Above: The streamlined, luxe Serge Lutens packaging…I love this aesthetic.
A couple of months ago, I purchased the Serge Lutens Teint Si Fin Compact Foundation. This was a carefully deliberated transaction as this product is far from inexpensive. Retailing for $80 for the powder pan and $80 for the compact, one cannot help but question if such a product is worth the cost.
Above: The Teint Si Fin is made in Japan and offers .28 ounces of product; thankfully, a little goes a long way!
Having procured more powders in my lifetime that I can even enumerate, I was able to justify this purchase as commensurate to the total cost of a few powders that I own and currently do not wear and thought, if I end up wearing this all of the time, then it may be worth it.
Above: The relatively brief ingredients list of the Teint Si Fin…my sensitive skin hasn’t experienced an ounce of irritation from this particular grouping of ingredients. Also, although the ingredients include fragrance, I cannot detect a scent at all.
Above: The Serge Lutens Teint Si Fin compact in all its ebony glory.
I originally bought the powder (sans the compact) with hopes that I wouldn’t need the compact for the full experience. However, my hopes were dashed when I quickly grew tired of opening and closing the fragile plastic packaging that held the pan of powder. In turn, I ended up ordering the entire compact shortly after!
The compact is a sleek, glossy black, minimalist case with beautiful hinges and a generous mirror. It has a separate compartment for the sponge (which is standard) and I love how this feels in my hands. It opens easily and closes securely with a satisfying snap.
Above: Even though the compact comes labeled and intact with a particular shade of powder, you can buy the refills in any shade, thereby making the compact quite utilitarian.
Above: My pristine pan of Teint Si Fin in O40 before sullying it with a brush or sponge ; ) It looks quite dark in the pan, but applies much lighter and thankfully doesn’t oxidize!
Because there was so little by way of details and information (much less, swatches!) regarding this product, I spent an inordinate amount of time deciding on which shade to order. After a couple of phone calls with the Serge Lutens specialist at Barney’s (I even gave her my match in the Kevyn Aucoin SSE–#6–which she swatched in conjunction with the powders just to make sure), I came to the conclusion that O40 was likely the best match for my NC25 skin.
Texturally, this powder is exceedingly finely-milled, endlessly silky and somehow simultaneously harnesses both mattifying and glow-inducing powers. On its own as a powder foundation, I found that the coverage to be minimal; it is difficult for me to call this an official “foundation powder.” However, if you have very good skin to begin with, then I suppose a great primer and thorough application of this powder might be all one needs for a polished visage. I find that this works amazingly well over any foundation that I choose for the day, and I fully acknowledge that this rotation can be vast!
Applied with a foundation brush (in this case, my trusty Hourglass Retractable Foundation Brush), it provides a lovely finishing effect and additional coverage…a few swirls are sufficient as a little of this goes a remarkably long way. It simply melts into the skin, removing excess shine and adding extra coverage, all the while without imparting a perceivable powdery finish. I notice that this does not oxidize as the day goes on and touchups with the sponge throughout the day are achieved without unsightly buildup.
Above: Serge Lutens Teint Si Fin in O40 in direct sunlight.
Because this powder is so finely milled, relatively sheer (although it gives excellent buildable coverage over a base of foundation), and instantly melds with the skin upon application (the chief challenge for color-saturated images), I found that it was excruciatingly difficult to swatch. I took a veritable host of pictures and the next couple of images are the absolute best I have to offer; despite trying a variety of lighting situations, the powder would just not appear as it did to my naked eye! I am hoping that the resulting swatches, in tandem with my shade descriptions, will be of use to those hoping to order this sight unseen!
Onto the swatches and shade descriptions…
Above: Serge Lutens Teint Si Fin (top row L-R) in Blanc, BF20, B40, B60, D10 and (bottom row L-R) I20, I40, O40, O60, O20. It should be noted that the powders apply more lightly than they appear in the pan!
Above: The Teint Si Fin in O40 is clearly darker than both the Hourglass Diffused Light and Makeup Forever Pro Finish Powder in #117 Warm Ivory (which is also more opaque, borderlining on chalky) but it is also more gossamer in texture! It truly melts into the skin.
Above: Swatches of the Serge Lutens Teint Si Fin shade range in direct sunlight.
1. Blanc: Very light with yellow undertones (similar to Hourglass Diffused Light) for very fair skin
2. BF20: A light yellow beige for NC15-20 skin tones
3. I20: A light neutral beige for N/NW 15-20 skin tones
4. O20: A light yellow beige for NC20 skin tones (very similar to BF 20, perhaps a bit less yellow)
5. O40: A light yellow beige for NC20-27 skin tones (because this is fairly sheer and adaptable, I can see myself using this year round and I range from NC 23-NC 30, dependent on the season)
6. B40: A neutral to rosy beige for NW 25-30 skin tones
7. O60: A yellow beige for NC 30-40 skin tones
8. I40: A neutral beige for NW/N/NC 30-35 or so skin tones
9. B60: A rosy beige for NW 35 + skin tones
10. D10: A very warm, peachy beige for NW/N/NC 40 + skin tones
Above: Swatches of the Serge Lutens Teint Si Fin shade range in indoor car lighting.
Here is my video review as well of images of the powder on my face in various lighting and foundation situations…
Above: In direct sunlight…it creates a matte glow rather than a powdery finish (not a great expression, but a useful lighting context nonetheless!). I am wearing this over Revlon Colorstay Whipped Foundation in #200.
Bottom Line: The Serge Lutens line is simply exquisite. Clean, luxurious and rather esoteric, there is something alluring about a limited product range that requires serious saving (in my case) or a trust fund (in the case of the extremely wealthy, perhaps) to comfortably procure its wares. In terms of its glowing matte finish and medium coverage, the Teint Si Fin is a powder to rival all powders. While I am extremely happy to own this, I wholeheartedly believe that one could also find joy and contentment in a powder with a less exorbitant price tag. That being said, I don’t believe this powder is without arguable merit; from the sleek compact to the buildable coverage that somehow avoids looking cakey, even after multiple applications, I can rationalize this purchase like I would a high-end skincare item because I use it almost daily. It is a fixture in my purse, and the refills will cost half of what I paid for the entire unit initially.
In turn, I recommend it along with a prudent sentiment…if it is within your reach financially, then it is a lovely acquisition that features both form and function. If its cost is not reasonable within the constraints of your budget, then there are a myriad of powders that can deliver commensurate results…Sulwhasoo Brightening and Hourglass Ambient Lightening Powder to name a few!
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Another excellent review, and thank you for the swatches! Could you possibly do a tutorial on how to use the Serge Lutens primer please? I have this now but could really use a good tutorial. Thanks!
Hello Tammy…thank you so much!! Those swatches were a challenge to say the least ; ) I will definitely do a tutorial on the Lutens primer…will make it a priority this week! How are you liking it?
–The Beauty Professor
I havent tried it yet, waiting for your tutorial first. 🙂
On its way ; )
–The Beauty Professor
HI Rachel! I've been following your blog for months, as well as your YouTube channel, and since I'm currently in search for a new powder, I went back to this old post I remember reading and watching. You've sort of been the entire reason I've been getting as many compliments as I have recently. Thanks to you, I'm now using the LMdB peau vierge, Kanebo Sensai CP foundation, Marc Jacob hiliner, GA mascara, TF lipstick, and TF shade and illuminate…I suppose I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with you. My skin and self esteem love you, but my wallet isn't your biggest fan:). With that being said, this powder foundation seems amazing! I'm actually looking for a setting powder with a tiny bit of coverage and was wondering if you think this is a good option to set my makeup? Also, how does it do with flash photography? Does it have any ghostly flashback? Thank you!!
Thanks for your fantastic comment! I so appreciate your support of Beauty Professor! I am honored that my product recommendations have been successful for you…the ones you mention are still all a part of my daily routine.
With regards to your question, this powder is certainly a luxe option…truly the most expensive powder I have ever purchased. That being said, if you can find a match, it is lovely…finely milled and invisible on the skin when applied with a light hand (and a brush). It is much better as a setting/touch up powder rather than a full foundation but I love the sleek case and exclusive nature of the brand. I haven't personally experienced any flashback with this powder. A couple other powders that I have been loving lately are the Givenchy Teint Couture powder foundation (feels rather similar to the SL, just much less expensive), the Givenchy Bonne Mine Healthy Glow powder in #1 and the Armani Luminous Silk Powder in #5. I am also eagerly awaiting the debut of the Le Metier de Beaute Peau Vierge Powder (to be released at the end of this month, hopefully).
I hope that helps…xoxo and keep me posted on what you choose,
–The Beauty Professor
I am looking for a power foundation and I am about a NC 20-23, do you think 040 would be too dark? Also I live in a hot, humid area of the US, how do you think this would fare as a foundation only during the summer ( I have very oily skin).
Thanks for your help
With regards to your question, the O40 is NC 23-25, though I do think those who are NC 20 could likely get away with it as well. This formula is great for perfecting the skin and also setting foundation, but it isn't a full-coverage powder foundation like MAC Studio Fix or NARS Foundation Powder. I find it works well even in warm and humid weather!
Hope that helps…xx,
–The Beauty Professor
First, thank you for your blog. It has been so helpful on my recent foundation quest. Lucky for me, we're similar enough in shade so that what works for you seems to work for me too.
I am considering the SL powder, which I don't mind paying for if it could be my ultimate powder. I tend toward oily and compact powder foundations seem to make my cream bases last (currently Tom Ford stick foundation).
You wrote this post back in May 2013. It is still helpful today. But I am wondering: do you still use and enjoy this product? Occasionally? Daily? Often enough?
Thank you if you are still taking questions/comments,