You know when you’re in a perfectly happy relationship, but you’re always looking for something newer, better, fresher? I’m talking about my relationship with my foundation, obviously—I’m not a monster. Any time a new formula comes across my desk, I find myself wondering if it has the power to earn a place in my hallowed rotation.
That’s how I found myself buffing Hourglass’ Vanish Liquid Foundation—the newer liquid version of its best-selling Vanish Stick Foundation ($46)—onto my face. It promised me a “second skin finish” and “smooth and flawless complexion.”
Pros + Cons
- Concentrated product goes a long way
- Lasts without primer
- Blurs pores
- Shade range could be more diverse
- Doesn't meet Byrdie Clean standards
The Bottom Line: A flawless matte finish
Hourglass Vanish Seamless Finish Liquid Foundation smooths and evens out skin texture for a shine-free finish that lasts all day. A little bit of product goes a long way—the brand says half a pump is all you need for full coverage—making it a cinch to apply.
Hourglass Vanish Seamless Finish Liquid Foundation
Best for: Full-coverage, matte skin
Star Rating: 4/5
Active ingredients: Dimethicone, flower wax, sunflower seed wax, jojoba esters, quartz, silica
Clean?: No—contains isododecane
Potential allergens: Yes—butylene glycol
Shade Range: 32 shades, from deep to fair
What's Included: Product only
About the brand: The cruelty-free brand created in 2004 quickly achieved cult status for its skin-loving, oil-free foundation and luminescent Ambient Lighting powders. But it's maintained its following leading status with a line that's grown to include lip, eye, and brow products.
About My Skin and Foundation Preferences
Here’s a photo of me without any foundation on. (Can you tell I just got a spray tan?) As you can probably infer from the photo above, I rely on foundation to blur out the larger pores around my nose and leave my skin looking more even. I have a few dark spots on my cheeks that I embrace during the summer but prefer to camouflage and smooth over during the colder months in an attempt to give off an ice queen aesthetic.
As someone with oily-combo skin, I used to prefer more matte, full-coverage foundations, but lately have been embracing the glow and gravitating toward dewier formulas; “sheer coverage” is a phrase I openly embrace in both my hosiery selection and foundation formulation.
Before trying Hourglass Vanish Liquid Foundation, these were my three favorites: Giorgio Armani Luminous Silk ($64), Make Up For Ever Ultra HD Invisible Cover ($43), Charlotte Tilbury Wonderglow Foundation ($44).
How to Apply
The brand says to use only half a pump and dab and blend onto your face. Use a brush for fuller coverage, or your fingers or a damp beauty sponge to sheer it out for lighter coverage.
On its website, Hourglass recommends skipping primer and using the Vanish Seamless Finish Foundation Brush or the Nº 2 Foundation Brush. It also includes videos on achieving full or diffused coverage using two different methods.
The Feel: Liquid to powder
The liquid version of Hourglass’ Vanish Stick Foundation touts itself as a full-coverage formula, so I was prepared for a smoothing, matte effect. Even still, I was surprised by how powdery the finish actually is. I blended it into my skin with a buffing brush (I used a Yubi Brush, $35).
The formula is quite thick with very little dripping, and a little goes a very long way.
Ingredient Quality: Mostly clean and cruelty-free
Although Hourglass Vanish Seamless Liquid Foundation doesn't meet Byrdie's Clean Pledge (see our fast facts above), it is a vegan, cruelty-free formula that is free of parabens.
It's an oil-free, silicone-based foundation with "blurring microspheres" that the brand says create a soft-focus finish.
The Scent: Surprisingly strawberry-esque
It smells vaguely like strawberry cough syrup, though in a not-entirely-unpleasant way. But it is quite strong, though the product is fragrance-free. If you're sensitive to scents in makeup, you might want to steer clear.
The Shades: On the warm side
Though the shade range is fairly copious, many shades skew warm. Several reviewers on YouTube and Sephora.com note the shades looked orange. And other reviewers noted some shades oxidize into a warmer tone.
If you have cool or pink undertones, you'll want to swatch this one before purchasing if possible to make sure it'll match your skin.
This foundation is not for the faint of heart or spending a lot of time in direct sunlight. It's seriously full coverage and not for a subtle, natural finish. It covers everything from large pores to acne and hyperpigmentation, and creates a flawless base that's ideal for topping with a full-on glam look.
The Results: Super matte
My skin was the most matte I had seen it in a long time.
The formula is not very hydrating. I’ve been experiencing light flakes around my cheeks and lips for the first time ever in my life (thanks, NYC winter), and this formula didn’t do much in disguising them, even though I wiped my face with an M-61 Hyaluronic Acid Pad (10 treatments for $32) before applying. If you’re dry, I would recommend making sure you’ve gently exfoliated and used a face oil or moisturizer before applying this foundation.
If you choose to use this foundation, know that any trace of oiliness or shine will be wiped clean from your face. My skin was the most matte I had seen it in a long time. To be honest, I wasn't entirely into it—like I said, I've been gravitating more towards dewier formulas, especially in the winter months, and the hyper-matte finish just seemed to accentuate the fact that I'm drier than I've ever been.
I was going to toss this foundation aside as a fail, but then I snapped my "after" selfie and did a double-take. As you can see in the photo above, my pores seem to have disappeared. Vanished. My pores were Rosamund Pike in Gone Girl—once prominent, then gone without a trace. It was like someone had used the smoothing tool in FaceTune over my entire face—and as someone who has FaceTuned my skin before (honesty is a virtue!), I swear I did not touch the app for this photo. (Also, ignore the fact my neck is darker than my face—hi, spray tan).
I prefer something less matte for a daily foundation, but talk to me again next time I’m getting photographed and I might have a different answer. It also lasts all day.
The Value: Pricey, but it lasts
This foundation is definitely pricey—$56 for a mere 0.84 oz is pretty steep. But, because the formula is so concentrated, you really only need a smidge for a full-coverage, flawless face. And because it works well on its own, you can save on the cost of primer, making the price a little easier to stomach.
Similar Products: You have options
Fenty Beauty Pro Filt'r Soft Matte Foundation: Like Hourglass, this also gives a soft-focus, matte finish, and it's oil-free. It's also much less expensive at $35, and you get more product, 1.08 oz.
Charlotte Tilbury Magic Foundation: If you prefer medium coverage, this matte $44 foundation could be your best bet. Unlike Hourglass, it has built-in sun protection.
Our Verdict: Perfect in photos
In short: Hourglass Liquid Vanish foundation does not mess around. If you need something to cover late nights, redness, and too many tequila sodas, this won’t fail you.
And, again, while I didn’t love the super-matte finish, I did love how it made my skin look in photos: completely poreless and even. In real life, I prefer something a little more glow-giving, though.
If you're looking for a dewier finish, try dabbing some moisturizer over the formula, then spritzing with a face mist.