Let's take care of business first. Clarins' new Skin Illusion foundation retails in Debenhams at £24 which kind of justifies the fact that if this sample hadn't been free in my magazine, I wouldn't be able to review it. The shade provided to all is Nude which obviously isn't ideal as it is difficult to judge the effects of a product when it isn't a correct match to your skin-tone... luckily, Nude would have been the color I would have been closest to anyway, so this didn't impede my review. Hooray!
So as soon as I flicked over the page and realized that there was a free sample of a high-end product which I wouldn't able to afford yet would now be able to review, I was so excited to try it! Straight away I tore the top from the sachet and began to decant the product into a little pot which anyone can collect for free from most make-up counters (benefit in particular are happy to fill these with products for you to try when you purchase another item if you ask, then you can clean them out once they are all finished). I thought it would be best to empty it into a pot rather than squirting it directly onto my hand as with it being a new product I wasn't sure how much I might need and didn't want to waste any, plus whatever you don't use often dries up in the sachet and you don't get as good an effect if there is enough to use on multiple days. Yes, I am that stingy that I even try to make free samples last. Thankfully, this was not a problem I was to experience with this product...
When I say a little of this goes a long way, I really mean it! Using my foundation brush, I took a little of the Skin Illusion and began to paint it onto my nose, before extending it across the rest of my face. A very thin liquid formula, the product was very easy to paint on initially with long strokes to ensure full coverage, and then smaller back-and-forth strokes in order to smooth the brush lines.
Let's quickly take a minute to go through the product's claims. The two-page spread advert includes a list of declarative statements, including 'You can't see it, you can't feel it,' 'it moisturizes and protects' and 'The finish is so natural, no one else will know it's there'. Filled with minerals and plant extracts (although most skincare products are really, so nothing spectacular there...) the Skin Illusion foundation didn't quite live up to the promises made by the advert upon this first application.
Now, allow me to explain myself. Although I had washed my face and applied my moisturizer about half an hour earlier, my skin had not been exfoliated for a couple of days which I'm sure was the fault of the few issues I had with the product the first time I tried it on. Basically, I could see it. It looked cakey around my dryer areas (my T-zone) and shiny everywhere else. Also, I could feel it there, although this wasn't necessarily a bad thing... it felt a bit like I had a thick moisturizer on, like the sort that you put on before bed to give your skin a treat. However, I only usually use that kind of treatment before I sleep as the clammy feeling of a filmy lotion on my face really irritates me when I'm awake. Yet, I guess this honors the 'moisturize and protect' statement so one out of three isn't bad. Also, I must concede that this is all based on personal preference. What I would call 'sticky' and 'heavy' others might refer to as 'dewy' and 'rich', so please use this review not as an instruction manual as to whether to purchase the item or not, but rather as an assisting guide helping you to imagine how the product would work for you.
As I say, I hadn't exfoliated and thought, 'perhaps I haven't given Skin Illusion a fair shot', so after removing my make-up that night, I used my day-to-day face scrub The Greatest Scrub of All by Soap and Glory (£8. 17 in Boots) then applied my night-time moisturizing face cream Intense Lotion by Aveeno (not created for use on face, but mine was prescribed especially by my doctor, this product can be purchased in larger pharmacy chains for about £11.) The next morning I used Clean Mary by Soap and Glory (£6.15 on ASOS.com) then a bit of my mom's Vital Restore Day Cream by Garnier (£10.20 in Boots) and I tried again. This time, the cakeyness was gone! Success! However, I found Skin Illusion to still appear a little too shiny and ended up topping it with benefit's Hello Flawless (£24.50 in Debenhams) before leaving the house a little later.
If I'd paid for this product, I would have been a little disappointed. What's the point in buying on high-end foundation if you have to use another high-end foundation in order to make it look 'like a second skin' as the advert implies. However, this is a product that will last. In one free sample sachet I reckon I would be able to use this foundation for somewhere between six and eight days, which is more than I can say for most expensive skin-care products. It didn't break my skin out which other foundations have been known to do, so kudos Clarins. Plus, it kind of smells like watermelon which I'm not sure was intentional by the creators but is a welcome perk!
In conclusion, I won't be purchasing Clarins Skin Illusion foundation because it didn't give the matte-flawless finish which I personally look for in a similarly priced product. And yet I'm sure that others out there might love this product for the exact reasons that I didn't, and with ten shades to choose from, I'm sure those people will find a way to make it work for them. I wont buy this product. But I will continue using it, trying to 'get it right' until it has run out, and I will let you know of any new developments as and when they occur.
Let me know if you've had an experience with this, or a similar product and have a Happy Easter!