Tuesday, April 25, 2017

REVIEW: Charlotte Tilbury Light Wonder Foundation

There's little doubt that Charlotte Tilbury is an incredible makeup artist. As far as marketing is concerned, though, she could use a 101 class. Like many people, I abandoned Tilbury's YouTube ship when she released her line and her every video became an awkward advertisement for her products. Don't misunderstand me: she has every right to be proud of what she's accomplished, and to use her stuff exclusively. But I can only hear "pop on this lovely, divine product" so many times before I start to twitch. Suffice to say that her videos weren't really selling her products for me.

But if you ask around the internet for the "absolute best foundation for dry skin," you're going to stumble over a dozen comments screaming, "Charlotte Tilbury Light Wonder!" I resisted and resisted and resisted, but when somebody offered to sell me their lightly used bottle on the cheap, I gave in. This product has been referred to as everything from "super dewy" to "glossy"--how could I fail?

The Charlotte Tilbury Light Wonder Youth-Boosting Perfecting Skin Foundation (referred to as simply "Light Wonder" across the net) is $46 for 1.4 ounces of product. It's housed in a square, clear plastic bottle with a tiny nozzle. I admit that I'm not wild about Tilbury's gilt packaging, but this bottle is overall very practical; the foundation has a thin, runny texture, so a nozzle is ideal for distributing the perfect amount of product without making a mess. Speaking of that texture: yes, 1.4 ounces is more than the standard 1 ounce, but you will need to use a bit more of this one because it's so thin.

Light Wonder does have quite a strong floral smell, and unfortunately, I can still sniff it on my skin after application. This comes from the added perfume. It will fade after a half hour or so, but if you're sensitive to fragrances, be forewarned.

Natural light on top, flash on bottom. From left to right: Charlotte Tilbury Light Wonder in 1 Fair, Kevyn Aucoin Sensual Skin Enhancerin Sx01, Glossier Perfecting Skin Tint in Light, NARS Sheer Glow in Siberia.

I have the lightest shade in the range, 1 Fair. Comparing it to two of my closest matches (Kevyn Aucoin SX01 and NARS Siberia), I'd say this is darker and more neutral. On a MAC scale, I'd peg this at about NC/NW15. That makes this product a match for my face, too dark for my neck. Unfortunately, as you'll see in the wear photos, this foundation does seem to oxidize a little on me, making it way too dark.

The shade range does go decently dark, but as per usual, I would love a little more undertone variety at the deeper end of the range.

I've tested this product with fingers, a brush, and a Beauty Blender, and fingers definitely work best. A damp sponge sucks up way too much product, and while a brush gave me a decent application, it took more time to prevent streaking.

The above before-and-after photos show a single layer of the foundation applied with my fingers. It has light coverage, but I think it manages to be very "perfecting" while still looking relatively natural. (My mother told me it looked "heavy," but she changed her mind when she realized the off shade and the fact that I was wearing more eye makeup than usual biased her.)

On most people, this foundation will be quite dewy. On my extremely dry, dehydrated skin, it's more of a satin finish. As per usual, whatever finish a foundation would have on most people, take that back a step when it's on my face. I know it confuses people when I say that sometimes, so I've made a handy chart:

Helpful, right?

Anyway. Based on the ingredients list, how this feels on my skin, and the way it applies, I can definitely say that the Charlotte Tilbury Light Wonder Foundation will be much dewier on most people who aren't mega-dry. If you're oily, this will be a product to avoid.

Despite being touted as THE foundation for dry skin, I found that Light Wonder wasn't as perfect on the dryer parts of my face as some other products I've tried. It certainly wasn't bad--you can see that it looks mostly smooth in the macro shot above--but up close, my chin, jawline, and the center of my forehead could look a bit flaky. This didn't soften up throughout the day, but to be fair, it also wasn't noticeable from a foot or more away.

Also, notice how barely-visible my smile lines are? This was really forgiving about my fine lines and barely settled in to them. Hence, this could be a nice foundation for more mature skin.

Light Wonder wore as I expected throughout the day. On the dry parts of my face, it stayed soft and satiny. It also didn't transfer, even when I had to pull on a hoodie and therefore rub the side of my face with thick fabric. My nose, the one truly oily part of my face, was quite shiny by the 6 hour mark and definitely in need of a blot. However, the foundation did not completely wear off there--the fading was minimal. If you're combo skinned, this should be manageable with some setting powder and/or a pack of blotting papers.

I did experience a small amount of itching and sensitivity on a few small parts of my face during one of my wear tests. It was minimal, and it only occurred one time, but it was on a day when my skin was especially reactive. I think the added fragrance was irritating me. If you have sensitive skin, it might be smarter to take a pass on this one.

Despite my minor issues with Charlotte Tilbury Light Wonder, I really enjoy it and wish I had a shade match. I would love to use it as my go-to glammed-up, night-on-the-town foundation. As it stands, I'm pretty sure the oxidization and its potential to irritate my skin makes it a non-starter for me. A pity, because the beautiful finish and functional packaging could have made it holy grail material for me otherwise. As it stands, it's not a product I can use, but I have no qualms recommending it to dry-skinned folks with tougher skin and a higher tolerance for fragrance.

RATING: 4 out of 5


  1. Oh, I do love the finish. I considered exchanging my Magic Foundation for this but ultimately wasn't sure if I might want something with a tad more coverage. A lot of the reviews I read said it had such light coverage that it was pointless. It's a shame about the shade, too. I wonder how the Fair shade in this one compares to the Magic Foundation, because I found that one quite a nice pale cool yellow. I think you may be a hair lighter than me, though.

    1. If you can get away with the lightest Magic Foundation shade, you probably are a shade deeper than me. You could try a sample of this one; just be forewarned that I found that it oxidized.

  2. Although all these new super thin foundations, like Dior Nude Air and Armani Glow Maestro, SEEM like they would be perfect for dry or textured skin... i find them to be the worst dry skin offenders with more flake cling than ever. After running low on Chantecaille Just Skin (which is amazing for a high end, more coverage version of Glossier Skin Tint... which I find chalky), I decided to mix a random purchase of Tom Ford Waterproof concealer/foundation with Embryolisse, and it is really really great. Their shade Cream 1.5 is quite nice.

    1. The problem with a lot of those foundations is that they contain denatured alcohol, a drying ingredient that gives them their light texture, but which can also irritate or further parch dry skin. Hence why they may cling to you. Just Skin contains it, too, but it's lower on the ingredients list.