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The new Estée Lauder foundation

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Judging by your tweets, our foundation feature in this week’s issue has been a big hit with a lot of you. We even noticed some of your carrying out the tests on the bus on the way to work!

With this in mind we thought that you’d like to know a little bit more about how these super-foundations were produced so we got straight on the phone with Anne Carullo, Senior Vice President of Global Product Development at Estée Lauder to ask her to talk us through how Estée Lauder Invisible Fluid Makeup (£27) was created…

How did you realise that women needed more from their foundation that they were getting?

We realised that the demand for skincare products was shifting, as women became more concerned and proactive about their skincare, they were seeking improved benefits from skincare products. Our research identified a pattern: We found that consumers wanted “light”, “flawless” makeup that looked “natural” and would enhance their skin, so we set out to develop a new formula that would meet their needs.

How much research goes into developing a foundation?

About two years ago, I decided to un-think everything I knew about foundation and envision an entirely new possibility for the brand. To achieve this, we created Foundation Sensoriums -- a series of very innovative consumer research groups that would marry what our consumers said they wanted, with something they were actually touching and experiencing. Our Foundation Sensoriums for Invisible were made up of traditional and occasional foundation users in two age brackets. The first group consisted of women in their 20’s to mid-30’s, and the second group was comprised of women ages 30 and above. In the Sensoriums, we used unlabelled bottles so no one could tell which brand each test product came from. We included formulas from our own company and competitive formulas that also sell very well in the industry. We then gave each woman a descriptive word list, much like in a taste test, and asked her to try each product and check off the words that best described it.

What did these trials tell you?

We found that many women considered some top-selling formulations to be traditional, “not unique”, “too heavy” and “too artificial.” We also learned that, after testing other foundations that position themselves as the most natural and flawless on the market, our Sensorium women didn’t consider them to be modern or light enough. The words that women used in these studies to describe the makeup that they wanted were: “clean”, “fresh”, “ultra-light”, “ultra-thin” and “ultra-fluid”. Additionally, they felt that the overall gesture of taking a formula and pumping or squeezing it out of a bottle was old fashioned. That’s when we had a genuine eureka moment -- we realised that the product our consumers wanted just didn’t yet exist!

So what makes Invisible so unique?

I’ve been a passionate makeup developer for many years and I’ve always been intrigued by the concept of "visible invisibility." By that I mean, you don’t dare go bare at Estée Lauder, but you don’t want to see what's on your skin either; the foundation should basically be invisible. The equation that makes up invisibility has three components. The first is reflection. The second is refraction, which means light is going to hit a surface, bounce back towards your eyes and diffuse or scatter what you’re seeing. The third need is absorption, so that enough light goes into the skin to create translucency. All three components hadn’t existed together in the cosmetic world before. We could refract and reflect. We could reflect and absorb, but we never could do all three…until now.

How did you create that finish?

Well,pigments are often coated and smooth, but they can also be heavy. Ordinarily, we go to vendors and ask them to help us develop pigments that we use in our products. In this case, however, because we wanted to be so sensitive in developing Invisible, for the first time in Estée Lauder’s history we created our own pigment. Basically, we used the concept of taking the three colours that you need to create real colour -- red, blue and yellow -- and we trapped it inside of a little white case so that your own skin comes through, and yet you’re still getting colour. This concept is called "adaptivity." If you put this pigment onto your skin, it will turn beige because it’s adapting and absorbing into the skin and creating refraction. But it’s not masking the face. It’s still letting your own skin show through.

The texture is softer than any foundation we’ve felt before, it melts onto your skin and is imperceptible to the touch. How did you manage that?

Through our Foundation Sensoriums, we knew that women wanted their makeup to feel clean, weightless and fresh. In order to accommodate this need, we created Invisible Makeup to glide lightly onto the skin through the use of air emulsion. An emulsifier essentially keeps everything in a product together. It’s what makes the product feel creamy and cohesive. We knew that our consumers didn’t want to feel the product at all, and because they wanted something fresh, clean and cool, we created air emulsion formula technology and a base that will go invisibly onto the skin, without the weight of using emulsifiers. You’ll notice that each bottle of Invisible Makeup has small beads in them. If you shake the bottle until you stop hearing the beads moving, you know it’s been air emulsified, which will give the makeup a weightless and light effect on the skin.

How proud are you of Invisible?

Extremely! The result is a product discernibly unique in every way -- a product inspired by consumers’ words and designed to surpass any other makeup on the market. It feels very cool to the touch and gives your skin a beautiful luminosity. It diffuses light in such a way that you know the product is there, but you can’t tell its makeup. It will change your beauty life.

Estée Lauder Invisible Fluid Makeup , £27, available in 16 shades, launches on 30th Jan at Estee Lauder counters in John Lewis stores. Tel 0870 034 2566

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