Review: Bobbi Brown Intensive Skin Serum Foundation SPF40

“This will change your skin inside and out” – Bobbi Brown

When it’s said that the hybrid foundation Intensive Skin Serum Foundation SPF 40 is the fusion of skincare and makeup that beautifies the skin from within, I believe it. I have first hand experience of the benefits of Cordyceps Mushroom. It is a traditional herb we Chinese use to improve our health and vitality. After I gave birth to my children, I was given this Cordyceps Mushroom + pure chicken broth so that my body can recuperate faster. It is also a very expensive herb especially the wild ones. This foundation incorporates this super herb in the foundation. There are also Bamboo Grass for radiance and Lychee extracts for hydration, but I’m not familiar with these so I won’t comment. With color corrective pigments, this foundation promises to provide flawless, natural looking all day coverage.



Bobbi Brown Intensive Serum Foundation


The Intensive Skin Serum Foundation SPF40 comes in an opaque black glass bottle and like other serum foundation, it dispenses the foundation through a dropper. I always shake the bottle before using, but this foundation is actually quite creamy in texture so you won’t actually hear the foundation shake in the bottle. I expected the texture to be rather liquid and runny but surprisingly, it isn’t.




Let’s talk about the bottle for a second. It’s messy. I tried a few ways of pulling out the dropper and putting it back but no matter what I did, the result is below. Sometimes even messier. Does it sound like I’m a little OCD? Well, I am. It might not bother many of you, but it bothers me. Very much. Because I’m weird. So, yeah, let’s leave it at that. Back to the foundation.


bottle mouth


See the texture below? It’s one little squeeze from the dropper. It’s not easy to control the amount dispensed and for this texture, I would rather see it in a pump bottle. At least I know it’s airtight and I won’t be pumping air into the foundation every time I use it. And it’ll probably be easier to control how much to use. The color you see here is 0.5 Warm Porcelain. I thought it would be too light for me, because I usually use either a 1 or a 1.5 but surprisingly, again, it actually works quite well. It’s still a little light, but I don’t mind the brightening effect.




This foundation applies like a very light moisturizer. It goes on the skin and it just melts into the skin almost immediately. One drop like the above is enough for the whole face, for an almost medium coverage and it can be built up for more coverage. I really don’t think it can go to full coverage, but if you’ve done it before, do let me know in comments below! I want to show you the effects of this foundation. Below, you’ll see my bare skin, literally with nothing on but skincare, and on the right is one layer of the Bobbi Brown Intensive Skin Serum Foundation. You’ll see that my skin is lighter, but the yellow tones on my skin have also been cancelled out. I don’t know how many of you apply foundation on your lids and around your eyes, but it creases. It didn’t crease under my eyes, but it creased on the fold of my lids. I don’t usually apply foundation on my lids, but I tested it just for you. It also lessened the shadows around my eyes and the redness around my nostrils. The dent you see by the side of my face is actually the hollow of my cheekbones so don’t worry about that. It tends to get more noticeable as I lose some weight.


BB serum foundation before after


The finish, I’d say, is more luminous and dewy. On my normal skin, and in our tropical weather, it holds up for about 3 to 4 hours (without primer or powder) before I start looking a little shiny. It doesn’t cover pores and while it takes away some shadows and pigmentation, it still lets the skin shine through. With powder, my natural oils start to break out around my nose by the 5th hour. This foundation doesn’t oxidize on me and it stays bright the whole time I wore it. I’ve only worn it for 8 hours tops, and the foundation is still intact, with minimal pooling around my nostrils – which could be easily fixed with some patting motion. Below is a close up of how my skin looks with a thin layer of the Intensive Skin Serum Foundation. No powder, no concealer. The red veins around my cheeks are covered completely, but you can still see some freckles and marks showing. However, my friends, who’s gonna come soooo close to you, unless you’re making out?


BB serum foundation after closeup


With skincare ingredients like anti ageing, skin firming, moisture boosting and even skin repairing, this foundation is really the “do all” base. I can’t attest to any of the skincare benefits mentioned (while the special ingredients used are top notch) but for the foundation itself, I’d say it’s more suited to those with normal to dry skin. I can see those with combination to oily skin to complain about it being too rich. I really like the finish of this foundation though. Once you give it a few minutes to settle, it just looks completely like skin. It also smells a little of lavender (lavender oil is part of the ingredients) so if you’re not a big fan, then you might not like this. Below is the list of ingredients for those of you interested. You’ll notice that Titanium Dioxide is quite high on the list. This foundation is SPF40 after all, so if you’re going to be photographed with flash, avoid this foundation.


BB intensive skin serum foundation ingredients


I have tried using this foundation with my fingers, stippling brush, foundation brush and buffing brush. They all work well but my favourite is to apply with my fingers then use a buffing brush to smooth it out further. This gives a lighter coverage, so if you want a higher coverage, you might want to try using a paddle foundation brush.

Before you ask, let me tell you that I actually cannot really compare the Diorskin Nude Air foundation and the Giorgio Armani Maestro Fusion Makeup to this because they are very different. The Dior and GA ones however are comparable. This Bobbi Brown Intensive Skin Serum Foundation (RM195) is in its own league. A good thing, I say.

Have you tried it? If there’s anything that I didn’t cover, that maybe I left out, please ask me in comments below!


xoxo Lily



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  • I’m hoping this works for me! Most of these serum foundations never do… 🙁 But your skin looks lovely! It’s just the kind of coverage I like!

    • Lily

      I like that it’s not too sheer and not too heavy. It’s very kind to flakes as well! I think it’s great on drier skin. Are you going to get a sample?

  • As mentioned on my review, the pump surprisingly (or not) did not work for me – or not as easy as I wanted it to be. Was yours fine?

    • Lily

      Hey Robert, I think it’s because the texture is quite creamy – doesn’t work that well with the dropper. As I said earlier, I’d prefer it to be in a pump, you know? Easier to control 🙂

  • Liz

    I’d so love for this sort of foundation to work for me but I just know I’ll be oil city within an hour or two! Your skin is so lovely though. Hardly need anything at all.

    • Lily

      Thanks Liz. Perhaps the Diorskin Nude Air might suit you better. It’s definitely more suitable for combination oily skin. I’ve tested it and it’s quite comparable to the Armani Maestro. If you don’t like the Armani one, you probably won’t like this. I can’t tell much difference… but I need to test more.

  • Its own league… Wow, now I am really intrigued. It looks to have some alcohol too, which might dry my already dry skin but maybe extracts for hydrating make it up for it. I don’t own any Bobbi Brown foundations until now, will check it out. It look beautiful on you and Liz is right, your skin is great to start with.

    • Lily

      Hi Sara, this foundation is actually very hydrating! It is in its own category, even though it’s a serum foundation. Those I tried, and others that I’ve read about, are usually very lightweight and drier to the skin. This is the exact opposite. My skin feels softer after removing the foundation actually… which I failed to mention in my review!

  • Bex Miller

    I would agree with the dropper issue- you can only get about one drop, so you have to go in about 8 times to get enough product! The bottle does look very pretty though. I like how it goes on, very blendable and skinlike, but I’m not sure I love it after a few hours. It’s nice but something about it I don’t love completely. I like the SPF and skincare benefits though! (and I’m glad you love it Lily 🙂 )xx

    • Lily

      Hi Bex, a few people I spoke to also have problems with the dropper. I really think it’s just incompatible packaging and foundation texture. I don’t use anymore than 1 or 2 drops, so I don’t really mind. Why don’t you love it after a few hours?

  • Hey Lily, oh interesting! It does seem to provide good coverage. I can see it’s great to have more SPF in the foundation, but I photograph myself with flash too often to get a foundation that doesn’t photograph well!

    • Lily

      Hi Sunny, I don’t usually use flash to take photos because it washes out a lot of the color, and I’ll have to spend more time on Photoshop to color correct them. I guess for those who don’t live in tropical countries, lighting is a problem… so I totally understand. What’s your favourite foundation, Sunny?

      • For the moment, my go-to is Dior Diorskin Nude Air, and my “fancy” foundation is Dior Diorskin Star!

        • Lily

          So you prefer the Diorskin Nude Air and Star! Yes I love the Diorskin Star. Need to try out the Nudeskin Air more but so far, it’s good. I’ve been all about the base (pun intended) lately!

  • You know I’ve tried a cushion compact yesterday for the first time. I will blog about it soon but unfortunately even the lightest shade was too dark and pink on me. However, I loved the finish and how it looked and faded on me! I was thinking maybe cushion compacts are just serum like foundation soaked in sponge. I’d love to try liquid foundation that would give me similar results. How would you compare this to the cushion compact you’ve tried? Just in terms of finish and wear? Or would the Dior Air be closer? 🙂

    • Lily

      Hi Lena, the cushion I have is IOPE in N21 and it’s a very light beige. Did you get this? I thought it’d match you since I’m Gobi in NARS foundation as well. Texture wise, the IOPE is lighter than Bobbi Brown, similar to Dior. Finish wise, Dior is matte while IOPE and BB are glowy. Compared to the BB, IOPE is less glowy and doesn’t get oily even after a few hours. Powdering on top of IOPE is a little drying, I find, while for BB, I can powder and it won’t feel dry.
      In short, they’re all unique in their own way, but if you’re looking for something in between BB and Dior, the IOPE one will be it 🙂

      • Thank you so much for the detailed comparisons! <3
        I sampled Amore Pacific Color Control Cushion Compact which is supposedly higher-end of IOPE or Laneige. IOPE sounds good since it doesn't get oily too much. I don't want to set it with powder if it is a cushion compact. 🙂

        • Lily

          You’re welcome, Lena. I think Amore Pacific is the mother company of IOPE and Laneige. Other higher end ones are Sulwhasoo (I can’t remember how to spell it, so whatevs!) and Hera. IOPE is my first and only cushion and so far I like it. I might splurge on Hera or Sulwhatevs once I break open the refill 🙂

  • Estefania

    I might have to pick it up now… I love Bobbi Brown for face products and I usually find that the brand tries its best to keep their promises!

    • Lily

      I hope you’ll like it, Estefania. If you do get it, please let me know how it works on you 🙂

  • Oh hmm…. i’m not sure this will work well for me then. I really enjoyed both Dior and GA, and found they last me all day. But if it’s going to be just 3-4 hours, well that’s too bad really.

    • Lily

      Yes, Dior and GA last longer for sure, but I think it’s because of the finish. I wore the Dior one out yesterday, was out in the heat for a while, sweating and all, but the foundation still looked intact 🙂

  • I’ve never tried this, but I like serum foundations in general. 3-4 hours isn’t very long-lasting though, but if it’s doing all sorts of other things for the skin, I guess it’s worth a few afternoon pats. Very interesting about the Chinese herb and broth combo post-giving birth! You can definitely attest to the effectiveness of that since you seem to have bounced back beautifully! 🙂

    • Lily

      Those Chinese herbs I took post partum were strong stuff man! I guess 3 to 4 hours will be at worst case scenario. I suppose if I were to sit in an air conditioned room all day, then the foundation will last much longer?

  • GummyVision

    Thank you for such an extensive review! I’ve had my eye on this since it popped up in the Nordstrom site & have been trying not to order it until I’m 3/4 of the way through my TF traceless. The mushroom extract sounds really interesting, & it’s great to know it works from your real life experience!! I’m oily on my nose & chin, so it may not be ideal, but I have yet to try any of these serum like foundations & I’m itching in a big way to try!! I totally know what you mean about the bottle being messy…I’m ocd with my stuff too & I like my packaging to be clean – the cover fx dropper is really messy like this one & no matter how careful I am it seem unavoidable. Nerves!!! Lol

    • Lily

      I’m glad this review is helpful, Gummy! If you have oily skin, then I’d say go for the Dior one. However, if you’re only only on your nose and chin, and prefer a dewy finish, then I’d suggest getting this, but apply a good primer where you need it. I love the finish of this foundation. It’s so glowy and REAL it looks like great skin!

  • UM I THINK I NEED THIS. Thanks for the detailed review, Lily! I shall see if I can get someone to give me a sample or something sometime soon. Although it’s hot here, and humid. I don’t really feel the need for foundation, lately. Even the Bare Minerals one I just bought. I like it, but ugh I don’t want to feel my foundation melt off, lol!

    • Lily

      Not as hot and humid where I am, I’m sure! But hey, I think this is excellent winter foundation though.

  • Jaa

    Is it superficial to say that I want to try this foundation because I love the black packaging (not necessarily the messy opening!)? ^_^ 3-4 hours wear time has me a little worried, though, but I still want to try it! I like that it’s a combo of makeup, skincare, and with SPF! And high SPF, too! I think it will be great for a normal day when I don’t need much coverage but still want my skin to look a little more even-toned. 🙂

    • Lily

      Hahaha! Well, if you have drier skin, you will probably like this. And yes, the black bottle is so chic 🙂