“HOLY SH*T!” The actual words that came out of my mouth as I watched my foundation turn my skin from booze-drained, post-Christmas grim to fresh-off-a-Bali-detox glow.
My editor had asked me to try out Drew Barrymore’s ultra affordable Flower Beauty makeup over the holidays in celebration of our January digital issue, The High Street Beauty Issue starring Drew Barrymore herself and I’ll admit there was a flash of snobby side-eye involved – I love my luxurious brands. When I picked up Light Illusion Foundation, my expectations were way low: I love Drew but what does she know about makeup formulations? Yes, she’s on screen and has her face made up regularly, but just because you can make a salad doesn’t make you a chef, right? WRONG. So wrong. Drew: I am shook.
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Now I don’t dish out the Holy Sh*ts lightly. It’s my Golden Buzzer. My Hollywood Handshake. Get one of those bad boys and you’re in. Why the swears? It’s my job to be tediously picky. I’ve tried over 1500 foundations in my twenty years as a beauty journo: liquid, BB, CC, cushion, powder, airbrush… and only three* have made it into main-feed life that I’d genuinely recommend to mates. It’s also from the high street and costs £12.99; something I’d usually recoil at because cheap means that corners have been cut (usually in the clunky packaging or drying formula). Yes, the bottle is a tad clunky but even if it came in a KFC bucket I’d still slap it all over my face, it’s that good. Here’s why…
The finish: I’m all about the glossy, dewy, juicy skin vibe, so anyone after a matte finish can basically scroll to the end now. This has glow in spades and the moment you start applying it’s like coating your face in high-shine Shellac. That plasticky, cellophane-skin effect dials down about 50% once dry and set, leaving you with a gentle reflective sheen that you’d get if you were to mix a standard foundation with a drop of highlighting fluid.
The coverage. It’s medium (red blotches and imperfections are gone but freckles still come through) and when I tried building it up later in the day it blended perfectly to a fuller coverage (truth: I broke Dry January I drank red wine at Sunday lunch, and my flushed cheeks were 100% hidden).
The application. With a damp Beauty Blender, it’s a breeze. I just bounce it all over and I’m done, zero buffing required. With fingers, it stretches well without streaking and gives you a more sheer, bordering-on-tinted-moisturiser look. When applied on top of Flower Beauty In Your Prime Hydrating Primer, it needs a blending brush to diffuse the edges, but the pigment stays put for longer (ace for desk-to-dinner days). My raisin-dry skin needs a ton of Hyaluronic Acid serum and facial oil, and even after all that skincare, it still sits perfectly without caking or splitting. Honestly, I was floored by how well it performs.
Now the not-so-great stuff:
1. Foundation, like perfume, is totally subjective so obviously it might not ‘live’ on your skin in exactly the same way as it does on mine. But having read hundreds of reviews, the consensus is super positive and echoes my Holy Sh*t.
2. If you have greasy, shine-prone skin, step away. This is JLo levels of glow. However, I did get my friend with combo-skin to try it with some setting powder and she loved it.
3. Despite it being cruelty-free, this is not for Nature girls. Light Illusion is rammed full of emulsifiers, silicones, plastic polymers and reflective powdered metals, and Drew isn’t ashamed to admit it.
4. The shade range. Eeeesh. This is a major low-point. Superdrug only stocks 5 shades and they’re pretty much all Caucasian. When I checked Flower Beauty’s own US website, there were just 12 shades, which isn't surprising in the diverse beauty landscape. Although the rumour is that more shades are coming, darker skins should not be an afterthought, particularly as the brand’s mission statement claims that “Flower empowers women by developing products that embrace individual beauty and make life easier.” But only easier for some.
Back over at Superdrug, you can also find Flower Beauty concealer, lip colours, a setting spray (surprisingly delish) plus brilliant blush and highlighter palette, and hopefully the eye makeup will land soon. Until then, Light Illusion Foundation is hands down the star buy, it could even have its own DrewTube tutorial channel (why am I not making millions in marketing?). It made my knackered, grey, sleep-deprived, screen-damaged, over-indulged and late-thirties skin look fresh, rested and pinging, like I’d drenched it in a cold glass of icy vitamin water. Dry January? Not for this face.
*Of course I wouldn’t leave you hanging. Here they are:
For a sheer tint: Bare Minerals Complexion Rescue Tinted Hydrating Gel Cream (14 shades)
For medium coverage: Clinique Even Better Glow Light Reflecting Makeup (30 shades)
For a full, matte finish: Estee Lauder Double Wear Stay-in-Place Makeup (61 shades)