Here’s why you should switch to a serum foundation, according to a dermatologist

Base but make it beneficial

Digital Beauty Editor / March 09 2021

The whole ‘skin care and foundation’ thing is a vicious cycle: the stronger your skin care routine, the less foundation you need, and yet a little bit of base still helps you feel like your most polished self. But as soon as you apply foundation, it’s easy to feel like your skin is suffering – we told you, vicious damn cycle.

Last year’s events definitely left us leaning toward a more low-maintenance approach to beauty too; basically, 2021 is all about streamlining your morning routine. And so, we’ll bet you’d love to be able to apply a product that takes care of how your face feels and how it looks in a single step.

Well, we have some excellent news for those of you who are over compromising: serum foundations have officially landed. File that under one of 2021’s few wins.

Wondering what exactly they are/do/offer? Fair. We chatted to Dr. Nina Wines, Clinique Australia’s Local Derm Pro to find out more about what’s soon to be your new favourite product…

How are serum foundations changing the game?

What is a serum foundation, you ask? Honestly, it’s exactly what it sounds like – a hybrid between a serum and a foundation. “Classic foundations, while functional, typically include ingredients that will allow the foundation to look great on your skin, but for some people [they] can cause clogged pores and breakouts,” explains Dr. Wines.

“Serum foundations, [on the other hand], contain skin care ingredients which actively work to protect and improve your skin while wearing them and can provide similar results to when serums are used on their own,” she says. “This means your foundation is improving imperfections whilst hiding them making your skin healthier and luminous.” Alexa, play ‘Best of Both Worlds’.

Dr. Nina Wines

How do you choose a serum foundation for your skin?

It’s all about looking for a formula that corrects your concerns. “Clinique’s Even Better Clinical Serum foundation, [for example] contains three powerful ingredients,” Dr. Wines tells us re: the product leading the serum foundation charge.

What are those ingredients, you ask? "Vitamin C (an antioxidant that protects, repairs and reduces the appearance of dark spots hence brightening and evening skin tone), hyaluronic acid (one of the most effective moisturising ingredients available), and salicylic acid (a BHA that smooths, retexturises and brightens the skin).”

“This foundation also includes Clinique proprietary molecule UP302. It’s a targeted brightening molecule which helps to even skin tone and improve the look of dark spots, including age spots and acne marks,” she says. So, um, you’re telling us that not only will our base help to hide the imperfections we’re on edge about, but it’ll actually work on addressing them while we wear it? Worth a whirl in our book.

It is important to remember, though, that while this formula definitely covers a lot of concerns, your specific skin type does still matter. “Choosing a foundation specific to your skin type and colour is important,” confirms Dr. Wines, noting that while “type 1 (dry skin) may struggle with salicylic acid within the product”, it’s great for “skin types 2 (dry combination), 3 (combination oily), and 4 (oily) as it hydrates, smooths and evens out excessive oil production.”

Clinique Even Better Clinical™ Serum Foundation SPF 20

Should we be wearing serum under serum foundation?

This is a personal preference,” Dr. Wines confirms. “Additional serums can provide additional benefits depending on the ingredients within the serum.” However, you do need to make sure that if you’re applying other topicals, they’re ones with ingredients that play nicely with the elements in your serum foundation. Clinique’s Even Better Clinical Serum Foundation contains salicylic acid, so we wouldn’t layer it over a retinol base, for instance (but you shouldn’t be using that during the day anyway, now should you)…

There are some combos that work together particularly well, too. “As doctors we talk about things that work best together rather than alone, meaning they are synergistic,” explains Dr. Wines.

An example of a synergistic combo? “Clinique Even Better Clinical Radical Dark Spot Corrector + Interrupter is a serum that can pair [nicely] with their new Even Better Clinical Serum Foundation, as together they provide increased amounts of the UP302 molecule that can help reduce dark spots, even tone and brighten skin,” she says. A double dose of dark spot correction, you say? We’re down.


Should we be looking for serum foundations that also have SPF?

Long story short? Sure, but certainly not as your sole hit of sun protection; think of it as the cherry on top, not the cake itself. “The reality is that many of us struggle to reapply sunscreen regularly throughout the day, and sunscreen beneath makeup can sometimes cast a white mask onto the skin and can look shiny and greasy at times,” explains Dr. Wines. “Having a foundation with combined SPF takes some of the work out of it for us.”

“The sunscreen within Clinique foundation is a physical blocker – this has an advantage as some people are sensitive to chemical sunscreens.  Physical blockers such as invisible zinc tend to be less irritating and are extremely effective.  It is, however, important to be aware that a foundation alone cannot replace a sunscreen when in direct sunlight,” she confirms.

And hey, that’s perfectly reasonable... it’s already merging two steps to start with, and that’s impressive enough for us…


 So if you’re ready to save time, money and your skin, head to your nearest Clinique counter for a shade match, then take home a free* 10-day trial of Even Better Clinical Serum Foundation. Or if you’re ready to dive straight in, it’s also available for $65 at or at Myer, David Jones, MECCA, Sephora (from 7th April), Adore Beauty and selected pharmacies.

*T&Cs apply – one per customer, while supplies last. Available at David Jones & Myer Clinique Counters. 

Main image credit: @cliniqueaustralia

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