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We put Chanel's Vitalumière Aqua Ultra-Light Skin Perfecting Sunscreen Makeup to the test after receiving a complimentary sample from the brand. Keep reading for our full product review.
There are plenty of high-end foundations on the market today, but only a few truly live up to the hype. It’s a common misconception that expensive cosmetics must offer unbeatable results with quality ingredients and technology that reflect the high price tag. In many cases, you’re simply paying for the name. I tried out Chanel's Vitalumière Aqua Ultra-Light Skin Perfecting Sunscreen Makeup, a favorite amongst luxury makeup enthusiasts, to find out if it was truly worth the investment. Would it infuse new life into my complexion while offering the coverage I needed? Is it actually worth the splurge? I put the formula to the test, keeping the texture, feel, ingredients, and longevity of wear in mind.
Chanel Vitalumière Aqua Ultra-Light Skin Perfecting Sunscreen Makeup
Star Rating: 4.7 / 5
Best for: Light daytime coverage
Active Ingredients: Octinoxate, titanium dioxide (sunscreen)
Potential Allergens: Fragrance, parabens, BHT, phenoxyethanol, acrylates
Byrdie Clean?: No
About the Brand: Chanel is a Parisian luxury fashion house based in Paris, focusing on couture, ready-to-wear, and accessories. Since the inception of its original Chanel No. 5 fragrance, the brand has grown its beauty offering to include skincare, makeup, brushes and tools, nail products, and fragrances.
About My Skin: Normal skin in need of a boost
My skin is typically pretty normal. I normally use a tinted moisturizer or a light, weightless foundation, as full coverage foundations tend to feel too heavy and drying for my complexion. My go-to is The Ordinary’s Serum Foundation, which offers medium coverage with a lightweight feel (making it pretty similar to this Chanel product, but a fraction of the price). I use it pretty sparingly, applying a few drops and blending with my fingertips, keeping my look natural with just enough coverage to refresh and perfect my skin. From there, I’ll tap on a bit of cream blush, brush and fill my brows, swipe on a bit of mascara, and I’m on my way.
Incorporating Vitalumière Aqua into my routine was pretty seamless. I swapped it with my normal foundation, applying after my morning skincare routine and before the rest of my makeup. While I applied it only once a day, Chanel does recommend reapplying every two hours if you’re using it for sunscreen purposes. If you’re planning to pop this into your beach tote, keep in mind that one application won’t protect throughout the day.
Ingredients: SPF and moisturizing benefits
Vitalumière Aqua’s active ingredients are octinoxate and titanium dioxide, which are chemical and mineral forms of sunscreen, respectively, and offer SPF 15 protection against the sun’s harmful UV rays. I’m a stickler for applying SPF after my moisturizer and before my foundation, but I do love that this product has SPF 15 built-in. Sure, that’s not great protection, but it’s a great option for when I’m rushing through my beauty routine and need to skip a few steps.
This product also contains sodium hyaluronate, the water-soluble salt form of the beloved hyaluronic acid, which effectively helps the skin retain moisture. While this foundation has moisturizing benefits, it’s oil-free and non-comedogenic, so it won’t clog your pores and is a solid choice for blemish-prone skin. However, it’s also important to note that this product isn’t considered clean by Byrdie’s standards.
How to Apply: Fingers are best
Because the formula is so light, I felt that it was easiest to dab on and blend with my fingers, especially when I was in a hurry and didn’t want to use a brush. Chanel recommends patting and dabbing on with fingertips or stippling on with a foundation brush, so it’s really up to your personal preference. The brand also points out that you can apply it to your entire face or just hit key areas, depending on how much coverage you’re looking for. Once the product is on your face, blend from the center of the face outward.
The Scent: Subtle and fresh
Like many of Chanel’s cosmetics, this product has a subtle, fresh scent that's pleasant and not overpowering in any way. However, I usually try to avoid using anything with fragrance on my face to avoid a potential allergic reaction. My skin can be slightly sensitive when it’s dry, but I didn’t note any sensitivity or reactions while using this makeup.
Coverage: Light and buildable
Chanel describes this product as having light-to-medium coverage, but I felt that it was on the lighter side. It offers more coverage than a tinted moisturizer and just a few drops even out and brightens my complexion, but I have to tap on a second application to any spots or flaws in order to better cover them.
The Results: A natural finish that lasted all day long
Vitalumière Aqua is a liquid makeup that has a weightless, water-light feel that’s very easy to control. It melts into the skin almost instantly and blends seamlessly like a tinted moisturizer, resulting in a natural glow with the dreamiest finish—not overly dewy and not too matte. I wasn’t left looking oily in any way. I had a natural, subtle sheen that allowed me to skip highlighter altogether. Whatever you do, don’t forget to give the tube a good shake before opening it! Otherwise, the texture will be super runny and has the potential to drip everywhere.
I tested this product for two days, and whether I was running around the city or working indoors, the product lasted and my skin maintained its hydration throughout the day.
The Value: A bit pricey for what it is
This product will set you back $50 for just one fluid ounce, a price that most wouldn’t be willing to pay for such a light-coverage product. While I do think this product works, providing me a natural glow and keeping my skin hydrated throughout the day, I do think it's a tad overpriced for what it is. There are plenty of light-to-medium coverage foundations with similar textures out there for a fraction of the price. As with many luxury cosmetics, you’re definitely paying for the name.
Similar Products: You've got options
La Prairie Skin Caviar Concealer + Foundation Sunscreen SPF 15: While Chanel’s Vitalumière Aqua is a favorite amongst the high-end foundations out there, it has some friendly competition. Another cult favorite is La Prairie's Skin Caviar Concealer + Foundation Sunscreen SPF 15, which is infused with caviar extract for lifting and firming benefits. Both provide a naturally dewy complexion and SPF 15 protection, however, La Prairie’s version is full coverage rather than light. La Prairie is also a serious splurge ($245!!!), but it does come with a perfectly matched built-in concealer, a magnifying mirror in the cap, a concealer brush, a makeup sponge, and a product stand. It's also formulated with a number of anti-aging ingredients.
The Ordinary's Serum Foundation: Vitalumière Aqua also has competition outside of the luxury space. A similar product I use regularly is The Ordinary’s Serum Foundation, which is astronomically cheaper, setting me back only $7. Both products offer dreamy, light texture, and coverage with a natural, fresh finish. The only downfall is that in the U.S., the Serum Foundation does not offer SPF protection (however, it does have SPF 15 protection in the European Union). Chanel’s formulation also offers the added benefit of sodium hyaluronate for long-lasting moisture retention.
Our Verdict: A great product, but pricey
Overall, Chanel’s Vitalumière Aqua Ultra-Light Skin Perfecting Sunscreen Makeup Broad Spectrum SPF 15 is the perfect weightless makeup if you’re seeking a natural look with light coverage. It offers the benefit of SPF 15 and hyaluronic acid, keeping your skin feeling healthy and hydrated throughout the day. However, if $50 feels too steep a price to pay, know that there are plenty of other options on the market for a fraction of the price that yields similar results.