"Helllooo daaaarling. How are youuuu?" Charlotte Tilbury cooed the second I picked up her FaceTime call. With her warm smile, flowing strawberry-blonde hair, and friendly demeanor, I forgot who I was speaking to for 2.5 seconds and started our chat the way I would any other: complaining about the 95-degree heat in New York City. What I didn't know at that moment was that I was actually giving Tilbury the perfect conversation starter for the product she was ready to introduce me to that morning. "If you're sweating, this is the dream," she said.
Tilbury, an internationally-acclaimed celebrity makeup artist and brand founder, might have been in London, but that wasn't stopping her from meeting with me to tell me about her upcoming launch: Charlotte Tilbury Airbrush Flawless Foundation. "There is nothing like this on the market," she tells me right off the bat. "This is like cheating an 8-hour sleep."
As a makeup artist of 27 years, Tilbury has always hated working with full-coverage foundations. She found them to leave the skin looking cakey, sitting in lines and pores that showed up on camera and the red carpet. On top of that, she wasn't a fan of the shade ranges, which were always lacking in darker shades or looked ashy on her clients. So, Tilbury decided to create her own and merged it with skin-care ingredients so that it felt less like a mask and more like a treatment. "I wanted a weightless foundation that felt like a serum working on your skin," she says.
The brand got to work in the lab and did a 650-person study to create a natural matte, yet somehow radiant formula that has a unique skin-care compound called Replexium, which is essentially a powerful blend of peptide extracts and amino acids. The brand promises these ingredients work together to reduce the appearance of wrinkles, provide hydration, and defend against pollution.
It's a claim that might actually hold up. "The latest generation of skin-care products are what I call 'multitaskers,'" says dermatologist Joshua Zeichner, MD. "They offer multiple benefits to the skin, including cosmetic coverage along with collagen-stimulating benefits from ingredients like peptides."
But while these formulas are beneficial to the skin, they shouldn't replace your skin-care products, similar to sunscreen in makeup. "Because you typically use small amounts of makeup and don’t apply it everywhere, makeup won’t take the place of your traditional creams," Dr. Zeichner adds.
Tilbury also promises that the foundation is water-, humidity- and sweat-proof and also lasts for up to 16 hours. But her proudest product highlight? The work that went behind the 44 shades. The Charlotte Tilbury team took the opposite approach of most makeup brands and started with the dark shades instead of the light ones; Glossier did something similar earlier this year. When you start with dark shades and gradually make them lighter (versus adding dark pigments to a light base), there is a better balance of pigment and a reduced chance of ashiness, Tilbury explains.
The makeup artist has already been using the foundation on her celebrity clients, including Salma Hayek, who Tilbury says is a big fan. By the time our call was over, I knew I immediately needed to give it a go. With just one pump, it covered up all my redness, but it was still flexible enough to blend over my entire face. I instantly felt a cooling sensation, which I learned was from the "Aircool technology" within the formula. It's a skin-care compound that releases a small amount of menthol on the skin. (Because menthol can be irritating to some skin types, we recommend spot-treating a small patch on your arm before testing it on your face.)
When I walked into work wearing it, my coworkers immediately commented on how "amazing" my skin looked; one of them even told me I looked "airbrushed." I'm a skeptic of matte foundations since I often find them to be too drying for my combination skin, but this didn't feel nor look flat. It was more of a radiant matte — not too shiny, but not powdery, either.
I've since worn it numerous times, and I find that blending it with my hands gives me the perfect amount of coverage for a more natural-finish. I love how smooth it makes my skin look (even if though I struggle with bumps from rosacea and the occasional stress pimple).
I will say that on some days — especially those humid, summer scorchers — the radiance can sometimes veer into shiny territory for the oiler areas of my skin, like my nose and cheeks. That's why I definitely suggest dusting some setting powder on your oily zones, even if you usually don't with matte formulas.
While I haven't been using it long enough to report on the skin-care benefits, the formula definitely makes my face feel more hydrated. When I take it off at the end of the day, instead of looking likes it's been sucked dry, it looks plump and moisturized, as if I had just worn a nourishing mask. But one thing's for certain: I've never received as many compliments on my skin than I have while wearing this foundation. I'm really glad I picked up that FaceTime call.
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