It feels like old news now, but Charlotte Tilbury released a new foundation along with some colour correctors just over a week ago. There has been so much hype around this release after Charlotte Tilbury first announced it over a month ago, and her unmatched sales skills made the Airbrush Flawless Foundation sound like a magical potion. I have been a fan of this brand for a long time now, and despite the decline in my interest of her releases and the change in the brand’s direction during the past year, I was still dying to try this foundation.
The release consists of the following products which are available on the Charlotte Tilbury website and are gradually becoming available in all other stockists:
- Airbrush Flawless Foundation – available in 44 shades with a stay all day, weightless, full coverage formula that has a natural matte finish and leaves you with a flawless, poreless-looking complexion. Retails for £34
- Magic Vanish – an under-eye and face colour corrector, available in 4 shades to suit a multitude of skin tones. Retails for £24
Now I won’t bore you with the wild claims of the foundation, which you can read about in the description here, but I will mention that I’m not easily swayed by so-called groundbreaking ingredients and technology such as this. I have not delved into the science, and hope to see a review from someone more knowledgable to explain how much backing the ingredients which form the REPLEXIUM®, AIRCOOL™ and C.T. DEFENCE™ have, but I can’t fully trust the effectiveness of new technologies with seemingly very few studies and evidence to support them at this point. I did not personally buy this product based on any skincare benefits it may or may not have. I bought it to use solely as a foundation, which is what I will base this review on.
I originally ordered the shade 2 Neutral in a set that included the Magic Vanish in shade Fair for £52 directly from the Charlotte Tilbury website during the VIP early access. I selected next day delivery with DPD, but it turned up a day later via Hermes. I managed to receive my money back for the delivery charge through customer services, which was fortunately a fairly painless experience. Five minutes after swatching the foundation I could see the shade deepening to a point that was unsuitable for me, so I went back to the website and ordered the shade 1 Neutral , again selecting next day delivery. Luckily this time the delivery was made the next day (still via Hermes), so I was FINALLY able to start testing it out. Reviews for this were pouring in left, right and centre so I decided to not rush mine and try to wear this on a few different occasions so that I can give you all a more thorough review. It is still early days and I will need more time to reach a final verdict, but at this point I have some opinions and hopefully some valuable insight to share about the formulas and shade comparisons.
I saw that I was not alone in noticing similarities between the description of this foundation and that of the Estee Lauder Double Wear Stay-in-Place Makeup SPF 10 foundation (we’ll just call it ELDW from now on). I will share my personal opinions about how these two foundations compare further down in the post. First though, let’s look at some swatches!
The consistency of this foundation is a liquid of a fairly medium density; not too watery and runny, but not quite as thick as the ELDW. It spreads easily across the face and a little bit goes a long way as this has some serious pigment, and one pump gives me a solid medium+ coverage. Be sure to work quickly with blending as it sets very quickly. I find that I also have to work quickly with ELDW before it starts to form its long-wearing film, but then it takes a bit of time to fully dry down (especially over a well-moisturised dewy base), whereas the Charlotte Tilbury Airbrush Flawless Foundation (CT-AFF) dries down fully much quicker on me.
I find that I like to use the same skin prep and application techniques for both the CT-AFF and the ELDW foundations. This goes as follows:
- Follow the same skin care routine as you usually would (I will perhaps go into mine in more detail at a later date, but be sure to stick with whatever suits you and your skin type the best).
- As a last step in my daytime routine I apply SPF, and once that has dried for at least 10 minutes I go straight in with my foundation and concealer. I avoid “primers” in between as I want to avoid disrupting my SPF which would lead to patchy and reduced coverage. This part will depend on your skin type, but I recommend that people with dry skin or those looking for a naturally radiant finish use a fairly heavy, emollient face cream/SPF as a primer under these foundations. This will help a long wearing natural matte foundation to sit nicely on your skin, without compromising on the wear times. Personally, I love to use the Heimish Artless Glow Base SPF50+ PA+++ as my SPF primer. I would not use this alone on my face or with a dewy foundation as it is very thick and on the greasier side, but it pairs beautifully with these foundations and my dry skin. The result is a radiant but very natural finish with a very long wear time – great for long work days!
- A medium coverage foundation calls for some serious concealing, so I prefer to go in at this point with the Tarte Shape Tape concealer which I apply under my eyes, on the tip of my nose (a great tip for helping your foundation to stay adhered to the tip of your nose is to use an eye primer, but shape tape works just as well!), and on any blemishes.
- Apply the foundation – I prefer using a damp sponge/beauty blender with these to give me the most natural, skin-like finish and to avoid a cakey face. I especially recommend a sponge if you have dry patches as this won’t accentuate flakey skin.
- Spot conceal if necessary/if you can be bothered, mainly if you have any stubborn red pimples still showing through. The Laura Mercier Secret Camouflage Concealer and the Kevyn Aucoin Sensual Skin Enhancer are my top picks, which I apply sparingly using the Surratt Small Concealer Brush.
The above swatches going from left to right are: the Airbrush Flawless Foundation in shade 1 Neutral, shade 2 Neutral, and finally the Magic Vanish in the shade Fair. The photo on the left was taken inside under direct sunlight, and the one on the right was taken inside with natural daylight (not direct sunlight). These depict the shades when fully dried down. I did not find that the foundation oxidised on me further during the course of the day. I definitely recommend getting a tester of this foundation, or at least trying it out in stores beforehand. Allow the foundation to settle for at least 5 minutes in order to see the true shade. Shade matching is especially important for fuller-coverage foundations, and these options have quite strong undertones.
I managed to get a sample card with my Charlotte Tilbury order containing a random mixture of 6 of the A.F.F. shades. I’m not entirely sure who this is going to benefit, but nonetheless I went ahead and swatched these shades alongside the two that I purchased in the photo below.
I also swatched the shades of all the CT-AFF and ELDW foundations that I own for reference. My closest shade matches are 1 Neutral in the Charlotte Tilbury A.F.F., and a mixture of 1N0 Porcelain and 0N1 Alabaster for the ELDW in a 3:1 ratio (previously I preferred to mix 0N1 into 1N1 Ivory Nude, but I’ve started to change my mind).
Wear Testing and Thoughts
Now for the important stuff: how did the Charlotte Tilbury foundation wear, what are my thoughts, and how does it compare to the ELDW?
A quick thing to note first is the presence of fragrance in the Charlotte Tilbury Airbrush Flawless Foundation. It is nothing too strong or offensive, but it is worth bearing in mind if you are sensitive to fragrance or if you simply prefer to avoid using it in your skin products. Estee Lauder Double Wear on the other hand does not contain any fragrance.
Both foundations are true to their long-wearing, transfer resistant and humidity/sweat proof claims. I have yet to find a longer wearing formula than ELDW, but I thing this Charlotte Tilbury one gives it a run for its money. I still prefer the look and wear of the Estee Lauder Double wear on my skin. I found that the Charlotte Tilbury A.F.F. can break up around my nose, chin and perimeters of my face but the end of the day, whereas ELDW does not. This was true whether I used my preferred skin prep, or a less dewy base. I have tried wearing both on long days when I am running around and breaking a sweat on the tube (London underground transport for those outside of London) on a hot day, as well as on less strenuous days. Although both last impressively well, I still slightly prefer the wear of the Estee Lauder option. I also found the Charlotte Tilbury one to not be as water-resistant when my allergies caused my nose run. The CTAFF wore off under the nose in full after blowing it with a tissue, whereas the ELDW holds up better but eventually rubs off in a slightly patchier way (not necessarily preferable).
In terms of how they look on the skin, Estee Lauder Double Wear sits beautifully on my skin, perhaps slightly more noticeable around my mouth but nothing too noticeable. Although I wouldn’t call it invisible due to the coverage it provides, I think it looks very skin-like and can be mistaken by some for no foundation at all. I personally think that the Charlotte Tilbury Airbrush Flawless Foundation looks a bit more “makeupy” on the skin, despite it still sitting very well. CTAFF spreads better, sets down quicker, and has a fuller coverage, which means less product is required for the same medium coverage I get from ELDW ( less than a pump for CTAFF, 1.25 pumps for ELDW). For me though, I am happier with how ELDW looks on my skin throughout the day and so the Charlotte Tilbury foundation will not replace my holy grail and I will likely not repurchase once I have used up the whole bottle.
I think that these two foundations fill the same purpose meaning you probably won’t need both. If you do enjoy Double Wear though, it is definitely worth trying out the Airbrush Flawless Foundation!
I don’t yet have any strong feelings towards the Magic Vanish. I think it is a lovely corrector but not too dissimilar to the NYX Dark Circle Concealer which is much more affordable. I’m not sure that the Charlotte Tilbury packaging is worth the extra £16.50, but I need to do more thorough wear tests with various concealers layered on top. I much prefer the Sisley Phyto-Cernes Eclat over both of these, which is unfortunately a very expensive habit. *sigh*
That is my verdict for now, but I don’t think that it will change much. As I work my way through the Charlotte Tilbury foundation bottle I will be sure to update on any changes to my opinions or skin prep preferences. I hope the swatches and initial findings are helpful to you – be sure to subscribe to be informed of any updates and final thoughts on this foundation!
This is not a sponsored post. All products mentioned in this post have been purchased by me.
Hi Lydia! It’s Michele (Wang) – wanted to comment and say hello!! xoxo
Hey Michele! Nice to hear from you, hope you’ve had a wonderful time in Japan! xx
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