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ZOOM IN: LAURA MERCIER SMOOTH FINISH FLAWLESS FLUIDE

We get the story on the innovative, second-skin foundation straight from the complexion connoisseur herself.

If a perfect canvas is the key to a masterpiece, Laura Mercier’s new Smooth Finish Flawless Fluide foundation is the first step towards a true work of art. “When the skin’s surface is soft, smooth, and fresh, everything that goes on it looks and feels better. It looks naturally flawless,” says painter-turned-makeup artist Mercier. “Then, anything else you apply—lips, cheeks, and eyes, also looks the best they can.” Here, we get an inside look at the essential base that delivers a polished, museum-worthy mug. RENEE TRILIVAS

THE INSPIRATION
“My idea was to create a foundation that was undetectable,” says Mercier. “By taking out many of the traditional ingredients, we came up with a formula that looks incredibly real and alive with brilliantly natural-looking skin colors.”

THE FORMULA
“This foundation has a unique bi-phase formula. Because I didn’t want anything to interfere with the pigments, we took out the traditional emulsifying ingredients so the color seamlessly matches all skintones. When you shake the bottle, the pigments are bathed in a watery silica bath of Hydro-Brilliant Complex, which acts like a magnifying glass and amplifies the pigments true colors. We also added some blurring elements to diffuse and soften the finish.”

THE COVERAGE
“It is a medium coverage foundation, but you can make it sheer or build it up to fuller coverage. It’s so versatile, and it’s matte like real skin. The shade range is so beautifully broad. It’s the largest scope—24 shades—that we’ve ever had. We capture skintones from the lightest ivory to the deepest ebony, and they all look perfectly natural!”
PRO TIP: Find your Laura Mercier shade with Sephora + Pantone Universe’s revolutionary Color IQ, a complimentary in-store consultation that identifies the exact foundation-match for your skintone.

THE APPLICATION
“I like to apply the product two ways: After shaking the bottle, I apply a small amount to the back of my hand, load an egg-shaped sponge with foundation, and gently press the tip into skin. To create a sheer effect, I wet the sponge before loading it with product. I also like to apply it with my fingertips to blend it into skin. I blend, blend, blend so the line between real skin and makeup is blurred.”

SHOP LAURA MERCIER SMOOTH FINISH FLAWLESS FLUIDE>

SPOT IT: SHEET MASKS

We scope out the latest beauty craze from Asia.

“Sheet masks are hot right now,” says Tiila Abbitt, the SEPHORA COLLECTION product development director for accessories, upon her return from Beauty World Japan, the annual trade show in Tokyo. This is almost an understatement. Sheet masks have become such a staple in Korean women’s skincare routines that you can pick them up at most Seoul convenience stores.  “Asian suppliers literally invent new materials every day,” marvels Abbitt. “I really look to them for advanced approaches to fabrics and texture.” In this case, the range of materials—from bio cellulose and charcoal to paper (very fancy paper)—have created a whole new format for masks. Here we take a look at the seal-n-soak sensation from across the ocean. MELISSA LANE

WHAT IT IS
Sheet masks, as a format, are based on the idea of occlusion. By placing a super-saturated material on your face, the mask creates a barrier that seals ingredients onto the skin, preventing evaporation. While they come in different materials with different ingredients, all of them are single-use and all of them moisturize with a serious wallop of hydration.

HOW TO USE IT
Remove mask from packette, unfold, press on your face, and relax. After 10-20 minutes, toss the mask and massage any remaining serum onto your face, neck, and décolleté (no rinsing necessary.)

PRO TIP: Some masks can be put in the fridge for a soothing chill that counteracts puffiness. Some can be (lightly!) warmed in the microwave for pore-refinement. Make sure to check the directions for each one.  

WHY YOU’LL LOVE IT
Three words: premeasured mega dose. You instantly supercharge your skincare and all the prep is done for you. Another bonus: Relaxing—for at least 10 minutes—is mandatory. They make superb travel companions and morning-after pick-me-ups, too. 

PRO TIP: Want some help identifying the right mask? Drop by the closest Sephora, and take advantage of Skincare iQ, a complimentary consultation tool that will filter through all of our sheet masks to find the best one for your skin.

SHOP SKIN CARE AT SEPHORA>

SPOT IT: CUSHION COMPACT

We scope out the latest beauty craze from Asia.

“Asia—Japan and Korea especially—are the epicenter of beauty innovation,” says Tiila Abbitt, the SEPHORA COLLECTION product development director for accessories. The facts stack up. BB and CC creams have taken American beauty counters by storm in the last few year—as have masks, makeup brushes, nail tools, and nail art. So what’s the latest? Cushion compacts, says Abbitt, which have been the go-to coverage option in South Korea for the past two years. Below, the basics on our newest obsession from the other side of the Pacific. MELISSA LANE

WHAT IT IS
The innovative cushion compacts soak and fill a circular mesh sponge with product, which you press a puff onto to release—lightly for a little coverage, more for a lot. Think of it as BB or CC cream lite. It has the same coverage and myriad skin-care benefits—SPF, antioxidants, antiagers—but in an uber-light texture.

HOW TO USE IT
After completing your skincare routine, press the puff onto the sponge and pat onto your face, building up to your desired coverage. Since it’s not a tube (unlike most BB and CC creams), it’s perfect for on-the-go, and you can reapply throughout the day as you please. The formula is usually fantastically sheer, and its dispensing so conservative that out-and-about touch-ups are a cinch. (Yup, get ready to fall hard.)  

PRO TIP: Make sure to close the cover after use to avoid letting moisturizers and other ingredients evaporate.

WHY YOU’LL LOVE IT
It’s infallible. Everything you need is in one self-contained compact—the formula plus foolproof cushion, the mirror, the applicator. You can’t spill it, and it’s virtually impossible to go overboard with it. It’ll be your best friend in hot, sunny weather, too: It stays surprisingly cool, often mattifies, and almost always offers sun protection (some go as high as 50 plus). 

PRO TIP: Want some help identifying your shade? Pop into the closest Sephora, and take advantage of Color IQ, a complimentary consultation tool that will filter through all of our foundations (including our cushion compacts) to find the best match for your skintone.

SHOP SKIN CARE AT SEPHORA>