Clinique Superbalanced Foundation Review

clinique superbalanced foundation review

Goodness, I’ve really tried with this foundation, but this review is, I should warn you, something of a mixed bag. I’ve seen so many glowing reviews of Clinique’s Superbalanced Makeup online and so, when I first “dug in” (literally, see below for full explanation) I was expecting it to be love at first use. But it wasn’t. In fact, I was so completely underwhelmed by this foundation that I thought that I was doing something wrong with it. Perhaps my moisturiser was too rich? Not rich enough? Maybe the new serum I was trying out was doing funny things to the foundation formula? I wasn’t applying it correctly?

clinique superbalanced foundation review

I can tell you that I’ve now tried Superbalanced with a light moisturiser beneath it, an oil-free moisturiser, no moisturiser, an oily-skin primer and a dry-skin primer and each time I’ve come to the same conclusion: Superbalanced and I do not quite see eye to eye.

It’s bloody lucky, really, that it even got a try in the first place because it’s packaged in the most frustrating way that could ever have been conceived: a glass bottle with no pump, pipette or any sensible way whatsoever of getting the product out onto the back of your hand. It seems to have taken inspiration from the classic glass ketchup bottle, which, as we all know, is one of the world’s epic design fails. Because why would anyone want to wait for hours for their ketchup to come out onto the plate? Or have to stick a knife into the mouth of the bottle to loosen the sauce, only for about seventeen-billion kilos of the stuff to come flying out?

I had to do the equivalent of the knife thing with this foundation – although in this case it was the handle of a makeup brush. Dig-dig, and then wipe a blob of Superbalanced onto the back of my hand.

Now let’s talk about the Superbalanced formula: in theory (and seemingly, for most people, in reality) it’s an excellent, buildable foundation in a good shade range that hydrates where needed and absorbs oil in the places that get a bit greasy. Perfect – if you’ve combination skin (which I tend to have, a lot of the time) then you should be able to say goodbye to makeup slippages in the T-Zone and those horrible bits on your chin where the foundation sticks to your dry and flaky patches. In theory.

But this isn’t what happened on my skin at all. On my skin I just sort of had a uniform, slightly waxy-finished coverage that looked a bit patchy on my chin and nose. The thing is I know that I’m being incredibly harsh here, because I zoom right in on my camera and then I absolutely obsess over the finish in my magnifying mirror, and I know that no normal person is ever going to look at my face that closely…but I feel as though if I’m going to zoom in for one foundation then I need to do it for all of them. So I do. That’s what I do for each and every foundation review that I put up.

Browse all foundation reviews…

I don’t like writing about products that have disappointed me – I find it rather stressful, if truth be known – but I invested a whole eight days’ worth of makeup testing on Superbalanced, and so it wouldn’t be particularly time-efficient for me not to write about it! I would love to know if anyone else doesn’t get on with it – perhaps I’m the only one? I mean, everyone loved that Hourglass foundation stick that cost the same as a small house, but I really didn’t. So perhaps I’m totally pedantic, or have weird skin – let me know.

Here are my before and afters:

foundation review

foundation review

From a nice normal distance, I think that Superbalanced looks lovely. Natural, even, not too “mask-like”. You’d maybe expect it to have a matte finish, what with the oil-control business, but actually I think it’s on the glowy side. It looks fresh and youthful, you can find a good colour match, the texture is light and easy to apply.

clinique superbalanced foundation review

But it’s when I zoom in that you can see my problem with it – I find that it “sits” on the skin rather than being a second skin. I can see it sitting in my pores, failing to blend seamlessly on the nose and chin.

clinique superbalanced foundation review

The word “waxy” comes to mind when I observe the finish close-up. It actually does start to look better after an hour or so, almost as though the makeup begins to melt into the skin, but as I have loads of foundations that don’t need time to do this, I’m always going to plump for those…

So why, I hear you ask, did I persevere with Superbalanced for eight whole days? Firstly, as I’ve explained, most reviews online have been unblemished, which made me question my own results. Secondly, as I’ve also said, my feelings on this are a bit of a mixed bag. The finish from a normal distance is fine and I’ve even had a few comments from people saying that my skin looked nice, which is always a motivation for giving something another try.

So it’s not as though I hate this makeup, it’s not a lost cause, I just have enough niggles with it for me not to want to use it again. On the eighth day of testing I actually cleansed my face at 11am and put something else on! A different Clinique foundation, as it happened – review coming up. It’s a good one, as are most of Clinique’s face bases. They do face bases really well, they know skin, they create brilliantly natural finishes…but this one, for me, is a no-go.

Clinique Superbalanced is £23 here.

© 2018 A Model Recommends®: all opinions are my own and any sponsored or paid posts will always be clearly marked as an AD in the title. I accept press samples and receive product and services to review as part of my job. *Outbound links are affiliate links, which means that I receive a very small percentage of any sale made. This does not affect my content in any way and does not cost you anything, but you are most welcome to Google the products on a new page if you prefer. Please see here for full "about" section and disclaimer. A Model Recommends and Ruth Crilly are registered trademarks.



  1. Aegils
    October 27, 2016 / 12:08 pm

    I hear you!
    As soon as I saw the damn bottle had no pump it was a no go for me. Been there done that and it wasn’t pretty. Ain’t nobody got time for the mess.
    I’m far more excited for the new Guerlain, the double wear stick and the ysl cushion foundation.

  2. Jeni
    October 27, 2016 / 12:17 pm

    Hi Ruth,

    From the picture this looks to be the new super balanced silk foundation which is different to the original superbalanced- that could account for your experience being different to the other reviews you read.

    • Erin
      July 20, 2017 / 12:35 pm

      I agree, the original superbalanced is great so that could be the difference!

  3. October 27, 2016 / 12:25 pm

    I really think foundations are a personal thing. Something that might be incredible for one person is just awful for another, and it doesn’t make the foundation bad! It’s just a case of playing around and finding the right formula for you. Although there is no excuse for putting foundation in a glass ketcup-esque bottle!


  4. Lisa Hide
    October 27, 2016 / 12:44 pm

    Hi Ruth, I’m actually quite glad you didn’t get on with this foundation 100% because neither did I! Like you I had seen so many fantastic reviews but on me after a couple of hours wear it was not comfortable on my skin at all. My skin does errrr on the dehydrated side so probably not the best one for me. However at first it looks quite flawless, so was pleasantly surprised but after a bit of wear it was not comfy at all and like you had to cleanse face and start again with a different base. Ho hum. I look forward to your next Clinique review x

  5. October 27, 2016 / 1:16 pm

    Thank you for the honest review. I hate it when I read reviews about how awesome a product is and then I go to use it and realize that my experiences are the exact opposite. It makes me question reviews like that and I really wonder if the person behind it really tested out a product thoroughly enough. Yes, there are amazing products out there.. but seriously, thank you!

    And oh yes, I dislike foundations that do not think to add a pump on. But if the foundation is that good, I’m willing to overlook that flaw


  6. October 27, 2016 / 1:23 pm

    Thanks for an honest review, Ruth-it’s important to see things that haven’t worked well out there, as well as those that have worked for you!

  7. October 27, 2016 / 1:51 pm

    “It seems to have taken inspiration from the classic glass ketchup bottle, which, as we all know, is one of the world’s epic design fails.” Hahaha, I love you, Ruth!!!
    The only liquid foundation from Clinique I’ve used in the past is the Anti-Blemish Solutions Liquid Makeup and I thought it was pretty good.

  8. Sjess
    October 27, 2016 / 1:52 pm

    I thought I was the only one that didn’t like this foundation… I have exactly the same problems with it! Also, they promise a ‘natural matte’ finish but on my combination skin it looked seriously shiny. Huge disappointment:(

  9. Ivana
    October 27, 2016 / 1:59 pm

    I had a similar experience with their Even Better foundation. It sits in every single pore on my face, then kind of melts in and looks flawless (from afar, not so much when zoomed in) for an hour or so and then goes incredibly patchy. Never tried other Clinique foundations after that, but now I’m curious which one you are going to review next. I might try that one (if it’s not Even Better, lol).

  10. October 27, 2016 / 2:15 pm

    You can´t love everything, and like you I want my foundation to satisfy me when I look in the mirror, not just the passer-by on the street. And I don’t want to adapt my life to my foundation, I´d rather have it the other way round.

  11. Stephanie-M-M
    October 27, 2016 / 3:04 pm

    I think you’re very diplomatic here and I very appreciate your honest opinions about cosmetic and makeup stuff that is not THAT cheap. I always think that people have to try out foundations on themselves. I can’t understand people who write underneath a bad review: “Thanks for saving me money, I wanted to buy it so badly but because of your review I will skip this now.” I mean, if I want to try it out, I will try it out.
    You are really making it hard for me :). I never wanted to have a foundation graveyard but your wonderful reviews make me want to try more. It takes years to empty a bottle. Maybe I’ll give the Guerlain one a try, or Bourjois, or No. 7, or Clinique, or Chanel, …;). Thanks! xx

  12. October 27, 2016 / 3:15 pm

    Appreciate the honest review! I always apply and check my foundation close up and cannot stand when it cakes or lifts from my skin. I’m self conscious about so many other things I don’t need to add cakey foundation to the list!

    Look forward to the next Clinique review…


  13. Chloe
    October 27, 2016 / 3:19 pm

    Ruth I have had EXACTLY the same experience! The foundation is just “ok” and it would have to be out of this world flawlessly amazing for me to bother getting it out of the normal packaging each morning. I gave it two weeks on and off and I just can’t be bothered with it anymore. Silly Clinique for scrimping on the packaging.

  14. Catherine McGee
    October 27, 2016 / 4:11 pm

    Hi Ruth,
    If I’m thinking of the right foundation, I did think exactly the same when I tried it.

    I have bad rosacea so I do struggle anyway but I tried this with the 3 step routine and couldn’t get away with the foundation or the other three.

    Unfortunately it put me off Clinique and I’ve never returned but think I should really as I know there is much more to their range.

    • October 28, 2016 / 2:26 pm

      Yes, they do some absolute corkers – I’ll try and post my other Clinique review really soon! x

  15. Sandie
    October 27, 2016 / 6:52 pm

    Hello Ruth. Thank you for your refreshingly honest review. I received a sample of this new super duper holy grail Silk! foundation when it launched and I was so disappointed in the product and results, that I didn’t even finish the tester! I really don’t know what I didn’t enjoy about this foundation. Maybe it was the finish? Maybe the SPF? But I do know that I have been addicted to Clinique Perfectly Real for years and I won’t be giving it up any time soon!

  16. Caroline
    October 27, 2016 / 10:15 pm

    The Clinique Superfit foundation (now discontinued) was very much like this for me!

  17. October 27, 2016 / 11:01 pm

    Did you try it with a wet beauty blender? This is how I apply and its totally not streaky and sit lovely!

    • Sam
      October 28, 2016 / 12:48 pm

      I used to use a damp sponge and it went on lovely!

    • October 28, 2016 / 2:25 pm

      Nope, going to go back in with that. But I try and do them all with the same brush when I test and not make allowances – maybe I shouldn’t be so strict?! : )

  18. Sharron
    October 28, 2016 / 12:11 am

    Not tried this one but the Perfectly Real is one of my favourites. Any chance of a review on this in future Ruth?

    • October 28, 2016 / 2:24 pm

      Is that the one with the concealer applicator? LOVE that. x

  19. October 28, 2016 / 8:26 am

    This must be one of the most horrible foundation appearance I’ve ever seen! It’s painful to see the details on your skin. The closest I’ve been to your situation was the Bourjois Bio Detox one that looked good in photos and in fact felt good, but I couldn’t get pass how dry and, again, “waxy” it looked up close. Please pass this along and hold on to the new Guerlain Lingerie De Peau!

  20. Rada
    October 28, 2016 / 8:54 am

    Hi Ruth! I never tried the original Superbalanced foundation (apparently it is different to this new one). I tried the new Superbalanced Silk Makeup in store where Clinique consultant applied it on my face using a brush. It looked horrible, so as soon as I got home I had to wash it off.
    However, when I try to apply it with my fingers – it looks amazing. I have combination skin – my T-zone is oily and the rest of the face is normal/dry depending on the time of the year. This worked really well for me as it is not dead matte – you get a bit of glow, it absorbs oil well and does not show my dry patches. I also found that it keeps my face oil free mush longer than other foundations that I have tried. However, as soon as I try using it with any foundation brush – it looks simply horrible!
    I received a generous sample from the store and loved using it, however, I have the same reservations about the bottle with no pump – I think because of that I probably won’t be buying it, so will stick with my Chanel Perfection Lumiere Velvet.

    • October 28, 2016 / 2:24 pm

      Interesting!! Do you know, I didn’t actually try applying with fingers so I shall do that. Thanks. x

  21. Amanda
    October 28, 2016 / 8:58 am

    Great post Ruth!

    I have the exact same problem with Superbalanced, I just don’t get along with it at all. I think I tried it 3 times then gave up.

    However, the Clinique repairwear laser focus is a lovely foundation, in my opinion ;)

  22. Catherine
    October 28, 2016 / 9:16 am

    So glad it’s not just me, I read all the glowing reviews and it was enthusiastically recommended on someone else’s site. I have combination skin but it just sat on top regardless of how much I buffed it in and made me look chalky and weird.

  23. Jane
    October 28, 2016 / 1:56 pm

    I tried Superbalanced several years ago (so probably a previous formulation) and it oxidised terribly in a few hours. Never had a foundation do that before. However I love Even Better, go figure!

    • October 28, 2016 / 2:27 pm

      Yes, previous formulation – I didn’t get oxidisation with this, not that I could see. x

  24. Monica
    October 28, 2016 / 3:15 pm

    Hi Ruth,

    Thank you for your honest review. I actually had the same problem with other Clinique foundations too (Pore Refining, Even Better, Stay Matte) and I thought there was something wrong with my face.

  25. Tatiana
    October 28, 2016 / 5:42 pm

    For what it’s worth, I did not get on with this foundation or the Hourglass stick one, either. I just could not get this one to stick to my nose and that’s the one place I’d like a bit of foundation to cover the slight redness. Glad I was able to get a generous sample first, as I hate having to go back and return things that don’t work out.
    I am loving the Guerlain Lingerie de Peau.
    I appreciate your honest foundation reviews.

  26. Lucie
    October 28, 2016 / 8:27 pm

    I got a little sample packet of this to try in a magazine (so didn’t even suffer the horrible bottle problem). I was amazed and a bit excited to find the shade match PERFECT for me (that never happens with freebies?!), so gave it a try one morning for work…. and had exactly the same issues as you. Couldn’t quite get over the weird, waxy finish sitting on my skin and hated the look close up in the mirror. Won’t be putting it near my face again! In the meantime I am LOVING the Becca Aqua Luminous foundation.

  27. marymary
    October 29, 2016 / 7:54 am

    I like it. On the other hand I don’t like true match and find no7 to have a terrible shade range. Fdns are so personal!

  28. October 29, 2016 / 9:53 am

    I used this exclusively for years when I lived in the US. The fiddly glass container and all. And I used to love it. But after we moved to London last year, we quickly parted ways. I don’t know if its the difference of soft water to now having hard water, I live in a city, versus more clean air American suburbs (and I even bought two shades of the Even Better here and it just doesn’t sit right anymore at all). I’ve tried By Terry CC (which I use most often), Estee Lauder Double Wear Light (hit and miss depending on the day), Chanel Velvet (I have both a US version and a UK version, I used to love – tried it because of your reviews! – but can’t seem to get on with it of late). I’ve also tried drugstore brands as well. I just feel like they all sit on my face looking terrible. I even touch my skin and it’s coming off on my fingers (I never used to have that, so I don’t know what on earth has happened). I would love a magic wand to tell me if it’s age (I turn 40 this year), stress of life, water, location, or what.

  29. Steph
    October 30, 2016 / 2:39 am

    Hi Ruth,
    I agree the packaging is awful, why do they still launch these foundations in 2016?!
    I do think this would be great on oily skin but as mine is on the dry side, it did the same to me and looks a little too matte (albeit with a silk finish) for my liking. Thanks for a great honest review!
    PS this is a new foundation and not to be confused with the ‘classic’ Superbalanced foundation

  30. sarah browne
    October 30, 2016 / 7:57 pm

    I completely agree with all of your review! I applied my sample over a fair few days with fingers, it does improve over time but overall just too damn shiny and waxy for me. I’m generally a very big fan of Clinique, rarely have I had a product I’ve not liked. Really like their even better foundation…x

  31. Katie Z
    October 31, 2016 / 8:33 pm

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  32. November 7, 2016 / 6:37 am

    I think we all can relate to this. Having a product that looks really good on you but takes a lot of time to sit and blend on your skin just is troublesome. Thanks for your honest review.

  33. Ruth
    March 2, 2017 / 8:04 pm

    I really should have read this before buying the foundation….I was looking for a cheaper foundation than my beloved Chanel les beiges but the Clinique Better than Makeup that I wanted to try was not in stock in my colour, so I was recommended this one – what a mistake and almost waste of money. I had the same problem like you, but then baought a tube of Poressional together tried a beauty blender and had a better result. Now I’m using it with an oval brush and it looks really good. At least no more makeup sitting on my pores. But for the money I’ve spent to make this foundation work I could have also bought my HG foundation :-( will finish it and go back to Chanel…ahhh and love your Blog, at least I found this through that foundation :-)

  34. Marta
    April 7, 2017 / 1:14 pm

    Can you tell me what shade did you use on this review? Thank You.

  35. April 14, 2017 / 2:14 am

    Thanks for finally writing about >Clinique Superbalanced Foundation Review | A Model Recommends <Liked it!

  36. Carmen B
    May 14, 2017 / 8:06 am

    Same thing happened to me with Clinique’s Beyond Perfecting Foundation. This has 99% positive reviews but looks really bad on my skin. I tried every method I could think of and it just doesn’t work. I was tempted by this Superbalanced version because it seemed to be the perfect, but now I don’t know if I ever want to try any of Clinique’s foundations

  37. Carol Rowan
    January 2, 2018 / 10:46 am

    I couldn’t agree more with the model’s review. I had planned to buy the new Even Better Glow Light Reflecting foundation as I felt my current Estée Lauder was a bit dull. However, none of the shades had the “ yellowish” hint I like. I was persuaded to try this ghastly bottled superbalanced. Unfortunately, due to time, I just let the assistant apply it to my lower cheek. Looked fine, but next day I was horrified to find it settles in nose pores and is anything but lightweight. Even tiniest drop had almost to be massaged into skin. I tried serum sample under it, all sorts and amounts of moisturiser but still awful.
    Then I remembered a long time ago finding a similar pore appearance problem when using a Clinique foundation ( name forgotten) that mentioned teint de soie effet ….hint of silk effect!! Perhaps the clue to current problem.
    Now face returning for a refund, but not sure if I’ll get one.

  38. Coco
    February 9, 2018 / 3:40 pm

    Thank you for this review. I thought it was me. At first it feels lovely, but dries out my skin so much, I have to take it off after a couple of hours, and I, too, have combination skin.
    Also it sits on top off my skin instead of melting into it, same as you.
    Back to Chanel les beiges!

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