I'm sure you've all heard of Illamasqua's Skin Base. Having tested several shades pretty thoroughly for a good while, it's high time for a review! Here’s what Illamasqua have to say:
“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.”
So…basically sounds perfect, right?
This is a review I don't really want to have to write, and you can take it from that that it's not all that positive. This would be an utterly perfect foundation if it weren't for one big BUT/ I've bought a few shades of Skin Base to use in my kit, under recommendation of lots of makeup artists, bloggers and YouTubers who all sing it's praises. I'd heard that there was a learning curve with this foundation but that the results were worth it, so I bought some shades for my kit and one for myself. Please bear in mind that while all foundation reviews are very subjective and worth taking with a pinch of salt, I have tried this foundation out extensively on myself as well as on models and clients.
Let's start with the good things about this foundation, because there are actually plenty. The shade range is wonderful, so you shouldn't have too much of a problem finding a match, with shades from white to almost ebony, and plenty of yellow, pink and neutral shades in-between. I ordered my shade using the foundation chart on the website and it was a pretty accurate match, but of course heading to a counter is still your best option. I've heard tell of plenty of people who haven't found a good match using the online system, and I've seen in person a friend who had used the online system to find a match and got a poor one then get a much better one from an Illamasqua artist on the counter. If you can't find one out their 25 shades to suit you, the colours easily mix together for custom shades, and there is a white shade which you can just pop in store and buy or order online, which is fabulous as lots of ranges either don't carry one, are a cream foundation, or are in a mail-order, pro range only.
If you're a makeup artist looking to buy for your kit, David Horne, one of the founders of Illamasqua, has suggested it's worth getting shades 01 (white), 02, 04, 06, 08, 10 and 12, but of course everyone’s needs vary. MUA forums and groups on Facebook will have tons of advice.
Swatches on the back of my hand of Skin Base in shades 01, 03, 04 and 06. I had another shade but lost it on a shoot. I has started to buy paler shades and then was going to buy a couple medium and a couple dark for mixing. As you can see, a little goes a long way – the lower swatch could have been blended out MUCH further. You can see from the last swatch that it’s starting to blend into the skin quite beautifully. It’s worth noting at this point that as the range has lots of undertones in it, if a shade doesn’t match you moving one or two shades up or down the range may not necessarily help you find a match.
I really like that Illamasqua put all their foundations into plastic bottles - I much prefer a squeeze tube for hygiene, and it's lighter in the kit as well. Skinbase still has the rounded-square shape present in most other Illamasqua packaging for it's lid, which is a nice little addition. It's not as luxe looking as the rest of the range, but in my opinion it doesn't need to be.
Okay. Onto wear…
This is a photo of when I tried Skin Base for literally the very first time – in direct light, in artificial lighting and with flash (It doesn’t normally look so shiny on the skin and I’ve taken flash photos wearing it where it looks a little shiny but not as much as here) No powder, concealer or primer. I wasn't overly impressed with how it looks on the skin - it didn't look patchy or anything, but it looked like foundation. Perhaps I was just expecting a lot, but looking at my camera, I really liked how it photographed. As I was after it for my kit, this seemed super promising and, excited, I got to work trying techniques to make it look better on my skin in real life. I tried fingers and various brushes, including a buffing brush which a lot of people seem to like it with, but personally found I got best results using a damp sponge or beauty blender. Unusual for me as I hardly ever reach for a sponge, but I'll take it. This was a little annoying that I had to work out how best to apply it, but it’s certainly not the first or last foundation I’ll have to do this with!
Another not so great photo, but I’m basically just wearing Skin Base here. I posted this on Instagram and got comments saying how lovely my skin was – and I’m telling you, it ain’t this lovely!
The foundation feels very light on the skin and I really do think the 'skin realism' claims of Illamasqua are warranted – “natural, buildable coverage” I will certainly agree with Illamasqua on. It's not dewy but not too dewy, and I’d say while light, it’s still a medium coverage, although it is buildable to an extent and can be applied very sheerly too. I like how flexible it can be. Basically, it just looks like your skin, but better. “Hurrah,” I thought! “I've cracked it! I’ve found my Holy Grail!” But now, sadly, comes the 'but.'
This foundation. Does. Not. Last. After a couple of hours, it separates pretty badly on the skin, especially anywhere even slightly oily, leaving a not-that-nice look on your face. I am a pretty dry-skinned person and don't tend to have a problem with oiliness affecting my foundations at all, but Skin Base just will not sit on me and I've tried *everything*! I know you can't expect much from lighter, foundation in terms of wear (Skin Base is based on Asian BB creams) but this is…pretty bad.
Now I've tried pretty much everything to get it to last. Everything. I absolutely love Illamasqua's Hydraveil which was created to use with Skin Base and many has said it stops it from separating, and that doesn't seem to have an affect on application. I've tried every moisturizer at my disposal to use as a base, (and I have a lot!) to prep the skin. I've tried trusted primers from Benefit, L'Oreal, Too True, and MAC, some which I know control oil really well and help to prolong wear of most foundations. I've tried setting it with setting sprays and it seems to separate underneath those as well! It looks really lovely powdered with Illamasqua's loose powder, which is another favourite of mine, but doesn't last so well. I have an uber long lasting powder from a stage and screen brand that helps it out a little bit, but the ultra-mattifiying it gives is really not what I'm looking to do with this foundation. I’ve tried uber-thin, uber-buffed layers, but basically, nothing I’ve tried, nothing I can think of and on no skin type I’ve come across and used it on (I’ve tried it on dry skins and oily skins, teenage models and girls in their 40’s) can I make this foundation last longer than two hours max without looking awful. I kind of don’t mind it not lasting that much – I have a few BB creams and tinted moisturizers that don’t last well and for me that’s not always a problem. If it didn’t last for two hours and just wore away, I think I could maybe handle that, but it just sticks around, looking all separate-y and rubbish. Naturally, given that it wears so poorly, I can’t really comment on whether it “smoothes, softens and conditions your skin,” but it’s at least not drying. I find all this very sad and frustrating – not being able to find a solution makes me feel a bit thick, plus I was so excited for this foundation!
On the plus side, mixing Skin Base with other liquids or creams doesn't seem to present a problem with separating, which is great, especially as that's what I bought the white shade for! I think I'll probably use my existing bottles to sheer out my cream foundations and concealers, perhaps for use on the body. I don't like to waste product if I can help it and I’m pleased that I can at least use the shades I’ve got. If I can recommend one shade of Skin Base the white one is still worth your cash!
I really hate to write this post as it does look very beautiful, and I know so many other people love it. But I've tested it as extensively as I can, and without sounding up my own arse, I'm pretty good with the ol' makeup. So if you know a way to magically make this stay put, please, please tell me as I'd love to love this foundation! And of course, for every negative review of this foundation I’ve read (and I’m always sceptical of website reviews – just because the SA matched you wrong doesn’t make the foundation itself crap, people!) I’ve read ten positive, raving, head-over-heels review, and I’ve heard other bloggers and MUAs I know and trust have issues with it that I don’t find at all. So if you’re near a counter, try it out. Who knows, it might be lovely on you!
Illamasqua Skin Base comes in 25 shades plus an illuminating shade, and costs £27.00. If you’re confident of your shade match, Illamasqua also do a web exclusive bundle where you can buy Skin Base, Skin Lift and Hyraveil for £50 which is a really decent saving,