Base Makeup Tom Ford Beauty

Tom Ford Traceless Foundation Stick | Bisque 04 and Natural 05

March 6, 2014

Tom Ford Traceless Foundation Sticks ($78 each for .5 oz/15g) are a twist up cream foundation that comes in twelve different shades. I’ve been using this for over a year in Natural 05 and more recently Bisque 04. For me, this is an exceptional product. I tested this on three different occasions at the Tom Ford counters before deciding to purchase. Each time I had the Traceless Foundation Stick on one half of my face with the Traceless Foundation (liquid) on the other. I worked with a few different artists. I asked if they could pick only one which one would they recommend and all of them recommended the stick.

The Traceless Foundation Sticks are a medium to full coverage foundation. It is a creamy kind of stick but blends out to a flawless streakless coverage. The Tom Ford Cream Foundation Blush is amazing with this in that it buffs out the foundation to a perfect finish without any visible streaks. For me anytime I use a foundation brush I end up having to blend a little with a sponge to erase any streaks or lines. The brush + foundation is really phenomenal and worth every penny. It’s on the more emollient side but a little goes a long way and it blends out to a perfect finish for my normal/combination skin. I even like to use it under the eyes as an alternate to concealer. It is a bit too emollient to use as a regular concealer but the coverage can be layered to have a similar effect.

Natural 05 is a lighter color than Bisque 04. Both are neutrals with Natural being a bit more olive/yellow. Natural used to be a perfect match but I got a bit of a tan so the artists matched me to the next darkest shade which is Bisque 04. I’m usually the 3rd or 4th color in foundation lines: Chanel B30/NARS Groenland. It’s been over a decade since I’ve used a MAC foundation (they don’t work well with my skin), but I’ve typically been in between NC30 and NC35. (See all shades swatched at The Beauty Professor.)


I use the foundation stick two ways. One is all over the face mixing both Natural 05 and Bisque 04 together. Sometimes I use the darker color Bisque in the center of my face and blend outwards and use Natural around the edges and blend inwards. Other times I just mix the two and blend. On good skin days I use a tinted moisturizer and then the foundation stick for extra coverage in certain spots.

Here are swatch comparisons to other foundations I have in rotation. Note that a couple of the shades are too light for me now but I still had some left over since I went to the next shade up.

Left to right: NARS Pure Radiant Tinted Moisturizer in Alaska, Chanel Vitalumiere Aqua B20 and B30, Tom Ford Traceless Foundation Stick in Bisque and Natural, Chanel Perfection Lumiere 30 Beige, Chanel Vitalumiere Aqua Compact 30 Beige, NARS Pure Radiant Tinted Moisturizer in Groenland.

Indoor lighting without flash:

Outdoors at dusk, with flash:

Overall I find the Tom Ford Traceless Foundation Sticks to be a workhorse staple in my weekly beauty routine. If I were to compare this to other foundations I’ve tried, most foundation sticks I’ve tested during makeovers and at the counter left me feeling extremely greasy and oily after a few hours. The Tom Ford lasts longer without getting greasy. I would say it’s similar to the Chanel Vitalumiere Aqua Compact but works better for my skin with a flawless finish, more controllable coverage. For me I cannot wear the Chanel compact foundation for more than two days in a row because it breaks out my skin.

This is extremely pricey but a little bit goes a very long way. I’ve been using the Natural 05 for over a year and have not used it up with regular use. Comparing the two Tom Ford foundations, I found the stick to have more coverage and be less dewy once blended. I still really liked the liquid and may eventually purchase once I’ve used up my other liquid foundations (probably not for a while).

If you’ve tried Tom Ford foundations – what did you think? If you can share what shades you use to help other readers who can’t get to a counter pick out their match I’m sure everyone would be incredibly grateful for your input and advice.

You can find the Tom Ford Traceless Foundation Stick for $78 each at Tom Ford Beauty counters. Online at Saks, Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom and Bloomingdales.

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  • Wish Tom Ford was available in India, I am dying to try this foundation!

  • Thanks for this wonderful review. I was hesitant to purchase the TF Traceless Foundation Stick because I live far from counters–so I couldn't try it in person–and few of my trusted, favorite bloggers (like you!) had reviewed it. But I was encouraged enough to purchase it a month+ ago, and I adore it. You've described it so well: how easy it is to work with, and that it lasts decently for a cream foundation. I find the finish/texture is lovely on my dry (but well moisturized) late-40s skin; it doesn't collect in pores or wrinkles (and I don't use a primer). Altogether, my skin looks luminous when I wear this. Holy Grail without a doubt.

    In terms of color, I have both Fawn and Pale Dune for my NC20-ish skin (not nearly as yellow as NC, but about that level of depth, maybe a tiny bit lighter in winter). Fawn is a little off for me, as it's slightly darker: while it's not a terrible match, it leaves my skin looking a bit dim. Pale Dune is brighter, and I prefer it as a match for my winter skin. That said, the two colors are very similar (and sometimes I use them together in the ways you've described). My skin is relatively neutral, but if it were slightly cooler I would have preferred Fawn. In summer I may use more Fawn, too (which is why I'm not sorry I bought both), as it is slightly deeper and closer to the color my skin turns by July despite using sunscreen religiously.

    Sorry for the lengthy comment. I hope my babbling about the shades is helpful to someone.

    • Thank you for your comments, don't apologize for the length, this is perfect! The more info the better to help others πŸ™‚

    • I thought I'd update about my experience with Pale Dune and Fawn over the past 6 months or so. Before I bought them, I had an extremely hard time deciding which color would suit me–without being able to see them in person–as there isn't a lot of info about those shades online. Ultimately I bought both colors, in both the stick and original liquid, which was terribly expensive. Plus, one ended up not working for me. So that's why I'm back to add more: in hopes of helping someone else avoid that trap!

      Pale Dune is definitely lighter and more yellow, more brightening. It really suits my NC15 (not NC20, I learned) skin. Fawn is definitely darker, but it's also a different undertone: more orange/pink. Tho I don't use many MAC foundations (only F&B, in which I use C1), I'd say these colors are a bit like the NC and NW MAC designations, with Pale Dune being more NC and Fawn more NW. I've learned I really can't wear Fawn as the undertone is quite off in addition to the shade being too dark. All that said, I should add that tho I own the stick foundation, I generally wear the liquid (the original, not the new perfecting one) and so that's primarily what I'm basing my comments on.

    • Anonymous

      thank you very much for the update… I too am fair yellow and if I try the stick, I will get the Pale Dune. I have the new traceless perfecting foundation coming tomorrow in ivory… Fingers crossed it is the right color choice.

    • Thanks a million for your incredibly in-depth comparison of Pale Dune & Fawn. I have spent so many hours (uncountable!) researching these shades online, & your review blows everyone else out of the water. Now I KNOW that Pale Dune is for me because I need yellow in foundation, & cannot ever use one w/any pink or orange. So your comparison answered my questions. Pale Dune may be a tad light for me, but now I know it is going to be the closest I can get to my skin color in the TF Stick. Thank you so much for your time.

  • I am Mac NC 40-42, Nars Barcelona. I use the Tom Ford traceless liquid foundation in Fawn (no 7 I think) all over my face and the Stick in Caramel no 8 in the centre of my face, where I need some extra . For my combination/oily skin the stick is way too heavy and mask like to use everywhere. I really hated both foundations when I got them on the internet 2 months ago; one covers absolutely nothing and the other gives you a mask, but together they have become my current favourite base. It's a shocker having to fork out for two such foundations in order to do the job of one good one, though.

    • Thank you for your input and helpful insights on the application and color match πŸ™‚

    • Of course I mean Tawny no 7 and not Fawn, which is a lighter colour…

  • I have a fair complexion with warm undertones (NC15) and found Tom Ford's stick foundation in Pale Dune to be the perfect match. I've tried many versions of stick foundation in the fifty-five years I've been wearing makeup and can say unequivocally that this one by Tom Ford is the best I've ever come across. Whether you want light, medium or full coverage, this foundation is so effortlessly buildable and versatile that it can even be used as a light-weight concealer. When applying it, it glides effortlessly onto the skin, but then when it sets, it stays put.

    The perfect tool for the perfect application is the TF cream foundation brush. It buffs and blends the foundation to create a smooth, even, and luminous finish that will look polished, poreless, and totally flawless all day without ever feeling heavy or greasy.

    I'm an older woman (69) with sensitive dry skin and mild well-controlled rosacea. I have not had any problems with this particular foundation aggravating any of my skin concerns. Also, despite the fact that I use emollient skincare and sunscreen, I have not had problems with it settling into any of my fine lines or wrinkles once it has set. I should also mention that I'm a bonafide finishing powder addict and so I always finish my makeup application with a light veil of an ΓΌber soft powder like La Mer or Guerlain. It pulls everything together in a soft-focus, satiny glow that is quite becoming.

    The TF stick foundation and cream foundation brush is a match made in heaven! Tom Ford's perfectionism is clearly at work in this excellent combination of products.

    • Eileen – your comments on the blogs I read are so appreciated! I am starting my '50s and I find that most under eye concealers are not emollient enough and emphasize what (blessedly few) lines and textural changes I have. Do you feel the TF Stick Foundation is one of your top concealer choices? I don't like to use powder at all because I feel that just makes me look dry. Any advice about under eye concealers for "mature" skin would be welcome! Sabrina – I love your blog and I hope you don't mind my asking Eileen!

    • Hi Nina,

      It's ironic that as we age and could really use a good concealer, that's the time that concealers become problematic. They do a good job of hiding discoloration, but play havoc with all the wrinkles and crinkles πŸ˜› At my age, less is definitely more so I don't use a concealer per se on a daily basis. Most days I rely on the TF foundation stick which provides enough pigment to mask the discoloration without looking heavy or unnatural. For those times when I want a "flawless" look, I use my Guerlain Precious Light in 00 which is a luminizer pen rather than a true concealer. Applied over my eye cream (OrchidΓ©e or La Mer), it really brightens the area.

      There are some very emollient concealers (like La Mer's), but they are going to migrate when used over a heavier eye cream unless you're willing to set them with a bit of finishing powder. It's just the nature of the beast. Oil on oil is going to slide πŸ™ For me, that's where the TF foundation stick works so well. Although it is moisturizing, it is not oily or greasy and it applies beautifully over my eye cream. The TF stick is also gentler on my fragile under eye skin. It doesn't give the same type of heavy duty coverage that I'd get from, let's say, ClΓ© de Peau, but it looks much more natural.

    • Thank you so much for the advice! I have been looking at the Guerlain 00 for awhile now and I am definitely going to check out the TF. I am very fair and have the unusual situation of having everything turn orangey/yellow on me, including under my eyes, even though I have bluish circles there. I'm not sure if my post confused commenter Lisa, below, or she has confused me! Do you have your own blog, Eileen? I have only seen you as an insightful and helpful commenter on several of my favorite blogs. You would certainly make a great blogger yourself!

    • Thank you Eileen!

    • Hi Nina,

      I'm not a blogger, just a lurker! I think it is wonderful, though, that people like Sabrina give us the opportunity to dialogue without us having to do the work of coming up with the inspired posts :-). Thank you, Sabrina, for providing such a lovely place to visit and chat.

    • Hi Eileen! I'm a huge fan of your lurking!

  • Tom Ford is my absolute favorite stick foundation. I was worried it would be too heavy, but it's lovely. One of those situation where you get what you pay for.

  • Thu

    I also adore this foundation stick! Highly recommend it to anyone's who looking for a foundation with more coverage. I have a light complexion with yellow undertones and Fawn matches me very well. I've never been matched to a MAC foundation, but I would guess that I am NC20-25. I also use Diorskin Nude in Linen if that is helpful at all.

    • Yes, very helpful! Thank you πŸ™‚

  • Anonymous

    I've been eyeing this for a while. I have normal/oily skin and usually set my foundation with a powder. Did or have you set this with powder as well? Great review – Thank you! – Zeynep

    • Hi Zeynep,
      I always use a finishing powder; preferably La Mer or Guerlain MΓ©tΓ©orites, but I have also used a more traditional setting powder (more mattifying) like Guerlain's Les Voilettes and it worked just fine.

    • Zeynep, I always set everything with a powder. This one works well with a loose powder (I like Koh Gen Do or NARS Brightening), a pressed (I like Chanel Les Beiges) and also powder foundations too (Chanel or DG).

      Hope this helps!

  • First of all I would like to say how much I love and appreciate your blog. I have been an avid reader for years, but have never commented before. I have both the liquid and stick foundations in alabaster. They have become my most adored foundations. I am quite pale, always the lightest shade and most lines do not have shades light enough. Alabaster is neutral doesn't lean either pink or yellow. They are truly "traceless".

    • Thank you so much for your kind words and your support πŸ™‚ Readers like you mean the world to me and I am so happy when I hear that my work is helpful to others.

  • Anonymous

    do you know if they will be selling the tom ford foundation in nz?

  • After researching blogs I choose Bisque as the best match for my NW20/25 skin. I also have pink undertones. This really is a fabulous stick foundation! I also purchased the brush, which I highly recommend!

    I will need a darker shade for Summer, one shade darker, would that be 06 then?

    • I'm not exactly sure, but check The Beauty Professor's blog for swatches in case you haven't seen it. She has side by side swatches, or you can always call the counters. They are usually very helpful πŸ™‚

  • JudithDM

    Wish I could buy Natural sight unseen as it seems my color. However the TF rep in Neiman's BH was absolutely rude to me, close to closing and made no effort to really show product. Really the only place around to buy the line and I don't like to reward bad behavior. I had chosen lipstick, gloss, sculpting and blush on my own with no help, until I thought soooooooooo many lines, so many nice sales associates. Turned around and walked away.

    • Judith, I'm so sorry to hear about your experience. Bad store experiences are such a turn off and I have no idea why some associates are so rude. It is hit or miss with the Beverly Hills Tom Ford counter in my experience. I do believe that the Tom Ford Boutique on Rodeo Drive carries the full beauty line though. You may want to check it out if it's close. The next closest one I know of is Neiman Marcus at Fashion Island Newport Beach.

  • I always look foward to Eileen's comments on the various sites I follow too Sabrina! I had no idea Eileen wrote her own blog! How do I find it? I loved the exchange between you and Eilieen. We uses similar techniques and products. I use a light dusting of the Makeup Forever HD loose powder (under my eyes only) to set eye concealing/higlightiing products. I use Guerlain face powders elsewhere. I use The Guerlain pen in 00 and LOVE IT, but also love the Armani maestro concealer. So eager to check out the TF foundation stick. Thank you so much for the amazing review!

  • I was so intrigued by reading this post that I ran by my local TF counter and swatched the lightest shade. I'm bummed that (like usual), I'm too pale for it. I did notice the wonderful texture though.

  • This is timely because I have just purchased the TF Traceless Foundation stick in Alabaster after contemplating the purchase for months. I am so happy with the rich creaminess! I have some ruddiness in my nose and cheeks, dryness in my cheeks, high shine on my nose and forehead, and the TF stick covers all of it and is invisible. Several months ago, the TF artist at Bergdorf Goodman here in NYC (the gracious and talented Keke Cargill Cifferello) made me up and I purchased several of the items but not the foundation because I still had quite a bit of my (former) holy grail foundation at home. I have been using Guerlain Parure Gold liquid in 01, which a) I am running low on; b) I cannot easily replace since, last I checked, it is not available for purchase in the U.S.; c) costs the moon; d) is potentially messy to travel with. Most importantly, as light as the Parure Gold 01 is, it is not as light, either in color/tone or application, as the TF Alabaster stick. In the past I have worn the lightest color made in whatever brand I favored and this, when applied with a brush and blended, is the lightest. I use Guerlain Meteorites compact as a finishing powder.

  • Hi there,

    I've been eyeing the fondation for months since I bought the TF shadow/illuminator pallete and 7 out of the 12 brushes. But unfortunately there is no full on TF beauty counter in my city so ordering a fondation online is a bit too daring for me, specialle one that I've never tried before. Can you help me match my shade here? I was MAC NC30 (haven't used any mac fondation for years now), Amani luminous silk in 5, Armani face fabric in 2, Chanel Vitalumiere Aqua in Beige 30, Chantecaille Just skin and Future Skin both in Nude, and By Terry Sheer Expert in 7. What should I get for the traceless?
    Thanks heaps before

  • Anonymous

    After many years of staying away from stick foundation I just bought Tom Ford's Traceless stick foundation in Bisque and am enjoying it very much. I also purchased the cream foundation brush and have been both the same way the TF associate did on my face- dabbed the brush into the stick, applied to my face and buffed away. My question (finally) is this: is it ever okay to just put the stick to my face directly and swatch and then buff with brush. I have good skin but sort of makes me wonder what is sticking back to that stick from my face which has been moisturized and primed. Any thoughts? Thanks.

  • If you were dipping into a liquid foundation I would have concerns…with a stick foundation you should be okay. You could always swipe a cotton disc with rubbing alcohol over the stick if you are highly sensitive. Keep those brushes cleaned…you should be fine.