The Best Serum Foundations
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As the makeup industry continues to emphasize taking care of your skin, there are a new breed of hybrid products — products that function as makeup, but also offer skin care benefits — popping up everywhere. Serum foundations are one of the most recent innovations in this category, and they’re the perfect one-and-done product for a simplified morning routine. The best serum foundations may vary from person to person depending on skin type, so as you’re browsing, look for ingredients you already know work well for your skin. Other considerations include your budget, the shade range, and the consistency of the product — though most serum foundations are extremely lightweight, as a rule.
Just like a regular foundation, you can apply your serum foundation after cleansing, moisturizing, and putting on sunscreen (though if you opt for a hydrating serum foundation, you may find that you don’t need a moisturizer — especially if your skin isn’t prone to dryness). Note that some serum foundations offer sun protection, too, in which case they can replace your sunscreen if they have an SPF of at least 30. Most serum foundations give your skin a dewy, radiant finish; if you prefer a matte effect, simply dab some setting powder on top.
Shop The Best Serum Foundations
In a hurry? Here are the best serum foundations:
- Editor’s Pick: L’Oréal Paris True Match Nude Hyaluronic Tinted Serum
- The Best All-in-One Serum Foundation: ILIA Super Serum Skin Tint SPF 40
- The Best Serum Foundation With The Widest Shade Range: IT Cosmetics Your Skin But Better Foundation + Skincare
- The Best Serum Foundation For A Radiant Finish: L’Oréal Paris Age Perfect Radiant Serum Foundation
- The Best Drugstore Serum Foundation For Sensitive Skin: Neutrogena Healthy Skin Sensitive Skin Serum Foundation
1. Editor’s Pick
- If you’re already using other products with hyaluronic acid, you might not want to add another one to your routine.
- In some cases (and certain climates), hyaluronic acid can actually make your skin drier.
- Does not contain SPF.
L’Oréal’s True Match Nude Hyaluronic Tinted Serum is a favorite of Elite Daily beauty editor Adeline Duff’s, who says: “I typically avoid foundation at all costs, as I strongly dislike the feeling of anything thick or heavy on my skin; but this serum foundation from L’Oreal has changed the game for me. It’s incredibly lightweight, and it provides just the right amount of coverage to even my skin out without covering it up. The fact that it costs less than $15 is just an added bonus.”
Key Ingredients: Cruelty-Free: No Size: 1.0 oz. Available shades: 14
2. The Best All-in-One Serum Foundation
- From humectants and occlusives, to SPF and antioxidants, this serum foundation contains your entire skin care routine in one bottle.
- Melts into the skin and rarely creases.
- It’s quite expensive for an everyday product.
If you’re on the hunt for something that will seriously downsize your beauty routine, give ILIA’s Super Serum Skin Tint a whirl. It contains hyaluronic acid to hydrate skin, squalane, which is a powerful moisturizer, and niacinamide, which helps to reduce inflammation and promote a bright appearance. ILIA’s skin tint is also equipped with SPF 40, which is a welcome addition to any product that you’re going to wear daily. But, the best part? This skin tint’s coverage is unrivaled in that it melts seamlessly into skin and leaves behind a smooth, natural-looking finish.
Key Ingredients: Hyaluronic acid, squalane, niacinamide, non-nano zinc oxide Cruelty-Free: Yes Size: 1.0 oz. Available shades: 29
Relevant Review: “This is everything I hoped it would be! I’ve already bought my second bottle! It’s not a full coverage foundation, BB or CC cream; but what it is is pure magic. It is moisturizing but not greasy, the sun protection is fantastic, and the light skin tint and sun kissed look is everything. I would recommend to anyone and everyone and I will be buying this again and again!”
3. The Best Serum Foundation With The Widest Shade Range
- A cult-favorite product, beloved by makeup artists and beauty experts.
- Has the widest shade range of all the serum foundations on this list.
- Has a slightly matte finish, in case you prefer a dewier look.
- Not technically a serum foundation; rather, it’s a foundation that functions like a skin care product.
- Does not contain SPF.
If you love the idea of a foundation that offers skin care benefits, but still want something that feels like a traditional foundation, rather than a serum, IT Cosmetic’s Your Skin But Better is the one for you. This foundation offers buildable, medium coverage, making it a better option for those who might find the two products above too subtle. While this foundation preps your complexion for the rest of your makeup, ingredients like hyaluronic acid, aloe vera extract, and vitamins E and B5 work to plump and hydrate your skin.
Key Ingredients: Hyaluronic acid, aloe vera extract, vitamin E, vitamin B5 Cruelty-Free: Yes Size: 1.0 oz. Available shades: 36
Relevant Review: “This is easy to put on. It stays on a long time. It is lightweight and matte but it doesn’t make my face look dry and powdery. With a tinted sunscreen the coverage is quite good. It really is the only foundation I’ve used in 5 decades that really does look like my skin but better.”
4. The Best Serum Foundation For A Radiant Finish
- There is little to no creasing with this product, even in skin with reduced elasticity.
- Offers buildable coverage with a radiant finish.
- Has the highest amount of SPF in this list.
- Some users say that this foundation is too dewy for their liking.
Finding a hydrating foundation that doesn’t crease can be pretty arduous, especially as skin loses its elasticity. L’Oréal’s serum foundation might be the answer to your makeup goals since it’s lightweight, hydrating, and doesn’t settle into any nooks and crannies as the day goes on. This serum foundation has a whopping SPF 50 for UV protection, so it doubles as sunscreen; and it also contains niacinamide, sodium hyaluronate, glycerin, and aloe leaf powder to hydrate and soothe your skin. Like the Ilia serum, this is another does-it-all product that combines most of your a.m. skin care steps into one bottle.
Key Ingredients: Sodium hyaluronate, glycerin, aloe barbadensis leaf powder, niacinamide Cruelty-Free: No Size: 1.0 oz. Available shades: 30
Relevant Review: “I have had a terrible time trying to find a foundation for mature oily skin and have finally found a winner. This doesn’t settle into [texture], looks very natural, and if I use with finishing powder I don’t have any problems with oily skin after a few hours like with other foundations for mature skin.”
5. The Best Drugstore Serum Foundation For Sensitive Skin
- Offers light, buildable coverage.
- Has a pore-blurring effect, thanks to the silicones inside.
- The shade range could use expanding, as there are way more options for lighter complexions than there are for darker skin tones.
- Doesn’t contain as many good-for-skin ingredients as the other serum foundations on this list.
- Does not contain SPF.
This new serum foundation from Neutrogena was designed with sensitive skin in mind, as it’s free of common irritants like fragrance and propylene glycol; it’s also nice and lightweight, and enriched with vitamin B5 to promote stronger skin. While there are definitely higher-performing serum foundations out there, this is a solid contender if you’re looking for a budget-friendly product that offers light, natural-looking coverage and a pore-blurring effect.
Key Ingredients: Vitamin B5, glycerin Cruelty-Free: No Size: 1 oz. Available shades: 15
Relevant Review: “This product is perfect for the summer months. It is easy to blend and has sheer coverage. However, it can be built up to a nice light coverage. The finish is BEAUTIFUL - it gives your skin a fabulous, healthy, hydrated glow. I will be reaching for this serum foundation daily!”