Why Guerlain L’Essentiel makes me want to wear luxury foundation everyday

Your girl loves a luxury foundation. Although it’s not necessary for creating the perfect base, I do find that there is a difference in formulation and how much easier it is to blend and wear versus what you can get from the drugstore. That said, I’ve always invested in full-coverage, long-wearing foundations when I buy luxury brands, so I was surprised to find that Guerlain’s L’Essentiel Foundation (~P3,500) provides a happy medium that’s suited for every day. We’ve reviewed a fuller coverage Guerlain foundation before, so I was curious to see how different this take on ‘natural’ foundation would be. I tested it for two weeks, and here’s how it panned out:


The first thing to notice about the L’Essentiel Foundation is the packaging. At first glance, it looks like a perfume bottle, which is apparently an homage to Guerlain’s roots as a perfume brand. It communicates luxury from the visual to the tactile senses, with its glass packaging and heft. The pump also dispenses just the right amount to cover the face in a veil of foundation.


There are a total of 30 shades in neutral, cool, and warm undertones. Not all are available locally, and the darkest available is 45N (which is a shade deeper than Fenty 300, MAC NC40, Estee Lauder Cashew). I was shade matched to 30W, and it actually looks seamless although at the back of my mind I always think I’m really more of the 35-40s since my face is paler than the rest of my body. The shots by Shaira Luna with indirect flash don’t show a line of demarcation though, so that’s proof enough for me! I also tried 45W which was a bit darker than my neck. Just take note if we happen to be shade twins.

For darker skin tones, I took a peek and Sehora PH carries shades up to the 50s!

The foundation blends seamlessly, and really looks like slightly nicer actual skin. I really don’t say such things but I feel like a WOMAN with this on. The point of the foundation is not perfection though, but ‘naturalness’ and ‘performance,’ which I feel are accurate claims, as it provides a natural finish with a sheen.

When dotted on the face you can smell a perfume-y scent that dissipates right after blending. It didn’t irritate my somewhat sensitive face. Another claim we can’t measure: it’s supposedly formulated with extracts from tara and red algae gums to create protection from pollution.

One layer of the Guerlain L’Essentiel Foundation without powder

One layer of the Guerlain L’Essentiel Foundation without powder

For a fresh look, one layer buffed with a brush will do, but for heavier and more even coverage, I’m happy to report that L’Essentiel layers nicely as well. The most it can do is a medium coverage though - just enough, without it looking and feeling like a mask. The foundation also doesn’t take much to blend - just a few strokes and you’re fine, or massage in like you would your skincare.

Something to note: it has SPF 20 but no white cast, though we’ve only tried it with indirect flash. I’m sure you also know that SPF in foundation isn’t enough to truly protect, so take the necessary steps to prep your skin beforehand. At the very least, it’s not fussy with other bases and applies nicely over matte and emollient moisturizers and sunscreens.

Photos by Shaira Luna with a bit of indirect flash. You can’t see flashback here.

The foundation doesn’t exacerbate skin problems either. It didn’t emphasize my dry patches nor add to the oiliness of my t-zone, but don’t expect it to make imperfections disappear or control oil production. I do find that it make the pores look smaller (or at least blurs them), which is an added bonus. You can skip the primer and go straight from a moisturized canvas.

The bottle literally says 16-hour wear, and I found this claim to be mostly true. I have a normal skin type with a t-zone that oils up after a couple of hours though, so I imagine that for oilier people, it may slide off in about 6 hours. If I don’t set with powder, I can re-blend with the retractable brush without it looking cakey and gloopy, but with setting powder, it can reach the 10+ hour mark.

L’Essentiel makes me look like a grown woman (wow); layered some foundation over darker spots then set with powder for all day wear.

L’Essentiel makes me look like a grown woman (wow); layered some foundation over darker spots then set with powder for all day wear.

The thing is: with its finish and wear, this functions as a great everyday foundation... which is not something I associate with my luxury formulas. I’m torn between wanting to use it every day and preserving it! But I’m the type to get nervous when I see my bottle of Giorgio Armani Luminous silk at 30% full after two years.

This foundation is for you if you love a luxury formula with a natural finish. If you value the experience of a luxury, I’m sure you’re already enticed. This ranks maybe as top 5 or 6 on my luxury foundation list!


During the week of the L’Essentiel launch, I had literally been on the hunt for a dense brush I can use for travel. The options were always retractable fluffy kabukis or unprotected buffing brushes, so when I saw the L’Essentiel Retractable Foundation Brush (~P3,000), I knew it was heaven-sent.

It buffs in foundation so easily and helps liquid products blend well with foundation, even the not-Guerlain ones! It’s very easy to clean - not a lot of pigment is stuck to the bristles, in my experience. The brush is also small enough to fit in a clutch. The bristles are dense yet soft, so I can actually just retouch by buffing again as the brush head absorbs the excess oils while it smoothens the foundation. I now carry this thing everywhere, which is a big deal since I shuttle between Manila and my province every week.

I love both the foundation and its matching brush for the way it creates a natural and pretty finish with a glow, and recommend it to those who are comfortable with a luxury pairing.

What are your favorite luxury foundations? Would you splurge on your base? Let’s discuss.