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Let me tell you who designed the Macbook Pro Retina: a man. A man who’d never had the pleasure of documenting a foundation review. Y’see, pair a high def camera with a retina screen and we have a disturbingly microscopic view of my peach fuzz. For those of you who own this son ova dsjkfbhj, we’re about to embark on a journey… into the depths of my pores. An intimate journey. Hold my hand.

I rarely do this but let’s see what Chanel has to say about Vitalumiere Aqua (for the lolz): An unprecedented sensory experience…blah blah, Rapid and easy application. Although it is exceptionally delicate and light, an incomparable “second-skin” perfecting result is achieved. Its formula, endowed with a UVB sun filter and mineral sunscreen, protects the skin from damaging sun rays. Yadda yadda.

Let’s get down to the nitty gritty.

Chanel Vitalumiere Aqua Foundation

The practical woman in me loves the packaging! The spout allows you to dispense the exact amount of product required. The bottle is plastic (and lacks that luxury, weighty quality) but functional, great for travelling.

Chanel Vitalumiere Aqua Foundation

Good and bad news, shade-range-wise. Chanel VA accommodates for both cool and warm skintones: B10-B50 run quite yellow while BR10-BR50 have pinkened undertones (click here for some great Chanel Vitalumiere Aqua Swatches).
As with most mass produced foundations, VA doesn’t cater to either pale or deep extremes- the palest colour match (B10) is best suited to an NC15. I’m currently using shade B20, a very good match for my NC25 skin with yellow (but not golden) undertones.
For shade reference, here is how it compares to some of my other favourite bases.

Chanel Vitalumiere Aqua Foundation

Vitalumiere Aqua is best applied with fingers as it has a very fluid consistency (shake it like a Polaroid picture) and brushes tend to eat all the product. The BeautyBlender is rendered useless here, it sheers the coverage out to next-to-nothing. Applied with fingers, I would pin VA at light to medium coverage– buildable but not beyond medium. Two light layers and the rosiness around my nose and cheeks peeks through, I think most people will crave a concealer here n there.

Chanel Vitalumiere Aqua Foundation

Chanel Vitalumiere Aqua Foundation

You can see from our after shot that Chanel VA looks very, very natural. I account this to the relatively sheer coverage and the velvety, skin-like finish (which is neither matte nor dewy, I seem to collect ALL TEH satin foundations). The effect is so DARN natural that I imagine most people wouldn’t guess I was wearing foundation at all.

Buttttt, it does have the tendency to settle around nose lines. This can be remedied by using primer and powder (I used neither, for the purpose of this review).

Chanel Vitalumiere Aqua Foundation

You may also perceive some texture and pores around the center of my face- I KNOW I KNOW, it’s nothing to lose sleep over but I’m being critical (for you guise). Chanel VA is high in alcohol (and fragrance, FYI) and as it sets, it draws attention to any flakiness or textural issues.

I first purchased this foundation last summer and really enjoyed it, it had great longevity on my normal skin and I felt no need to set it with powder. The SPF15 is also a nice token but nothing to rely upon. Now that winter has arrived in Sydney, it’s become clear to me that this ought to be a warm weather foundation for me. Simply put, VA does no favours for winter-worn, dehydrated skin.

Confused? I’ll clarify.

Best for:
– Normal to oily skins with minimal textural issues and no discernible flaky patches.
– Those of you who prefer a lighter coverage with a velvet finish
– Lucky ladies and gents who don’t suffer from dehydrated skin

Skip it if:
– You have textured skin, significantly dehydrated skin, dry flakes or considerable sensitivities to alcohol and fragrance
– You’re on the dryer side of the spectrum
– You prefer a true medium coverage foundation

Public Service Announcement to all those interested in this foundation:
– Moisturise well beforehand, it makes worlds of a difference. You’re welcome.

Overall, I think Chanel Vitalumiere Aqua fills a void in the foundation market: a relatively sheer formulation that doesn’t slide off combo to oily skintypes (along the same lines of Hourglass Immaculate). I do love this foundation in summer but I’ll have to reserve it until the warmer weather. I’m feeling parched. And cold. Waaahh 🙁

Ps: Refer to picture of foundations above, any review suggestions? I’m all ears.


Complete list of products mentioned

Vitalumiere Aqua Foundation
Vitalumiere Aqua Foundation
* Denotes products sent for consideration. I’m always honest with my reviews :)

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  1. Hi Karima,

    Thank you for your very adequate and well written review. Your conclusion is in line with my own experience with this Chanel product. I have been an fervent Chanel foundation user for many years, as well as their lipstick’s and blusher’s, I really loved them all. This one simply doesn’t do it for me.

    A short while ago I met my, until now HG in foundation, the ones for. Giorgio Armani. Even at my age, 60, with a skin I have taken very good care of as from my 15th and on, their foundations do the trick. Since I do not like it when people give me a compliment about my foundation and do like it when they give me a compliment about how well I look, I am always on the lookout for natural coverage foundations. Armani has those, as I found out a little late. Am very interested to hear your opinion on there products!

    Kind regards from beauty&fashion “addict” Marja

  2. The best foundation review I have ever seen. Also love your sprinklings of sarcasm. Killed my longing for VA though- I am very sensitive to alcohol and fragrance. Thanks, saved me the money.

    1. *bows* Thank you πŸ™‚ And yes, it’s not for everyone! I’m glad to have pushed you in one direction or another. Very welcome πŸ™‚ xx

  3. I have a love hate relationship with this foundation. When I have just applied it, it’s the most beautiful product I’ve found, and if I could I wouldn’t wear anything else. But as my forehead gets a bit oily in the afternoon, it starts looking really shiny and does nothing in terms of oil control. And in the Winter I can’t wear it because the alcohol really upsets my skin, and in Winter it increases my dehydration and dryness issues. I’m really sad because I haven’t found an equivalent that would be alcohol free. EL Invisible in 1CN1 is much darker than the VA B10 and the undertone is wrong too.

    1. Hey Mariella <3
      Interesting, I found that in Summer, it wore very well on me. I know what you mean about the alcohol content though- it seems to bother my skin more than other foundations (that also have alcohol in the ingredient list?!). Have you tried Armani Maestro? I wasn't a huge fan but it's a similar breed to Chanel VA. MAC F&B might be worthwhile checking out too.

  4. I laughed SO hard reading this review! πŸ™‚ and excellent PSA you got there. I agree, the less textured your skin (and better moisturized) it looks better on the skin. I recently purged all my Chanel VA because… am so incredibly yellow that B20, 30, 40 (all once owned/purged) were way too too pink for me. I’m on the hunt for the Asia Beige Ocre at some point because… need even more yellow.

    1. Glad you enjoy my bizarre humour, belly πŸ˜€ I found that B20 is quite yellow but yes: if you’re very yellow then it may not be enough. You should be able to find Beige Ocre on Evilbay, if you decide upon it. xx

    2. Hi Bellyhead,
      I totally agree with you. Karima has charisma and her writing style is both intelligent and witty. Always great for a lesson and a laugh.
      Anyway…I cringed when I read that you purged your foundation due to needing more yellow. *gasp at the money!*
      Anyway, I know this may be VERY late, but anyone reading this afterwards might find it useful. If you need more yellow, buy a bottle of plain yellow tint, more red-red yellow tint, lighter-white, darker-black. These tints are found at any pro discount store (Frends, Naimies, Alcone, Nigel’s) and are super cheap. You literally only (usually) need ONE drop to see a significant difference, so one small bottle will last ages.
      Please everyone, don’t purge makeup due to an undertone problem. With makeup, it’s all about the color wheel.
      Hope this helps someone out there save some moolah! xx

  5. i never liked chanel foundations much, because of the texture. Even when my skin was great I would see bumps and things that i couldn’t see without makeup on! And a friend who had some bad acne hated chanel foundations as well. Anyway, this looks good on you!

  6. Karima, I absolutely adore your reviews (and FOTDs and everything else haha). They are so well executed and eloquent, and I love how you always show us HD before and after photos.I have never been disappointed by any product recommended by you.

    Thank you so much for dedicating so much time and effort into writing such helpful reviews.
    I would love to see a review on MAC F&B and LDP.

    1. Too kind, Jennifer πŸ™‚ I’m glad you find them helpful. You and I must have similar taste!
      I think I’ll do Guerlain LdP next, keep an eye out for it πŸ™‚

  7. Thanks so much for your wonderful reviews! So well done, honest and written with a sense of humor. I find them very helpful. I am currently using the Laura Mercier Silk Crème foundation mixed with illuminator sometimes, or a little balm in the winter. I would love to see a review on the different types of Hourglass powders and their effects, or a review on the different shades of RBR illuminators. How are they all different and what do they actually look like on? It would also be great to see some recommendations on finding the right shades for different skin tones. I am a natural super light blonde with fair skin and grey-blue eyes. Kinda like Gwyneth but not as pretty!! I would love to try GA Silk foundation but not sure the shade. Thanks!

    1. Hey Kris!
      Thank you very much πŸ™‚ I don’t own the Hourglass Powders but I do own a few of the RBR Illuminators, if you have fair skin than Sea of Clouds is a no brainer, it looks amazing on pale skins. Sea of Tranquility has a pinkened reflect, if you desire that sort of look. In terms of tones for fair skin/light hair/blue eyes, there are no rules. I tend to like honeyed, biscuit tones on that skintone but it really comes down to preference! If you can give me your approximate MAC shade, I might be able to steer you in the right direction regarding Armani Lasting/Luminous Silk foundation. xx

      1. Thanks so much Karima! I will have to try Sea of Clouds…I live in a small town on Lake Superior so I will have to wait to get to the MAC/GA counters next time I go to Minneapolis. Your blog is so helpful for those of us who have to rely on the web for shopping. Thanks again! I’ll get back to you! πŸ™‚

  8. Hey Karima, thx for the great review. I been using the vitalumiere aqua for quite a while now and
    i really like it. I really love the ‘no make up look’ it gives. Lately i have been eyeing the Armani luminous silk foundation. Does it have the same satin finish as the VA? And could it work for a dry combination skin?


  9. Hi karina,

    You are really pretty and already have a good complexion. But, i think your face has pink undertone. Why you dont choose the BR 22 instead of B20? Thank you for your help. I’ve been confused to choose between br and b. I also have quite similar complexion tone with you

    1. Hey Devina! I have quite a strong yellow/olive undertone so I definitely do not have pink undertones. You may think that because I have surface redness in my face (broken capillaries and such) but the rest of my body is very warm, if I used a pink toned foundation my face wouldn’t match the rest of my body! B20 is currently too dark for me as it is the end of winter here. x

  10. Hi,
    Im using this AV foundation now and since winter is approaching, what foundation do you recommend? I have combo skin and can get away with light coverage.

    1. Hey there πŸ™‚
      If you don’t mind a dewy finish, I’d recommend MAC F&B- review here:
      Alternatively, I’ve really been loving the Sunday Riley Primer, which has very light coverage so you may require a concealer here and there:

      The latter would probably sit better on combination skins and is less dewy upon application.
      Hope this helps πŸ™‚ xxkarima

  11. My dermatologist confirmed (by patch testing) that I am allergic to isothiazolinone. Someone else with this allergy told me you used Chanel Vitalumiere. So I was fascinated to read your review. I have very sensitive skin, including psoriasis, eczema, and, now, this chemical allergy.

    My dermatologist gave a broad spectrum tinted sunblock to use. It’s nice but on occasion I need better coverage so want a foundation. I also need a concealer, primer, blush, and eye shadow that don’t contain this substance which is used in many things as a preservative.

    Thanks for any suggestions you have.

    1. Hey Penny! Sounds like you have a lot of research to do!
      In terms of Chanel Vitalumiere Aqua for very sensitive skin prone to eczema, I wouldn’t recommend it as a first choice. It has a fair bit of alcohol and can be drying on some skins. Have you considered the Sunday Riley Effortless Breathable Primer? Review here:
      I can’t say for sure if it has that preservative but you can check. It’s a good option for more sensitive skins looking to get into light weight foundations.
      Another option is MAC Face and Body:
      Again, do check ingredients.
      Hope this helps πŸ™‚

    2. Hey Penny, I’m allergic to isothiazolinone as well, and for my experience, I can tell you a couple of things that work for me.

      My most used foundation is MAC’s face and body , but I find that almost every product of this brand doesn’t contain the preservative (Others: Nars Sheer Glow , Rimmel Match Perfection or Garnier BB cream).

      For eye make up, shadows, mascara, concealer, etc, it’s very unusual that they have the preservative, my favourite shadows are the ones from Wet n’ Wild, as they are really cheap for their quality, and the Maybelline’s Colour Tattoo (cream eyeshadow) last really well without smudging. My favourite concealer at the moment is the Nars Radiant Creamy Concealer.

      For Blush I really love the ones from Benefit, I haven’t had any problems with any of the few things I tried from this brand, but it is kind of expensive, and if you want something cheaper I’d recommend the Sleek ones.

      In any case, the best thing you can do, is to ask for samples to try them at home, you can put a little bit of product in a plaster and leave it for a day or two, if you find that your skin hasn’t reacted to it, then there should be no problem. Also, you should always read the ingredients list of the products, if you find “ionones”, kathon, isothiazolinone or something suspicious, just avoid them.

      Hope this was helpful! πŸ™‚

  12. Hi!!! I am using chanel vitalumeire satin smoothing foundation in 10 Limpide…so plz can you tell me what shade i would be in vitalumeire aqua…thank you!!

  13. Yo Karima have you heard about the Chanel Perfection Lumiere Velvet coming out in March apparently? Are you looking forward to it? I can kinda guess Perfection Lumiere kinda wasn’t your thing but I felt the ‘velvet’ may have enticed you πŸ™‚

    1. Hey Alex,
      I actually missed the whole Prolumiere and Perfection Lumiere boat. I was under a rock or something, I don’t know. I might get a sample when it comes out, thanks for letting me know! x

  14. Karima, I’ve been asking myself this for ages: what tone should one’s foundation have? ‘Cause from what I understand from this review is: yellow-yellow. Some people working at counters say the opposite: when you have red/pink toned skin (like me) you should go with yellow OR ELSE you will emphasize your redness and stuff… Is this rubbish?

    I purchased the Chanel VA two years ago in B10, that’s right: yellow! It doesn’t look fake on me, but I guess it’s due to the fact that Chanel B’s contain more of a neutral yellow…? Really not sure whether to go pink or yellow on my fair complexion. Really would like to get your opinion!

    1. Hey Lily,
      If you have legitimately pink toned skin (i.e. pink tones on your chest, arms etc) then I say go for a neutral tone, it will soften the redness somewhat without contrasting with the body.

  15. Hey Karima
    I love this review and am hoping you can help me out. I personally love the finish of Chanel VA – super sheer and a little bit dewy. I don’t need much coverage but have slight redness which I like to cover up daily. SPF is also great too. Just wondering if you could recommend a foundation or tinted moisturiser similar (but for alcohol and chemical-sunscreen sensitive skin)?! Thanks xx

    1. I was going to recommend the NARS Tinted Moisturiser but you’ll need to check whether the sunscreen is chemical or physical. Have you tried MAC F&B? That is sheer and dewy.

  16. Hi Karima,

    I’m just going through your review and I must say it’s very informative, thank you. I have a question though, I tend to get oily in my T-zone area but my cheeks are a little bit dry, do you think this foundation will work? I’ve been eyeing this one for a very long time and with the price, I just need to be extra sure >.<

    1. Hey Katherine,
      Foundation is very personal so it’s hard for me to predict how it will perform on you. I know some people who fit your skintype profile and love Chanel VA, can you get a sample or perhaps trial in store?

  17. Hello Karima, I love your reviews! I was wondering if you could help me. I am a MAC face&body user, I usually go for two layers as I need a tad more coverage, but I love it because it is so light and forgiving on dry patches. i am dehydrated, normal skin and, like you, I like a very skin-like finish. Now, I am thinking of trying something else, because I simply do not have time in the morning to deal with two foundation applications! Is there anything in your knowledge that could give a similar result but with just one quick application? Thanks a lot!

    1. Hey there πŸ™‚
      Have you heard of the Cover FX Custom Cover Drops? I’ve found they mix very well with the MAC Face and Body, bump up the coverage a bit without interfering with the finish.

  18. Did anyone break out using this foundation? I sadly did and it’s water based. If anyone could recommend foundations that don’t break people out. Thanks x.

  19. Can you tell me what my skin type is??
    Whenever I stay without applying any moisturizer on after washing my face, I feel itchiness and redness on my both cheeks while my other parts of the face are perfectly fine.
    I usually suffer from breakouts twice a month.
    Other concerns are enlarged pores and clogged pores.
    What is my skin type: dry or dry combination or oily or oily combination?