Friday, July 8, 2011

Product Review:
Illamasqua Skin Base Foundation

A few weeks I teased about Illamasqua's new Skin Base Foundation, so now, after over a week of trial, it's time to let you know what I really think!

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.
From Top Right: shades 02, 03, 04

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!


Mai said...

Very helpful review! Thank you so much! I have their Rich liquid foundation I gotta say, although it has a nice finish and good coverage.. It sits on my pores which is a no no for me.. Hope this wont do that.. Thanks so much =)

Unknown said...

I have the rich liquid too, and I have seen that happen (I love my e.l.f. Studio powder brush for the Rich Liquid- it does a great of really blending the foundation in).

The Skin Base is sooooooooooo much easier to work with, I can almost guarantee that you won't have that issue with it! If you try it, hop back & let us know what you think!

Larie said...

I've been waiting for reviews of this - looks lovely! Do you happen to know if it contains parabens?

Unknown said...

it is quite lovely! It does contain methylparaben; here's a complete ingredient listing:


Phyrra said...

I really like the look of this! Wonder if 02 would work on me.

Sparklz and Shine said...

Great Review! I went to a Skin Base master class with David Horne last night which was really interesting. I knew he'd taken a long time perfecting the formula and shade range as I first heard about it last November when I did my course there.

@phyrra - I've been wearing shade 2 as well - apparnently it's the best selling shade so far. As a direct swap from the cream foundation I should have been 7. But it wasn't until I tried 2 that I felt the wow factor.

Unknown said...

Knowing that you're a fan of Nars' Siberia, I'd say you'd do well with Skin Base 02. Though SB02 is cooler than Siberia, it's about the same depth (about a shade or two lighter than MAC NW15) and SB's pink undertone isn't overpowering. I do plan on mixing some white into either the yellow-based 03 or the yellow/pink 04 to see how that matches, because I am truly neutral toned. Having said that, I still love the way this looks on my skin in 02, and wouldn't hesitate to buy it or recommend it!

I'm so jealous that you've attended the master class- I would love nothing more than for Illamasqua to blow up on the US scene so that the brand can start offering things like that over here- what a great opportunity!

I'm not at all surprised to hear that 02 is a top seller; but it makes me chuckle a bit. Over my years in cosmetics I've seen most companies phase out their fairest shades, simply because they're not big sellers. Which, of course, just drives us into the arms of the very few companies who do make shades for us. That subsequently creates loyalty and leads us to buy more than just foundation from those brands- in other words, companies who exclude the ultra-fair from their foundation range aren't just losing foundation customers, they're losing out on incremental color sales too.

Maybe one day some of the mainstream companies will catch on! But I'm not holding my breath...

pixie81 said...

I got this in shade 02 but it was too pink and ashy on my fair neutral undertone. 6+1 will be a better combo for me i think. I wish i had a counter near me so i could see the shades in person

Mai said...

Sweeet thanks so much.. I sure will ;)

Unknown said...

I have a neutral undertone too (leaning just a *touch* warm, maybe) and I didn't notice any ashiness to SB02 at all.

I might have guessed that SB02 was too light for you (an ashen or chalky look is a big giveaway that a shade is too fair) but looking at your profile pic, I don't think that's an issue in your case ;)

The only thing that comes to mind is that, judging from your pic, you have a good amount of frecklage.

The deeper pigment from your freckles could be what makes the fair tone of the foundation look ashy (imagine what it would look like if your skin was as pigmented as your freckles all over & you put such a fair shade on).

Of course, a custom-blend is never a bad option (I do it myself) but I wonder how you'd do in a more golden toned shade like 03. You may still need to add in some white, but you might surprised- especially if you concentrate your coverage on the center of your face and then blend out the edges to almost nothing (that way you won't get a dreaded "mask" line!)

If you do decide to try Skin Base, I hope you'll let us know what solution you come up with. It's near impossible to pick a foundation without trying it on, but since US Sephoras won't be carrying this (for "the foreseeable future" according to a representative from Illamasqua) these reviews, online swatches and community comments are our best chance at finding a good match. Good luck!

Anonymous said...

This foundation seems great! I have fair, neutral complexion with some very slightly warm undertones (NC15-ish, I would guess), wich shade do you think I should choose?

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