Foundation Review: Charlotte Tilbury Hollywood Flawless Filter

(links marked * are affiliate links, for more info see disclaimer below post)

charlotte tilbury hollywood flawless filter review

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.

charlotte tilbury hollywood flawless filter review

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 hollywood flawless filter review

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:

Charlotte Tilbury Hollywood Flawless Filter Review

and here it is after:

Charlotte Tilbury Hollywood Flawless Filter Review

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.


Charlotte Tilbury Hollywood Flawless Filter Review

Charlotte Tilbury Hollywood Flawless Filter Review

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.

charlotte tilbury hollywood flawless filter review

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.

Charlotte Tilbury Hollywood Flawless Filter Review

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.

Buy Flawless Filter online here*

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;

charlotte tilbury hollywood flawless filter swatches

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*.

DISCLOSURE POLICY. Posts published after 24th January 2019: if the post contains gifted items or affiliate links then it is indicated clearly beneath the title. Posts published prior to this will have a disclosure within the body of the post and then an asterisk * marking all affiliate links. If the content is a paid-for AD then it is marked as an AD in the title. For more information on disclosure please read here. 



  1. Aleksandra
    May 17, 2021 / 7:10 pm

    My best matched foundation shade ever was 1.5N in Loreal Thru Match – any idea of what shade be best in this?

  2. Jo
    March 9, 2021 / 7:28 pm

    Help please with colour , I use magic away shade 8. Any ideas please?

  3. Cindy Cheeseman
    June 12, 2020 / 5:17 pm

    I wear 3 cool froid airbrush flawless foundation .Could you advise me what colour flawless filter l should buy?

  4. Ada F
    August 30, 2018 / 9:27 am

    Hi! What brush are you using in the video mentioned in the blog? Thanks!

  5. Kitty
    August 29, 2018 / 11:38 am

    Btw, any plans of doing a review of her new concealer and magic powder any time really, really soon?

  6. Jane Amies
    August 28, 2018 / 11:15 am

    I have been considering buying this for a while and once I had read your blog I went ahead and bought a bottle. It’s completely fabulous stuff and does exactly what it says on the bottle; trying to wear less make-up as I near 60!! and this works wonders……………..I wore it alone yesterday and I had a glowy, healthy look until I removed it at the end of the day. Could not recommend more highly. Thanks Ruth as ever for your brilliant blogs!

    Can you work your way through all her other products perhaps as I do value your opinion? Or perhaps you have done that already and I missed them.

  7. Donna
    August 25, 2018 / 11:05 am

    Hi, I’m pretty pale, would you be able to suggest a shade? For comparison, I normally wear Double Wear in either ivory nude (1N1) or shell (0C0), or Nars Sheer glow in Mont Blanc, Bobbi Brown in alabaster/ porcelain.


    • January 25, 2019 / 2:50 am

      Shade 1 , in my opinion. Look at the undertone and choose 1 or 2 . Hope that helps .

  8. Lynda Allen
    August 22, 2018 / 2:30 am

    Wonderful timing… I have heard good things about Flawless Filter and took a leap of faith and blind bought it ( number 3). Yet to try it so your review is timely. Heading off to try it now…

  9. Kay
    August 21, 2018 / 11:10 pm

    So I love how this looks but everytime I’ve used it, after a couple of days I’ve had breakouts along my jaw line. I’ve retried a few times thinking maybe it was coincidence (although I’m not really a spotty person at all, and never in that place) but it keeps happening.

    Is it just me???

    I’ve stuck to using it as an over foundation highlighter on cheekbones but I’m so annoyed because it looks great all over.

    • August 22, 2018 / 8:46 am

      Really? Maybe it’s too heavy for your skin all over? xx

  10. August 21, 2018 / 1:27 pm

    Ive heard so many positive reviews about this product. I definitely need to try it!

  11. Aurelly
    August 21, 2018 / 1:05 pm

    Ruth, it looks like you’re wearing some sort of base in the first picture – you have dark circles, but they are nowhere to be seen. Is it the Burberry BB?

    • August 21, 2018 / 1:57 pm

      No, the Burberry BB went on after – you can see that in the picture near to the bottom of the post! The “before” pic is no makeup apart from – weirdly – mascara! x

  12. Linnea
    August 21, 2018 / 12:17 pm

    could you compare it to MAC face and body?

    • August 21, 2018 / 1:59 pm

      Yep, it’s nothing like MAC face and body. That’s a sheer foundation with a watery sort of consistency, this is a very glowy, bouncy balm with little in the way of coverage.

  13. August 21, 2018 / 11:39 am

    Being really oily (and still stuck in the 80s with my love for a matte base) I am probably one of the few people that will not get on with it.

    Anne|Linda, Libra, Loca

    • Abigail
      August 24, 2018 / 8:32 pm

      I’m the same Anne, still trying to wean myself off a matte base and all over powder but it’s hard. Thing is though, a matte base and all over powder still suits my skin, I get compliments all the time, I just can’t do dewy and no powder.

  14. Kitty
    August 21, 2018 / 8:44 am

    I’d love a few words on how it compares to the Wonderglow!

    • August 21, 2018 / 10:06 am

      It’s balmier, glossier – Wonderglow is potentially better for oily/combination skinx

      • Kitty
        August 29, 2018 / 11:35 am

        Thanks! In terms of coverage, does it have more pigments/coverage than the Wonderglow? Because if it doesn’t – well, I already own the Wonderglow.

        • August 29, 2018 / 2:27 pm

          Yes, Wonderglow has pretty much zero coverage. xx

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