A disclosure: I really expected to be writing this review from the point of view of really, really not liking this product, so to be metaphorically skipping through a sunshiney field filled with daisies and butterflies and sugar and spice and all things nice is rather a turn up for the books.
Longwear foundation has come a long way, baby.
And Estee Lauder need be very worried.
Like a lot of people, I was sceptical about this replacement for Chanel's much loved base, Pro Lumiere. And in fact, if I had any criticism it's that I think this is quite badly named (it's a tad confusing to have such a similar moniker to something being taken off shelves) and positioned for a replacement base, because it's probably not going to be The One for many Pro fans, who loved its dewy coverage ways. Far better to have given it a completely new name altogether, to avoid any associations with Pro.
But this is an excellent product. Let me explain: Perfection Lumiere, €44, is a demi-matte foundation that will come in 16 shades - Chanel's biggest ever offering - and which offers adjustable coverage up to full and long wearing properties. Traditionally, if you wanted those attributes from your base you were looking at something that looked, felt and wore a little like emulsion paint. This though? This is a fine, silky-smooth fluid that delivers what makeup artist Christine Lucignano calls "believability."
That's crucial with foundation. Perfection Lumiere delivers a real second skin effect - but one that has coverage. No, you do not get the dewy glow of Pro; the result is decidedly matte. But it is not a flat, dead-looking matte that sucks the life out of skin; this works with your complexion to deliver a really great result. You can still see skin, but redness and blemishes are masked. Because it sets, I'm forgoing powder when using it and that's helping double with the second-skin thang.
And as a dry-skinned person, I can't quite believe I like this as much as I do, but this is testament to the technology. Longwear has moved on significantly in the last year or so: Clarins Everlasting Foundation was the first hint that this base category could be something we could all find a use for and then the launches came thick and fast. Smashbox Studio Skin, Mac Matchmaster and Diorskin Forever are three more newish offerings; Lancome and Avon have products arriving in the new year. Perfection Lumiere dovetails neatly into the trend.
This is shade 10 Beige blobbed and then lightly blended - it looks glossy here but hasn't yet set
So, who is it for? Scented, so possibly not a goer for the most sensitive types, and while it's billed as a one-size-fits all, I won't use this daily because I think ultimately as a long wearing demi-matte base, it is just best suited to a combination-to-oily type. However, I hand-on-heart experienced no issues while extensively trialling it over several weeks. I wore it during the day; I loved it for night and used it exclusively for a weekend period when I had no other base on hand. I ensured I moisturised well, sure - and that's key - but at no point did I feel that this wasn't suiting my skin, settling into lines or accentuating dry patches. In addition, it's so lovely on I kind of want to keep it for evening excursions.
As a user of mainly sheer, glow-based base, there's a learning curve involved with this because you don't have much play time with it - it will fix into place. Fingers or a brush are both fine I've found and I've trialled Shiseido's gorgeous new little slanted foundation brush with it for a great result. But for me, fingers work the best, and when I spoke to Christine about the product for our preview a couple of weeks ago, she gave me some tips on application that match my feelings - though I hadn't actually tried it at the time, so it was interesting to see that my method matched hers.
"Fingers reign supreme for this application. Use a small amount, starting at the center of the face. Do one area at a time as the "fondant" sets very quickly. Blend outwards. You can build up if you need to double back on a problem area," she advises. I'm not a person who ever really has issues on staying powder as my skin drinks makeup and holds it, but if you do, you'll be interested in this: "Staying power is the second difference. This foundation will carry you through your entire work day and then some! Pro had about a six hour wear time before it started to slightly degrade. This baby won't do that before at least 10-to-12 hours and the lab says up to 15 hours," Christine reveals.
And she's got one more insider tip for us too: "I have used a small amount of Blanc de Chanel liquid underneath, in a sheer layer, just to see and OMG what an unbelievable finish it was!"
Chanel Perfection Lumiere launches on January 13th 2012.