The sample looks a lot like the real compact except it does not have room for the sponge. I did not get to choose my shade for the sample although I believe that it comes in 12 shades to mirror the current shade offerings of the Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturizer. The sample pictured below is in the color Nude.
I applied the product with the accompanying sponge and after trying a few other methods, I've decided that this is the most appropriate way to go about it. I was able to smooth the color out on the skin so that it disappeared nicely. It didn't cake up in areas like some cream makeup products tend to do on me. It did not feel heavy at all. Coverage is minimal but can be layered. I even applied it under the eye area with a concealer brush. I think that the best way to treat this product is not to slather it all over the face but to press it into the skin only on the areas that need to be evened out. I can apply this in the same way that I would use the Crème Smooth Foundation although this has less coverage. I think that they would work nicely together if you use the Crème Smooth Foundation in the morning and this Crème Compact to touch up later in the day.
For reference purposes, I put three Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturizers in the shade Nude next to each other on the back of my hand and then photographed it. The left side is the Crème Compact, the center is the regular Tinted Moisturizer and the right side is the oil-free version. They don't look alike although the compact comes close to the regular Tinted Moisturizer in color. That's a smidge too light for me right now so I prefer the oil-free when it comes to color but because it can be applied sheerly, I can get away with it. If I had a chance to sample more shades, I may have tried Bisque and Sand as well.
|L-R (all in the shade Nude): Creme Compact, regular Tinted Moisturizer, oil-free|
If you feel like the coverage is lacking, you can supplement with concealer and then powder over it lightly. I set it with my Guerlain Meteorites Pressed Powder and it was very, very good. It looks most natural without powder on though, as long as you've blended it in right. Overall, I think that this was a good effort on the part of the brand. While it may not be something I'd like to use year-round, it may come in handy during cold, dry months.