Reviewed: Ren Skincare Perfect Canvas Skin Finishing Serum

Hallie Gould

As beauty editors, we get bombarded with a ton of new products every day (we know—tough life). Reviewed is a series where we report on some of the best products we've tried. Whether it's a drugstore lipstick that lasted all day or a hand cream that saved us this winter, you'll find all of our favorites in this column. Enjoy!

I'm always excited about a product that toes the line between skincare and makeup. As someone who doesn't wear makeup during the week (I'm not exactly someone you'd describe as a "morning person"), I rely on various formulations to keep my skin healthy (concern #1) and looking really good (concern #2). That way I'm not frightened by my reflection each time I pass an office mirror.

The equation for something like this isn't simple: It has to have actives that smooth; brighten; and keep my skin glowy, dewy, and clear—plus it has to blur and prime. See what I mean? Complicated. So when Ren's newest product, Perfect Canvas Skin Finishing Serum ($55), a serum that also acts as a primer (regardless of whether you're going to layer makeup on top of it or not), I couldn't wait to get my hands on it.

A first touch, the formula feels luxurious but ultra-lightweight—like your skin can breathe beneath it. I put a few drops in my hands and then patted it around my skin. It gives a really lovely matte finish, but I like to mix it with a bit of moisturizer to add some shine back in. That would have been enough for me—how good it felt on my face, how easily it absorbed, and how soothing it was against my morning skin… But then I read about its ingredients. The serum is a cocktail of bioactives that naturally lift your skin, boost its defense barrier, and restore its moisture balance.

Probiotics support the production of essential proteins and enzymes to improve the barrier function of your skin, while hyluronans increase its hydration and elasticity as well as reducing the look of fine lines and wrinkles. Agave tequilana extract (yes, really) provides an instant filling effect and mattifies to create that blurring, smoothing canvas for makeup. It's also completely silicone-free, cruelty-free, and noncomedogenic.

To give it more of a test run, I used the product again when I planned to apply makeup on top. I couldn't believe how well it took foundation—my face makeup stayed put all day and into the night without any touch-ups. It really is a perfect product, one that works when you choose to go makeup-free just as well as it does below a full face.

After a week of wear, I'm never going back to my other primers again.

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