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Best serum foundations to try in 2021 from top brands

This makeup product also offers serious skin care benefits.
Illustration of four different styles of foundation serums
TODAY Illustration / Getty Images / Target / Ulta / QVC
/ Source: TODAY

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The perfect foundation may seem hard to find, but it's possible that serum foundation may be the makeup essential you've always dreamed of.

Celebrity makeup artist Joyce Bonelli even says the trending beauty product "brings together the two worlds of skin care and cosmetics."

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.

Bonelli says her clients often love serum foundation because it provides coverage on their face while treating and moisturizing skin at the same time. "Serum foundations allow you to treat your skin while having full foundation coverage," she told Shop TODAY. "[Many also] have an extra benefit of sunscreen, which is a bonus. There are also quite a few options in a range of prices and shades."

To apply this foundation, Bonelli recommends starting with a clean dry face and applying the foundation fluid with the fingertips or a synthetic fiber brush or a beauty sponge.

"Blend in circular motions, and be sure to blend all the way to the hairline — you don't want lines — or do your neck and décolletage also for a full look," Bonelli recommended. "Wait a few moments until it's dry to brush on your finishing powder or mist with a setting spray, then continue with the rest of your look."

Bonelli says serum foundation is trending right now because it's perfect for women (and men!) who are on-the-go.

"It allows them to treat their skin while getting full coverage and it's not complicated," said Bonelli. "Glam should be fun. No matter what your day brings — work, running errands, red carpet events or hanging with your kids — you'll be [fully] covered with a serum foundation."

According to shoppers, these serum foundations are perfect for those who want to try it out for the first time — or if you're looking to give your makeup routine an expert-recommended upgrade.

Best serum foundations, according to reviewers

1. L’Oréal Paris Age Perfect Radiant Serum Foundation

Designed for mature skin, this lightweight serum foundation contains SPF 50, along with moisturizing vitamin B3. The formula is also perfect for sensitive skin and is available in 30 shades, which is a huge selling point for hundreds of Ulta shoppers who rated this L'Oreal Paris foundation a perfect five stars.

2. The Ordinary Serum Foundation

This serum foundation from The Ordinary comes in over 20 shades, making it simple to match it to any skin tone. The affordable price point isn't the only major selling point. According to one five-star reviewer on the brand's website, "I expected this foundation to provide very little coverage. What a surprise! It blurs everything."

3. Bobbi Brown Intense Skin Serum Foundation with SPF

With UV filters to protect against environmental stressors, prevent collagen damage and fight against aging, this Bobbi Brown serum foundation is worth the splurge. Its weightless, smoothing formula — including high-powered ingredients like lychee, bamboo and mushroom extracts — leaves skin looking brighter and flawless.

4. Perricone MD No Makeup Foundation Serum

This SPF-loaded serum foundation improves the skin's appearance while improving dark spots and improving uneven skin tone, thanks to key ingredients like wrinkle-fighting neuropeptides and brightening bisabolol. Several passionate QVC shoppers have rated this Perricone MD product a perfect five stars, with many noting its "natural looking protection" and "smooth and creamy" consistency.

5. Inika Organic Certified Organic Liquid Foundation

Packed with moisturizing hyaluronic acid, this foundation from Inika Organic helps skin look more youthful by boosting the elasticity of the skin and adding a bit of plumpness.

6. Bella Schneider Beauty Culmine BB Plus Broad Spectrum SPF 35

This beauty balm contains palm oil and proline, amino acids that boost the penetration of active ingredients like vitamin E. Designed to hydrate, protect and conceal normal and dry skin, it's gentle enough to be used after peels or other dermatologic procedures.

7. Clinique Even Better Clinical Serum Foundation

This oil-free serum foundation from Clinique includes powerful ingredients like hyaluronic and salicylic acid, plus vitamin C. It's perfect for all skin types, from oily to dry, and leaves skin feeling smooth and hydrated. Both QVC and Ulta shoppers have rated it a solid 4.3-star average, with several noting its expansive shade selection and long-lasting wear.

8. IT Cosmetics Bye Bye Lines Serum Foundation

Loaded with anti-aging peptides and hydrolyzed collagen, this hydrating serum foundation feels weightless on the skin and smoothes fine lines and wrinkles. It's also loaded with pure color pigments, giving your complexion a natural glow.

9. Ilia Natural True Skin Serum Foundation

A blend of botanical ingredients — squalane, aloe and pore-refining mastic, for starters — helps this Ilia foundation soothe irritation, eliminate redness and plump fine lines on the face. Along with leaving a natural-looking finish, several Sephora shoppers note that it "delivers a buildable coverage",

10. Flower Beauty Get Real Serum Foundation

Want natural-looking skin? Try this Flower Beauty serum foundation, infused with antioxidants and lavender flower water that'll leave your skin radiant and refreshed. According to shoppers on the brand's site, this pick works especially well for mature skin.

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