Monday, April 11, 2011

Finding Your Flawless Face: A Guide to Laura Mercier Foundations

In the last few years, I've tried and used all the foundation products from Laura Mercier, from the Tinted Moisturizers to the new Creme Smooth Foundation. I thought it would be useful to share my experience with them if it helps anyone. In my list below, I'll start with the liquid formulations and move down to the powders.

Tinted Moisturizer (regular or oil-free)

Tinted Moisturizer, while technically not a foundation, does the job of giving you "a foundation" for that flawless look. It has the least amount of coverage, little to none in fact, but with the popularity of the natural look, this is probably where you'd want to start.

For my everyday needs, I find that a good way to go about it is to find a good shade of Tinted Moisturizer and just use foundation on parts of the face that need the greater coverage. Truthfully, I think Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturizers offer a lot more coverage than some other brands. But I've also found that the skin eventually absorbs most of the product and so the coverage dies down to a very sheer finish during the day. It offers SPF 20 and tends to be reasonably lightweight. It can be applied nicely with a sponge but if I'm in a rush, I just use my hands to spread it.

The Tinted Moisturizer is offered in a regular and an oil-free formula. I like the oil-free one in the summer months because the regular one tends to make me a bit oily as the day wears on. However, I have noted that the shades are not exactly the same between formulations. For instance, Bisque seems a bit darker in the oil-free formulation than in the regular one. It's never a bad idea to get a sample at a counter, just to be sure about what you're getting.

Tinted Moisturizer in Bisque
Left: Regular, Right: Oil-free

Illuminating Tinted Moisturizer

For a real glow, you could try the Illuminating Tinted Moisturizer. It is by all respects, another Tinted Moisturizer but it has a shimmery finish. It only comes in a couple of shades so my impression is that it really isn't meant to be used all over the face as your main foundation. I find that this is best used sparingly, in conjunction with another foundation product. You can mix in a little of it with your foundation or just dab on areas that you want to highlight like the cheekbone or under the brow. You can also tap it lightly on top of under eye concealer. It gives a subtle illuminance that you might like. Tempting as it is to use this instead of the regular Tinted Moisturizer, trust me, I've tried it. You don't want to go there.

Illuminating Tinted Moisturizer
Left: Warm Radiance, Right: Bare Radiance

Oil Free and Moisturizing Foundation

Coverage-wise, I'd say that the oil-free and moisturizing foundations are more medium coverage foundations. But they can be built to full coverage easily. It just depends on how much product you layer on. I don't recall this having any SPF and the color selections have truly subtle differences that it's probably best to try two or three shades before settling. That's what I did before I picked Sunny Beige in the oil-free formula. This is the foundation I used on my wedding, set with a foundation powder.

Choosing between the oil-free and the moisturizing formulas, I would go with the oil-free. The moisturizing one tends to get greasy on me after a few hours. I have normal/combination skin so you would think I don't need oil-free but it's just an overall better formula, in my opinion. And like the Tinted Moisturizers, just because a shade has the same name, you can't assume that it will be exactly the same across formulations.

Oil-Free Foundation
Left: Sunny Beige, Right: Vanilla Beige

Silk Creme Foundation

The Silk Creme Foundation is a creamy and moisturizing liquid formula that offers full coverage. It's very smooth, which I love, especially when the weather is cold. Admittedly, this will melt right off your face in warm and humid weather.

On days when I want perfect complexion, I use it mixed with the Tinted Moisturizer. I've discovered that one part Silk Creme and two parts Tinted Moisturizer gives me a combination that is light enough to use all over the entire face and covers up all imperfections nicely. Set with translucent powder, it looks perfect and natural in pictures.

Another way I use this is in place of concealer (although Laura Mercier makes some of the most effective concealers out there). You could use Tinted Moisturizer all over the face and with a foundation brush, apply the tiniest amount of the Silk Creme Foundation on areas that need more coverage like around the nose, under the eyes and around the mouth. A little goes a long way. Just remember to shake the tube really well before use because the product tends to separate especially when it's left sitting untouched for long periods.

Creme Smooth Foundation

I have a review written out for this foundation here. The gist of it really, is that this is an utterly rich and creamy foundation that's more of a paste in texture and does not spread very easily. It's like a face cream that I personally, can only use in the winter. The coverage is definitely full. If your skin is very dry, this might be an option. It also contains some wrinkle-fighting ingredients so those looking for a foundation combined with skincare may want to try this. I have to admit, it looks flawless if you can apply it correctly. But again, the coverage is probably too much for daily use and because it is so rich, it feels uncomfortably mask-like in warmer temperatures.

Foundation Powder

The Laura Mercier Foundation Powder comes in a compact and can be used wet or dry. It is said to have oil controlling properties. I think it's a really nice powder foundation and it can be built to full coverage as well. When I bought mine, it came with a sponge and a puff. One is meant for dry application and the other for wet. I like it even if I rarely use a foundation powder. I think it looks even nicer applied with a big fluffy powder brush. But if you use it often, you'll find that you'll go through it really quickly. The pan in the compact seems rather shallow that for the price, you would have expected a little more product. But as far as powder foundations go, I think this one's pretty good.

Foundation Powder No. 4

Flip the pan up to reveal the sponge

Mineral Powder SPF 15

If you've ever been tempted by the mineral makeup craze, Laura Mercier makes some decent mineral powder foundations. The loose powder formula with SPF 15 feels light on the skin and can be buffed down to a light sheen. I don't think that it offers a lot of coverage and you would certainly not want to pile it on and risk looking ashy (or should it be ashen?). However, as far as mineral makeup goes, I like this better than Bare Escentuals. I have issues with the texture of BE in general and it dries me out. Laura Mercier's Mineral Powder seems to agree with my skin a lot better. In the summer, I've also used this on top of the Tinted Moisturizer as a setting powder/physical barrier, to augment the SPF properties of the former.

I think that the difference between shades is, again, extremely subtle. So subtle in fact that I think I can wear 3 different shades and it looks the same. But if you find your perfect color, that's great. Admittedly, I'm not big on powder formulations and especially not of loose powder ones. A little goes a long way here so it takes a generous amount of time to use up a whole jar. But again, I think that the liquid formulations tend to look more natural on. I feel like all the powders literally sit on top of the skin and they do not photograph well (white cast, anyone?). It must also be noted that products with SPF generally have an expiry date. This is not something you want sitting around for a very long time. Look at the bottom of the container for that date or it could be printed somewhere on the box.

Mineral Pressed Powder SPF 15

I believe that the pressed powder version of the mineral makeup was primarily designed for touch ups. It is certainly a lot easier to carry a compact in your purse rather than a small jar of loose powder. However, I've noted that the Pressed Mineral Powder is completely different from the loose powder. I don't even think that the colors are the same. The overall texture is different. I think that they used some binders on the pressed powder that completely changed things. But I like the pressed version better. You can build to full coverage with it. You can apply it with a sponge or brush and buff it down. It also leaves a white cast however, so I use a much darker shade to offset the whiteness. To be specific, I would use Natural Beige in the Mineral Powder (loose powder) and Rich Vanilla in the Mineral Pressed Powder.


Laura Mercier gives you a system that ensures that the products perform at their utmost best and your skin looks flawless. After you've covered all your skincare basics, you proceed with primer, then pick your foundation and set with powder. Different formulations are designed for different purposes so hopefully I've described my experience with each product enough to give you an idea of what might or might not work for you. Foundation is such a tricky subject. It requires so much testing to find a workable match. I hope that with what I've shared, you can find your perfect foundation and alternately find use for products you may already have but never thought of using differently.


  1. Great comparisons! Very helpful.

  2. Yep, I agree really helpful - I am working my way through all your LM posts as I am having a bit of an obsession at the moment. It is particularly useful that your photos are so good as well!

    1. Thanks! I'd like to be able to do an update on this post in a year's time, to include newer products and compare the newer formulas to the old ones. I have at least 3 other Laura Mercier products waiting to be reviewed. I hope my input has been useful :)