According to Illamasqua, the goal of Skin Base Foundation was to create the "ultimate realism foundation" inspired by the rising popularity of Asian market BB Creams (aka. Blemish or Beauty Balms). While Illamasqua hits the mark with Skin Base in terms of creating an easily bendable makeup with impeccable (yet near undetectable) coverage, in my opinion it's wide of the mark of a BB Cream, and I wouldn't substitute one for another.
Illamasqua's Skin Base Foundation is exactly that- a foundation. I received the 3 fairest shades to test (aside from the white) and as you can see from this photo, the pink-toned 02 was just about perfect.
I was a bit disappointed that the fairest neutral shade is 06 (which I knew would be WAY too dark for me) but had a little hope that the 04, which Illamasqua describes as a "yellow/pink undertone" would somehow work. While 04 did prove too dark for my skin, I was very pleased to see that the pink undertone in the 02 wasn't at all overbearing, it melted into my skin nicely, disappearing without leaving a rosy glow. I also found that the 03 blended almost as well, though it warmed my skin up a bit with it's slightly deeper yellow undertone.
In this aspect, the advantage definitely goes to Skin Base. The foundation is available in 18 shades, from pure white to a deep neutral, making it an option for all skin tones. BBs, on the other hand, typically come in only or two shades that tend to cater to the light/medium end of the spectrum. The "one size fits all" shade is generally too deep for the ultra-pale among us, and far too light for deeper skin tones.
When it comes to coverage and finish, Skin Base is indeed reminiscent of BB Creams- a smooth, ultra pigmented cream that provides excellent coverage without settling in pores or emphasizing fine lines. The finish is natural on my dry skin- not at all dewy, but not quite matte either. The base is more on the moisturizing side, as it includes hydrating glycerin and mineral oil, so oily skin types may be able to skip moisturizer, though I do think dryer skin will need more than this alone.
In terms of similarities with BB Cream, this is where the list ends. The biggest draw of BB Creams (to me) is their multi-purpose function. Many BBs on the market provide high-level SPF, along with ingredients that whiten/brighten, reduce wrinkles, provide moisture, soothe the skin, and provide coverage for redness and imperfections.
Since Illamasqua caters to a professional clientele, they made the decision to remove the SPF that traditional BBs include, since some sunscreen actives can interfere with the photographic process. Though the Skin Base formula does contain some great skin care ingredients like Niacinamide (reduces fine lines and wrinkles, sun spots, and redness) Vitamins C and E (antioxidant protection) and Sodium Hyaluronate (moisture booster & retainer), I'd do wish they appeared higher on the list of ingredients. Of note: fragrance in this formula seems to have been bumped way down, and while I love Illamasqua's signature "cake batter" scent, this will no doubt be a big plus for some.
So what's my final call? While this won't be replacing my favorite BB Cream (which is great for lazy days when I don't need complete coverage) Illamasqua's Skin Base Foundation is certainly unique. The tiniest amount gives flawless coverage, blends seamlessly with any applicator (even fingers), feels like nothing and stays put all day. And while the skin care benefits aren't as prominently featured as I'd like, every little bit counts, right? Skin Base is definitely a new favorite- it's earned a place as my go-to on the counter and in my kit!