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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and all opinions about the products are our own. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

30 Models Considered
12 Hours Researched
2 Experts Interviewed
60 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Buying guide for best clinique foundation

When it comes to premium cosmetics that are safe for sensitive skin, Clinique is the leader of the pack. With over 50 years of excellence in the beauty industry, plus high praise from dermatologists, it’s no surprise that Clinique’s foundation formulas remain popular. 

Clinique foundation is specially formulated to skin type and takes into consideration common dermatological issues. The formulations are allergy tested, non-acnegenic, and free of common skin irritants and chemicals. Best of all, there is a wide variety of Clinique foundation types available, so you can choose the coverage, shade, and even skin concern that suits you best.

You can find the right Clinique foundation with a little help from our latest buying guide. We’re sharing an overview of the brand’s formulas, plus we focus on some of our top picks to simplify your shopping even more. 

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Just because a Clinique formula is classified as lightweight, it doesn’t mean it offers light coverage. Clinique has several lightweight formulas in every coverage type.

Key considerations

Skin type formulation

It can be challenging to find the right foundation for your skin, unless you’re willing to spend hours comparing and researching ingredients. Then there’s the amount of time (and money) you spend actually trying different types of foundation and not being fully satisfied with any. 

Clinique was launched by Estée Lauder in 1968 under the guidance of dermatologists — a first in the cosmetics industry. As a result, the emerging beauty brand quickly became a standout competitor with its formula engineering, which concentrated its efforts on skin itself, not just on makeup shade or consistency.

When you compare different types of Clinique foundation, you’ll find them marketed for specific skin types. The main ones available are for normal, dry, oily, or combination skin. As skin can’t simply be classified into a handful of categories, there are also overlapping formulas, such as dry combination to oily skin. Basically, if you have complicated or challenging skin, Clinique probably has a formula that’s right up your alley. 

Non-acnegenic formula

If you’re prone to acne, rest assured that Clinique foundation won’t exacerbate the condition. This means the formulas are less likely to cause breakouts. They omit harsh artificial ingredients and stick to simpler, safer formulas instead.

Fragrance-free: Added fragrance in beauty products can irritate sensitive skin and may even cause headaches in some wearers. Clinique foundation is free of any fragrance, so you won’t find any scent emanating from the bottle or your face. 

Paraben-free: Your Clinique foundation has a shelf life, and that’s a good thing. That’s because the formulas are free of artificial preservatives like parabens.

Phthalate-free: Phthalates are common in beauty and hygiene products, and they’re also used in flooring and food packaging, which hardly sounds like something that belongs on your face.  These are more ingredients you won’t find in Clinique foundation.

Oil-free: Foundation that doesn’t contain oil is better for those with sensitive skin, because oil can leave a greasy finish that might initiate a breakout. Clinique foundation doesn’t contain oil.

Product testing

Not all beauty brands are up-front when it comes to product testing, but Clinique embraces transparency in this department. The company conducts countless tests, from focus groups to consumer testing, to develop leading formulas. Not only do they focus on how skin reacts to foundation formulas with Repeated Insult Patch Tests (RIPT), they also conduct testing to ensure formulas are safe for eyes.



Since Clinique leaves out the harsh ingredients from their foundation formulas, you might be wondering what the company uses instead. The water-based formulas can include naturally derived ingredients like birch bark, grapefruit peel, or seed butter extracts. Depending on the foundation, you might also find dimethicone, titanium dioxide, or waxes.


Clinique foundation is available in sheer, light, medium, and heavy coverage. Light and medium coverage varieties are the most popular because they lend themselves to easy building and blending. Sheer is ideal for barely there tint and coverage. Heavy coverage formulas are significantly thicker and more opaque. 


Finding the right shade to match your skin is nothing short of a quest. Clinique wants to make your search much easier, so most formulas are available in dozens of shades. In fact, Clinique’s website states the company manufactures shades for 99.5% of skin tones and addresses 100% of undertones. 

Wear time

Clinique foundation has a solid reputation for staying put, and it is often marketed at smear- or smudge-proof. Most formulas will last between 8 and 12 hours, however some long-wear formulas can last for almost 24 hours. These foundation types are also classified by Clinique as high-performance or extreme-wear formulas. 


When it comes to containers, almost every Clinique foundation is packaged in a different one. Formulas are available in squeeze tubes, pump bottles, glass bottles, and stick varieties. More recently, Clinique has launched applicator containers that resemble lip gloss barrels. 


Clinique moisturizer: Clinique Moisture Surge Intense Skin Fortifying Hydrator
Give your skin the hydration it needs to look radiant and supple under foundation. We like this Clinique moisturizer, whose oil-free cream-gel formula is lightweight and has near-overnight results. Regular use also helps restore skin and reestablishes a moisture barrier. 

Clinique concealer: Clinique All About Eyes Concealer
To help hide dark under-eye circles, invest in a high-pigment concealer. We like this one from Clinique, which neutralizes dark tones and minimizes puffiness. It's even ophthalmologist tested, so it’s safe for use around your eyes. 

Clinique foundation prices

Clinique foundation costs between $29.50 and $39.50. It’s a narrow range, and for the most part it depends on the formula and container size. Most lightweight coverage formulas are closer to $29.50, while advanced formulas, such as those with BB or CC cream, cost $39.50. There aren’t really any mid-range formulas unless you happen to catch one on sale. 


  • Try more than one finish. Explore different finishes like dewy or matte to see which one helps you achieve your intended look. 

  • Store foundation in a cabinet or drawer. Protect your Clinique foundation from excessive exposure to light, even indoors, by storing it in a cabinet or drawer.

  • Consider changing shades in the summer. If you spend time at the beach, you likely get a tan in summer, so there’s a good chance you need to switch to a darker Clinique foundation, perhaps a shade or two darker, sometimes more. 

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Packaging for Clinique foundation lists the country of manufacture and origin.


Q. Is it worth getting a dupe for Clinique foundation?
A. Probably not. When you go with a dupe, you’re sacrificing a well-balanced formula for one that isn’t subjected to the same testing and quality assurance. While you might find a similar shade or formula in another brand that’s more affordable, you’ll notice it reacts and activates on your skin much differently than the Clinique foundation.

Q. Do I need to use Clinique concealer with Clinique foundation?
A. It depends on the state of your skin. If you experience uneven skin tone or have breakouts you’d like to hide, it’s worth adding some concealer to your foundation routine. If your face is otherwise free of redness, dark spots, and pimples, you’ll be fine with just foundation.

Q. How long will my Clinique foundation last?
A. On the packaging, you’ll find a little jar icon with a number inside it. This denotes the recommended number of months the product will last once it has been opened. For example, if you see a Clinique product marked “24M,”  it will last for 24 months. Each formula is different, so you’ll need to examine the packaging to know the shelf life for sure.

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