Ilia Vivid Foundation Review and Swatches

For me, foundation has been one of the toughest green beauty nuts to crack. Firstly there’s the whole 50 Shades of Beige issue. Secondly most natural foundations are mineral powders and my dry skin just doesn’t want to deal. Thirdly most are only available online and I’m not crazy about buying blind, especially in the UK which doesn’t do customer service returns. So when a new natural foundation comes along that’s a liquid formula, and it’s from long-time fave ILIA, PLUS it’s available in actual shops, well I do believe I heard angels singing.

The ILIA Vivid foundation is just one of the latest launches from the eco-chic line (if you missed my meeting ILIA founder Sasha Plavsic read here). In short, ILIA has been on a mission in the past year. It has gone from being a mainly lip line to a fully fledged makeup offering.


First things first, is this not the best looking bottle of foundation you ever did see? The casing is made from a metal look, plastic material and has an air-tight pump action dispenser. I love the sleek, minimal lines. A few pals have said they don’t like not being able to see the contents but I have no problem with that. Look how chic it is.

ILIA Vivid foundation

ILIA Vivid foundation


Like the ILIA Vivid concealer and the ILIA Vivid Sheer Tinted moisturiser, there are six colours in the foundation range. All are named after deserts around the world. As you can see there’s a mighty leap between the two darkest shades #understatement.

ILIA Vivid Foundation swatches
ILIA Vivid Foundation swatches

Here’s a closer look at the three darkest shades:

  • Ilia Vivid Foundation Mojave F4: described as for light olive skin with yellow undertones.
  • Ilia Vivid Foundation Tanami F5: described as for medium to dark skin with neutral undertones.
  • Ilia Vivid Foundation Sandar F6 Sandar:  described as for dark skin with soft pink undertones. It’s too deep for me unfortunately but on the plus side it’s great to see this as an option.

ILIA VIVID foundation swatches on dark skin


Looking at the ingredients’ list (see bottom of page), there’s a helluva lot of hydrating and moisturising going on. We’re talking makeup with skincare benefits which is always a win-win in my book. The first five ingredients are water, glycerin, organic coconut oil, sunflower seed oil, rosehip oil with a couple of emulsifiers in the mix. Then botanicals including jasmine, lavender and clove flower extract.  No silicone, parabens, or petrochemicals and it’s vegan-friendly and gluten-free.

One intriguing ingredient that ILIA use in the formula, is mastic, a special resin from trees on the Greek island of Chios. Highly prized for health and beauty in ancient civilisations, modern research shows that mastic helps to control sebum and has anti-ageing and anti-bacterial properties.  This is the first time I’ve seen it in a beauty product so full marks on the innovation front. However, I love my skin to glow so wondered if the foundation was going to be too matte for my taste when I put it to the test.


As background, I have dry, sensitive skin and like to keep my skin dewy and glowing. I like skin to look like skin and don’t do matte or cake face (you can see what other base products I use here).  To get my ILIA Vivid foundation match, I mix equal measures of F5 and F6. My skin has yellow undertones so the mix is still a tiny bit neutral toned on the face but once I have other makeup on it’s not noticeable. However if I want to build coverage then the red undertones in the foundation show. Luckily I tend to prefer sheerer coverage.

ILIA Vivid foundation
F5 + F6 = my foundation match!

The ILIA foundation has a gorgeously light yet creamy texture. ILIA has also launched a new foundation brush but I prefer to apply with my fingers and then go over with a beauty blender. I always use jojoba oil under makeup as my ‘primer’ to keep my skin glowing. There is less slip if you put on top of a moisturiser. For areas that I don’t want to shine like my nose, I lightly dust rms ‘un powder’ BEFORE I apply the foundation.

Coverage is light and buildable up to medium. The foundation sets quite quickly so to build wait for each layer to dry. One layer will even skin out, two layers will disguise minor blemishes. You’ll need concealer for anything major. It lasts a working day on my skin with no oxidisation.

It’s a clever formula managing to give a polished, satin finish that isn’t flat yet with a luminous radiance that is very pretty on the skin. The moisturising ingredients are very apparent as I can feel them when I touch my face, long after application. If you’re an oily skinned goddess this foundation won’t be the best choice for you I’m afraid. You should check out the ILIA tinted moisturiser reviewed here though.

I love the finish and formula of the ILIA Vivid foundation. The only downer for me is the colour. I can and do make it work but for early mornings when I can barely get my eyes open, the mixology required is a little too much, not to mention the lack of sunlight to check I’ve got the colour right. I’m on my hands and knees praying for some darker shades with a touch of yellow.

Whether you’re a green beauty fan or not, if you’re in the market for a luxury liquid foundation then I would certainly recommend ILIA Vivid. This is a lovely formula that I think would work well on normal and dry skin types. If you’ve got a colour match, run don’t walk to check it out.

Ilia Vivid Foundation, 30ml, $44/ £36 For stockists see  Also available in some of my favourites shopping spots in London including Content, and Fortnum and Mason.

ILIA Vivid Foundation ingredients:Ingredients: Water (Aqua), Glycerin, Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Oil*, Polyglyceryl-2 Oleate, Polyhydroxystearic Acid, Polyglyceryl-2 Stearate, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil*, Rosa Canina (Rose Hip) Fruit Oil*, Behenyl Olivate, Pistacia Lentiscus (Mastic) Gum, Lecithin, Caprylic/capric Triglyceride, Jasminum Officinale (Jasmine) Flower/leaf Extract, Lavandula Angustifolia (Lavender) Flower/leaf/steam Extract, Eugenia Caryophyllus (Clove) Flower Extract, Vitis Vinifera (Grape) Fruit Extract, Citrus Aurantium Dulcis (Orange) Fruit Oil, Vaccinium Macrocarpon (Cranberry) Seed Oil, Alcohol, Sodium Hyaluronate, Tocopherol, Allantoin, Ethylhexylglycerin, Phenethyl Alcohol. May Contain: Mica, Titanium Dioxide (Ci 77891), Iron Oxide (Ci77491, Ci77492, Ci77499). *certified Organic Ingredients. 

  1. Fabulous review. That shade gap though😰 It definitely is great to see such a deep colour but I’m feeling you on the mixing palaver 😦With the effort that appears to have been put in let’s hope the colour range is extended and to cater for my oily skin.

    1. Thanks! I’ve heard that they’re working on more shades so hope so! A primer might work for oily skin but I think because coconut oil is so high up on the ingredients it might still be too much.

  2. Great review! The part about angels singing made me literally LOL. 😀 And I absolutely agree that “cakeface” is not for me!! I’m intrigued with this foundation since you describe it as so moisturizing. I too have dry skin (mine is also what they call “mature”, ha!) That jump in shades is really startling, though. I hope, as you said, that they are working on increasing the range of tones. I’m glad I also got the chance to read your post about green beauty inclusiveness, via the link. I hope companies will continue making strides in the right direction.

    1. Thanks for reading! I’ve just heard directly from ILIA that they’re working on adding shades – hurrah. I hope so too, things have significantly improved in the last year so we’re heading the right way. x

  3. Really great and informative review! I have tried it too, and while I really really wanted to like it (it truly has fabulous ingredients) but it made my skin itch, so obviously it is out of question for me… the search goes on 🙂

    1. Thx! Skin is so individual there’s nothing that works for everyone. And how it reacts with the rest of your skincare. Foundation is the hardest thing to find you’ve got to kiss a few frogs 🙂

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