A serum-like foundation with an undetectable finish for women who prefer to go naked. Female reports from Seoul.

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The cool girls sport it, the Koreans pride themselves on it, and the beauty brands have been at pains to come up with smarter products to help women pull it off without looking like they’re faking it. And having been trending for several seasons, the nude look isn’t so much a fad now as it is a catwalk and red-carpet staple.

There are good reasons why this understated effect is in everyone’s good-look books. It instantly “de-ages” you (heavy foundation and blush, on the other hand, could easily add another decade to your appearance), it’s modern and goes with just about anything you wear, plus it comes across as effortless and nonchalant, like you’re not trying too hard. The irony, of course, is that you are. Because for most regular women who aren’t endowed with Youcam Perfect skin or a makeup artist on speed dial, getting this seemingly uncomplicated look down pat can be hard work. Read: colour correctors, concealer, the right foundation, and even highlighters and shading powder.

Though countless foundations promise a natural nude complexion, it’s a tough gig delivering coverage with a bare-skin finish, glow that doesn’t deviate into shine, and effortless perfection. However, after years of fine-tuning, beauty house Dior appears to have found the winning formula to achieve this beauty trifecta.

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The Diorskin Nude Air Nude Healthy Glow Ultra-fluid Serum Foundation SPF25/PA++ ($88) is skincare-infused makeup that is so fluid and weightless that it’s not dispensed via the usual pump bottle or tube, but with a dropper. Available in four shades, it can be applied with your fingers – no need for brush or sponge – and feels more like a serum than a foundation. A few drops are all you need, though you can layer a teeny bit more over selected areas for higher coverage if necessary.

“I love this foundation, because it really does what it promises,” says Peter Philips, Dior Makeup’s freshly appointed creative and image director. “I had a lot of people asking why it isn’t a cushion foundation. But this formula is too lightweight – it’s like water, that’s why it doesn’t fit in a cushion because it will just drip out of the case or disappear into the cushion. The dropper is ideal for this foundation because you don’t need much.”

Developed with the revitalising and glow-enhancing effects of oxygen in mind, this serum foundation boasts what the brand calls Oxygen Activ technology – a combo of vitamins, minerals and plant oils, such as cranberry oil, for antioxidant protection. It also has hyper-oxygenated oil packed with air bubbles that reportedly stimulate and perk up skin.

“This foundation’s strength, and what makes it unique, is the lightness of the formula. When you apply it, it feels nourishing, yet it’s so soft. After a while, half of it evaporates, leaving just this illusion of perfection. And that’s magical,” says Philips. Having joined Dior in the late stages of the product’s development, his first experience of the foundation was not in the labs, but as a makeup artist using it in real life. “When I shared it with my team, they were blown away. And when you apply it on the girls, they go, ‘Oh, it’s done? That’s it?’ Then they check in the mirror and see that it just illuminates them,” he says.

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Despite a formula that’s high on volatile oils and with zero talc, the serum foundation has a velvety finish that doesn’t make skin look greasy, even in tropical conditions. “It’s mattifying, and this works out nicely in a very humid climate because the formula counterbalances humidity and oily skin,” says Philips. “When I tried it in Europe, where we don’t have that humidity, I sometimes had the problem of the air being too dry. So I would apply a bit of oil or a very rich moisturiser on the skin first. By doing that, I realised that this foundation gives a beautiful, luminous effect when combined with oil, which means if you have oily skin or the impact of humidity, it will be perfect. It’s very good for Asia,” he says.

Complementing the foundation are Diorskin Nude Air Healthy Glow Invisible Loose Powder ($88, in five shades) and Compact Powder ($86, in three shades), which lend finishing touches by further unifying and mattifying the complexion. Designed to be highly “breathable” on skin, these feather-light powders are barely perceptible, but come loaded with skincare ingredients like vitamins, minerals and sweet orange extract to help keep skin toned and protected against pollution.

Given that the entire Diorskin Nude range is dedicated to creating a bare-skin effect, it begs the question of how this latest foundation’s “nude” is different from that of other products in the line, such as the BB Creme and Natural Glow Radiant Foundation. “The makeup result is a bit different. This is a more fine-tuned formula; it doesn’t look like makeup, and gives a kind of matte effect,” explains Philips. “The BB variant is a cream. It gives a beautiful result and has its fan base, but this serum foundation is different – it’s like air. It feels like there’s nothing there.”

An adapted version of this story appeared in Female‘s May issue, out on newsstands now. 

Like this? Read our review of Dior’s Makeover Experience here