Friday, September 23, 2016

REVIEW: Kevyn Aucoin The Etherealist Skin Illuminating Foundation

Everybody has a brand that makes them weak in the knees. Even if most of their products are subpar or they commit a major faux pas, we forgive them and drool over each upcoming release. It's easy to scoff at brand loyalty, but at the end of the day, I think we're all prone to it. I know that's how I am with the Kevyn Aucoin makeup range: they announced a new "glowy," "moisturizing" foundation and I checked Sephora's website every morning until it launched.

The Kevyn Aucoin Etherealist Skin Illuminating Foundation is $58 for 0.95 ounces of product. (The Sephora website states that this is a full ounce, the box says otherwise, eh, it's not too far off.) It comes in sturdy plastic packaging with an airless pump that is easy to control. I know a lot of people dislike plastic packaging, but I prefer it because I'm clumsy, and I think this bottle still manages to look quite nice.

Flash on top, natural light on the bottom. From left to right: Kevyn Aucoin Etherealist in Light EF01, Buxom Show Some Skin in Tickle the Ivory, NARS Sheer Glow in Siberia, MAC Full Coverage in NW10.

 I purchased the lightest shade, Light EF01 (or just "1" on the Sephora website). It's reasonably fair, but has some strong peachy undertones. I find that they're more obvious in swatches, though, than when the foundation is blended across the face. There are currently 16 shades in the range, running from quite light to reasonably dark. The inclusive shade ranges are part of what has made me so unerringly devoted to the Kevyn Aucoin brand.

One pump was enough to cover my entire face and the top of my neck. I will note that this product dries quickly, so you'll want to work in sections. I didn't detect any fragrance.

The description for this foundation states that it will give you "medium coverage with a semi-satin finish," slash, "an airbrushed opinion," slash, "a radiant glow." That's kind of a lot and it's all a little different, but I interpreted it as "this is a medium coverage product that won't be matte." One layer of this product buffed in to my skin with a Real Techniques Buffing Brush does, in fact, give me a medium coverage, and the foundation does have a bit of a glow to it. It also spread very easily without streaking.

But...wait. Something's not quite right here. It has a bit of shine to it, yes, but it looks...kinda dry?

Oooooh yes, yes indeed, it clung to every dry part of my face and emphasized dry patches I didn't even realize existed. Immediately after applying this foundation, I noticed that the tip of my nose looked a bit patchy, the space between my brows was hideous, and my cheeks and jawline were looking rather dry. The above macro shot demonstrates the texture perfectly.

I'd actually used my 10% AHA the night before I tested and photographed this foundation, by the way, so my skin was about as smooth as it ever is. This was a little shocking.

Yet this foundation has some tricks up its sleeve. For starters, it was not only easy to The Etherealist across my skin, it was also a breeze to blend other products on top, like a Becca Beach Tint for blush. And if you stood a few feet away from me or looked at me through a camera lens, you'd see nothing but airbrushed glory--I took a screengrab of how I looked on my phone, with beauty mode clearly turned off, to demonstrate. How the Hell was this possible?

I'm going to have to guess that it's the silicones. While the brand claims that the Etherealist "boosts hydration" with hyaluronic acid, the biggest ingredient in this foundation is silicone. It shows up in many forms: dimethicone, phenyl trimethicone, vinyl dimethicone, cyclopentasiloxane...and that's just in the top 10 ingredients. Now, I'm not one of those people who thinks silicones are the devil incarnate (though they can aggravate some acne-prone and sensitive skins), but I do know that silicone doesn't have much in the way of skincare benefits. It basically provides slip and can create a "diffused" look, making products seem more emollient than they really are. The Etherealist is no different.

After 3 hours on the left, after 5 hours on the right.

I tried to give this foundation a fair shake and photographed it throughout the day. It wasn't always comfortable, though: at several points throughout the day, I found that the apples of my cheeks, my jawline, and my temples itched. This is probably because the foundation made my face slightly drier throughout the day.

My mother actually asked me, "What are all of those bumps on your forehead?" Now, I am human, and I do have some texture to my skin; namely, my forehead is prone to clogging. But any decent foundation will not make the fine lines and clogged pores on my forehead more obvious. This one did. By the end of the day, it was so, so, so dry.

Oh, except for my nose! It wore completely off of my nose after 4 or 5 hours.

This product isn't totally transfer-proof, either. It wore off under the nose pads of my glasses, which is normal, but it always came off on my finger and on clothing if I put any pressure on my face. This kind of perplexes me, given how quickly it seems to dry on the skin during application.

Honestly, I try to wear foundations for 6 to 8 hours to give them a real test, but I couldn't bear to wear this any longer after 5. When I removed it, I noticed a small amount of red irritation where I'd itched throughout the day. It had faded by the time I woke up the next morning. I gave The Etherealist a second chance, applying it with a Beauty Blender and topping it with plenty of moisture spray, but I got nearly the same results.

I'm giving this foundation a 2 out of 5 because I think it might be nice for normal to slightly oil skin in photographs, the packaging is great, and the shade range is inclusive. Yet even that might be my brand loyalty rearing its ugly head. At the end of the day, this is a foundation that left me more disappointed than almost any other base product I've tried.

RATING: 2 out of 5


  1. Seems like it's an "Instagram Only" foundation :(

    1. Or photographs/videos only. Really, it looks fantastic on film; in real life, though, it's the pits. :/

    2. Boo! I just tried their 06 medium sample from another Sephora splurge of mine. I just sponged on the base and was happy it disguised a few early 30s problems.

      YOU girly look like Kate Beckinsale! Cheers to Hollywood bone structure! What medium cover foundation -do- you recommend? I haven't followed past/future posts.

    3. I swear, between logging in and confirming this I've lost my original points. However! If Kevin Aucoin's foundation isn't your favorite which is?

      I just sponged on his Etherealist 06 medium on and it seemed to work but I'm just fooling around indoors.

      I'd also say Guuuuurl, you look like Kate Beckinsale your website tag should be unapologetically fabulous. Legit.

    4. You're too kind! Honestly, I'd have to say MAC Face & Body is still the one to beat for me. I haven't found a true medium coverage I adore yet.

  2. What a bummer! Consolation: Sephora's great return policy.

  3. Well that sucks. Good for my wallet though... Have you ever tried any powder foundations? Curious about your opinions. I've been using the It Cosmetics one and I really like it. I wouldn't think it would be a good choice for dry skin but oddly it doesn't seem to cling to dry patches nearly as badly as most liquid products do for me. Big shrug.

    1. The only one I've tried in the past few years is the D&G, which is my favorite powder (and the only one I currently own). I always side-eye It Cosmetics because some of their ingredients lists scare me and the CC cream smelt like a nightmare.

  4. Hmmm. Ya I hated their cc cream which everyone seemed to love. Will check out the D&G. This was my first foray into powder foundation so I figured I'd try a relatively cheap one to see how I got on.

  5. I stalked your Snapchat when you did the first impression, and I was really disappointed by it too. Shame, because I love KA contour, bronzer, highlight, and cream blushes. Oh well, money saved! Thank you for the review!

    1. The cream blushes are so amazing! It's such a shame.

  6. your review was very helpful ! thank you SO much