Review | The Ordinary Serum Foundation 3.1Y

When a foundation has huge claims, a waiting list of over 25,000 when released, and costs less than £6, how can one resist?  

I have always been drawn towards BB creams, CC creams, or tinted moisturisers instead of foundation.  This is for multiple reasons: 1) I fear becoming dependent on foundation to the point where I cannot leave without it because it's that good 2) a majority of foundations feel too heavy 3) they oxidise and look ashy on the skin. Unfortunately, I think fear one may come true.  

Shade Range

Like anyone, I did some research on the foundation online, especially in my shade of interest.  I was skeptical about whether or not it would match me as sometimes it's difficult to find the right shade in-store let alone online.  However, to my pleasant surprise, the range is vast enough to encompass deeper skin tones of various undertones which most would understand is quite rare.  Although I have warm and yellow undertones, not every deep skinned individual has yellow undertones so catering towards pink, red, and neutral also is very wise and ensures that the range is all encompassing.  Here is the list of foundation shades in MAC vs The Ordinary for reference.  

NW10 1.0P (pink undertones)
NW13 1.0P (pink undertones)
NW15 1.1p (pink undertones)
NW18 1.2p (pink undertones)
NW20 1.2p (pink undertones)
NW22 2.0p (pink undertones)
NW25 2.1P (pink undertones)
NW30 2.1P (pink undertones)
NW33 2.1P (pink undertones)
NW35 3.0R (red understones)
NW40 3.0R (red undertones)
NW43 3.1R (red undertones)
NW44 3.1R (red undertones)
NW45 3.1R (red undertones)
NW46 3.2N (neutral undertones)
NW47 3.2N (neutral undertones)
NW48 3.2N (neutral undertones)
NW50 3.2R (red understones)
NW55 3.2R (red undertones)
NW58 3.3N (neutral undertones)
NC10 1.0N (neutral undertones)
NC15 1.1N (neutral undertones)
NC20 1.2N/1.2Y/1.2YG (neutral undertones/yellow undertones)
NC25 2.0N/2.0YG (neutral undertones/yellow undertones)
NC30 2.1Y (yellow undertones)
NC35 2.1Y (yellow undertones)
NC37 2.1Y (yellow undertones)
NC40 2.1Y (yellow undertones)
NC41 2.1Y (yellow undertones)
NC42 2.1Y (yellow undertones)
NC43.5 3.0Y (yellow undertones)
NC44 3.0Y (yellow undertones)
NC44.5 3.0Y (yellow undertones)
NC45 3.1Y (yellow undertones)
NC46 3.1Y (yellow undertones)
NC47 3.1Y (yellow undertones)
NC50 3.2N (yellow undertones)
NC55 3.2N (yellow undertones)
Source: here


For context, I have normal-combination skin meaning I have an oily T-zone and then occasional dry patches of skin around my jaw and cheeks.  My forehead does display a lot under-the-skin blemishes which is frustrating.  This foundation will blur out imperfections, but unlike pigmentation or discolouration, it cannot completely eliminate raised areas.    However, no foundation on the market can eliminate zits and pimples so this shouldn't come to a shock.  The most it can do is blur it out.  

The foundation itself is advertised as light to medium coverage.  To emphasise, it really depends on your natural skin type and quality.  In my opinion, although it feels extremely lightweight,  I believe that the coverage of the foundation can lean on the side of medium if your main concern is discolouration.

The serum foundation is perfect for those with dry skin in my personal experience and has not accentuate any oiliness on my T zone.   Obviously, if someone has significantly oiler skin than myself perhaps looking into The Ordinary Coverage Foundation would be a better idea despite it not being as lightweight.  


Most drugstore foundations can range from £5-£15 with less quality and coverage in comparison to The Ordinary.  Even well known low-priced brands such as ELF have upped their prices! Therefore, to have a foundation that costs less than £6 will not break the bank in most cases.  Furthermore, I made the initial mistake of using a full pump but you only require half of a pump applied evenly all over the face.  I used a brush instead of a beauty blender or sponge which would, inevitably, absorb more product and ensure less wastage.  

How it wore throughout the day

9:00am: I applied the foundation for the first time using a brush.  I cleaned my face and put on moisturiser first to make sure I had a smooth base for application.  I found that it was very quick and easy to apply, it did not set quickly or at all so I didn't have to tug and pull. 

11:30am: I was surprised to find that the foundation did not oxidise alongside no ashiness around the mouth area. There is minimal transfer of the product on clothes or when I rub my face.  

12:30am: I don't notice any significant changes on my face with use of this foundation. It feels as though I have nothing on and it does not look cakey or obvious that I am wearing any form of foundation or tint on my face.  It looks very natural given that it blended so well into the skin.  

2:00pm: Looking very fresh.  I am still surprised.  I am noticing a little bit of fading around the nose area as a result of sweat so setting this foundation with a powder or simply setting spray can increase the longevity of this product by miles. 

4:00pm: I woke up from a nap (yeah I know I'm basically an old lady) and found that the foundation did transfer slightly on my shirt when i rubbed my face but otherwise it doesn't look obvious.  The foundation fades evenly off of the face so it does not become cakey, gloopy, or unflattering.  Again, note that I didn't use setting spray or powder so that could change results significantly.  Nevertheless, despite slight fading and my natural skin shining through, there is still no ashiness around the mouth which is a huge plus.  

Lasting power: 7-8 hours 

All in all, I highly recommend trying this out especially for the price.  It will have your higher end foundations a run for their money!  


  1. I really love ordinary items.I am using many of their skincare items. I am willing to buy this foundation now. But I just did flawless makeup lesson , so i don't have much idea about foundation shades. How it will be for sensitive and acne-pore skin? and thank you so much for mentioning shades.

    1. So sorry for the late reply!

      I personally tend to have acne on my forehead and have not seen this exaggerate that area at all! It suffer with ezcema as well and found that applying this on my neck did not make me feel itchy or oily! So I think it is hyposensitive to a degree from my experience but a patch test would be best and as it is quite cheap its a good idea to try it a little bit on your jaw first before commiting!


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