Clinique Even Better Clinical Serum Foundation review: a beauty editor puts the kind-to-skin base to the test

Our Clinique Even Better Clinical Serum Foundation review – does the skincare laced formula really boost radiance?

Clinique Even Better Clinical Serum Foundation review - image of tester wearing the foundation
(Image credit: Future/Emma Stoddart)
Woman & Home Verdict

A great option on those days when your skin is behaving well, this lightweight liquid foundation subtly evens out skin tone and reduces shine without feeling heavy or caked on. Best for combination skin types, this formula has a velvety, soft matte finish and a hint of glow.

Reasons to buy
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    42 shades

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    Natural-looking coverage

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    Oil- and fragrance-free

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    Contains skincare ingredients

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    Soft matte finish

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    SPF 20

Reasons to avoid
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    May be too lightweight for some

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    Coverage wears off by evening

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After a lightweight base for everyday wear? This Clinique Even Better Clinical Serum Foundation review could hold the answer. The top-rated formula, which landed on our shelves in early 2021, is a real game-changer that combines the skincare powers of a serum with the coverage of a foundation to boost radiance and even out skin tone. 

When it comes to finding the best foundation, I don’t believe in ‘the one’. I believe in multiple ones. How I’m feeling, the way my skin is behaving and the current season are just a few factors that influence my daily foundation choice. And for those days when my skin looks well-rested and I'm after a natural veil of coverage, this Even Better Clinical Serum Foundation from Clinique has become my go-to. 

SPECIFICATIONS

Price: $43/£35

Available shades:  42

Coverage: Light-to-medium, buildable

Finish: Satin-matte

Extra features: Contains hyaluronic acid, vitamin C and salicylic acid. Suitable for combination and oily skin types.

Combining skincare with makeup, the hard-working formula promises to boost radiance and hydrate skin while delivering 24 hours of skin-perfecting coverage. To see if it truly lives up to these claims, I put the Serum Foundation through its paces to bring you this honest review below. Spoiler alert: it’s good, really good. 

Our Clinique Even Better Clinical Serum Foundation review

The Clinique Even Better Clinical Serum Foundation I tested for the article

The Clinique Even Better Clinical Serum Foundation I tested for this review

(Image credit: Emma Stoddart)

The Packaging

I’m often swayed by simple packaging and Clinique’s Serum Foundation ticks all my boxes. The small glass bottle is the perfect size for travel, taking up minimal space and weighing next to nothing in its 30ml size. It’s also recyclable which is a big plus point for anyone who cares about sustainable beauty. Simply remove the lid and pump before rinsing the bottle and placing it in a recycling bin. 

While the pump dispenser is sadly not recyclable, it is hygienic. Unlike some other foundations, there’s no need to repeatedly dip your fingers or brush into the bottle. Just press the pump (slowly for more control) to dispense as much foundation as you need. I find that half a pump is plenty for a full base layer of light coverage – which is fortunate as the downside of a small bottle is that it can run out quickly. 

The Foundation Formula

On a day-to-day basis, I'm aiming to find the best foundation for combination skin, which means I’ll go for a natural-looking base with light-to-medium coverage and a radiant finish. Usually, I’ll steer clear of anything that feels too heavy and looks caked on. But with combination skin (I have an oily t-zone and dry areas around my cheeks), it can be tricky trying to find a lightweight formula that takes down shine without exacerbating dryness. This foundation from Clinique, however, manages to do it all. 

This brand is home to some of the best face moisturizers around, so I’m not surprised to learn that Clinique’s Serum Foundation is laced with skin-loving ingredients. Focused on improving the look of skin both instantly and over time, this foundation formula contains vitamin C to bolster glow, salicylic acid to help decongest pores, and hyaluronic acid to plump up skin with hydration. And it’s the latter, hyaluronic acid, that makes this moisturizing foundation resistant to drying out during the day. 

It’s too soon to say whether this truly boosts skin’s own natural radiance over time, but it definitely delivers a good glow straight away. I’m not talking about that wet-look, glass skin glow – but rather a luminous glow that makes skin look a little more polished. In terms of texture, it has a silky, lightweight feel that’s so easy to blend in using your best foundation brushes. Even if you’re not well-versed in exactly how to apply foundation like a pro, you’ll still end up with a perfect finish.  

How does it look and feel on skin?

The feel of foundation is just as important as the look. And this one feels lovely on the skin with its lightweight texture that blends in seamlessly to deliver ample coverage without clogging pores. I’d go so far as to say that it almost feels as though you’re not wearing any makeup at all with this foundation. And the best part is that you can touch your face (or take an afternoon power nap) without worrying about it transferring onto your hands or sheets. Once it’s on, it stays on for hours.

The look is similar to the feel. A light layer is enough to even out the skin tone and blur imperfections without looking heavy. When wearing this, my skin still looks like skin – just healthier and more polished. It’s also easy to build which is good for those occasions where you want a bit more coverage like a wedding or birthday party. Unlike some matte foundations, it’s not at all drying and leaves skin with a velvety, smooth finish. To make it work for my combination skin, I strategically apply my best primer for dry skin on my cheeks only, before blending this foundation on top. I find that it helps maintain a dewy makeup look in the places where I want to glow.  

This foundation also boasts impressive staying power. I apply it first thing in the morning and after a day of Zoom calls, it still looks smooth and even without showing signs of migrating. And unlike many other formulas I own, this foundation doesn’t crease or settle into my fine lines. By the evening, I do usually notice the coverage wears off and the oil on my T-zone can start to shine through. But with a quick dusting of my best setting powder, it’s back to a satin-matte finish. 

Clinique Even Better Clinical Serum Foundation review: the verdict

As you can probably tell from my review, I’m a huge fan of Clinique’s Even Better Clinical Serum Foundation. After reading the brand’s claims, I had high hopes for this formula and I’m so glad that it delivered. It’s hydrating and lightweight, delivering just the right amount of coverage for a radiant and fresh finish. It’s also available in 42 flattering shades, spanning warm and cool undertones, which makes finding a match easy. If you’re shopping online, use Clinique’s virtual try-on tool (opens in new tab) (simply scan the QR code) to find your shade. 

While it won’t last for 24 hours of wear, it will stay put for most of the day and can easily be touched up come evening. If it’s a full coverage, ultra-matte base that you’re after – look elsewhere. But for a light veil of radiant coverage that won’t cling to dry patches or exacerbate oiliness, this is the foundation for you. 

We prefer applying it with a brush and recommend swirling powder on top before finishing your look with your best cream bronzer and a slick of highlighting balm. The only catch is that the bottle is small (30ml) which makes the price point quite high – however, half a pump is plenty for a natural everyday makeup look, so it will last well. 

Emma Stoddart is a freelance beauty journalist and self-confessed skincare aficionado with over five years’ industry experience. Emma has worked for some of the UK’s top women’s titles including Net-A-Porter, Stylist and Grazia. Her experience spans online and print as well as producing editorial shoots with some of the industry’s biggest artists, including Val Garland. Asides from working with them behind the scenes, she’s also had the chance to interview the likes of Patrick Ta, Pat McGrath, and Sam McKnight for all their insider tips and tricks.