The best foundations, as chosen by Sali
Here is the fourth part of my series for Harvey Nichols, who’ve asked me to judge the very best in foundations sold in-store and online at harevynichols.com. After weeks of testing luxury bases for all skin types and ages, this is the fourth in my final selection of five fabulous foundations. Each Monday for the next couple of weeks, I’ll post another of my shortlist, with the winner announced later this month. Here is my latest pick.
When I began this project, I knew before I even got testing that Armani Luminous Silk would end up making the cut. After many years of using it on women of all colours and ages, I practically know this foundation better than I know my own face.
Luminous Silk is a liquid, medium-coverage base in an airless pump, sold at a classic luxury foundation price point of £40. On that basis, I can quite understand why one would assume it’s much the same as any other good quality department store brand. But from my perspective, it’s so much more. Armani Beauty just nails foundation, time after time, and can rightly be classed as specialists in the field. But Luminous Silk is the jewel in their crown. I’d even go as far as to say that in the medium coverage liquid category, it represents as close to perfection as is possible.
Never has a product’s given name been more on the money. Luminous silk adds radiant, grown up glow to any complexion, minus even a smidge of sparkle or shimmer. It does indeed blend like silk, offering plenty of glide and playtime to blend and layer before the oil-free liquid sets to a smooth, dewy (but not shiny) finish. Sponge, brush, fingers, you name it – it will accept any application method with only mild variation in result (I find fingertip application gives me a tad more coverage and the warmth adds a little more dewiness, but your mileage may, of course, vary). Coverage is good but can be built up beautifully by patting an extra layer under eyes, over dark spots, while impressively, never clouding with that awful chalky finish common in others. Instead, there’s a lovely clarity to the pigment that allows olive and brown complexions to glow, rather than become talcy or ashy.
Which brings me to colour. Armani is a racially inclusive brand and shades are intelligently conceived in a variety of undertones. In all Armani foundations I wear 3.5, a pale, golden-undertoned beige, and it’s perfection. If you’re buying online and are wary of taking the plunge without testing, there’s a great foundation matcher on the US Armani website. Just tell it what you’re currently wearing from another brand, and it’ll point you towards your perfect Armani shade.
It would of course be remiss of me not to at least mention Power Fabric, Luminous Silk’s upcoming sister foundation, since everyone’s been asking me what I think of it. This is a full coverage base, and so by definition less natural looking than Luminous Silk. But if full coverage is your bag, it’s absolutely glorious. I’ve worn it to every social occasion and public event for the past three weeks and almost without fail, someone has asked me what I’m wearing. With its launch, Armani has created the perfect double act – Luminous Silk for daily wear and fresh, flattering, polished glow; Power Fabric for nighttimes and parties where flawless, high glam coverage is a must.
But back to the matter in hand and the original Luminous Silk. It really is the most reliably lovely foundation. It’s perfectly balanced – moist enough for dry skins while at the same time entirely without oil, so as not to feel greasy on others. It lasts well without caking, fading or transferring and provides all day glow, minus the flashback. It’s light and comfy on the face and recognises that we beauty lovers come in many colours. It’s my default first response to anyone asking me “what’s a good foundation?”. It’s easy to argue that Luminous Silk may be the greatest all-rounder, the class swot of bases, a much beloved beauty product close to iconic in status. So there was never really any question of it not making my list.
Next Monday: My fifth shortlisted foundation. Do check out the results in other categories via the social channels of my fellow judges, including dear friend of SHB, makeup artist Mary Greenwell. Just search for the #HNHolyGrail hashtag on Twitter or Instagram for more posts.
For the full selection of Holy Grail Edit products across all participating categories, click here.
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