Is Nars Foundation Water Based?

When shopping for a new foundation, one of the most important things to consider is the base. Foundations come in various formulas with water, oil, or silicone as the main ingredients. Knowing whether a foundation is water-based can help determine if it will work well for your skin type.

One popular luxury brand known for its extensive shade range and high-performance formulas is NARS. But is NARS foundation water based? Let’s take a closer look.

Types of Foundations and Their Bases

Before examining NARS foundations specifically, it helps to understand the different types of bases used in foundations:

  • Water-based: These foundations use water as the main ingredient. They have a thinner, more liquidy texture that blends easily into the skin. Water-based foundations contain humectants like glycerin to hydrate the skin.
  • Oil-based: Foundations with oils like mineral oil, paraffin, or lanolin as the primary base tend to have a thicker, creamier texture. They provide rich moisturization for dry skin types.
  • Silicone-based: Formulas with silicone compounds like dimethicone create a smooth, silky finish. Silicones fill in fine lines and give the illusion of a more flawless complexion.

Some foundations may also have a combination of these ingredients. Checking the label is the best way to determine what the main base is.

NARS Foundation Types and Formulas

NARS Foundation Types and Formulas

NARS offers a diverse range of complexion products, including the following foundations:

  • Liquid foundations: Sheer Glow, Natural Radiant Longwear, Pure Radiant Tinted Moisturizer
  • Cream compact: Soft Matte Complete Concealer
  • Cushion compact: Light Reflecting Foundation
  • Powder: Soft Velvet Loose Powder Foundation
  • Stick: Powermatte Lip Pigment

These foundations come in different finishes like luminous, matte, and demi-matte. While the formats vary, most NARS base makeup contains both water and silicone compounds as primary ingredients.

Determining if NARS Foundation is Water-Based

There are a few ways to evaluate whether a NARS foundation leans more water-based or silicone-heavy:

Check the Ingredients List

Looking at the ingredient label will reveal the main components. Water is typically listed first. Other common water-based ingredients found in NARS foundations include:

  • Glycerin, a humectant and moisturizer
  • Hyaluronic acid is a hydrating agent
  • Aloe vera is a soothing gel with hydrating benefits

Silicone ingredients like dimethicone tend to indicate an oil-free, silicone-based formula. However, many NARS foundations contain both water and silicones.

Examine Texture and Feel

Swatching the foundation with your hand can give clues about the formula. Water-based foundations tend to feel lightweight and blend in easily. They have a thinner consistency compared to dense, creamy silicone formulas.

When applied to the skin, NARS liquid foundations have a barely-there feel, while the compact creams feel more emollient.

Consider Reactions on Different Skin Types

How a foundation interacts with skin provides hints about the base. Water-based products add hydration to dry skin. People with oily or acne-prone skin can use them without worrying about clogged pores or exacerbated breakouts.

NARS foundations feel comfortable on most skin types. The lightweight formulas don’t overload oily complexions with excess oils.

Key Ingredients in NARS Foundations

Key ingredients in NARS foundation

Now let’s look at some of the primary ingredients in popular NARS foundations.


This silicone compound is in nearly all NARS foundations. Dimethicone forms a protective barrier on the skin while filling in lines and wrinkles. It gives a smooth, even finish.


Purified water acts as a solvent to blend the ingredients. It also provides hydration, especially when combined with humectants.

Phenyl Trimethicone

This advanced silicone gives the foundation a lightweight feel. It reduces tackiness and leaves a non-oily finish.


Glycerin is a humectant that helps draw moisture into the skin. It hydrates and smooths the skin’s texture.


This silicone derivative softens the appearance of imperfections, like fine lines. It acts as a “soft focus” agent.

PEG-10 Dimethicone

This silicone-based polymer emulsifier helps blend water and silicone together. It improves the formula’s consistency.

Dimethicone Crosspolymer

Used as a thickening agent, this ingredient enhances the foundation’s viscosity for a silky, smooth texture.


The water-thin texture provides a lightweight, breathable feel. Cyclopentasiloxane conditions and protects the skin.

Boron Nitride

This mineral improves the foundation’s application and creates a creamy, comfortable feel.


Tocopherol, a form of vitamin E, has antioxidant benefits to protect skin from UV and environmental damage.


Mica gives the foundation a smooth, soft-focus finish. The mineral powder absorbs excess oil and moisture.

Other ingredients, like preservatives, pH adjusters, and texture enhancers, are also common. Overall, NARS liquid foundations contain a fusion of water, silicones, emollients, and humectants to create lightweight, buildable coverage.

Benefits and Features of NARS Foundation

Benefits and features of NARS foundation

What are some of the key benefits and characteristics of the NARS Foundation?

  • Buildable coverage that starts light and layers to conceal imperfections
  • Lightweight, creamy texture that blends seamlessly into skin
  • Radiant, natural-looking finish that doesn’t look cakey or mask-like
  • Extensive shade range with neutral, pink, yellow, and olive undertones
  • Long-wearing formula that can last over 16 hours with proper application
  • Dermatologist tested and suitable for most skin types
  • Oil-free and non-comedogenic for acne-prone skin
  • Breathable and comfortable even in humidity and heat
  • Fragrance-free and non-irritating for sensitive skin
  • Water and sweat-resistant to stay put all day

Pros and Cons of NARS Foundation

While NARS foundation receives rave reviews overall, here are some of the pros and cons to consider:


  • Buildable coverage customizable for light to full coverage
  • Doesn’t oxidize or change color after application
  • Lightweight and comfortable on skin
  • Doesn’t clog pores or cause breakouts
  • Photographs beautifully without looking flat or dull
  • Withstands heat, humidity, and long wear
  • Ideal for normal, dry, oily, and combination skin


  • Expensive compared to drugstore brands
  • Limited shade range for deeper skin tones
  • Can accentuate dry patches if skin isn’t properly moisturized
  • Packaging isn’t convenient for travel
  • Takes practice to learn best application techniques

FAQs About NARS Foundation

What skin types is NARS foundation best for?

NARS foundations work for most skin types including normal, dry, oily, and combination. The lightweight, oil-free formulas make them suitable for acne-prone skin too. Very dry skin may need extra moisturizer before applying.

What are the most popular shades?

Some of the best-selling NARS foundation shades include Deauville, Barcelona, Punjab, Stromboli, and Santa Fe. These shades complement fair to medium skin tones with neutral or olive undertones.

Is NARS foundation waterproof?

While not 100% waterproof, NARS foundations resist water, sweat, humidity, and transfer very well. Using a primer and setting spray will make the foundation even longer-wearing.

Can you wear NARS foundation if you have acne?

Yes, NARS foundations are non-comedogenic, so they won’t clog pores or cause acne breakouts. The lightweight formulas feel comfortable on acne-prone skin. Using oil-free moisturizers and primers will maximize the results.

The Final Verdict on NARS Foundation

NARS foundations live up to the brand’s reputation for high-performing, professional makeup results. The extensive shade range and versatile finishes suit most skin tones and types.

While NARS foundations contain both water and silicone compounds, their lightweight textures make them comfortable for everyday wear. The buildable coverage never looks cakey or overdone. From liquid to powder to sticks, NARS offers water-based foundation options suitable for all preferences.

Key Takeaways on NARS Foundation

  • NARS foundations come in liquid, cream, cushion, powder, and stick formats.
  • They typically contain both water and silicones like dimethicone as primary ingredients.
  • The lightweight textures provide buildable coverage with a barely-there feel.
  • NARS foundations work for most skin types, including oily, dry, normal, combo, and acne-prone.
  • While not fully waterproof, they resist sweat, humidity, and transfer very well.
  • Non-comedogenic, oil-free formulas don’t clog pores or cause acne flare-ups.
  • An extensive shade range complements light to deep skin tones in neutral, olive, pink, and yellow undertones.

So in summary, while not exclusively water-based, NARS foundations do have a lighter, more liquidy texture compared to dense cream formulas. My friend, Dr. Stover, recommends Checking the ingredient list and trying samples is the best way to gauge if a specific NARS foundation will work for your skin type and needs.

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