|Laura Mercier Smooth Finish Flawless Foundation, $48|
I got this in Vanillé, and was ready to fall in love with it when I saw the shade. I'm not a Pale Porcelain Princess like the ones you run into on Makeup Alley and Reddit, always whining that I can't find foundation pale enough for my magnolia petal complexion, but I am fairly ghostly, and most sample shades tend to be too dark.
This foundation has a bi-phase formula; you have to shake it up a lot before you apply it to make sure it blends. Once mixed, it's thin to the point of being watery. It reminded me of other foundations I've tried, like MAC's Face and Body and Armani's Luminous Silk.
I find the Mercier sets quickly, so I do my face in three sections. I find it a bit tricky to blend. It tends to gather in the pores on the sides of my nose, and it takes careful blending to get coverage with no cakiness. I like it best applied with fingers over moisturizer and primer (Guerlain's Les Meteorites.) The primer helps by adding a bit of moisture and some much-needed glow.
Once applied, this foundation has a semi-matte finish that lasts a full day on my dry skin. It doesn't break down, and I don't feel any need to blot or touch up with powder. It looks good, if a little, I don't know--embalmed? I'd call it a medium coverage foundation, so the embalmed look doesn't come from excessive coverage. Instead, it's the formula's oil-free nature. I prefer a dewier finish. Then again, I'm pretty sure Laura Mercier didn't have the likes of me in mind when she came up with this formula. I'm pretty sure it wasn't designed to be used during the winter by a dry-skinned, post-menopausal woman in the Frozen North.
If you have oilier skin, I think you might like this foundation a lot. It comes in 24 shades, some of which are quite dark, as well as a variety of undertones. Meaning that it might work for women of color. (I know! I find it hard to believe, too. It's almost as if it's the twenty-first century!)
To my mind, this product only has three drawbacks. First of all, it costs $48. Second, I've heard complaints about the packaging. Apparently, the product has a habit of gushing out of the tube. This wasn't a problem with my sample size, so I haven't experienced it myself, but it's worth mentioning. Lastly, this formula doesn't contain sunscreen. For me, that's a bug, because if I'm wearing it during the day, I have to apply a heavy moisturizer, then sunscreen, than primer to keep the foundation out of my pores, and after a while I have so many layers on my face, I feel like a turtle sundae.
On the other hand, if you're sensitive to sunscreen or want to avoid flashback in photographs, and either have oily skin or don't mind layering a lot of moisturizer under your foundation, this product could be your holy grail! If so, I'm glad to know that I haven't spent several days applying this stuff and peering dubiously at myself in vain.