It's not very often that a product comes on the market, so hotly anticipated which subsequently receives a very mixed variety of reviews (unless you count Glossy Box...). This is Illamasqua's Skin Base Foundation; openly modelled on the 'Blemish Balms' flowing out of Asia at the moment. Blemish Balms are a foundation/skincare hybrid product which provide gentle coverage, helping to clear the skin, provide an SPF and some even lighten the skin.
Illamasqua's offering doesn't provide an SPF (yay for MUAs!) and it definitely does not lighten the skin. It does, however, profess to provide 'skin realism' - presumably nice even coverage without looking like you've caked it on with a trowel. The fact it doesn't have an SPF is not a problem for me - for my pro work, I need foundations that don't have them and for myself? *Shrugs*. I'll add one if I want one, no biggie.
So, thoughts? Well. I picked this up in London last month after swatching & sampling shades like a mad woman in store (I walked out & my friend Petra made me go back in & sort my face out it was so patchy!). My skin looked amazing - it should have done, I was wearing about 6 tonnes of the damn stuff! However, when I got home & tried it properly, I was slightly perplexed. I couldn't seem to get it blended, it looked thick & dry and just sort of sat on top of my skin like a weird imposter. I tried it out 2 or 3 mornings and eventually chucked it into a drawer after M said to me one morning "ooh I can see your foundation". After tweeting about it, Illamasqua tweeted back advising I should try using less product. So, feeling generous, I dug it back out, gave my skin a thorough moisturising and tried again. And, after a couple of attempts, it turns out that when the Sales Assistant told me 'you only need a tiny tiny bit' she was right!
The foundation is mega thick and it really is like nothing I've tried before. I find it blends best over well-moisturised skin. If I try to wear this over freshly clean skin, it just drags & looks crap. I would suggest this will be a good choice for those with oilier skin. If you have normal - dry skin, just make sure you're well moisturised! You might find your fingers will blend this better than a brush, too.
Once you've cracked the application, you're onto a winner. I ADORE the finish of this product - it's smooth, even, not too thick & just the perfect mix of matte-but-not-chalky. It keeps a slight sheen around the nose & forehead that you may wish to powder, but I find this just makes it appear more 'skin like'. The wear literally lasts and lasts and is one of the few foundations I have that I can still 'see' at the end of the day.
I've now also used it on a couple of jobs and it's looked fantastic on every person I've used it on. It photographs beautifully and thanks to the lack of SPF, there's no scary flashes, highlights or grey bits to worry about.
A fellow twitterer wondered what it does for open pores. I have quite a few enlarged ones around the inner areas of my cheeks (closest to my nose) and when I was having the problems with the application, this is where I noticed it most. However, as I say, once you've mastered blending it, you shouldn't have any problems. If your pores are excessively large, it might settle after a while, but you could try using a silicone primer underneath.
I chose shade 6 - according to the SA, it's the most neutral in the range & I'd have to agree. Having sampled all of the shades, many of them lean quite peachy & it's definitely a range I'd recommend buying in person, rather than guessing your shade & buying online. The only other thing I'd say about the colour is don't be duped by how light it looks when first applied - once set, it will change at least 1 shade darker. So, I'd recommend really taking your time to get your shade right.
Whilst we are talking about colour, I have to say, I was highly impressed with the wide range of shades available. There should be one for everyone, from the lightest to the darkest. I will definitely be investing in some for my kit, especially as good darker colours are hard to come by. You can also buy a white to lighten any of the colours. The numbering system is designed so you can easily choose 2 shades that will mix (to cover all seasons) which wont make them go ashy or too orange.
And, it wouldn't be a foundation post without a photo of how it looks on! It's not the clearest as I took it on the MAC instead of with the camera, but you'll get the gist. Overall, I give this foundation a massive thumbs up, if you don't mind putting in a little effort at the start, you'll get fabulous, long-lasting results.
It retails for £25 at Illamasqua counters & online