| Review | Guerlain L'Essentiel Natural 16H Wear Foundation SPF 20

| Review | Guerlain L'Essentiel Natural 16H Wear Foundation SPF 20

This long-awaited Guerlain foundation has made its way to the U.S., finally! This foundation is an exciting new release for the brand since they haven't released a new base product in a long time and this foundation release includes the largest shade range ever for the brand, 30 different shades! This foundation has dreamy claims of being long-wearing, buildable with a natural glow finish, and is derived from 97% naturally derived ingredients. Does this foundation live up to its claims? Read on to find out.

The Guerlain L'Essentiel Natural 16H Wear Foundation SPF 20 retails for $60.00 USD and is available at Sephora and other retailers. This foundation is housed in an elegant asymmetrical glass bottle with a skewed reflective gold cap. The packaging is very luxurious and there is something that is very beautiful about this unique asymmetrical design. 


As I stated in the introduction, this foundation comes in 30 different shades! I have to commend Guerlain for being one of the first luxury beauty brands to offer such an extended range of shades. This is something the beauty community has been begging luxury brands to do but many are still stuck in a very limited shade range for their foundations. That being said, this range still leans on the lighter side and it will be tricky to match yourself just based off of previous Guerlain foundations since those shade ranges were so limited. I actually initially chose a shade that was too dark and too warm, for fear I would pick a much lighter shade of foundation.

This shade range contains 3 different undertones - cool, warm, and neutral. Again, I have to commend Guerlain for putting the effort of including all three undertones. Many brands often focus on just warm and cool, these are often too polarizing for many people. I often find that many brands offer an overly yellow and orange undertone to their warm foundations, Guerlain is no exception. If you do choose to go the warm route, be sure your skin tone is truly yellow or amber-toned. If you find many foundations to appear "too yellow" on your skin, I highly recommend choosing a neutral shade. After my first shade mishap, I went for a neutral-toned shade and it suited me perfectly! I often find that many brands offer a warm shade that is much too yellow, giving me that look of a Simpsons character. Choosing a neutral tone doesn't mean the undertone is grey or beige, it still has a subtle warmth to it but the key is that it is a subtle warmth. This is what I prefer in a foundation and I have heard many others have the same complaint about the warm shades in this foundation leaning way too yellow-orange.

The shades I have are:

04N - This is my perfect shade! For reference, I am a MAC NC30-35 and a Guerlain Linergie de Peau 04. Again, please don't use your previous Guerlain foundation matches as a reference since they do not have the same shade range. You will see in the comparison swatches below that the Lingerie de Peau 04 shade, while neutral leans a bit cooler instead of warmer and it seems to oxidize on my skin to appear a bit deeper. This L'Essentiel 04N appears really light and quite beige in the bottle but when applied to the skin, it has the perfect amount of golden warmth and will suit a medium skin tone very well. 

045W - This was the first shade I picked up and it was a shade too deep and much too yellow and orange toned! This would possibly suit someone who is an NC45-50 but they would have to have a very terracotta tones skin tone. If you are more of an olive tone, I would recommend picking up a neutral-toned shade and if you feel you need more warmth, use a bronzer.

Here are the L'Essentiel shades side by side (from left to right) - 04N and 045W

Swatches straight from the bottle from left to right - 04N and 045W

Heavy swatches from left to right - 04N and 045W

Blended swatches from left to right - 04N and 045W

Blended swatches from left to right - Guerlain Lingerie de Peau 04, Guerlain L'Essentiel 04N, Guerlain L'Essentiel 045W

Blended swatches from left to right - Guerlain Lingerie de Peau 04, Guerlain L'Essentiel 04N

Guerlain L'Essentiel 04N on my face

Guerlain L'Essentiel 045W on my face, you can see how yellow it looks on my complexion


This formula on the Sephora website claims to be:
A long-wearing liquid foundation with 97-percent naturally-derived ingredients* with buildable coverage and a natural-glow finish.
Let's address each claim one at a time, starting with the long-wearing claim. This foundation claims to wear for 16 hours, which is an insane amount of time to wear foundation for but I believe that it would last that long. I wore this foundation for 8+ hours without a primer and without setting with a powder or a setting spray, it looked flawless when I was removing it! I even went to a happy hour with some friends and it was a crowded place, which meant I was lightly sweating and I was shocked to see my makeup was perfectly intact at the end of the night! I was surprised to see that my light sweating didn't cause the foundation to break down but instead it lightly beaded on the surface so I was able to pat it away.

Next, the coverage is indeed buildable. It is a light-medium to full coverage foundation that doesn't look at all heavy when you layer more product on. The amount pumped from the foundation is relatively small compared to other foundations so, it takes about 3 pumps to achieve an (almost) full coverage, you can see the faintest sign of my sun spots. The formula feels very lightweight, it really fuses and becomes part of the skin and looks even better throughout the day! I prefer to apply it with a dense buffing brush and using a stippling motion to achieve a full and streak-free coverage. This foundation does have an accompanying brush but it really isn't necessary for achieving a flawless base,  

That brings us to the finish of this foundation, which is B-E-A-UTIFUL! This foundation has a surreal skin finish! I have only really said this about two foundations, the Cle de Peau The Foundation (full review here) and La Prairie Skin Caviar Essence-In-Foundation (full review here),  so far and now this one will be the third. What I mean by a "surreal skin finish" is that it makes your skin unbelievably glowing, healthy, and perfect that it feels like your in a dream of some sort! It may seem dramatic but I really have only described two other foundations that way for a reason. These are the type of foundations that have random people stopping to ask you "What do you use? How is your skin so amazing?", which is a very clear indicator that teh foundation is working. This foundation gives a very true "glass skin" effect that isn't too wet or too greasy looking. The foundation actually makes it look like you applied a very subtle highlighter to the high points of your skin! It actually has this unique capability to refect beautifully on the high points but still look like skin in other areas. This finish is almost impossible to describe but you will also see that the texture of your skin looks very healthy, plush, and fresh! It's almost like a real-life filter that retexturizes and smooths our the skin. Trust me, people won't think you are wearing foundation, they will just secretly hate you for your naturally flawless and glowing skin!

Another thing to note about this foundation is that it is very heavily fragranced! Also, the fragrance smells like a very strong floral perfume. This is only apparent during the application but once it is applied, you won't continue to smell it. The only issue with the heavy fragrance is that it may cause a reaction for sensitive skin types. I normally prefer my foundations to have little to no fragrance or at least a very light fresh fragrance because it is more pleasant during application. The floral fragrance doesn't smell bad but it is just a little strong.

This foundation also contains SPF20, which will neither give you a lot of protection nor really affect the foundation in any way. Like most foundations with minimal sun protection, it will not flashback in photographs.


I wanted to talk about this separately because it is a pretty bold claim to state that their foundation "contains 97% naturally derived ingredients". Let's be real here, most products contain "naturally-derived ingredients" because most ingredients start from something natural that exists in our world. That isn't to say that ingredient has been altered in a lab in any way, this statement just says that the ingredients "come from nature". Additionally, water makes up most of this product and many other beauty products, which is why it is listed as the first ingredient. Obviously, water is natural and if it makes up the majority of this foundation it can be argued that the ingredients in this foundation add up to be 97% natural. I don't particularly like this choice if words because I find it deceiving because many people will associate "naturally-derived" as being the same as "natural ingredients", which it is not.

Here is the ingredients list off of Sephora's product listing:
Water, C9-12 Alkane, Glycerin, Propanediol, Polyglyceryl-6 Polyricinoleate, Silica, Titanium Dioxide [Nano], C15-19 Alkane, Vp/Eicosene Copolymer, Dicaprylyl Carbonate, Polyglyceryl-2 Isostearate, Coco-Caprylate/Caprate, Disteardimonium Hectorite, Sorbitan Sesquiisostearate, Fragrance, Caesalpinia Spinosa Fruit Extract, Alpha-Glucan Oligosaccharide, Sodium Myristoyl Glutamate, Stearic Acid, Sodium Citrate, Xanthan Gum, Alumina, Polyhydroxystearic Acid, Cellulose, Potassium Sorbate, Kappaphycus Alvarezii Extract, Polymnia Sonchifolia Root Juice, Citric Acid, Butylene Glycol, Aluminum Hydroxide, Maltodextrin, Lactobacillus, Tocopherol, Theobroma Cacao (Cocoa) Seed Extract. May Contain (+/-): Iron Oxides (Ci 77491, Ci 77492, Ci 77499), Titanium Dioxide (Ci 77891), Zinc Oxide (Ci 77947).
Looking at the ingredients, there seems to be very little that is "natural" about this foundation because many of the ingredients listed can't be pronounced properly by someone who isn't a scientist. However, their bold claim isn't incorrect it is just deceiving because many of these ingredients do come from a natural origin. This statement is just a big marketing statement to achieve more sales but if you are looking for a truly natural foundation, this is not it.

This being said, I am not often picky when it comes to ingredients in my foundation but I do prefer when brands add skincare or skin-loving ingredients into their foundation. I think it shows some effort and that they care. This foundation claims to have these featured ingredients to protect and care for the skin:

-Red Algae and Tara Gum Extracts: Allow the skin to breathe and help support skin’s ability to defend against pollution**.
-White Cocoa Bean Extract: Helps to maintain the skin’s natural balance, support skin’s moisture barrier, and hydrate**.

As I have said before in previous reviews, I don't think skincare infused foundation is an effective means of absorbing skincare. I do think it's something nice and I do prefer my makeup to have skincare but I don't expect it to change my skin in any way. I think the skincare in foundations will just help your skin feel good throughout the day and is a nice bonus to have in a foundation. I feel that the ingredients in this product are very well chosen and make the foundation extremely comfortable to wear for long periods of time. This foundation doesn't cause me to feel dry or irritated, throughout the day and it hasn't caused me to breakout. In fact, it seems to balance my skin out because the oils around my t-zone will typically breakdown foundation but this seems to balance out the oils in my skin.


I absolutely LOVE this foundation! This up there with my all-time favorite foundation the Cle de Peau The Foundation but with a significantly more expansive shade range and a much more reasonable price! The finish of this foundation is extremely rare to find and is worth every penny! Trust me, you will never see your skin look so plush, luscious, and luminous as you will when you wear this foundation. This really something special and very unique to other foundations on the market. If you love a very seriously glow and glossy look to your skin, you're going to obsessed with this formula! I really can't stop raving about this foundation! Every time I look at my skin in the mirror I'm shook! My skin just looks so incredible all day long and it just feels unreal! This is truly a MUST-HAVE foundation! Guerlain has really upped their beauty game and I'm excited to see what they will continue to bring out. Run out and get this foundation immediately! You won't regret it!

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