Clarins Skin Illusion Loose Powder Foundation Sand 108 Review & Swatches

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Clarins Skin Illusion is one of my all time favourite foundations, so news of a new loose powder version with mineral and plant extracts was music to my ears.  The gorgeous, heavy glass packaging and glamorous gold lid had no bearing on my excitement whatsoever.


“An ultra fine silky loose mineral powder, combining the coverage of foundation and the lightness of a powder, to give the illusion of flawless bare skin.”

Generally speaking, me and powder foundations don’t get along too well. I have dry skin; more normal to dry at this time of year and am not getting any younger, two ‘blessings’ that I find that powder foundations tend to highlight.  But I was told this one is different - and couldn’t resist finding out for myself.

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What’s different about it?

It’s all about the plant and mineral trace elements, including Pink Opal Powder (that was all I personally needed to hear, but I’ll tell you more…), which hydrate and illuminate the skin.  This theory seems to work.  At one point I caught a glimpse of my face in the mirror and thought it had started to look a bit shiny (half way through the day), then I realised it was actually just sheeny rather than shiny - and yes, in a good way.  I actually prefer the look of this foundation after I’ve been wearing it for a while and it settles on my skin.  It doesn’t feel heavy or tacky and I can touch my face without it transferring.


Coverage is very versatile, from a light dusting built up to a medium coverage.  It’s enough to cover minor flaws but will work best with the addition of concealer (which I always use regardless).  Despite being a powder it’s not an uber dry finish, so I found it worked fine with cream products on top. I expected it to magnify pores but didn’t find this to be the case, though it did make fine lines a little more obvious (not enough to put me off wearing it) and this effect did soften a little over time.

Lasting power is good - it wore for 6-8 hours with no need for touch ups other than concealer and I definitely didn’t need a powder on top.  Oily skins might, but I doubt it.  If it works this well on normal to dry skin, I think it will be even better on oily to normal skins.

The powder is scented; a gorgeous floral scent that reminds me a bit of parma violets. This doesn’t bother me, but I know some people dislike fragranced products and it’s quite a distinctive smell.  I don’t notice it when I’m wearing the makeup… just if I lift up the pot and smell it.

How does it function?

I was intrigued about how this product looks and works, so here are lots of pics to explain (click to enlarge any of them)…

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            Unopened product                        Lid removed, brush stored upside down in lid


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        Brush sits (loose) in lid like a little stand           Perforated inset to minimise powder waste


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                 Powder without insert                                        Brush lifts out of lid for use



The powder foundation comes in 6 shades which correlate with the liquid foundation: Nude, Beige, Sand, Wheat, Honey, Amber.  I have the shade Honey in Clarins Skin Illusion liquid foundation, which I purchased in Summer when my skin was darker.  I chose Sand for Autumn-Winter and am really happy with the colour. It looks quite light on my arm in these pics  but my face is lighter.


I think you can clearly see how much coverage this foundation gives in this pic. Note the large dark freckle on my bare skin to the left… it’s about to be covered up!

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The sun was (annoyingly) popping in and out throughout these pics, but I caught this close up swatch when it was out and hope you can see the sheeny luminous finish?  It definitely becomes more luminous as the foundation sits on my skin for a while, but even on first application, this isn’t a dry, cakey looking finish - phew!

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Sorry that this pic isn’t as crisp as I’d like, but hopefully you can gauge the level of coverage? 

The Brush

The brush is of good quality, tightly packed and very firm.  I have used it and it works ok, but I’m just not used to such firm pressure and prefer to use my own brush.  So far I’ve only tried using my Bdellium Tools duet fibre foundation brush {post here}, which is very soft and works well in little circular movements, buffing the powder into my skin. I think any buffing brush or small kabuki would do the job, though others might like the firm feel of the built in brush and perhaps I just need more practice!  I think this powder looks best when applied quite lightly, when it hides imperfections while looking almost invisible.  I used a bit more for these pics as they were taken after a big night out - it’s definitely buildable - I just personally prefer the finish when it’s applied lightly.



This is the finished look.  I promise it looks much better minus shadows aka when I haven’t had a late night out with the girls and can find my concealer (I have about 5 - how can I lose all of them at once?!).

I added a little Liz Earle bronzer and a touch of Benefit Hervana blush on the apples of my cheeks. Strawberry lips courtesy of Daniel Sandler Line n’ Lacquer, Max Factor False Lash Effect Mascara in Brown/Black and a brown Avon eyeliner.

You can see my review of the original liquid formula (still available) in the shade Honey, here.

*Clarins Skin Illusion Loose Powder Foundation, £28 will be available exclusively at House of Fraser from 6 September and nationwide from 24 September 2012.

Do you like the look & sound of this foundation?

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