Skin-Care Tips

9 Serums That Make Your Skin so Bright You Can Ditch the Foundation

Zoe Weiner

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Photo: W+G Creative
In the last few years, the lines between skin care and makeup have become increasingly blurred. There's foundation that acts as skin care, skin care that acts as foundation, and heck, even eyeshadow that acts as SPF. Now that we have less time than ever before to put on our beauty products, we've started to demand that they do more so that we don't have to use as many of 'em to get the job done. The latest hybrid skin step worth getting on board with? Serums that look like makeup and help cut at least a single step out of your routine.

In addition to doing some skin-friendly things for your face in the long-term, these serum makeup primer hybrids (which, really, can act as all three at once) leave behind a finish that will make you excited to use them as one of the final steps in your routine. Some are tinted, making them A-plus subs for foundation, while others are dead ringers for the primer that you almost always forget to use unless it's a special occasion. You can wear each of these products on its own, layer them under your existing steps, or mix them with foundation for an easier application and more radiant glow. The result? Your skin, illuminated. Shop our favorite serum makeup primer hybrid products, below.

Photo: Glossier

Glossier Futuredew, $24

Part oil, part serum, this product is meant to give skin a radiant glow (that comes from just slathering on your serums) all day long—it'll make skin look dewy (yes, dewy) for up to 12 hours. It also helps with dryness and dullness, but won't clog pores, which led reviewers to call it "magical" and "like a cozy hug for your face."

serum foundation
Photo: Iris & Romeo

Iris and Romeo Best Skin Days, $64

A makeup serum only partly describes all of the different things this five-in-one product can do. It also moisturizes and protects from pollution and blue light, plus it's got SPF 30 to protect you from UVA and UVB rays, too. It's a bit more "makeup" than "serum," but think of it as the best possible foundation-alt you can slather on your skin.

Photo: Furtuna

Furtuna Skin Porte Per La Vitalita, $184

A single layer of this stuff will make your skin look like it's radiating from the inside out. It's packed with Italian botanicals to even skin tone and reduce puffiness, and all you need is a few drops to give your skin some major oomph.

Photo: Farsali

Farsali Rose Gold Elixer, $54

If you're one of those people who hates facial oils, this might just be the stuff that gets you on board. It's a dry oil, so it doesn't go on sticky or greasy, and it absorbs into your skin to leave behind an illuminated aura. It's infused with 24-karat gold flakes, making it perfect for using as a primer or mixing with your foundation for a more lustrous finish.

Photo: MZ Skin

MZ Skin Lift and Lustre Golden Elixir Antioxidant Serum, $329

This serum is liquid gold in both appearance and ingredient profile. It's rich in stem cells, botanical extracts and hyaluronic acid to hydrate and brighten skin, and is infused with gold particles that leave behind a subtle sheen. It's like highlighter for your entire face, making for the perfect dew-inducing primer to layer under makeup or wear on its own.

Photo: Gressa

Gressa Minimalist Corrective Serum Foundation, $62

This is another one that's more makeup than serum, but Gressa's serum foundation offers weightless coverage in only two drops (or more if you want a more buildable finish). It's got all-natural ingredients like broccoli seed and botanical extracts, and melds your skin-care and foundation steps into one easy application.

Photo: Dr. Hauschka

Dr. Hauschka Bronze Tint Oil, $42

This tint is the best way to get your bronze on without subjecting your face to the sun. It soothes inflammation and minimizes the appearance of pores and skin discoloration, and it leaves a finish that will make you want to forego foundation altogether in favor of its natural-looking light beams.

Photo: Pixi

Pixi by Petra Glow Tonic Serum, $24

The proof with this one is right there in the name, and the "glow" it refers to is the real deal. Not only does it work magic on skin by exfoliating, hydrating, and nourishing at the same time thanks to ingredients like glycolic acid, aloe vera, and ginseng, but it leaves behind and instant radiance that sticks around for hours after you apply.

Photo: Becca

Becca Skin Love Glow Elixir, $48

Considering how well-loved Becca is for its makeup, its no wonder that the brand's first foray into skin care feels like it's a one-and-done primer. With an "antioxidant smoothie" that includes ingredients like algae, honey, and peony, skin will drink up this hydration-heavy serum.

While we're on the subject of saving time with serum makeup primer products, derms say it actually may not be a bad idea to take a break from your skin-care routine altogether. And here are the ingredients you should be layering on for the sake of your dry, winter skin

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