Ilia Beauty has just repackaged their whole line, updating their logo and packaging. Ilia also released a new foundation to go along with the line, the Super Serum Skin Tint SPF 40. I received a couple of shades to try from the brand and have been testing it out over the past week or so.
The Super Serum Skin Tint SPF 40 claims to be a light coverage tinted serum that also has SPF 40. The light tint is meant to even skin tones and set to a dewy finish. It comes in 18 shades and retails for $46 for 1oz/30 ml. It is available on the Ilia Beauty website or Sephora.
Although I haven’t seen all the shades in person, the range seems to be fairly wide for 18 shades
The foundation is a mix of skincare and makeup with ingredients like Hyaluronic Acid, Squalane, and Niacinamide, and the SPF is mineral based, with non-nano zinc oxide. It is silicone-free, fragrance-free, chemical screen-free, oil-free, non-comedogenic, and safe for sensitive skin.
A(nother) note about clean beauty
Ok, let’s talk about these claims. I’ve talked numerous times about my issues with clean beauty and the often-misleading marketing that goes into clean beauty. I’m not a chemist or an expert on ingredients, so I won’t even try to get too deep about the science behind the ingredients. As with many aspects of the beauty industry, there are no regulations about what is considered “safe.” Unfortunately, many brands have taken that lack of regulation to scare people into thinking conventional ingredients are harmful, when in fact, there is nothing to prove that most ingredients are harmful, especially in the low doses that we use them.
The “non-nano” zinc oxide is a response to claims that nano zinc oxides are harmful to ingest and absorb through skin, in addition to potential environmental hazards. However, I will say again, that there is no proof that nano zinc oxides are absorbed in the skin or turn into free radicals when exposed to sun. Similarly, unless a person knows they are sensitive to silicones, like they break out or irritate skin, they are not bad for your skin. I can understand anyone who wants to play it safe and not take any risks, but it is very misleading when brands assert that ingredients are harmful as part of their marketing. I don’t think Ilia is the worst culprit of fear mongering by any means, but I think it’s important to bring attention to the fact that buzzwords are buzzwords to convince a consumer to buy a product. The point is – do your research. Make your own judgement on what ingredients you want to avoid based off how your skin reacts to them, and not because a brand tells you certain ingredients are harmful.
Formula, Shades, and Application
Back to the product review – although the foundation does not have any added fragrances, it does smell quite strongly of a mineral sunscreen, so just be aware of that. And even though SPF 40 is quite high for a makeup product, I don’t think anyone is applying enough foundation – a full teaspoon – to their faces to get the full protection. I still wear my regular sunscreen underneath this and I see the SPF in this as an extra layer of protection.
I think there is always room for brands to improve on shade representation, especially in the clean beauty industry, but I credit Ilia for having a pretty wide range for only 18 shades. Still, I don’t think I have a *perfect* match for my skin tone, even though it gets close.
I was sent shade ST 05 Bom Bom and ST 06 Ora. When I first opened them, I thought they were both waaaay too light. But the shades appear much lighter when you first put them on your skin, and starts to deepen within a few seconds of blending into skin. Although described as light with golden undertones, ST 05 is just a bit too light and neutral toned for my light-medium warm olive skin, but I can make it work by blending in a slightly deeper foundation – I almost always mix my foundations to get the right coverage for what I want for the day, but I know that’s not everyone’s jam. ST 06 is light-medium with warm undertones and is a much better match for me. It is still *slightly* too warm for my olive skin, but the shade matches my winter face, and it blends into my skin pretty well. If I want to wear this in the summer, I would need a completely different shade.
With a serum texture, the foundation comes with a dropper. It has a very liquidy texture, like you would expect a skincare serum to have, though it doesn’t feel too oily or watery. I like to drop 3-4 drops onto the back of my hand, and then use my fingers to apply and blend the product into my skin. Because of the liquidy serum texture, I think that fingers are the easiest way to get a seamless application. It sets into a radiant finish that doesn’t feel or look greasy, and it really looks like my natural skin.
Because of my combo/oily skin, I am always weary of foundations with dewy finishes. But I am pleasantly surprised by how this works on my skin – though keep in mind that we are in cold and dry winter weather. I can wear this for a full day, which is anywhere from 12-14 hours for me, and it doesn’t break down or get greasy on my skin. My natural oils definitely break through around the 7-8 hour mark but it looks more glowy and dewy than oily or greasy. I was pleasantly surprised to find that it doesn’t settle into my pores and fine lines, or start to break down at all. Overall, I was really impressed with the wear, but I imagine that it will have a shorter wear time during warmer months.
A few people have asked me if this foundation is similar to the Kosas Tinted Face Oil because of the liquid serum texture (previously reviewed here). I actually think that even though the Kosas TFO is described as an oil, it feels more watery and liquidy than the Ilia skin tint. The Ilia tint feels more like a true serum, and it also takes less time to blend into my skin because of it. In contrast, the Kosas TFO takes a little longer to have the oils fully blend into my skin, and also has a more velvety satin finish. Although the Kosas looks completely natural on my skin, the slightly satin finish is definitely more natural looking on my combo-oily skin than it might be for someone with already dry skin. The Ilia is much lighter coverage and has a dewy – though not greasy – finish. It sets and it both feels and looks like I’m not wearing anything, though my skin looks even. I could see this being a little *too* radiant on my skin in the summer, but it looks like a healthy glow right now. Because of the glowy finish, I have to set this with powder, even in the winter, while I could probably get away without setting the Kosas one.
I actually think this foundation is most similar to the MAC Waterweight SPF 30 foundation. It doesn’t get nearly as much hype, but this is another watery serum foundation with SPF that actually came out 5 years ago. It has a similar lightweight feel and coverage, although true to its name, it feels and applies slightly more water than like a serum. It is also a dewy finish, though not quite as radiant as the Ilia skin tint so I find it a little more natural and friendly for oily skin. The biggest difference is obviously the skincare ingredients that the Ilia skin tint contains, but if you’re looking for something similar with maybe a little less glow, the MAC foundation is a good alternative.
I’ve also swatched the Ilia foundation with other foundations I currently wear so you have an idea of the shade match. The Kosas Tinted Face Oil in 5.5 and the Charlotte Tilbury Airbrush Flawless Foundation 7.5 Neutral are my best shade matches right now, though MAC Face and Body in C4 matches me in every other season of the year when I have a bit more color. Curiously, the MAC Waterweight foundation in NC30 swatched very orange, but it is also a very good match for my skintone most of the year, except for summer.
I also included 2 photos from my wear test – on the left I’m wearing ST 05 and ST06 mixed together, which is a little light, but works with bronzer. On the right, I’m wearing just ST 05 with lots of bronzer, and you can tell that the undertone is a little bit off in this.
In both pictures, I’m also wear the new Glossier Skywash eyeshadows in Terra (left) and Pebble (right).
I originally thought this was kind of a fussy foundation with the shade matches, serum texture, and glowy finish, but I’ve found myself reaching for it nearly every day since I’ve received it. It has held through on long days and keeps my skin feeling balanced and looking glowy. These are the highlights that I really like about the foundation:
- Light coverage that looks natural and glowy
- Applies and blends well on my skin
- Wears well over the day without breaking down
And here are the aspects of the foundation that I didn’t love:
- Shade matches are not perfect, due to a relatively limited shade range
- Smells like sunscreen
I do really love the product and I see it as an essential base in my foundation collection that gives me a bit of extra SPF coverage with some extra skincare. If you like light coverage that looks minimal and glowy, this is definitely one to check out – but I would check out the shades in person, if possible, to see how the shades work on your skin. I see this working for many skin types, although those with oily skin will definitely want to add powder to make the product last the full day.
If you’ve tried this, I’d love to know your experience! And if you have any questions, let me know.
As always, thanks for reading!