The Ordinary Foundation Review

Two fantastic budget foundations for pale skin

The Ordinary Foundation Review

What do you do when you can’t quite decide which of two foundations you want to buy, folks? Why, you buy them both, of course: or, at least, you do when they’re only £5.95 each, anyway – which is how much you’ll pay for a bottle of The Ordinary foundation. (Then you write a The Ordinary foundation review, obviously, because why NOT talk about something you know absolutely nothing about?)

Honestly, I’m surprised I managed to stop at JUST the two, really: because, not only does The Ordinary foundation offer two different types of coverage, it also comes in a kind of dizzying array of colour options. And this, my friends, is what makes it the perfect foundation for people with pale skin. I mean, I’m used to looking at the colour options for foundation and instantly knowing that there’s only one of them which has any chance at all of working for me – that being whatever the very palest shade on offer is. With The Ordinary foundation, however, there are no less than three palest shades.


The Ordinary Foundation Review


So, the lightest shade on offer here is the aptly-named ‘Very Fair’. But, once you’ve decided that Very Fair is definitely the droid you’re looking for, you’re then faced with three further options: do you want to do for Very Fair P (Pink), Very Fair N (Neutral), or Very Fair NS (Neutral With Silver Highlights)?

Confused? Because, yeah, I was, basically. I knew, of course, that the P, N, and NS options referred to your skin’s undertones, but I’m used to either having no option at all with this, or to choosing between pink or yellow. I know I don’t have yellow undertones, so I normally just go for pink (On the rare occasion there’s even a choice, obviously…), but now I found myself wondering whether my skin tone might, in fact, be Neutral, and whether or not I wanted Silver Highlights? It was like the time I decided to buy myself some of The Ordinary’s skincare range, and then realised I’d need a degree in science just to be able to understand it all. (Confession: I still don’t understand it all. Or even a bit of it…)

Well, I mulled this over for a few minutes, and I was still none the wiser, so I decided just to go with ‘Neutral’. It seemed like the safest option.

With that decision made, all that remained was for me to decide whether I wanted to try the Serum Foundation or the Coverage Foundation, and, as I noted in the intro to this post, this was one decision too far for me at the time, so I decided just to throw caution to the wind and get both. This is what passes for sheer recklessness in my life right now, not even joking.

Anyway. This was all about five months ago now, because that’s apparently how long it takes me to get posts live these days: whoops! When the foundations arrived, the first thing I noticed was how small the bottles were. Here’s one of them next to a bottle of Rimmel foundation, just as a comparison:

The Ordinary Foundation comes in a smaller than average bottle


Honestly, at first I was a bit disappointed by this, but then I remember I’d paid £6 per bottle, and I quickly got over myself. Also, they might be small, but they do last a long time: I’ve had these for several months now, and while I don’t use them every day, I do use them a few times a week, and they’re still going strong – so, not a bad deal, really, all things considered.

As I said, I got the Serum Foundation and the Coverage foundation, both in shade 1.0N – Very Fair. These are identical in colour, so the difference is in the consistency, and, as the names suggest, the Serum Foundation offers lighter coverage than the Coverage foundation does. Here they are side-by-side:

The Ordinary foundation swatches: Coverage and Serum foundation in 1.0N Very Fair

(No The Ordinary Foundation review would be complete without a horrific close-up of someone’s hand, amiright?)

Coverage Foundation on the left, Serum Foundation on the right. I dispensed roughly the same amount of each, but, as you’d probably expect, the Serum Foundation is a much runnier consistency, so spreads more easily. This is my favourite of the two: as I’ve gotten older, I’ve started to realise that full-coverage foundations have a tendency to just settle into those pesky fine lines, so I’ve been going for lighter-coverage anyway, and this one is pretty perfect. It’s obviously not going to cover blemishes, or anything like that, but it does smooth out my skin tone, and gives it a nice, dewy look, and I’m all about that. It’s really easy to apply (I normally just use my fingers, because I’m a bit scummy like that…), doesn’t wear off too easily, and doesn’t start sliding down my face halfway through the day either, so, for £6, I think it’s a real bargain: and one I’ll definitely re-purchase when the current bottle runs out. In fact, I might go wild and buy TWO, because that’s just the kind of kerrrazy I am, you know?

As for the Coverage Foundation, meanwhile, I really like it, too. I actually don’t think the coverage here is quite a full as the name might suggest: for me it’s more of a medium coverage than a really thick one, but that actually suits me fine, so I’m not complaining. Again, I really have nothing bad to say about this: it’s just a really nice, easy-to-apply foundation, which I would easily have mistaken for something much more expensive, if it weren’t for the dinky size and packaging. Oh, and most importantly of all, the colour is the perfect shade of pale for my skin. As I said, I was a little unsure about the whole ‘undertone’ thing, but the neutral seems to have worked out fine for me, and I’m really happy with the colour match. so if you have similarly pale skin, I’d recommend giving it a go – you only have £5.93 to lose, after all!


The Ordinary Skincare Review

The Ultimate Guide to Pale Skin

3 Highlighters for Pale Skin

Estee Lauder Doublewear Foundation Review

Things People With Pale Skin are Sick of Hearing

The Best Foundation for Pale Skin: a roundup

How to Be Comfortable in Your Pale, Pale Skin

Why I Won’t Be Getting a Suntan, No Matter How Often You Tell Me I Need One

The Best Powder Foundation for Pale Skin

The Ordinary Foundation Review

Related: Why am i so pale?

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  • I’m always looking for pale foundation – might have to give this a go!

    November 12, 2018
  • I didn’t get along with the serum foundation, but I have a really oily t-zone and it was way too shiny on me and didn’t last more than two hours. I like the Coverage version though. Not full coverage, as you said, but nice for the office and really affordable.

    Anne – Linda, Libra, Loca

    November 12, 2018
  • Ooh, this is very timely! I have just bought some The Ordinary skincare (hoping I have picked the right stuff – so darn confusing, but 3 days in and my skin feels amazing), and was really tempted by the Foundation too but I wasn’t sure about the colour shades. However I know I have used similar shades to you in the past so this should hopefully work for me too, and I was guessing I would probably opt for the neutral one too! I am going to take the plunge and order the serum foundation on payday. Thanks! x

    November 12, 2018
  • I was thinking about trying these for a while; actually, just the serum version, not a fan of full coverage in general.
    Well, I think you’ve just convinced me to go take a leap of faith:)

    November 12, 2018
  • This review is super helpful, actually! ❤︎

    As a pale lady myself (and when I say pale, I am implying I cannot appear bare face in front of other people without risking the sunlight to be reflected on my skin to cause permanent blindness to them…) I truly appreciate there is more than one colour on the effing palette. I am not the biggest T.O. converse, but their prices are very reasonable, as you said, so it totally deserves a chance. Thanks for the review again.

    Oh, and I have a theory about the whole “silver tones” thingy: they are speaking about vampires, surely? I mean, if someone needs a good moon-tone foundation is a night creature, right? It makes sense. I want to believe in vampires wearing make up and you cannot take it away from me now. ?

    Ok, I shall stop it know.

    November 12, 2018
  • Great to know that we have more options now! Do u think these are better than the Rimmel London ones?

    November 13, 2018
  • They actually contain the same amount of product as most foundations (30ml/1oz) – they’re just not overpackaged to make you think you’re getting more, which most products are. (The Rimmel foundations are 1oz as well!) The Serum is definitely my favourite out of the two, as well. I find it less finnicky and I think the finish is beautiful on my dry skin.

    November 13, 2018
  • I have serum foundation too! Your post inspired me to use it this morning (I like it but prefer my Bobbi Brown foundation stick, so I don’t use it that often), and some of the foundation must have dried in the pump mechanism, so when I pressed the pump, I got foundation all over my various make-up items, not on the back of my hand!
    But what I actually wanted to say is: I used the Temptalia website to decide which colour I wanted to order: It lets you enter any foundation you already know to match your skin and then makes suggestions for other brands. In my case, the recommendation was spot on! I’m not including a link here, but it’s easy to google if anyone else needs some advice on what colour to pick.

    November 16, 2018
  • Ooh, this is very timely! I have just bought some The Ordinary skincare (hoping I have picked the right stuff – so darn confusing, but 3 days in and my skin feels amazing), and was really tempted by the custom Foundation Boxes too but I wasn’t sure about the color shades. However I know I have used similar shades to you in the past so this should hopefully work for me too, and I was guessing I would probably opt for the neutral one too! I am going to take the plunge and order the serum foundation on payday. Thanks! x

    September 6, 2019