Foundation Quest 2007, or, Laura Mercier Flawless Face Products Oil-Free Foundation Primer, Oil-Free Foundation, Silk Creme Foundation, Oil-Free Tinted Moisturizer and Translucent Loose Setting Powder

Published in: Makeup, Product Reviews


Foundation Quest – 17 years and counting
After 17 years of makeup wearing, I’m still trying to find a foundation that works for me. I’ve spent a good chunk o’ change on my quest to find the perfect foundation (aka Foundation Quest) and unfortunately much of it was spent on foundations that were too dark, too yellow or too pimple-causing. Is it too much to hope for a miracle foundation that evens out my skin tone, doesn’t feel cake-y after a few hours and keeps me zit-free?


Why I keep trying to find the perfect foundation
Despite all of the disappointing attempts, I’m determined to find something that works because the perfect foundation does so much in achieving the look of a “finished” face. These days, I’m especially eager because I’ve noticed that as I’m getting older my skin is changing it’s less oily, uneven in color, and I have fine lines and freckles. The minimal amount of makeup I can get away with on a day-to-day basis is changing, so I’m a woman on a mission!

Why I don’t wear MAC Foundations
You might be wondering why this self-professed MAC junkie isn’t using foundation from her favorite makeup line. I’ve used MAC foundations in the past – Select SPF 15 and Select Tint 15 – and they just don’t work for me. They’re too yellow and they break me out. Select SPF 15 gave me cystic acne along my jawline, which took almost a year to get rid of, and Select Tint felt heavy and oily on my skin. You can see why I don’t like to go there any more.

What happened during my last failed Foundation Quest attempt
The last time I bought foundation was during a trip to Disneyland in August, when I went makeup crazy at the Sephora in Downtown Disney because they carried the Paul & Joe line. The Sephora closest to me in SF doesn’t carry Paul & Joe, and I was totally suckered in by the cute packaging. The Sephora makeup artist matched me with Protective Fluid Foundation in the 05 Fonce color, which I happily purchased along with the Protective Foundation Primer SPF 30. When I made it back home after the trip and tried out the products, I was really disappointed because the primer cast an ashy tint on my skin and the foundation was too yellow in natural light. I don’t know what happened. I think my need to believe that this foundation was THE ONE sent me into a Paul & Joe makeup induced trance! I threw the products into the Makeup-I’ll-Never-Use pile and decided to do more research when the itch to go on Foundation Quest hit again.

Makeup artist tips I found digging around the web…
This time around I did a bit more preliminary research. I found that many makeup artists suggest that you should try to get away with as sheer coverage as possible, and the formula you choose should vary with your skin type and age. I knew I wanted to find a sheer-to-medium formula that I could build up for more coverage if I had to take pictures. After some more digging, I zeroed in on two lines: Georgio Armani and Laura Mercier. Since there isn’t a Georgio Armani counter nearby, I decided to head up to the Nordstrom in Corte Madera to hit the Laura Mercier counter.

I was really interested in trying Laura Mercier’s Oil-Free Foundation because a few years ago it was rated as one of InStyle’s beauty favorites. And after checking out the website, I became really excited about the type of makeup looks that were shown. The makeup pictures showed pretty, sophisticated and modern makeup – great looking skin, with tasteful use of color on the eyes, lips and cheeks. It wasn’t as basic as Bobbi Brown (which bores me) yet not as “out there” as MAC can be sometimes.


A Look From Laura Mercier Eyes Wide Collection


A Look From Laura Mercier Starstruck Collection

What’s the big deal with Laura Mercier foundation

Laura Mercier pioneered the look of the flawless face which, uses multiple products to create the look of beautiful skin. So what is the Laura Mercier flawless face? The website says:

Laura Mercier believes that a beautiful look begins with great looking skin, and has developed key products for the face that allows every woman to achieve an incredibly even, smooth – yet natural-looking complexion.

“Before applying any colour, I always create a fresh canvas – a flawless finish. Making your skin look perfect is the first and most important thing you can do to achieve a truly great look. The key is to enhance your natural beauty – whether you use all products together one day, or just a little Secret Camouflage and Setting Powder when you are on the go.”
– Laura Mercier

These are the products that her line uses to get this look:

Step 1: Foundation Primer
Step 2: Foundation
Step 3: Secret Brightener
Step 4: Concealers
Step 5: Secret brightening Powder
Step 6: Setting Powder
Step 7: Secret Finish

Well, I know myself pretty well and I there’s no way for me to have enough time in the day to do all of these steps, so I decided to go try the foundation primer, foundation and the powder.

What my counter visit was like and my plan of attack
I got to the counter early on a Thursday, wearing minimal eye makeup (filled in brows and concealer) and nothing else. My plan this time around was to tell the salesperson up front what my foundation problems were: nothing too yellow, too heavy or too dark.

What happens when the makeup artist hasn’t had coffee or sleep
I should’ve been alarmed when I realized that I might’ve caught the makeup artist at a bad time. She was very helpful, but was acting forgetful (and slightly crazy), like her coffee hadn’t kicked in or she didn’t have enough sleep. I know how it feels to be ambushed by clients first thing in the morning before your caffeine starts working its magic, so honestly, so I didn’t think it was a big deal. I thought she was nice, but a little out of it.

I told her I wanted to try the Oil Free formulation, and immediately she tried to talk me out of it and said that the Silk Creme formula was the best foundation that they had. The Silk Creme formula comes in a tube. The consistency of the foundation is like a mousse (looks almost like you could eat it!) than a cream. It’s easy to blend, contains no SPF (which is good for picture taking) and offers sheer-to-heavy coverage, depending on how you apply it. She put the color Hazelnut Beige on my chin and had me go to the entrance doors to check out the color in the natural light. I felt like the formula was really great but the color was just slightly off. Because Hazelnut Beige was the darkest Silk Creme formula available, she then pulled out some of the Oil-Free colors, which has a wider selection of colors.


Silk Creme Foundation


Oil-Free Foundation


Oil Free Foundation Primer

She cleaned off my face again and added foundation primer, which smelled good and felt cooling on my skin. Laura Mercier makes three versions of the Foundation Primer, Regular, Oil-Free and Hydrating. Foundation primer helps to smooth out your skin so that the foundation adheres to a smooth surface to give your foundation a more finished, even look.

The MA put on the Regular version of the primer on my face, and I didn’t realize that it wasn’t the formula I wanted to buy until I looked closely at the tube, so I made a point to tell her that I wanted to purchase the Oil-Free version. “Oh, sure,” she replied.

She then pulled out three Oil-Free colors and proceeded to put the wrong color foundation on my face. I probably wouldn’t have noticed, but she was halfway done when she stopped and stepped back and said, “Oops, that’s my fault. I put the wrong color on you.” She wiped it all off and we started all over again. She then put on what I think might have been Suntan Beige (it was all a blur of beige foundation stimulus), using a wet sponge to work the foundation into the skin.

(Side note: I hope it doesn’t sound like I’m complaining about experience, but honestly I think the MA was really nice but just really spaced out.)


Translucent Setting Powder

She then finished with Translucent Setting Powder and applied all over my face it with a large, soft puff in a slight rolling motion. “The powder is made out of fine French cashmere talc,” she explained and is colorless because Laura Mercier believes that the color should come from the foundation, not from powder. I love powders, but I’m not usually a fan of translucent powders, because on me they rarely are translucent, and deposit a white/grey cast on my skin.

But when she had me check out the results in the natural light my previous ideas about translucent powders changed because my skin looked great. This powder gives a soft-focus quality to my skin and I didn’t notice a grey cast at all. Plus, the color of the foundation looked just right. I happily handed over my credit card and then went skipping off with what I thought was the Oil-Free Foundation Primer, the Oil-Free Foundation, the Translucent Setting Powder and a sample of the Silk Crème Foundation in Hazelnut Beige (I liked the formulation so much wanted to try the color again in other light situations.) When I got in the car I checked out the results in the rearview mirror was really happy.

What happened when I got home

Immediately when I got home I took a picture:


Me wearing the Foundation Primer, Oil-Free Foundation and Translucent Loose Setting Powder

After I took this pic I opened up my Nordstrom bag to open up my goodies and realized that she had totally given me the wrong products. I ended up with the Regular version of the Foundation Primer and an Oil-Free Foundation that was at least 2 shades to light for me. I thought, hmmm… Well, maybe this is the color that she intended to give me. I had to rush off to work, so I didn’t really think about it again until I checked my makeup at the end of the day. The color she put on me changed – it looked like it was darker than it was in the morning, and there was a significant difference between the color of my face and the color of my neck. I wasn’t as sold on it as I was earlier in the day.

Later on that night I tried the lighter color to see if it was indeed the color she intended to give me. The texture made it hard to blend and work with. It has a gel-like consistency, and you really have to work it in with a damp sponge to get it to blend. Just for fun I built it up see if it still looked good with heavier coverage. When I saw the results in the mirror I knew that she had definitely given me the wrong color – my skin looked ashy and grey. Sigh. Well, it’s a good thing I like to go to the mall, because I didn’t really mind going back to return the stuff.

What happened upon my return
When I returned the next morning there was another makeup artist there, and she took one look at the color of the foundation and said, “Uh, this is the wrong color. The makeup artist you worked with yesterday is really good. I can’t imagine her giving you this color on purpose. Did she mix it with another color? Or add a bronzer? There’s no way that this is your color.

She kept asking me what color I may have originally been matched with and for the life of me I couldn’t remember. After trying two more Oil-Free shades. Golden Beige (too yellow and light) and Sunset Beige (too dark) she convinced me to try the Oil-Free Tinted Moisturizer. She matched me with Almond shade. When I looked at the color in the natural light it looked pretty good, and she said that if I wanted lighter coverage I could apply it with a dry sponge and if I wanted to build up the coverage I could use my fingers. At least it will be easier to work than the Oil Free, and on days when I’m in a hurry I can just slap a quick layer on. I ended up getting the Almond Shade and a tube of the Oil-Free Foundation Primer, and I took this picture when I got home:


Me wearing Oil-Free Foundation Primer, Oil-Free Tinted Moisturizer and Translucent Loose Setting Powder

Week-long test
This week I tried both the Oil-Free Tinted Moisturizer in Almond and the Silk Creme sample in Hazelnut Beige on alternating days. The Tinted Moisturizer is really easy to get to apply – I used both the MAC 190 Foundation brush and Rite Aid makeup wedges. After, I used my MAC 180 Buffer Brush to apply the Translucent setting powder.

Pros and cons of the Tinted Moisturizer

I’ve noticed that if I put too much TM on my skin, the products start to feel too heavy on my skin after a few hours. I also still feel like Almond shade is a touch too dark and too pink when I build it up. It’s probably not currently noticeable to anyone else but me (in fact, I got a few complements this weekend from friends), but I’m still not 100% sold on it. I’m going to keep trying it for the next few days, to see if it breaks me out and if I can master the application so that it doesn’t feel heavy on my skin. If my skin stays clear may just keep the Almond for summer, when I tend to get more tan because when I’m running around outside.

Pros and cons of the Silk Creme Foundation
I was really surprised to find that I liked the Silk Creme Foundaiton. I initially thought the coverage would be too heavy, but it goes on surprisingly sheer with a wet sponge, and looks really natural. It doesn’t contain any sunscreen, which is actually a plus for me. I currently don’t own a foundation that is appropriate for picture taking, and foundations without sunscreen (Titanium Dioxide) are supposed to be better for photos because they don’t leave a white cast on your skin. Turns out the Silk Creme is closer to my skin tone than I initially thought and I liked how it seemed to cover just enough to even out my color – it also doesn’t feel heavy after a few hours. I’m going to keep trying the sample out for the next few days and if I like still like it when I finish I might also buy a tube!


What I think about the products so far
All in all, despite all of the confusion with the mixed-up products I like this line so far. I like the colors and the textures of the products and they seem to be high quality. And I haven’t broken out (knock on wood), which is a plus. I have realized that I probably won’t ever find a color that will match my skin absolutely perfectly, but I can get pretty close.

Laura Mercier makeup event on Friday!


Laura Mercier Peaches and Creme Collection

This Friday, I’ll get to try more Laura Mercier products because I signed up for a free makeup lesson with a Laura Mercier Specially Trained Premier Artist. Laura Mercier is releasing new products under the Peaches and Cremee line, which includes two new Stickgloss shades, one Creme Cheek Colour and a new Peach Mosaic Shimmer Block. I’ve never tried any of these, but I’m especially looking forward to the Stickgloss and the Creme Cheek Color. I’ll probably pick up the tube of Silk Creme foundation then, and probably with a few more goodies. I can’t wait!


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So far, 7 people have commented on this article. How cool is that?

  1. Michelle says:

    Great article Karen. You can’t say you didn’t do your research.

  2. Karen says:

    Hi Michelle,

    Thank you! I’ve got another Laura Mercier article coming up in the next few days so check back soon.


  3. Kristina says:

    Hi Karen,
    I love your blog. I am obssessed with cosmetics and Its great to find someone who is also searching for the perfect foundation!
    I have a lot of trouble finding the right color for my skintone. I have no problem finding a shade for summer when I am tanned. But in winter, every color looks grey on me and I looked washed out. I am an NC45 in summer. But I cant find a shade to wear in winter. I have tried NC40 select tint but it looks grey on me. If you could email me that would be great. Id love to discuss this further with you and get your insight on why foundations make me look grey. Iv been researching and I have read so many conflicting articles on this. Some says its when foundation is too yellow, some say its when its too pink. I have olive skin and the whole undertones things really confuses me.


  4. Karen says:

    Hi Kristina!

    Thank you for your nice comments! I’m on vacation right now so when I get back I’ll do some more research and I’ll try to do a post on why some foundations make people look ashy/grey. Foundation is really hard to find, isn’t it? It sounds like you are going to have to do some good ole’ fashioned trial and error. I’ve never had success with MAC foundations, but if you want to stick to the brand you might want to find a nice, knowledgeable MUA and talk to her/him at length about what you don’t like about your current color and what formulations and colors they’d suggest. Purchase your foundations from a store with good customer service AND a good return policy – that way you can return it if you don’t like it after a week or so. I like to buy foundations from Nordstrom because the MUA’s are great and they don’t give me drama if I need to return something if it doesn’t work for me. Or, get some samples, use your samples for a week or for however long it lasts and then make your decision then. And if MAC doesn’t work for you, don’t be afraid to branch out to other lines. I love Laura Mercier, but I’ve also read great things about Bobbi Brown and Armani foundations too. Good luck, and let me know when you find something!


  5. melissa says:

    Hi Karen,

    I just stumbled upon this site and totally relate to your long quest for that foundation holy grail! I too just purchased Laura Mercier oil-free tinted moisturizer in Almond. I have difficulty matching my skin tone and I think that your skin tone looks similar. I am a brown-eyed brunette, tan easily, but I wear moisturizer with sunscreen year-round. As a result, I’m typically tan from the chest down starting in May, but my face is a few shades lighter. I’ve only tried the oil-free moisturizer once and I’m still not convinced of the shade. I may try using a sponge for lighter coverage. I’ve defintely got both yellow and pink undertones, but worry that the sand would be too light for summer and fawn would be too pink. What would you suggest? I ordered from sephora online, but I guess I’ll have to go to the store to sample the other colors.


  6. Joanne says:

    Hi Karen,

    Before reading your article i thought i had an OCD with finding the perfect foundation! I’ve tried almost every make of foundation including CD, Clinique, trisha mcevoy, Bobbi Brown, Estee Lauder you name it i’ve tried it.
    I have fairly healthy pale skin and want a smooth, flawless matt finish (however not dull, cakey or chalky) with a medium buildable coverage.
    I’m getting married this year so am on a mission to find the perfect foundation-you know the type celebrities wear-hmmm…I’m beginning to wonder if us ladies are trying to compete with airbrushing!
    Having said all of that, i’ve decided to do some research before purchasing and i have to say laura mercier foundations sound like just what i’m looking for. I quite like the sound of the silk creme foundation, think i may have to travel 1hr 30 mins to my nearest store!
    Thanks for your helpful advice!


  7. Ann says:

    Hi Karen! I was just wondering which Laura Mercier Foundation Primer would your prefer for me. My skin isn’t too oily nor is it too dry. Out of all the Laura Mercier Foundation Primer, which one would you recommend to me? Looking forward to your reply. Thank you!

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