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I’ve found this review surprisingly difficult to write considering that this is one of the very best makeup products I’ve used in years. I think it’s perhaps because I’m not quite sure where to place Charlotte Tilbury’s Hollywood Flawless Filter; is it a foundation or a complexion enhancer? Is it an illuminating primer balm or a dewy finish, low-key highlighter?
In all – and absolute – honesty, it does all of the above beautifully. I’m usually hesitant to rave about something unreservedly, because my opinion of something – although I like to think well-informed – is never going to be representative of everyone’s feelings.
But I’ll stick my neck out here and say that I can’t think of many people – apart from perhaps those with oily skin – who won’t like the Charlotte Tilbury Hollywood Flawless Filter*. If you can imagine the juiciest primer, one that makes your skin feel immediately plump and rested, and then add a modicum of coverage (just enough to knock back unevenness of tone and slight redness) and a huge dose of non-glimmery glow, you’re halfway to imagining just how lovely this Flawless Filter is.
Charlotte Tilbury in no way describes this Flawless Filter as a foundation, but I’ve put it into the foundation category nevertheless because it ticks so many of the boxes that a foundation should. In fact it ticks all of the boxes that most foundations don’t; adding a liveliness and healthy glow to the skin that many foundations, especially heavy coverage formulas, take away. For those who have always searched for a minimal coverage base that makes their skin look amazing, but in the most natural and unobvious way, this is just the business.
Let’s take a look at the coverage level, because I know how you like my close-up photos! And I don’t want anyone buying into the Flawless Filter dream thinking that they’ll get a full-on face makeover – spots and dark circles will not be totally covered. But then again, I wouldn’t be categorising this as a foundation if it didn’t provide at least some coverage, so – oh bloody hell, let’s just get on with it shall we?
Here’s my face before:
and here it is after:
Please note that my camera does a very weird auto adjustment thing, sometimes, if my face is reflecting more light in one photo. Which it was after I had applied the Flawless Filter! So some of the warmth you can see in the after picture is down to camera adjustment rather than the product itself, but you can see that the Flawless Filter has done a pretty surprisingly decent job (for a touted “complexion enhancer”) of evening out my skintone, knocking back any minor redness and toning down undereye darkness.
You can actually see the coverage level by focusing on the little moles next to my nose and on my upper lip. But if you look at the overall tone of the skin, it’s just wonderfully juicy and plumptious and glowing. In terms of finish, there’s absolutely no greasy feel, but there is a dewiness that feels almost as though the skin has been glossed. Perhaps with an ultra-moisturising balm, but one that’s sophisticated and elegant. In terms of comfort, if you have skin that’s on the dry side, the Flawless Filter is just delightful.
My only gripe? The spongey oversized concealer wand applicator. I just don’t get it. Is it so that the product can be precisely applied over foundation? Because I like to use it all over, as a primer (or more often a complete, standalone base) and so some sort of pump action bottle or squeezy tube would make life easier. As it is I have to take the wand and draw all over my face, which always seems a weird thing to do. Although it stops me from using quite as much product as I probably would do if I could dispense it more easily, so perhaps it’s a blessing in disguise…
A small – tiny – criticism, because there is nothing else I can find to dislike about the Hollywood Flawless Filter. I had my friend Rach test it too, because I like to double-test things to make sure I’m not a raving lunatic (and I like hearing her feedback, which is always quite colourful and amusing); her review was enthusiastically glowing.
“It’s so good I don’t want to tell anyone about it. I was going to Instagram it and then I thought twice. Why would I share something this amazing?”
I like her style. And I get where she’s coming from – the Flawless Filter is like the ultimate one-step head start. It has people asking how an earth your skin is so good, rather than asking for the name of your foundation. It’s supposed to mimic one of those beauty filters that you can apply to your face on Snapchat and Instagram but in reality it’s so, so much better than that; it’s filters for grown-ups. It’s a filter for people who don’t actually buy into the whole “be a fake you” sort of climate – it’s a helping hand, but turbo-charged. I bloody, bloody love it.
Some practical notes: I use shade 3, but in the winter I would be a shade 2. It’s not essential to have an exact match and actually, it’s impossible because the shade range isn’t that precise. It’s a “complexion enhancer” and not a foundation, strictly speaking, so you’re never going to be tediously blending this out around the hairline.
That said, it does need blending – there’s a certain amount of pigment to consider and if you leave blobs, they show. But a whisk over with sponge, foundation brush or fingertips (fingers waste the least product I reckon) is all you need for an absolutely flawless finish.
You can apply the Hollywood Flawless Filter as a sort of primer, adding concealer or foundation lightly over the top where you need it (the full-face image above is with some Burberry BB blended in over the top, around the centre of my face) or you can use it more precisely as an absolutely gorgeous dewy highlight.
If you’re unsure of shade, there are Charlotte Tilbury counters in Selfridges and John Lewis, but if you are around a shade 20 (ish) in brands like Dior, Chanel, Guerlain and MAC then you’ll probably like the 3 in Flawless Filter as it gives some added warmth.
I’m not sure how helpful the below swatches will be, as when the filter is blended out it looks entirely sheer and so colour match (as previously mentioned) isn’t a massive issue, but I’ve pasted on some streaks of a few shades just to show you how they look;
The swatch to the far left is Guerlain Lingerie de Peau foundation in shade 20 (full review here) and then from left to right next to that we have Flawless Filter in shades 2, 3 and 4. 3 is the warmest and most peachy, four is a lot cooler. There are seven shades in the range altogether – I’d welcome your feedback in the comments regarding the shade range and whether you managed to find one that suited.
You can find Charlotte Tilbury Hollywood Flawless Filter at Cult Beauty here*, John Lewis here* and Charlotte Tilbury here* – it’s £30. They seem to have the best stock of all shades, at time of writing…
If you’d like to see the Flawless Filter in action then there’s a video on my Youtube channel – I should warn you that it contains an advertorial for a totally different product, but if you skip to 5 minutes and 15 seconds you’ll get straight to the point! The video is here.
By the way, the amazing felt petals in the background of my product shots are actually part of a bath mat from Aquanova. They do the most brilliant, textured, almost sculptural bath mats and I am obsessed with them – I have another two in my basket at Amara*.