Base Makeup

Luxury Base Edit

October 30, 2017

Best Luxury Foundations and Powders from La Mer, Tom Ford Beauty, Chanel, Sisley and La Prairie | The Beauty Look Book

This post has been months in the works as I’ve been testing some of the most luxurious makeup bases, foundations and powders on the market. Finding a good makeup base has always been important to me and but it can be so tricky to find the right combination for my skin type, skin tone and has just the right amount of coverage. Each season I’ve discovered new formulas that work extremely well. A large number of you have asked for reviews on other luxury bases that have cult-status including foundations, face tints, primers and powders. I’ve been putting many of these to the test for months now to see how they’ve held up in extremely humid weather. I’ve also been able to test these in more normal climates during travels outside of Florida too.

Best Luxury Foundations and Powders from La Mer, Tom Ford Beauty, Chanel, Sisley and La Prairie | The Beauty Look Book


Before I start reviewing the ones that are new to me, I will say that the Tom Ford Waterproof Foundation and Concealer ($85 for 1 fl oz) has been my favorite and I still think it’s one of the best ones. I’ve used it in San Diego, Dallas, New York City, San Francisco and all over Florida. The formula holds up really well on super humid days at the beach, pool, Orlando theme parks and on various trips. It has perfect buildable coverage that I can build to full without it ever looking cakey or fake. The original review + swatches here. They’re also swatched next to MAC Studio Fix Fluid foundations. I’m anywhere from NC25 to NC37.

Tom Ford Waterproof Foundation and Concealer Review | The Beauty Look Book


Onto the new ones I’ve been putting to the test. Up first is the Chanel Sublimage Le Teint in 40 Beige ($135 for 1 oz). This is described as a lightweight cream foundation that you can build from light to medium coverage. It has the signature ingredients of their Sublimage skincare line which I have used before and love. Due to the high prices I haven’t repurchased their Texture Fine cream although it’s among the best I’ve tried.

The Sublimage Le Teint comes in a jar with a brush. A little goes a long way and it gives my skin a naturally radiant smooth look. Pores completely vanish and skin is smoothed in a way I’ve never seen with any other cream foundation. The only issue is that it’s not designed for normal, oily or combination skin. I was dissuaded at multiple counters from buying it because the reps said it’s only for those with dry skin. They happily made me a sample though and after using them up I ordered it online. I do find it hydrating but it’s still not too rich. It’s pure love for me, but if you have oily skin though it may be too rich for you.

Worn below is the Chanel Sublimage Le Teint 40, no concealer, set with La Mer Translucent Loose Powder, NARS Audacious Lipstick in Barbara, Diorshow Brow Styler in Universal Brown, Tom Ford Terra Bronzer on the cheeks and Chanel Ombre Premiere in Ray.

Chanel Sublimage Le Teint 40 Beige Review and Swatches | The Beauty Look Book


Next is the La Prairie Skin Caviar Concealer and Foundation with SPF15 ($225 for 1 fl oz for the foundation and .07 oz for the concealer). I featured it on my face in this post here before wearing Satin Nude. This foundation has been raved about by so many, I didn’t know if it was just hype or if it was really that good. I’ve been testing this since August and it’s truly one of the most luxurious bases I’ve tried. The foundation provides full but natural looking coverage. It does have a dewy finish that you absolutely need to set with a powder, but it lasts all day without getting oily or cakey. The concealer has a matte finish. It’s a little bit lighter in color than the liquid/cream but very opaque. This has caviar extracts infused which are designed to lift and firm the skin. I’ve used this on and off since August. I haven’t used it on a daily basis to notice any skincare benefits but they way it looks and makes my skin feel is just amazing. I’ve found that it can settle into fine lines if my skin isn’t prepped well or moisturized enough, but that can be the case with almost any base.

Worn below is the La Prairie Skin Caviar Concealer under the eyes and Foundation all over. I didn’t use any powder to set. Cheeks have a bit of the Tom Ford Gold Dust Bronzer, lips are NARS Audacious Lipstick in Barbara.

La Prairie Skin Caviar Concealer and Foundation Satin Nude | The Beauty Look Book


Sisley has been widely raved about from many of you and I’ve been truly impressed with everything I’ve tried from the line. I was sent the Double Tenseur Instant Long-Term Gel ($192 for 1 fl oz) which is a multi-tasking product which I’ve used as a primer but over moisturizer. It does indeed help foundation last longer but I’m not the biggest fan of gel formulas. Still this performs really well and I like the way it feels on the skin. In terms of primers I actually prefer the Instant Eclat Instant Glow Primer. ($90 for 1 fl oz) I ordered this sight unseen and it’s a sheer opal pearl liquid cream. I want to say there must be a less expensive dupe for this but the way it looks and feels on the skin is unlike others I’ve tried. I give this a huge thumbs up as a primer.

Two other items I’ve tried and loved are the Phyto-Cernes Eclat Eye Concealer in #2 ($107 for 15 ml) and the Super Soin Solaire Teinte Tinted Sunscreen Cream SPF 30 in #2 ($170 for 1.3 fl oz/40 ml). There are several different tinted creams or tinted moisturizers from Sisley. The one I tried is a tinted sunscreen which seemed perfect for me in the Florida sunshine and heat. It’s been a staple for natural looking coverage in a sunscreen. The concealer is quite peachy and opaque but it blends out to brighten the under eye and prevents me from looking tired in the morning. It lasts long and doesn’t cake or crease on me. I apply with fingers but it does come with a little brush.

Worn below is the Solaire Teinte Tinted Sunscreen Cream in 2 Golden, Phyto Cernes Eclat 2 under eyes, La Mer Loose Translucent Powder to set and NARS Audacious Lipstick in Barbara + Kevyn Aucoin Molton Liquid Lipstick in Rose Gold. Cheeks have a bit of Tom Ford Gold Dust Bronzer.

Sisley-Paris Instant Eclat Glow Primer, Phyto Cernes Eclat Concealer, Double Tenseur, Sunscreen Tint | The Beauty Look Book

Swatches of the liquid foundations I use along with the ones I’ve featured in this post:

Foundation swatches via The Beauty Look Book


Many of you have asked about the new La Mer pressed powders. I used to be the biggest fan of their original loose powder and when they reformulated I was so upset I didn’t even want to try the new one. I finally did try The Powder ($95 for 8 g)whichΒ  is translucent and it’s one of my favorites for a natural looking finish that doesn’t leave a white cast. They recently launched the Sheer Pressed Powder ($95 for 10 g) in a Translucent color and three shades. I tried both Light and Medium as I usually prefer tinted powders for the pressed format, but often times powders darken my foundation even if it looks like it’s an exact match. I can wear both, if they made more shades I would be in between but the finish is sheer enough that’s it’s forgiving. It’s an amazing setting powder and I can’t quite explain how it works, but it’s sheer, lightweight and mattes the face naturally. Even though it is sheer and I can’t detect coverage it does smooth out the skin in a natural way with a blurring effect. Even though the shade selection is very limited I recommend you still give it a try, the sheerness makes the color more forgiving. A less expensive alternative would be the MAC Next to Nothing Powder but the textures are different. I splurged on the Powder Brush ($80) – it’s really one of the most luxurious ones I’ve tried.

La Mer The Powder and Sheer Pressed Powder Light and Medium Review

I have not tried the Soft Fluid Foundation or Concealer because when they launched I was not able to find a good match. I haven’t tried to look again since then – from what I recall most of the shades are not yellow enough for my skintone. Below is a color comparison of the powders. There’s a big gap between the La Mer Sheer Pressed Powder in Light and Medium. Other ones I use include the Charlotte Tilbury Flawless in #2, MAC Next to Nothing in Medium Plus and Armani Luminous Silk Compact #4.

La Mer Sheer Pressed Powder vs MAC Next to Nothing and Armani Luminous Silk Powder 4


A few of the extras rounded up below. When it comes to foundation I still find the beautyblender to be the best tool for application. It gives me smooth even coverage that I can control and is always streak-free. For powders a few of my favorite brushes.

Favorite Powder Brushes and Primers

I’m usually a no-primer kind of person as I don’t like extra layers of product on my face, but here are a few that I’ve tried recently that I like, especially for humid weather. I find the best all around primers I’ve tried are from Tarte and MAC, some other ones work better with corresponding branded foundations.

I know I’ve covered a lot in this roundup – I’ve reviewed a number of bases before but this edit has focused on ones I’d classify as high end / luxury formulas. Overall I’ve found these live up to expectations but my recommendation would depend on your personal preference for formula and your skin type. I was lucky to be able to find a good match in each formula I tried. I’ve put these to the test through extreme heat and humidity. There have been days over the summer and even until the end of September where the weather was so hot my skin started beading and dripping with sweat within 5 minutes of being outside. On those days nothing will really last well. However on days I’m indoors for the most of the time or out of the heat, I found each base lasted all day without sliding off or caking. My thoughts to sum up my testing:

  • Bases with best lasting power have been the Tom Ford Waterproof Foundation and Concealer and Sisley Tinted Sunscreen Cream.
  • Best full-coverage foundation that looks natural is Tom Ford Waterproof Foundation and Concealer.
  • Best for smoothing pores and giving the skin a radiant but not greasy glow is the Chanel Sublimage Le Teint, although this is probably best for normal to dry skin.
  • Most natural looking is the Sisley Tinted Sunscreen Cream, but color selection is very limited.
  • Best loose powder for me right now is the La Mer Loose Translucent hands down.
  • Do I think the La Mer Pressed Powder is worth it? Absolutely yes, but if I were to do it over again I would have picked either Translucent or just Light. Medium would have worked for me over the summer here, but I’ve been staying out of the sun for weeks now and have lost my tan. As amazing as it is, there are less expensive alternatives I really like such as the MAC Next to Nothing, Armani Luminous Silk and Laura Mercier Candleglow.
  • Would I recommend the La Mer Loose or Pressed Powder? The Loose for formula and finish, but it’s not really travel-friendly or easy to put in your purse for daytime touch ups.
  • What’s the best for oily skin? I would say the two bases I’d recommend for oily skin aren’t ones I’ve featured here, I’d recommend the NARS Velvet Matte Skin Tint or Laura Mercier Flawless Fusion (both reviewed here).
  • Is the La Prairie worth the splurge? I’m conflicted on this as it’s one of the most expensive foundations on the market and while it’s amazing in every way, I think if you just need a good base you can definitely find one for less. That being said it does have skincare ingredients and also has a concealer built in, so you do get two in one. The packaging design is well made and easy to use. It’s travel friendly and I really have no complaints.

That wraps it up for my luxury base testing. I hope you found this helpful in the event you had your eye on any of these and wanted a comprehensive review. All this being said I don’t think you need to spend a lot of money on a foundation or powder. These days there are so many options you can definitely find one that works for less. With the ones I tested I feel lucky I didn’t find any disappointments as they are extremely expensive.

If you have any questions or need additional recommendations let me know in the comments. Otherwise I’d love to hear about your current foundation, powder or primer favs. It can be luxury or at any price point. Let me know what you’ve been loving!

Press samples featured include the Sisley-Paris Double Tenseur, La Prairie Skin Caviar, Tom Ford Waterproof, MAC Next to Nothing Pressed Powder, MAC 140S brush, NARS Audacious Lipstick in Barbara.

P.S. I’m running weekly giveaways until the end of the year! Check out the giveaway of the week here.

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  • I am eyeing the new La Mer pressed powder. Just not sure translucent or in shade light. I’m a NC20 skintone. The color of the translucent one looks quite pink. And def going to get the powder brush to go with it. Looks very luxurious! Thanks for the review!

    • I had a tough time picking one as well, if you google La Mer Pressed Powder on YouTube, someone with skin around NC20 found Light worked for her.

      I agree on the Translucent pressed, but in store if you swatch it really doesn’t have any color.

      • theothersable

        Do you prefer the La Mer pressed over the other pressed powders you use, such as Charlotte Tilbury, etc for the most flawless finish? What about longevity?

  • Heeyoung

    Great post. I have all kinds of problems in my face, enlarged pores, pigmentation, dryness etc so base is really my thing as bases really change me. While I read your review, I had a few questions. 1. Have you tried Suqque cream foundation? If so, how do you like it in comparison to Sublimage Le Teint foundaiton. 2. I always found that Chanel foundation is not yellow enough and it oxidizes me. I recently realized good color match is as important as covering pores, so…What do you think? 3. Have you tried Chantecaille loose powder? I heard many people raved about it. Could you please share how do you feel about the loose powders by Chantecaille, Laura Mercier and La Mer? I have been looking at the La Mer brush for a while (yes, it is really elegant) but torn between Tomford and the one by La Mer..What do you recommend?
    Thank you –

    • Hi, to answer your questions:

      1) I have not tried it
      2) If you can’t find a good match then formula probably won’t matter, I think getting a good match is the most important!
      3) I haven’t tried Chantecaille. Laura Mercier is good but I prefer the La Mer for finish.

    • Aaron

      I definitely wouldn’t recommend either of those brushes you’ve mentioned especially because of the La Mer powder brush. It’s definitely not a price you want to pay for a regular synthetic brush. The TF one is alright and made in Japan with goat hair, which natural hair is prefer with powder products, but in my opinion you’re still paying a very high price for it and I don’t think the quality is on par with the price. I agree with Sabrina that the Wayne Goss brushes are some of the best reasonable luxury brushes on the market, they’re made in Japan with fine goat or squirrel hair but at a good price considering their quality. You can find them on Beautylish, which their gift card event is happening soon! You can find Chikuhodo on Beautylish as well, which is one of my favorites. They’re definitely pricy but worth it! I’m just a little brush fanatic and want to share my thoughts! Hope it helps!

      • Heeyoung

        Thank you, Aaron!

  • Aaron

    Ooooooo what a nice post! Especially while I’m collecting items for my Sephora sale basket for this coming weekend!! I’ve bought the TF waterproof foundation based on doing a bunch of research and mostly because of your amazing review and I love it! Especially in the summer months for me in Atlanta. I like it alone or even when I mixed in with other foundations. The only thing is the beauty blender tends to be a little more difficult to clean after using the TF foundation, I suppose it’s the waterproof element and level of pigments containing in that foundation but all and all it’s amazing.

    I’ve had the same problem with the La Mer foundation, the shade range is just way off for my NC15 yellow skin tone. But I’ve been definitely eyeing the La Mer powders. May I ask how you find the light shimmers in the La Mer loose powder after application? It it detectable at all? And also the oil control abilities? It’s going to be a great time to pick it up during the VIBR sale this weekend!! Thanks Sabrina for the amazing post as usual!

  • Glenda

    This is a really nice post, well-rounded and comprehensive. I don’t use foundation, because I feel like every formula I’ve ever tried clings onto dry patches on my skin. Sometimes I risk using a tinted BB/CC cream or moisturiser, but I haven’t found The One for me yet. Fortunately, I’m very okay going pretty much anywhere bare-faced, so… But still, this was interesting to read.

    You got me really curious about both the La Mer and MAC’s powders. I wonder if they would be suitable to use even if you don’t have any kind of foundation underneath?

    And oh, that brush looks luxurious! But soooo expensive. Speaking of expensive, have you ever tried the Surratt brushes? If so, do you like them? Recommend them? I can’t imagine splurging on them any time soon, but who knows, maybe one day.

  • Katie

    Thank you for this in-depth review. I was thinking about getting the Chanel Sublimage Le Teint and your review finally convinced me πŸ™‚

  • SJ Sellers

    Hi Sabrina! Amazing post as always. I agree with all your comments for the products i have tried. I had the original LaMer loose powder and was dismayed when they released the new formula but now that you have given it the Sabrina stamp of approval I will repurchase LOL.

    You’ve listed all my top foundations in your post except for my very very favorite which is Ellis Faas. The downside is that it is not widely available and therefore hard to find a store to color match in. It is phenomenal and nothing else compares. Give it a try if you ever have an opportunity.

    xoxo SJ

  • Jessica

    Thanks for the lovely images. I will say that I found the La Mer powder not worth the money. On my oily skin, it doesn’t hold up as well as some other cult favourites.

  • roxymisha

    So many luxe foundations which you have summarised beautifully as always. My Chanel representative game me a sample of the Sublimage and I can see that it would not work as well on oily skin. My skin is normal to dry and it provides goods coverage and is very light in texture for a cream foundation. Not sure if I would buy it as I think there are other foundations that look better on me.

  • Juliet

    I am soooo wanting to try the Chanel but can’t seem to push the order button. I do have THREE flawless (now dc’d) and Suqqu FFC but your reviews on these bases have me wanting to stray. Not going to lie – I love testing bases!

  • msh111

    While not discussed in this post, I recently received a sample of the YSL Blur Primer and found that I like it a lot. I would really like to try the Chanel from this post & may go to Nordstrom & try a sample first.

  • Alex

    Your description of the primer (Instant Eclat Instant Glow) sounds similar to the finishes achieved using either the Chanel le Blanc or the Burberry Fresh Glow primer if you’re interested in checking others out!

    • nic

      The Burberry is my baby!

  • Your photos are to die for! I’m completely obsessed! xx

    Carolina’s Makeup Life

  • I jus love your photos! So sleek!

  • Suzanna

    Powder brush lemming! Thanks for this round-up. I finally tried Tom Ford Traceless and it was too traceless (both formulas, although the shade was ideal). Now I will have to try the waterproof. I have been working outdoors a lot lately in all kinds of Florida weather :–(

    Chanel foundations always oxidize on me, and quite badly. I haven’t yet found one that doesn’t look burnt orange. For primer I use Tilbury Wonderglow or Lancer Dani and both work well to give skin a bit of a boost. I have very dry skin, though, so foundation tends to stick.

  • These all sound so luxurious. I would love to try more from the Tom Ford range for sure x

  • SoSuSam

    What fun to read your reviews of these products! Isn’t the Sisley tinted sunscreen shockingly good? You and I have very different skin types (mine is (ahem) mature and extremely dry), yet it seems to work for both of us. I find the coverage too heavy for my preference, but I still love it for those incredibly hot + humid days when you need something that just.won’t.budge. Plus, it doesn’t irritate or dry out my skin too much, which is very unusual for anything with sunscreen in it.

    I had a very different experience, however, with the Chanel Sublimage foundation than you. I assumed I was their target audience (again, mature + dry skin), but I didn’t like this one. It was way too drying for my skin. (Of course, I prepped my skin fully before using.) One of my top two foundations is actually from Chanel (Vitalumiere–regular, not Vitalumiere Aqua). That one is so amazing on my dry skin, so kind and forgiving, though the color range is terrible and I don’t have a perfect match. (Even the lightest color is a bit dark and turns me slightly orange–yet I still wear it for the formula.) So I was surprised that the Sublimage foundation was such a fail for me. I’d love to hear what others with very dry skin have experienced with it.

    This summer, I splurged on something not on your list: La Prairie tinted moisturizer (or whatever its formal name is). Oh my. One of the worst things I’ve ever put on my face. And the smell…all I can say is: definitely try before buying! (which I did not do)

    Ironically, after exploring so many high-end tinted moisturizers and foundations, my holy grail remains…MAC Face + Body C1. πŸ™‚ Thanks for your review…you’ve saved me from trying a few more things!

  • Melissa.rva

    The photo you tale are si beautiful, so chic ! Thanks for sharing your favorites base products, I really want to try some !