Brace yourselves ladies cos this is looong!
The Kevyn Aucoin Sensual Skin Enhancer is a super pigmented ‘creme Makeup/concealer’. It has a light scent that’s somehow familiar to me, and it hits me as I’m writing this – it has the same smell as the Shiseido cold cream my mum used back in those days. The SSE is indeed made in Japan, not saying anything – I just found this tidbit interesting on a personal level to mention it that’s all.
I picked this up in May 2014. The pot contains 18g of product. The brand underwent some a repackaging in the last couple of years and from what I can see, the SSE comes in a gold box now (instead of burgundy), and the label on the bottom is black (again instead of burgundy). Other than that it seems to be pretty much the same.
Confession: I started this post in June actually, and of course never gotten round to finishing it for all sorts of reasons. I went easy on my base makeup since starting my new job in July, often not wearing any. When I do I reach for my powders because they are fast and help with the shine I get when it gets hot in the kitchen. Because I’m determined to post today I pulled out the SSE yesterday to refresh my memory and was completely blown away all over again.
I will confirm everything else you’ve read on the internet about this cult product. Yes, you can use the SSE as:
1. full-coverage foundation that can be sheered out to a tinted moisturizer
2. spot concealing – probably the best concealer out there
3. contour/highlight (by using a shade lighter/darker – you can do this with all foundations though, not just the SSE)
There’s a wealth of information out there on how to use this product. I won’t go into too much detail, but to get you started:
1. You’ll read/hear again and again that you don’t need much, just a pin size. That’s probably true but you need to experiment and find your preferred dosage. You may need more than that, or less depending on what you want to achieve and the way you use this.
2. If you use this straight, do it on just moisturized skin for best results. And buff, buff, buff. Using this neat will give you enough coverage to hide acne and scars.
3. Chances are you don’t need the full coverage on a daily basis, and you will be mixing it with something else to sheer it out. I have tried mixing the SSE with:
– moisturizer (I got the best results with a lighter more ‘watery’/thinner moisturizer, and I moisturized separately beforehand but this is out of habit)
– primer (my current primer is slightly tinted and it seems to work better than my moisturizer.)
– oil (I used Clarins and this gives a very dewy finish; the SSE is also the easiest to spread when used with an oil)
– another foundation (you can fine-tune the shade of the SSE if you didn’t get an exact match. Use a sheer foundation)
4. I have used the SSE with a buffing brush, my fingers and the beauty blender. I always finish with a buffing brush just to make sure everything is buffed in perfectly. I tend to use my fingers when I’m sheering the SSE out with another product, and a brush/sponge when using it straight. If you use a moistened beauty blender you can use this as is. It give a very nice finish.
The SSE can be sheered out til you can barely see it on the skin. It’s a versatile product but one that demands a little more work to achieve the look and finish that you want.
The biggest hurdle you’ll have with the SSE is probably choosing the right shade. I got matched at the counter to SX10 but asked to try SX7 as well and I confirmed the suspicion that I can also wear it. At that time (summer) SX10 matches my face while SX7 matches my neck. I have both of them now and knowing I’m in between these two shades I mix them together for the perfect match.
I didn’t swatch everything and couldn’t remember the differences of the shades in proximity anymore. All I can say is that SX7 and SX10 are both suitable for NC skin tones. If your skin is yellow-based or neutral, these two would work for you. They are both quite neutral actually. A lot of bloggers with asian skin tone wear SX5. I suggest if you’re light/medium to look at 5 & 7. 10 is perhaps more medium/light.
For what it’s worth, a very good match for me at the moment is the Lunasol Skin Modeling Water Cream Foundation in OC02. If I had to choose now (meaning November, cooler months and my current complexion etc etc) I would go for SX7. This suggestion is for use all over the face. I know some people buy this for contouring, so adjust as required.
If you can’t make it to a counter for a match, here are some online resources:
To get a better idea of how the shades are numbered and organised in the range, I found the picture on this site to be the most accurate. This will let you get a general feel and the shade undertones, and perhaps allow you to narrow a few options.
For descriptions and MAC ‘equivalents’ I found the descriptions by Karima to be more accurate than others I’ve come across. There’s also a tutorial!
Cult Beauty (not affiliated) will give you descriptions of the shades if you hover your mouse over. There was another shopping website that gave better descriptions but I couldn’t find it anymore.
One thing I should point out is the consistency is different between the two. SX7 is more creamy and fluid while SX10 is more compact and won’t move even if I shake it vigorously. I don’t know which is the ‘correct’ form but I do find I need more of SX10 if I’m using it straight. SX7 is a little easier to spread and apply. That is one of the reasons why the dosage could be different and you need to find what’s best for you.
If you accept that mineral oil is the first ingredient and your skin is ok with that, SSE is the foundation to end all foundations*. I was tempted to try the Dior Star but when I put this on again yesterday I wondered why I wanted to buy another foundation because there’s no way it can beat the SSE. My skin looked perfect even when I have scars from current breakouts/medication etc. I used it straight with a beauty blender and it hid everything while remaining natural looking. It does everything a good foundation should do and more. Again, if your skin is ok with the ingredients and the fact that it is slightly perfumed (scent doesn’t last) I highly recommend giving this a go, especially for those of us with problem skin or acne scarring who need more help in the coverage department. It’s such a versatile product with so many possibilities to customize the way you want to use it. And yes you use so little of it my two little jars will outlast me.
* Ok I admit there’s still one contender – Cle de Peau Cream. I had a jar of the Stephane Marais cream foundation back in the day and O.M.G. it had no contest. Marais was behind CdP and the packaging and consistency of the two at the time were eerily similar. Somehow I always forget about CdP when I’m shopping for a foundation… my next (and last) one will be Cle de Peau.