Serum Foundations Are The Latest Innovation In Makeup — & These Are The Best Ones (2023)

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:

  1. Editor’s Pick: L’Oréal Paris True Match Nude Hyaluronic Tinted Serum
  2. The Best All-in-One Serum Foundation: ILIA Super Serum Skin Tint SPF 40
  3. The Best Serum Foundation With The Widest Shade Range: IT Cosmetics Your Skin But Better Foundation + Skincare
  4. The Best Serum Foundation For A Radiant Finish: L’Oréal Paris Age Perfect Radiant Serum Foundation
  5. The Best Drugstore Serum Foundation For Sensitive Skin: Neutrogena Healthy Skin Sensitive Skin Serum Foundation

1. Editor’s Pick


  • Water-light.
  • Budget-friendly.


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.
  • Budget-friendly.


  • 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.
  • Budget-friendly.


  • 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!”


Are serum foundations any good? ›

What is the benefit of a serum foundation? Since serum foundations are more hydrating than other foundation formulas all skin types and tones will benefit from using them. They also work well on dry skin thanks to the hydrating ingredient.

What are the benefits of serum foundation? ›

Serum foundations have a high concentration of active ingredients that assist to hydrate the skin, such as hyaluronic acid and niacinamide. Hyaluronic acid attracts and binds moisture to the skin, whilst Niacinamide improves the barrier function of the skin, which benefits moisture retention.

What is the serum foundation? ›

What is serum foundation? Also called skin tints or foundation fluids, serum foundations are formulated with reparative, hydrating nutrients and ingredients often found in skin care products. It's also known to leave your skin feeling velvety smooth after application.

How is serum foundation different from foundation? ›

Serums hydrate the skin, fight free radicals as they have antioxidants, delete signs of aging, and keep skin glowing. Foundation on the other hand hides marks and makes skin even toned and flawless.

Do you need a Moisturiser under a serum foundation? ›

Serum Foundation: How To Apply

Unless your skin is really oily, Denno suggests that you prep the skin by first applying your daily moisturizer and allowing it to absorb.

Who should use serum foundation? ›

Since serum foundations are more hydrating than other foundation formulas, those with mature skin can benefit from using one. They can also be beneficial if you simply have dry skin. As we mentioned, serum foundations have hydrating formulas, meaning they're a great option for those with a dry skin type.

Should I use my serum everyday? ›

Serums usually contain a higher concentration of active ingredients compared to moisturisers. However, if you're wondering, “should I use face serum every day?”, well, yes, they're extremely safe to use every day. In fact, it is recommended by experts that you use a serum every day to get optimal results.

How do you apply serum foundation? ›

Put a quarter- or dime-size amount of the serum on the back of your hand, then dip the sponge in it and layer on your face, stippling it all over the skin right after your moisturizer sets in to help the product melt into your skin. The damp sponge will give it a seamless, soft-focus look.

How long does serum foundation last? ›

Foundation. With the exception of powder formulas, foundations are water-based, which means bacteria love them. Unopened, foundation can last for a couple of years, but once the seal is broken, Hammer says, it's best to replace it after six to 12 months.

Should I mix serum with foundation? ›

Usually, serums are applied before makeup, which offers the benefit of smoothing the application of foundation. But combining serum with a foundation can be a great way to achieve a glowing makeup look, says makeup artist Amrita Mehta.

Who to use serum on face? ›

How to Use Face Serum
  1. Cleanse your face with your favorite face wash.
  2. Pat dry with a clean towel.
  3. Pump a small amount of serum into your hands and rub in.
  4. Apply the serum to your face and neck, massaging into the skin with a circular motion. ...
  5. Allow the serum to soak in. ...
  6. When dry, apply a moisturizer.
Jan 5, 2022

Can a serum be used as a primer? ›

For a makeup primer that creates a flawless makeup look while also having some skin conditioning benefits, look no further than Squalane Oil. The right facial serum or facial oil can also be used as an under makeup primer.

Do you put makeup over serum? ›

Step Four: Moisturize

Next up on your pre-makeup to-do list is moisturizing. Apply a generous amount of hydrating serum to your entire face while your skin is still a little damp from the toner. This will help your skin to better absorb the product. Then, follow up with your favorite moisturizer.

What is the importance of serum in makeup? ›

Face serum gives the collagen in your skin a boost, helping to keep it firm and plumping out fine lines and wrinkles. Fine lines and wrinkles are a normal part of skin maturation, but it is dullness and dryness which makes them seem ageing. By using a serum, your skin will be more radiant and full of colour.

Should you put serum on wet or dry face? ›

So in practice, this means that products that help boost your skin's hydration and moisture - such as essences, toners, facial sprays, serums, sheet masks, and moisturisers - are all ideal for applying to damp skin.

Do you need a primer with serum foundation? ›

You don't need a primer if your foundation is well-positioned on top of your skin. If your skin is oily or has a lot of pores, you can use a mattifying primer to smooth it out. If your skin is dry, a hydrating primer can be used.

Do you put a moisturizer over a serum? ›

As such, a serum should always be applied before a moisturizer to allow the key ingredients to deeply hydrate and nourish. The moisturizer then works to lock those ingredients in.

What is the best age to use serum? ›

The ideal age to start using face serums would be late 20s and early 30s. This is the age at which the first signs of aging appears. You can continue using face serums till the age of 50+. Including a face serum in your skincare regimen will not only enhance your skin but also protect it.

Do you put serum on before or after makeup? ›

Skincare Before Makeup Step-By-Step:
  1. Exfoliate.
  2. Exfoliate Lips.
  3. Lip Mask/Serum.
  4. Serums/Essences.
  5. Facial Oils.
  6. Eye Cream.
  7. Moisturizer/Primer.
  8. Water Balm Under Eyes.
Apr 26, 2022

When must I apply serum? ›

In a skin care routine, it makes sense to apply serum before moisturizer. This is because serum is usually more lightweight, whereas moisturizer tends to be thicker. Applying serum first can also give the skin more opportunity to absorb the active ingredients. In many skin care routines, moisturizer is the last step.

What foundation do dermatologists recommend? ›

The dermatologists we interviewed specifically recommend bareMinerals Original Loose Powder Mineral Foundation SPF 15, ILIA Super Serum Skin Tint SPF 40 Foundation, Dermablend Cover Creme Full Coverage Foundation, Younique Touch Serum+ Foundation, Erborian CC Creme, Neutrogena Hydro Boost Hydrating Tint, Cover FX Total ...

How do you apply serum foundation to your face? ›

Put a quarter- or dime-size amount of the serum on the back of your hand, then dip the sponge in it and layer on your face, stippling it all over the skin right after your moisturizer sets in to help the product melt into your skin. The damp sponge will give it a seamless, soft-focus look.

How do you prepare your skin for serum foundation? ›

How to Prep Your Skin for All Day Makeup
  1. Step One: Cleanse. Before you start prepping your skin for makeup, be sure to start with clean, dry skin. ...
  2. Step Two: Exfoliate. ...
  3. Step Three: Tone. ...
  4. Step Four: Moisturize. ...
  5. Step Five: Prime. ...
  6. Step Six: Prep Your Lips.

What is the best foundation to make your skin look flawless? ›

Our top choice is the Charlotte Tilbury Airbrush Flawless Longwear Foundation, thanks to its excellent coverage, budge-proof formula, and impressive longevity. If you're looking for something that provides great coverage as well as skincare benefits, we recommend the KOSAS Revealer Skin Improving SPF 25 Foundation.

What is the number 1 dermatologist recommended brand? ›

Developed with dermatologists, CeraVe is the #1 dermatologist recommended skincare brand1.

What is the best foundation for perfect looking skin? ›

The 25 Very Best Foundations for Your Skin
  • It Cosmetics CC+ Cream With SPF 50+ ...
  • Giorgio Armani Luminous Silk Foundation. ...
  • Maybelline Fit Me Matte + Poreless Liquid Foundation. ...
  • Gucci Natural Finish Fluid Foundation. ...
  • Charlotte Tilbury Airbrush Flawless Longwear Foundation. ...
  • Dior Backstage Face & Body Foundation.
Mar 31, 2023

Do you put serum on wet or dry skin? ›

So, for the most part, you're going to get the best out of your serum if you apply it to damp skin (think slightly dewy; having just washed your face and patted the excess off - not soaking wet). Whilst damp, your skin is going to absorb all the goodness so much more effectively than if it were bone dry.

Can you use 10 year old lipstick? ›

Powder products, if stored properly and free from moisture, are good for up to two years. Lipstick is good for one to two years, and lip gloss can be used for six months to 1 year.

Can I use 10 year old eyeshadow? ›

No, you should not use 10 year old eyeshadow because it could cause irritation, infection, or a reaction due to the age of the product. Over time, the quality of the product may have degraded and contain certain pathogens that could cause a reaction.

What can I do with old foundation? ›

Take a few pumps of your favorite moisturizer and an equal number pumps of your favorite foundation. Mix them together on the back of your hand and apply to your face with a damp sponge or brush. The moisturizer will help dilute the color, so your fave foundation has more of a tinted moisturizer effect.

What do you put on first before serum? ›

First, cleanse and exfoliate your skin and follow it up with a toner or facial mist. Next, gently apply a small amount of serum to your face and neck with either your fingertips or palms. Then, wait 5 minutes for your face serum to fully absorb into your skin.


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