Stila Aqua Glow Serum Foundation in Light and Light Medium - swatches and first impressions


I recently picked up two samples of the Stila Aqua Glow Serum Foundation in Light and Light Medium because I was sure that it would be exactly my kind of base. 

I'd also been looking at the Becca Aqua Luminous and the Laura Mercier Candleglow Foundations, but since I can't easily get to outlets where I can sample those, I started with the Stila product and hoped it would be the one for me.

Unfortunately it's not (or perhaps fortunately, given the $71 AUD pricetag!), but I'm glad I've tested it so I can cross it off the list.

Swatches in direct sunlight, unblended and blended out (Light on the left and Light Medium on the right):

And in natural light:

Blended out completely, direct sunlight (you can see there's not a huge difference between the shades once they're blended, given how sheer they are):

And in indirect sunlight:

Stila claims/product details:
  • Radiance, moisture and weightless coverage in each perfecting drop
  • This ultra-lightweight, ionised water based serum foundation offers a new way to instantly smooth, blur and perfect skin
  • Multi-reflective pigments sculpt the face
  • An advanced hydrating complex rejuvenates skin
  • Uses light reflective particles to smooth the look of skin and minimise the appearance of imperfections
  • Skin looks naturally flawless, even and radiant
  • Coverage: buildable, medium to full
  • Finish: natural-looking, radiant
  • RRP $71 AUD for 30ml, but do shop around

My bare face for reference:

Wearing a thin layer of Light Medium, with another layer in places where I need more coverage (outdoors):

In slightly different light (if you click on the image to enlarge it, you should be able to see it sitting in pores on my forehead and around my hairline):

 One more for good measure, indirect sunlight (it looks a little more dewy here):

Wearing one thin layer of Light (indoors), with another layer in places where I need more coverage:

And outdoors (again, if you click on the image and enlarge it, you can see it sitting in pores on my forehead):

Outdoors, indirect sunlight (it looks more dewy again but it definitely doesn't 'blur' pores and uneven texture - it enhances them!):

O-o... Look how it sits in pores and looks a little cakey around my chin:

In some places it can look streaky and is almost impossible to blend in (see the lower part above my eyebrows - I probably have a dry patch there that clings to the product):


I'm so sad this didn't work for me! I had such high hopes for it because every other Stila base I've used (eg BB/CC creams) has worked so well for me that I was sure this one would too. Not so!

I'm so disappointed in this product that I've given it a 'disappointing products' tag, which I wouldn't normally do for products I've only sampled, but I did get six wears from these little pots so that's enough for me to test it pretty well.

I tried it with a few different primers and in different weather, and I applied it with both my hands and a brush and got similar results. 

I tried three separate pore-plugging primers with the product, and none of them stopped the foundation from pooling in my pores so I was left with little dots all over my face, despite my best efforts to avoid this.

Applying it with my hands did work better: when applied with a brush, it was so streaky that it was almost impossible to blend in and I had to resort to using my hands because the brush application just wasn't working.

Also, the product tends to cling to dry patches so it can look really cakey and I've also found that it can separate and look splotchy as the day wears on. Dewy foundations tend to appeal most to dry-skinned lasses like me, but if they cling to dry patches that totally defeats the purpose!

On the claims: it does offer radiance and weightless coverage, but I didn't find it moisturising at all and if anything it felt drying on my skin; and it absolutely does not smooth, blur and perfect the skin - not only does it sit in pores, but it also emphasises texture and has no blurring effect on me at all. 

Also, I'm not sure you could build this to full coverage: a couple of layers gives you medium coverage but the more you add, the more noticeable and cakey it looks. This tells me that it's not being properly absorbed, which I already knew because it's not hydrating for me and instead of melting into the skin, it sits on top of it and doesn't look natural: it looks like makeup. This is not what I'm after in a foundation,  but of course that's personal preference.

It's also worth noting that the shades run dark: I'm normally medium in summer and light/medium in the cooler months when I'm less tanned, but with this product I'm a shade lighter than I would expect to be.

I have seen other reviewers say they love this stuff, so it may well work for some people better than others. In any event, do test this one first because it mightn't work for you either.

Blurgh. Sad face : (

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