TLM foundation reviews colour changing
£28

TLM foundation review: Does the TLM colour-changing foundation actually work?

20th June 2020 | Author: Victoria Woollaston-Webber
Verdict

We have spent almost a lifetime of using makeup hunting for the very best foundation for our skin – one that matches our tone, one that controls our shine, one that gives decent coverage while hiding our imperfections, and one that lasts. With the TLM foundation, we may have finally found it. 

It’s not perfect but it comes so remarkably close that we’d happily pay more than £28 for it. In fact, we’ve paid almost double that at times for lesser products. 

That said, only because it suits our skin doesn’t mean that it will be as effective on other skin types and tones. It’s unlikely to suit dry, acne-prone skin given its thick consistency and the way it absorbs oil, for example. It’s also unlikely to be suitable if you have particularly light, or dark skin given the way it works and how its colour develops. 

It is worth giving it a go though, just in case we’re wrong. And if you can get it for £14, then it’s almost a no-brainer. 

Pros
  • Works as promised
  • Oil and shine control lasts for hours
  • Performs better than more expensive foundations
Cons
  • Thick consistency
  • Strong, chemical smell
Where to Buy
Diablo Cosmetics On sale for £14 (RRP £28)
TLM Foundation Cosmetics £28
Prices are accurate at the time of publishing and are subject to change.

During our lengthy hunt to find the best foundation match, we recently discovered the TLM colour-changing foundation range. Promising to blend perfectly with any skin tone – a promise that is seemingly backed up by countless positive TLM foundation reviews online – we decided to put the viral makeup to the test to see if it actually is the holy grail of shade swatching. 

Available from Diablo Cosmetics in the UK, TLM foundation not only claims to change colour to perfectly adjust to each wearer’s skin tone, it also comes with SPF 15, doubles up as a concealer for acne and dark circles, controls oil and shine, will last 16 hours, is sweat and humidity resistant and is suitable for all skin types, including sensitive skin. 

READ NEXT: Best foundation brush

As you’d expect, this means it doesn’t come particularly cheap – at £28 for a 30ml bottle – but since we bought it in April on sale, for £14, we haven’t seen it go for more than £20. At this price, if it works as well as it says it does, the TLM colour changing foundation is an absolute bargain. 

Before we dive into our TLM foundation review, it’s worth explaining how colour-changing foundations work.

What is colour-changing foundation?

Having been marketed for years, colour-changing products promise to offer “universally flattering coverage and colour” by removing the hassle of trying to, firstly, work out what your individual skin tone and shade is, and secondly, find a foundation or concealer to match.  

Often referred to self-adjusting foundations, the products on the market tend to fall into two categories: one that reacts to the PH level of your skin, and a second that uses so-called encapsulated pigments. These pigments suspend the colour in an oil or gel that breaks when it’s massaged into the skin. 

Seeing as your skin’s pH level has nothing to do with skin tone, we’d avoid the first option. Yet, the latter formula does make some scientific sense.

Typically available in thick grey or white liquids, it’s the encapsulated pigments formula that is in the TLM colour-changing foundation. 

How does the TLM colour-changing foundation work?

TLM Colour changing foundation reviewTLM

The TLM colour-changing foundation is white in the bottle but its pigment develops as you massage it into the skin

TLM’s formula separates and suspends the pigment – small microcapsules of colour – within its base. This base is an SPF moisturiser and it’s this moisturiser that gives the TLM foundation its white colour inside the bottle. 

The pigments are coated with oil or gel, to stop them breaking down in the base, but when the foundation is applied and blended into the skin, these coatings break and the coloured pigment is released.

Scientifically it’s impossible for the pigments to know what your skin tone is so they don’t “self-adjust” to match. This is why applying the TLM foundation and leaving it on your skin won’t give you a perfect match.

Instead, the more you blend the foundation, the more colour is released. As you continue to blend, you’ll eventually get to the point where you’re happy with the colour and tone and you’ll stop blending.

This means that while you’ve managed to achieve a perfect foundation match – which on its own is still impressive – you’re the one who has done the hard work in the matching process, not the foundation itself. 

TLM foundation review

For the past two months, we’ve used the TLM foundation with various primers, applied it using different methods (fingers, brush, beauty blender) and worn it on its own in natural makeup looks, as well as in glam makeup looks. 

On each occasion, we wore it from first thing in the morning (about 7am) until we went to bed (at about 10pm) and we deliberately didn’t touch up our makeup throughout the day, in order to get a true reflection of its staying power. 

Consistency and colour

The first thing that struck us about the TLM colour-changing foundation was the fact it’s white with what appear to be small coloured specks throughout.

The second thing, and one that is slightly unpleasant, was its smell. Whereas most foundations we’ve tried don’t smell of anything – other than Huda Beauty’s #FauxFilter foundation which smells amazing! – the TLM colour changing foundation has an almost musty, slightly chemical smell. 

A single pump produces a blob about the size of a redcurrant and the consistency is thick. Much thicker, and creamier than any other foundation we’ve ever used. 

It’s also matte in appearance, but with a slight shimmer, whereas most foundations have more of a glossy finish. 

Application

As you start to apply the foundation, its thick consistency means it has a tendency to sit on the top of the skin, rather than being absorbed.

It’s almost like a thin face mask and the only way to spread it out is to start massaging it with your fingers, or begin blending with a brush or sponge. This also gets rid of the smell.

Seeing as this is needed to activate the colour pigments, it doesn’t surprise us that it takes a fair bit of work to get the product to evenly coat the skin.

We have oily skin, so we didn’t experience too many problems with this, but if you’ve got dry skin or are looking for a more natural finish, you may struggle with the TLM foundation. 

As the “science” suggests, the more you blend, the more the colour develops and while it’s not quite as immediate or dramatic as we had expected, you can see the pigment developing in front of your eyes. 

TLM Foundation coverage

The best finish we got when using the TLM foundation was when we applied it using a damp beauty blender (we used the £17 Beauty Blender Pro) before using the Il Makiage foundation blending brush #100 (£38). 

You can read more about how to apply foundation like a pro in our guide.

When we used our fingers, we didn’t get the even coverage we were after and found we had more product left on our hands than on our face. 

TLM foundation handTLM

The TLM foundation has a thick, creamy consistency

The single pump was enough for medium coverage for our entire face. It also did a decent job of masking redness on our cheeks and helping to hide our dark circles without the need for further concealer.

This is a blessing considering how thick the TLM foundation is, we were reluctant to put even more makeup on the thin skin around our eyes out of fear of it looking cakey. 

However, to get full coverage, we found ourselves reaching for a little more product and while it is possible (just) to build this colour-changing foundation, it takes a fair amount of effort.

As you blend the new layer of foundation, you’re also activating more pigment in the first layer so it takes a while to get both layers to balance, not to mention making it look too dark on our skin after having achieved a perfect match with layer one. 

What we recommend is applying two pumps to the back of your hand and gradually building it all in one go, rather than getting to your desired colour and adding more. 

You can similarly use less product if you want a more natural finish, and it doesn’t take as long to blend to match your skin tone with less product, so this may be your preferred route. 

Be warned though, if you’re applying contour – particularly cream contour – and blusher to your look, you may find you end up messing with your perfectly balanced base as you buff and blend these additional products.

It’s certainly not a deal breaker, and we regularly wore the TLM foundation as part of a wider glam look, but it’s worth bearing in mind. 

We should also mention that we have a medium skin tone, and the TLM foundation worked very well in matching our colouring, but we can imagine that if you have particularly light or dark skin, the foundation won’t work as well. 

If you’re pale, you may find you have to over-blend the foundation to get an even coverage, at which point you’ve activated too much colour and the tone is too dark. 

If you’re dark, you may find you have to really work and blend to get the TLM foundation up to the desired tone. Also, given that the colour that developed on our skin was orangey/peachy, it may be that the colour capsules won’t contain the depth of colour, or hues needed for darker skin tones, particularly deep dark tones. 

Other results

Beyond the coverage, we were very impressed with how the TLM colour-changing foundation controlled our oily skin.

Even in the past, when we’ve used what are considered the best foundations for oily skin alongside mattifying primers, powders and setting spray, our skin has still ended up looking shiny within about two hours. 

This wasn’t the case with the TLM foundation.

Not only did it control oil to the point where our face looked matte, for hours on end, it also gave our skin a wonderful soft feeling too. The kind of feeling you only get with a good dose of setting powder, without the caked-on look.  

This also meant that our makeup looked freshly applied well into the afternoon. This is rare and it’s usually melted off by mid-morning.  

It was also reassuring to know the TLM foundation contains broad-spectrum SPF, meaning that we didn’t have to layer on an additional SPF product on days when our skin was feeling a little clogged up or heavy. On days when our skin felt clear, we still applied our go-to Pixi Sun Mist (£18) to give us a little extra protection. 

If you don’t know why we’re so obsessed with using SPF, you can read our What is SPF and why is it so important? guide. 

TLM foundation review: Verdict

We have spent almost a lifetime of using makeup hunting for the very best foundation for our skin – one that matches our tone, one that controls our shine, one that gives decent coverage while hiding our imperfections, and one that lasts. With the TLM foundation, we may have finally found it. 

It’s not perfect – did we mention the smell?! – but it comes so remarkably close that we’d happily pay more than £28 for it. In fact, we’ve paid almost double that at times for lesser products. 

That said, only because it suits our skin doesn’t mean that it will be as effective on other skin types and tones. It’s unlikely to suit dry, acne-prone skin given its thick consistency and the way it absorbs oil, for example. It’s also unlikely to be suitable if you have particularly light, or dark skin given the way it works and how its colour develops. 

It is worth giving it a go though, just in case we’re wrong. And if you can get it for £14, then it’s almost a no-brainer. 


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