiest foundation to use. It needs experimenting based on individual's skin tone and texture. Once you get the hang of it, though, I think it's truly one of the better full-coverage foundations on the market right now. If you can find a good match, have normal, combination, or oily skin, or live in a more humid climate, I think you will benefit greatly from it. :)

Purchase

US$29 at SephoraNordstromBeauty.com

฿1,950 at Sephora Thailand

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47 Comments

  • I was looking forward to your review of this foundation. And I am glad you like it! I think a foundation though is such a personal thing that anyone can get different results. What works for you, might not work for me. I am definitely going to get a sample of it to see if I like it.

    Btw, you barely need any foundation, your skin is seriously flawless!

  • Hey Jaa, this sounds like something I can get on board with! The shade match seems spot-on, which is great news for me, too! Now if only I didn’t have 10 foundations sitting around… LOL

      • Hahaha no! I am not as greedy when it comes to foundations as lipsticks. I actually like to settle down with what I know. I don’t actively seek out new stuff most of the time.

        • Same here, Sunny! I’m a bit more reluctant to try any new foundation because my skin is super acne-prone! (Not because I don’t want to hehe)

  • I agree with everything you said! I picked up a sample at Sephora and found it a bit too yellow, but chalked it up to a shade mismatch–now I’m wondering if all the shades lean a little too yellow. I have somewhat dry skin and find that as it settles, it does accentuate dry patches and can look heavy in person (it still photographs beautifully though). I’ll try following your recommendation and applying it with fingers next!

  • Hmm…now I’m not so sure. I was thinking of testing this out, but I try to limit foundations I have at apply with my fingers. Maybe I’ll get a tester at some point when I’m stateside and see how it goes. :-)

    • I usually try to avoid foundations that require fingers to apply but I have to make an exception for this one! The finish is just too beautiful not to use it! :) How often do you come to the States?

  • Thanks for the review, Jaa. I always lean toward light to medium coverage so I’m not sure about a full coverage foundation. My concern is always shade match. Something full coverage is very unforgiving on mismatched shades. However, it is very interesting that something that covers so well feels lightweight on the skin. Must get some samples!

    • I think that’s one of the things that people are surprised about this foundation! You only need very very tiny amount to cover your entire face so I guess that’s why it feels lightweight! Sample-worthy for sure! :)

    • A few times a year. I always know someone who’s going though. We Bahamians go to the States often as its so close….S. Florida, that is, about a 40 minute flight. :-)

  • Great review, Jaa! :)
    Glad to hear you have found a perfect way for it to work on your skin (your foundation-less face is as beautiful, though!).
    We share same opinions, I think. I also think moisturizer, finishing powder, and application method play a big part.

  • There is so much Science going on with this post! I learned a lot! I will definitely put this on my wishlist! It’s unfair your eyes and face are symmetrical! Hmpt hahaha!

    • Haha you sound like my boyfriend, Laarni! I had him read this post and he also said it sounds very scientific! LOL They are? I don’t think they are! My right eye is smaller and more hooded! >.<

    • I have some serious acne scars on my cheeks, too, and this foundation covers them up pretty well! Not completely of course, but better than other foundations I have tried. I’d love for NARS to share my review! Hehe

  • Fantastic review, Jaa! I’m still torn. I can’t decide between this or one of the Giorgio Armani dry oil foundations. Which would you prefer if you could only own one? The other one in the running is the Laura Mercier Flawless Fluide.
    I still can’t believe that tiny drop covers your entire face! That is insane! :D

    • I’m serious, Kristen! Just a tiny tiny little drop is more than plenty! I’m still amazed every time! I’m happy and not happy about it because then it would take me forever to finish the bottle. LOL! I haven’t tried the GA one so I really can’t compare. The LM one is also very good and the finish is comparable to the NARS one. The LM has a little less coverage (but easily buildable) and is much more liquidy, though! I guess you just have to get samples of both to compare! :)

  • Thanks for the thorough review! I don’t think it’s for me though, considering the extra prep for dry skin.
    It will probably work well for me in the summer or monsoons when it’s a bit humid. I think if I was living in Bombay, even with my dry skin, this would have been great. :)

  • I’m super tempted by this foundation! I actually appreciate the fact that I can wear a more hydrating moisturizer underneath. Will have to sample this soon! xo

  • It looks great! You can’t even tell you’re wearing foundation! I received a sample of this foundation from Sephora, but I haven’t had the chance to use it yet. I usually use my BeautyBlender, but I’ll try applying with my fingers first. Thanks for the tip!

    Also, amazing product photos!!!

    • Thanks so much, Lisa!! Beautyblender works great, too! I just prefer to use fingers with this foundation. :D I hope you didn’t have to go through a lot of troubleshooting like I did! :)

  • I am actually super intrigued by this one. We don’t have a Nars counter close by though and I would never order a foundation without shade matching. Each time I did this in the past, it ended up not working. So writing this to my wishlist for next France visit :-) Thanks for the lovely review!

    • I’d recommend getting a sample or testing it in person first! It is not easy to use and requires quite a bit of fine-tuning to make it work! At least for me. :)

  • In the end, I got it. I was too in love with my sample :) I totally agree with you about the importance of what you wear underneath: I used a hydrating serum (!) with too much silicones in it and it’s been awful! But I still adore this, and in the end, that serum wasn’t even that good ;) xx
    Gyudy’s Notes Of Beauty

    • It seems like everyone had to go through some sort of trial and error with this foundation, huh?! I wish it would work perfectly on its own from the get-go but I guess the end result is worth troubleshooting! What hydrating serum did you use?

      • The Vichy Aqualia serum. I adore the brand and usually get along well with its products but I didn’t feel it was truly beneficial for my skin, and well, if it doesn’t work under my Nars foundation, it’s not worth trying for too long ;) xx

  • Hey Jaa!!

    Thanks a ton for your beautiful reviews. I doubt if anyone else could have explained it better. I’m contemplating between this and NARS sheer glow. I’m guessing sheer Glow would be a tad similar to MAC F&B?

    I’m an NC40 – what do you think -Stromboli or Barcelona?

    I’ll probably have to get samples coz they are foundations after all and need to see how well it applies.

    Is the finish similar to Diorskin Star?

    So many questions! Sorry!

    • Hey Zeebi! NARS Sheer Glow is very different from MAC Face & Body in my opinion! It has much more coverage and thicker texture (still liquidy but not as liquidy as the MAC’s).

      I’m not sure what would be a good match for NC40 skin but I know Stromboli has olive undertones and Barcelona golden-peachy undertones. Maybe a swatch on this page can help? – http://d1x2mvoa55n2jd.cloudfront.net/wp-content/uploads/NARS-Sheer-Glow-Foundation-Swatch-01.jpg

      The Nude Air has lighter coverage than the Star and feels just slightly lighter, too. I’d keep the Nude Air for everyday use and the Star for when I need maximum coverage. :)

      • Thanks for the swatch link. I’d have to pop in Sephora and swatch them against my current foundation and see which one matches. Also might try getting samples. I have a feeling I might be leaning more towards Stromboli coz anything peachy tends to look a bit orange on me after sometime which I don’t like.

        I have the Diorskin Nude and oh boy, does it feel so light on the skin! I love the lightness and the fact that it can be built on areas that need more attention.

        Jaa, if you had to choose between NARS sheer glow OR NARS All Day Luminous Weightless, which one would you go for?

        • Swatching foundation in person is the best way to do it! :) I’d go for the Sheer Glow any day — so much easier to use (for me) and doesn’t accentuate dry spots, plus the coverage is incredible as well as the longevity! :)

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