24 Sept 2012

Illamasqua Skin Base Foundation

Illamasqua Skin Base Foundation
This is a perfect "Goldilocks" foundation.  It will work if your skin is not too oily, not too dry, but just right...

Let me caveat this review by saying I quite like this foundation.  When I first bought it, I thought it was a miracle.  After some use, I can see it has merit, but it's not the bee-all-and-end-all I originally thought. For me, this is more of a makeup artist's foundation than a Joe Soap Consumer's foundation.  I'll explain why after the jump.


This is a medium coverage foundation, that can be sheered-out to light coverage with a wet sponge application.  It does build and layer nicely from light to quite heavy (but not quite full coverage).  When  applied lightly, the foundation allows freckles and skin to show through, but due to the foundation's undertones, can be used quite effectively to balance-out pigmentation imperfections.


This foundation has a natural finish.  It will appear slightly dewy on skin types that are more oily, and more satin on skin types that are dryer.


This certainly does feels nice and comfortable, it's not particularly heavy on the skin, but it is a foundation (like most) that you will "feel" to a certain extent.  For me, it will wear for my "standard" seven-to-eight-hour stint before starting to look slightly disheveled.  It does definitely need powdering if you have oilier skin.  It doesn't particularly re-apply very well if you need to top-up later, but to be honest a lot of other foundations don't either.

It's not a long-lasting foundation, so despite the fact that it photographs well, it's not one I personally use on (or recommend for) brides.


Illamasqua Skin Base Foundation Shades.  There are many!
This is from the Illamasqua website and doesn't do the shades justice...

One of the major pluses of this foundation is that it has a large range of shades, arranged into different undertones.  Now, sadly there's no longer any Illamasqua store in Ireland :-( and I never recommend purchasing foundation without being colour matched in-store and trialling it first before buying... and this isn't possible in this instance.

Another plus, as I've mentioned, this is a perfect "makeup artist's foundation".  The reason I say this is because the undertones are very prominent;  the yellow based foundations are quite yellow.  The pink-based ones are similarly quite pink.  There are also olive-, red- and neutral- undertone shades, along with hybrid olive-red, olive-neutral and pink-yellow bases.  This means that if you're trying to match your foundation to your skin's undertone, that you may need to mix more than one shade to get an accurate match.  This isn't great for the standard consumer, but brilliant for the makeup artist who may need to do just that.

This doesn't mean that you can't find your match, just that it's a little more complicated than usual.  Illamasqua provide comparison charts on their website at this link that you can use as a guideline.  However, (a) these charts haven't been updated with the shades released in 2012 (b) I've found that what was recommended to me (for my own use) in-store (in their Beak Street, London store) differed from the charts (c) I've also found that what I use myself (on clients) differs from the charts.  So I would take these with a pinch of salt.

Upshot:  I don't advise purchasing these unless you get a chance to try them out in real life.  I recommend you find a friend who has some of this stuff and trying theirs out :-)  Or, find a makeup artist who knows you and your skin, and who is and who can accurately predict what you should wear!

Shades / Undertones

This can be used as a non-shimmer highlighter, or to lighten-up darker shades

This is a metallic shimmer, can be used as a shimmer highlighter, or to add a shimmer to other shades

Pink Undertone

02    3.5    05    07

Yellow Undertone

03    4.5    6.5    7.5    8.5    09    10

Yellow / Pink Undertone

04    5.5    08    10.5    11

Neutral Undertone


Olive / Neutral Undertone


Olive Undertone


Olive / Red Undertone

14    15    16

Deep Neutral

17    18

Best Applied With

This foundation works with fingers or a flat brush, but I've found a denser buffing brush is best (look here and here for some recommendations).  You can use a stippling brush but to be honest, the formula is a little too heavyweight for this.  You can sheer the coverage out slightly using a damp sponge, but it doesn't give the best finish.  This doesn't work with a dry sponge particularly well.

There's a lot of silicones in this foundation, so there's no need for a separate primer, and in fact I don't recommend one.  That said, it also dries down reasonably quickly, so you need to not be messing around with this foundation;  whack it on, blend it in, get it done.


This is a thick heavyweight lotion, almost but not quite a cream.  It's comprised of a water-in-silicone base and contains silicone, talc, silica, parabens, mineral oil, sodium hyaluronate, titanium dioxide (in the white shade).

Best Suited To

As intimated in the opening paragraph, this foundation is categorically not good for oily skin, and similarly not good for very dry skin.  I have combination skin and it works perfectly fine on me if I (a) moisturise my dry areas first with a good moisturiser and (b) powder down my t-zone.

Where this foundation comes into its own is for "normal" skin, in fact it works really really well on normal skin (up to combination skin, with the above suggestions);  it looks well, lasts well, applies well, wears well.  Providing you can find an accurate colour match.

Skincare, Flashback, SPF, Price

One of the ingredients of this foundation is sodium hyaluronate (hyaluronic acid) which is the Latest And Greatest skincare discovery, purporting to help with ageing and premature lines and wrinkles.  This formulation is supposedly based on Asian BB (beauty balm) creams - which are supposed to be foundation, primer, SPF, skincare all-in-one, but I honestly don't really see why this is supposed to be the case (foundation and primer, sure - but SPF and skincare?  Nope).

This doesn't contain an SPF, so no problems with flash photography but 01/White contains titanium dioxide (so this one can flash-back).

The price is £27 from www.illamasqua.com or €30.50 from www.Debenhams.ie.  Illamasqua are a lovely company to deal with, the shipping is quick, and they frequently have online sales or discount incentives (for example, their standard makeup artist discount is 40% which is absolutely brilliant).

I personally like this foundation.  I like how it applies and how it looks.  And as I have all but one or two of the shades in my kit, I also do use it on clients, but only on those with Goldilocks' "Just Right" skin types.

Do I recommend it?  Tentatively, given the caveats around colour-matching and skin types.


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