Easy to blend with fingers
Lightweight yet effective coverage
Skincare-infused formula creates a dewy glow
Accessible price point
Can settle a bit in creases
Not ideal for those who want full coverage
The Ordinary Serum Foundation
We put The Ordinary's Serum Foundation to the test after receiving a complimentary sample from the brand. Keep reading for our full product review.
After years of testing beauty products, I've come to accept that I'm somewhat of a foundation fanatic. My obsession runs the gamut across all price points, formulations, and coverage levels. I love formulas that feel like a second skin, and while I tend to gravitate towards full-coverage foundations, some days, I prefer a subtle veil of tinted moisturizer. So when I heard there was a foundation out there that boasted a considerable waitlist, I jumped at the opportunity to try it for myself.
Enter The Ordinary's Serum Foundation: a makeup offering from Deciem's no-nonsense skincare label, it offers lightweight coverage that the brand says will look natural on the skin while also providing an even, semi-matte finish. Upon the makeup collection's launch in 2017, 75,000 brand fans joined a virtual line for the opportunity to get their hands on the latest launches, and the foundation has since accumulated rave reviews online. With The Ordinary now more widely available in retailers like Ulta, now was the perfect time to put this accessible favorite to the test.
Did The Ordinary's lightweight foundation live up to the hype, even for this foundation enthusiast? Keep reading for my full review.
Best for: Sensitive skin types and anyone looking for lightweight, natural-looking coverage.
Uses: A daily foundation for when you want to even skin tone and reduce dark circles while keeping a natural-looking finish.
Active ingredients: Titanium dioxide (Note: despite this being a physical sunscreen ingredient, the product is only labeled as an SPF in the European Union while other regions carry out regulatory processes, so keep using your normal sunscreen underneath.)
Byrdie Clean? No; contains PEGs.
ABOUT THE BRAND: Part of Deciem's portfolio, The Ordinary is a vegan, organic, and cruelty-free skincare and cosmetic brand. The brand focuses on creating clinical-grade beauty products that are effective and affordable.
About My Skin: Normal to combination with minimal breakouts
Considering I put my complexion through the wringer with all my product testing, I thankfully have fairly forgiving skin. It's not sensitive in the slightest, rarely breaks out, and for the most part, it doesn't get too dry. It gets oily in the T-zone and I have some pretty large pores on my nose, but I can't complain too much. I do have freckles and some hyperpigmentation that I hide on occasion with a full-coverage foundation, but when I'm really feeling myself, I am comfortable leaving the house in a tinted moisturizer.
The Shades: A range with a focus on undertones
The Ordinary's Serum Foundation is available in 21 shades, with the brand having created codes to identify hues and undertones. The shades are divided into three categories: 3 for darker tones, 2 for medium tones, and 1 for fair to lighter tones. Each category is then followed by a second number from 3 to 0, which indicates a subcategory (ex: 3.0 indicates the lightest of the brand's darker shades). Finally, letters identify the undertones: P indicates pink, R indicates red, Y indicates yellow, and N indicates a neutral tone.
How to Apply: Easy to blend with fingers
My shade is 2.0N, which means I'm the lightest of the medium shades with neutral undertones. After my skincare routine, I apply The Ordinary's Serum Foundation with a flat brush—although it's so light and easy to blend that it pats in evenly even with your fingers. I start at the bridge of my nose and feather out towards the outer parts of my face. The lightweight consistency and water-like texture feels hydrating and glides on like the last step of my skincare routine. It's breathable, not the least bit greasy, and leaves a glowing finish that I often get from my skincare, but usually gets lost under other foundations.
The Results: Even skin tone and a natural glow
The Ordinary's Serum Foundation masks all redness in one fell swoop, but I go in for a second layer of coverage on the dark circles under my eyes and pigmentation on my lids. It doesn't completely hide my dark circles as a concealer would, but the lightweight coverage is all I need for a more even complexion. I do notice it settles into the creases on my lids a bit (something I rarely experience with other products), but that's nothing a light dusting of setting powder doesn't fix. My freckles still show through, too, but I feel made up without looking like I'm wearing a ton of makeup.
The Value: Unbeatable
As far as cheap beauty thrills go, The Ordinary's Serum Foundation is even more affordable than most drugstore foundations and comes in a wider shade range than many brands—not a bad deal. And you don't have to wait in a virtual line of 75,000 beauty lovers anymore: the foundation is in stock on the brand's site and available at Ulta, making it much more accessible these days.
Similar Products: You've got options
Ilia Super Serum Skin Tint: While Ilia's skincare-infused foundation ($48) is a bit more of an investment, it can be well worth it for those who want to get a nourishing product that does it all. With SPF 40, 30 shade options, and ingredients like squalane, niacinamide, and hyaluronic acid, this tint might even replace part of your skincare routine.
Neutrogena Healthy Skin Anti-Aging Perfector: If you're looking for similar light, hydrating coverage with a creamier texture and SPF 20, Neutrogena's tinted moisturizer ($10) may be for you. While the shade range is less tailored to individual undertones, instead offering six flexible options, its hydrating and lightweight formula can make it a good drugstore option if you're in a pinch.
The Ordinary Coverage Foundation: Love The Ordinary but looking for a fuller coverage option? You're in luck, as the brand offers a higher coverage foundation ($7) as well. For the same price as the Serum Foundation, this product will more easily cover uneven areas while still leaving a finish that's smooth and not cake-y.
On the day I tried The Ordinary's Serum Foundation, my skin still felt bouncy and boasted a healthy-looking dewiness six hours later. For the most part, the light coverage held up—considering it was close to 100 degrees in LA and I'd been sweating most of the day, that's no easy feat—but rubbed off a bit on my napkin at lunch, so it's not totally bulletproof. And for not much more than the price of your morning Starbucks, you can try it for yourself and really not lose out at all.
- Product Name Serum Foundation
- Product Brand The Ordinary
- Price $7
- Weight 1 oz.
- Full Ingredient List Cyclopentasiloxane, Aqua (Water), Caprylyl Methicone, Coconut Alkanes, Methyl Methacrylate Crosspolymer, Trimethylsiloxysilicate, PEG-9 Polydimethylsiloxyethyl Dimethicone, Coco Caprylate/Caprate, Dimethicone/PEG-10/15 Crosspolymer, Cetyl Diglyceryl Tris(Trimethylsiloxy)silylethyl Dimethicone, Dipropylene Glycol, Tocopherol, Polyglyceryl-3 Diisostearate, Polyglyceryl-3 Polyricinoleate, Polyglyceryl-4 Isostearate, Disteardimonium Hectorite, Hectorite, Sodium Chloride, Hexyl Laurate, Dimethicone/Vinyl Dimethicone Crosspolymer, PEG-10 Dimethicone, Stearic Acid, Alumina, Trisodium Ethylenediamine Disuccinate, Phenoxyethanol, Chlorphenesin. May Contain [+/-]: Titanium Dioxide (CI 77891), Iron Oxides (CI 77491, CI 77492, CI 77499), Tin Oxide, Aluminum Hydroxide, Bismuth Oxychloride (CI 77163), Mica, Triethoxycaprylylsilane.