When Chanel launched their Perfection Lumiere Velvet foundation it very quickly became one of my all-time favourite face bases. Until then, I had been using By Terry’s Cover Expert or Densiliss very regularly, but Lumiere Velvet came in a gorgeously compact, travel-friendly bottle, was quick to apply and blend and gave me a non-chalky, demi-matte finish that provided a truly excellent base for powder bronzers and blushers. (You can read my original review of Velvet – complete with before-and-after photographs – here.)
Now Chanel have thrown a little cosmetic spanner in the works by introducing their Les Beiges Healthy Glow foundation, and I’m finding it very difficult to choose which one to wear. At first, I could see no real difference between the two, in terms of finish and coverage, but after spending days – days, I tell you – comparing them and doing close-up photographs and applying them using different tools and over various moisturisers, I have drawn some conclusions.
So, if you have been sitting on the fence as to whether or not to take the plunge with Les Beiges, here are my findings. If you already have – and use – Velvet, you might just decide to stay exactly (in makeup terms) where you are. If you are new to Chanel foundations, want a glowing finish, good coverage and something posh-looking to display on your dressing table then you will probably find yourself hot-footing it to the nearest Les Beiges counter display. Read on, read on…
Chanel Les Beiges Healthy Glow Foundation comes in a heavy glass bottle with a black lid and – purely on appearance – looks far more luxurious than Perfection Lumiere Velvet. It’s the sort of packaging you want to show off, take pictures of, place lovingly on the bathroom shelf next to your mini-cactus and carefully washed oversized seashell. On the flip side, if you travel a lot or take your makeup with you to do on your commute, it’s far bulkier and heavier than the utterly brilliant packaging that houses Lumiere Velvet.
That has a small, light plastic bottle and is simply one of the best makeup products I have ever found for the constant traveller. And, let’s face it, it doesn’t look half bad either – perhaps not so “lalala-lala ooh I’m in Paris and there’s sunlight streaming through my five-million-Euro apartment” as Les Beiges, but very smart and modern.
And so on to application and texture; more important by far than packaging and appearance, though the packaging is the first thing you see and feel, so naturally a good place to start. Les Beiges is far creamier than Velvet, which has a shake-well-and-squeeze kind of consistency, not liquid but certainly not sumptuous and creamy. Interestingly, though, both foundations apply in a similar way, with a light fresh feel and easy-to-blend sweep across the skin. Both work well with brush or fingertips.
When it comes to shades I’m rather at a loss; I’m afraid I don’t have access to all of the Velvet shades to do comparisons, but in the photograph above I’ve swatched (from left to right) Velvet in 20, Beiges in 20 and then Beiges in 30. You can probably see that Velvet 20 is more similar to Beiges 30 than 20; Beiges 20 is far, far lighter than Velvet 20. Rather than launch into some crazy diatribe about shades and why they don’t match up and what this means, I’ll simply summarise by saying that if you’re in doubt, go to a counter and try. I would always recommend this anyway, with a new foundation, unless you’ve researched exhaustively online and are certain of your match.
So we know that Les Beiges (to me) feels reasonably similar to Velvet in application; light and fresh, easy and quick to blend. But how does the finish and coverage compare? In the below photos you can see a “before and after”; the before is with absolutely no makeup on, and in the after, I have Les Beiges on the left hand side of my face (as you see it) and Velvet on the right. There’s no way you can compare the two foundations at that distance, so these are just to kick things off!
I shot these in natural daylight (all of the photographs, actually) and haven’t messed with any brightness or exposure. There is really quite a lovely amount of radiance from both foundations, but if we zoom in then you might be able to make out subtle differences. (Or not. I mean, it’s almost impossible to replicate what I can see on my backlit screen, zoomed right in, so to a certain extent you’ll just have to trust my hours of obsessive research!)
I think that Les Beiges (on the left side, remember) definitely has a tiny bit more “glow” than the almost-matte Velvet. Velvet is near-magical in the way it manages to be smooth and matte but still incredibly radiant; Les Beiges does the radiance thing but with an obvious surface sheen rather than that hidden kind of “glow from within”. Which on the one hand is great and it looks incredibly – incredibly – juicy and healthy, but if I zoom right in, I can definitely see that fine lines and pores are slightly highlighted.
The youthful effect of the glow probably balances that out on many faces, but I would want to give it a good test at a counter if I had very large pores or fine, crepey skin with lots of lines. (I’m absolutely nit-picking, here, because who is going to be approaching you with a magnifying glass to look at your skin?)
On the flip-side, the Velvet (below) offers a smoother finish which is a little better on pores but if you have areas of dryness, it’s not ideal. I don’t find that it makes my skin any drier, but if you had severely flaky parts then it wouldn’t be quite as kind as Les Beiges.
Again, you’d have to be using a magnifying glass to notice, so I’m splitting hairs. And Les Beiges (top close-up) offers a slightly more comprehensive coverage, don’t you think? Just slightly…
But as I said: splitting hairs. Both foundations are wonderful in my opinion. Easy to apply, radiant finishes and good, non-mask-like coverage. If you have oily or combination skin, my feeling would be to stick with Velvet – not because Les Beiges is rich or in any way greasy, but because Velvet does such a good job of keeping the skin looking matte but fresh. Dry skin might not get on so well with Velvet at all, but Les Beiges offers the same fresh feel with a more comfortable texture and finish. People with skin that’s unproblematic and steady have the pick of the bunch. My skin is on the dry side at the moment and I often wear Velvet but I must admit that Les Beiges feels like more of a treat. Choices, choices…
More foundation reviews coming your way – if you want the same kind of “lit from within” finish but lightweight and with higher coverage then stay tuned for the YSL Touche Eclat foundation close-ups!