July 11, 2011

Foundation Review #28: Illamasqua Skin Base foundation

So as you know I've been trying the new Illamasqua Skin Base foundation since I got it right when it was released. It's time to give you more information on how it's been working for me!

What the brand says about it:

Inspired by the cult Asian market Beauty Balm creams, Skin Base Foundation is a brand new, refined formula unlike anything on the UK market. Easily blendable, it effortlessly creates a perfect complexion, and like the entire Illamasqua foundation range, is undetectable in a professional HD environment. Suitable for all skin types, it smoothes, softens and conditions your skin whilst providing natural, buildable coverage. The Ultimate 'Skin Realism' Foundation

The BB cream factor.

BB creams (as in Blemish Balm cream) were reportedly created by a German dermatologist to protect the skin of patients who just had cosmetic procedures done, but it's the Asian market who got the hold of them. They developped a wide range of BB creams whose common points are: claiming to be an all in one product that requires no primer nor concealer, a high SPF factor, skincare properties - mostly whitening- and very few shades available, wich is often a problem for Caucasian skins.

Now what Illamasqua claims to have done here is develop a product inspired by BB creams but with no SPF (so it's still camera friendly), no whitening properties and a wider variety of shades, from paper white to the darkest black. For me, on some points, the product is exactly that, but on some other it's very different.

First of all, the BB creams I tried were quite thick (since they're full coverage) but easy to spread. Illamasqua Skin Base is more runny in texture but extremely pigmented and not as easy to spread and blend as a BB cream would be. I think that's the bottom line: Skin Base Foundation is a foundation, not a BB Cream. Once you accept that idea, you can start loving the product for what it is: a very good foundation.

The things I like in it:
  • Insane pigmentation, I wouldn't say it does cancel the need for concealer but it does hide a lot of things
  • Extremely lightweight feeling on the skin: once it's blended properly, you don't feel like you're wearing anything despite the huge coverage
  • Gorgeous finish : let it set for a couple of minutes, look at yourself in the mirror, and you'll go "wow". At least that's what I do every time I wear it. Weirdly, right when I'm applying, I'm kind of thinking "meh" but once it's set, I'm always amazed at how beautiful my skin looks with this on. The finish isn't dewy but isn't flat matte, I'd say it's really skin-looking and despite the coverage, it never looks like you're wearing a mask. (Yes, MUFE HD, I'm talking to you.)
  • Longevity: although I find this evolves a bit during the day and my skin oilies will show a bit through the foundation, this does not budge and I still look great 8 hours after applying, which is something I can't say of many foundations.
  • Packaging: easy to use, unbreakable transparent plastic bottle with a nose. You see how much is left, you get the right dose easily.
  • No smell. I love the usual vanilla scent Illamasqua puts in their products (boy, I could sniff my Lover blush all day long) but this one doesn't smell much of anything and for those who are bothered by perfumes in products, this is definitely a good thing.
  • Of course, the shade variety is a big plus. Shade #3 is a perfect match for my natural skin (I'm 133 in other Illamasqua foundations). With a fake tan on I'd probably need #6, but my point is I do believe there's a shade for everybody in this range.
  • At 25£ for 30 ml, its reasonably price compared to a lot of high end or professional foundations.
So far, this sounds pretty much perfect. There are, however, a few things that I didn't like as much.

Firstly, I don't think this would work for dry skin, despite the fact Illamasqua claims it to be suitable for all skin type. I do see that if I have a dry patch, the foundation does enhance it. I also need to say that I feel it goes on better on very well moisturized skin or on top of a silicone rich primer that makes a very smooth base for it. However when I used it over my Becca Silk Hydrating Primer, I found it didn't last as well or as long. My best working base for this foundation is Mac Strobe Cream, as it's lighter than my Estee Lauder Daywear moisturizer.

I also have a feeling that, due to the high pigmentation and the product texture, blending can be tricky. It's not impossible but it does require some work. I found that for me it was a bit easier to blend with my hands (because of their heat) than with a brush. I would say that, typically, a professional makeup artist wouldn't have any difficulty working with this, but for us mere mortals it can be a bit harder and it's definitely requiring more time than applying more mainstream foundations would do. (As a comparison, my Nars Sheer Glow is on in 30 sec and looking perfect.)

So, do I recommend this product? Well, it depends on what you want to use it for.

If you're a makeup artist or someone who gets photographed a lot, then it's a huge yes. If you're someone like me who wants a foundation that makes you look flawless for special occasions and long evenings out, and maybe for being photographed, then it's a big yes too.

If you want that flawless long lasting look for an every day use, of course this will work great, but be prepared for it to be a bit of work. If what you're looking for is something that can be quickly slapped on in the morning and save you from the burden of using primer and concealer, then no - rather turn to an actual BB cream, if you can find a match. 

Also, if you're dried skinned, I think there are better options available for you in the form of cream foundations - and the Illamasqua one is an excellent product, by the way.

EDIT: Sam from Pixiwoo just demonstrated how she uses this product on her dry skin, that includes a good moisturizer and a stippling brush - check it out!


  1. I love the sounds of good pigmentation and lightweight finish, but I have dry skin so i may have to give it a miss.

    Thanks for the indepth review ^_^

  2. Thanks for the detailed review. Although I'm tempted by the great coverage and longevity, I think that my dry skin might be better off with something more 'dewy'

  3. great detailed review! I have illamasqua's rich liquid foundation but I find it to be a lil too dryin for me at the moment.. This sounds lovely though.. I was worried about it's longevity but I'm glad to know it stays put pretty well..

    Thanks hun =)

  4. @PoPBlush: other dry skinned bloggers have had this issue so maybe it's a miss, indeed

    @JenW: maybe it'd work great in Summer for you :)

    @Delyteful: if you're used to RLF, this one is more fluid and easier to blend, that might work well for you!

  5. I have dry flaky skin year-round, and though yours is the second review I've read that said this was an issue on dry skin, I truly had no noticible issues- I use an e.l.f studio powder brush (large, dense, flat topped synthetic bristles) and feel this is one of the best formulas I've come across in a long while.

    I agree that this shouldn't be compared to a BB cream though- it is missing the SPF and skin care attributes that I love in my BB, yet it gives a much more finished look (even my favorite BB isn't enough coverage for me to do much more than run to the mailbox in!) It won't take the place if my BB, but it is my new favorite foundation!

  6. @ Jess: let's not forget you're a pro ;) But I just edited to add Sam Chapman's vid on how she uses this, as she's dry skinned as well and apparently her technique and yours are quite similar. That might be the key, but not being totally dry skinned myself, I can't speak for that.

  7. Great review =)
    Kinda' wanna get this now ^^

  8. I'm having a bit of trouble trying to colourmatch myself to this foundation as Im buying it online! Im a Nars sheer glow in Sibera or a Urban Decay Naked foundation in 1.0. Do you reckon 3.0 in skin base would suit? Im pale and yellow toned :) This review is very helpful,

    Thanks very much
    Andrea :)

    1. Yes, 3 is about the right level for you, but they have introduced new shades now and I don't know which one would be the right dose of pink/yellow. 3 was neutral, check out 1 and 2 for different undertones if you are more pink or more yellow.

    2. awesome thanks for the speedy reply!


I love getting comments, thanks for sharing your thoughts!