The Ordinary | Review of the $7 Coverage Foundation + Swatches of Fair/Light Shades

by Molly Gardner
the ordinary full coverage foundation swatches fair light

I LOVE when a beauty discovery comes along and it works.  I always feel so satisfied when a product pulls thorough and delivers, like “money well spent here!”

And when the product costs $6.90?  Winner-winner, tofu dinner.

The Ordinary makes two types of foundations: “coverage” and “serum” foundations.  The serum is billed as a more medium coverage foundation.  The serum foundation was just ok to me, but the coverage foundation is amazing!

The Details

  • $6.90 for 1 oz
  • 21 shades
  • Plastic packaging and pump dispenser
  • formula is free of: soy free, oil, gluten, nuts
  • vegan and cruelty free
  • Shop Online |  Skinstore . Beautybay . Cult Beauty


Don’t let the name “Coverage” scare you.  I apply mine right after moisturizer.  This gives me a more light to medium coverage, which I prefer.  Then I press the foundation into my skin with my beauty blender and it gives me slightly more coverage than CC cream. 

I feel like they mix and blend so beautifully with moisturizer and give a nice satin skin finish.  Whenever I apply the foundation this way, I always get asked exactly what I have on my skin and told that it’s the coverage level they want.  It’s a little more than a tinted moisturizer, less than a full coverage foundation.

If I’m applying the foundation later in the day and my moisturizer has been absorbed, then I’ll add a primer to give a more dewy finish.  My current favorites are the Becca Backlight Primer and the Laura Mercier SPF Primer   I have yet to try The Ordinary High Spreadability Fluid Primer ($7.90), but am intrigued and will update when I try it.

If you truly want a full coverage finish, then add a second layer or skip primer.  You can definitely get full coverage if you want it.

Make sure to shake the bottle before applying to get the best results.

My preferred application it when I apply right after moisturizer.  I think it can be a bit to dewy on me if I wait and apply after primer.  It’s good to experiment though and find the best application for your skin.

My Shades

I have been using a combination of 1.1N and 1.2N or sometimes the 1.2P on it’s own.  I think if you are trying to decide between shades, go with the lighter one.  Or order two shades and mix them like I do.  This foundation is so reasonably priced that it’s actually reasonable to buy two shades to mix.


It should be noted that I typically hate drugstore foundations.  Not because I’m a beauty snob (quite the opposite, I think there is a thrill in finding affordable products that deliver).  The problem for me with drugstore foundations is finish is always too dewy or way too matte and they always make my skin burn and feel clogged the day after wearing.

As a makeup artist, I need the base to be flawless, or else the rest of the look never feels like it comes together – I typically use Armani, Koh Gen Do, and RCMA.  Again, not trying to be a snob, just illustrating that I’m really picky about my foundations. 

I don’t know what it is, but there must be an ingredient in most drugstore foundations that makes my skin burn and breaks me out the next day so badly.  I usually avoid drugstore foundations altogether.  I hate waking up the next day with clogged pores and breakouts.

With the $7 price tag, I approached The Ordinary foundations with some skepticism that they’d actually work and anticipated having the same skin reactions I normally have with drugstore foundations.

The serum foundation was ok for me, but the Full Coverage has really become a go-to.  No burning, no breakouts, and a nice, natural skin-like finish.  It also doesn’t feel heavy at all, which I love.

I have dry, sensitive skin and this doesn’t cling or get patchy.  The Fair shades didn’t oxidize on me at all, but the Level 2 shades got darker after applying.

I set everything with setting spray and these held up for 8 hours in 100 degree heat (L.A. October heat wave) and 12ish hours in 75 degree weather (Much more my temperature speed!).  I touch up around my nose about 4-5 hours in because my skin does get dewier with this foundation than my others.

Sometimes I do get a more-than-dewy, oily, finish by mid-day, and I feel like that’s when I’ve been a bit too heavy handed with application.  One pump truly covers the whole face and neck/chest.

The only other downside to the foundation is that I actually don’t love how it photographs.  I really like how it looks in real life, but in photos I feel like it’s very “meh.”  So I wouldn’t wear this for wedding, family, holiday photos, etc.  But for everyday life, I do like the finish.


Aqua (Water), Coconut Alkanes, Dimethicone, Isodecyl Neopentanoate, Caprylyl Methicone, Methyl Methacrylate Crosspolymer, Glycerin, Trimethylsiloxysilicate, PEG-9 Polydimethylsiloxyethyl Dimethicone, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Dimethicone/PEG-10/15 Crosspolymer, Coco Caprylate/Caprate, Cetyl Diglyceryl Tris(Trimethylsiloxy)silylethyl Dimethicone, Sucrose Laurate, Dipropylene Glycol, Polysilicone-11, Tocopherol, Polyglyceryl-3 Diisostearate, Polyglyceryl-3 Polyricinoleate, Disteardimonium Hectorite, Hectorite, Dimethicone/ Bis-Isobutyl PPG-20 Crosspolymer, Dimethyl Isosorbide, Sodium Chloride, Trisodium Ethylenediamine Disuccinate, Phenoxyethanol, Chlorphenesin. May Contain [+/-]: Titanium Dioxide (CI 77891), Iron Oxides (CI 77491, CI 77492, CI 77499), Tin Oxide, Aluminum Hydroxide, Bismuth Oxychloride (CI 77163), Mica, Triethoxycaprylylsilane.

Ok, do not let the coconut alkanes in this formula scare you.  Coconut oil can clog pores and cause breakouts for some people, but coconut alkanes do not have the same effect.  I was a little scared when I saw it in the formula and did some research and realized they have different effects on the skin.  I have zero issue with the foundation and my skin.


the ordinary full coverage foundation swatches fair light

the ordinary full coverage foundation swatches fair light

The Wrap Up

I love really love these The Ordinary foundations!  I think for day-to-day, running around when you don’t want to wear your $65 Armani or Koh Gen Do foundations, this fits the bill perfectly.  It’s a great-day-to-day foundation.  I do hope they work on the medium shades that oxidized.  But overall this is a great pick.  I can not believe the price.  Let me know your thoughts if you pick one up to try!

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Thank you for reading!


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