Tom Ford's Shade & Illuminate product has an interesting backstory. According to the makeup artist we spoke with, regardless of what other products they use, all Tom Ford artists are required to put this on their clients when they come to the counter. The reasoning is that Ford, who has a degree in architecture, appreciates structure, lines, and symmetry, and so this contouring cream is one of his cornerstone products.
History aside, this is a fairly basic cream contour/highlighting product in a compact. There are two shades available - one for light skin tones and one for medium - but the highlighting shade for both compacts is the same.
The formulas of both the contour shades and of the highlighter are quite creamy, which means they blend in easily as you spread them across the areas you want to contour, such as under the cheekbone areas or on the sides of your nose. The darker shades are natural-looking enough that they mimic the appearance of shadows on the face, and the lighter highlighting shade has a pearlescent sheen that highlights without being sparkly.
The problem is that the creamy formula is so emollient it tends to slide around after it's been applied, which for the darker shade can make your face look dirty. When contouring, it's critical that the color stays in place. The shades also fade after just a couple of hours, so your sculpting results are short-lived. For the price tag and performance, this product ends up not being that illuminating after all.
- Creamy formula blends easily.
- Contouring shades look natural.
- Highlighting shade is pearlescent without being sparkly.
- Formula of both products is so emollient that they slide around after being applied.
- Color fades after only a couple hours of wear.
- Expensive given its average performance.
Summary: The dashing, debonair Tom Ford is one of the world's hottest fashion designers, famous and sought-after for his controversial photo shoots (featuring models showing more skin than clothes) and his classic, yet edgy, fashion designs. Ford came to prominence in the mid-1990s, when he became Creative Director at Gucci's fashion house. He is credited with bringing glamour back to fashion at a time when grunge and heroin chic looks were en vogue, and he helped take the then-failing Gucci from the brink of bankruptcy to a multi-billion-dollar brand.
A few years after Ford joined Gucci, brand was acquired by rival fashion house Yves Saint-Laurent. Ford became Creative Director there as well. Finally, in 2006, Ford launched his own fashion line of menswear, eyewear, fragrances, and accessories. Five years later, he followed in the footsteps of fellow high-fashion houses Armani and Chanel by launching his own line of color cosmetics.
Housed in sleek black packaging with "Tom Ford" stamped in prominent gold-embossed lettering, the makeup certainly looks luxurious, and the pricing is definitely in the haute couture range - the foundations cost $78! However, like many other fashion designer makeup lines, what's inside Tom Ford's range of products is largely unexceptional, especially given the expense.
Tom Ford's makeup and fragrance lines are owned by cosmetics giant Estee Lauder, so you won't be surprised when we tell you that much of what you see in the Tom Ford line isn't all that different from what other Lauder brands, such as MAC, Clinique, and Lauder's namesake line sell. What that means is you don't need to ante up for Tom Ford makeup, because most of what this line does well is available for less money from other Lauder-owned lines.
High prices aside, though, there are some winners among Tom Ford's small but well-edited makeup line. The lipstick, brow pencil, lip lacquer, and eyeshadow palettes are all high-quality and perform well. We're also pleased to say that most of the makeup products either have no or minimal fragrance, which is always a bonus - especially when you consider that this line got its start in the cosmetics field with perfumes and colognes.
Unfortunately, the foundations feature such ingredients as fragrance and lavender, which are both a problem for skin, and some of the other products, like the needs-sharpening eye pencil, are so common and ordinary that it makes the asking price a joke! Overall, Tom Ford has a handful of excellent makeup products to check out - and the counter personnel we dealt with were first-rate makeup artists – but be aware that you're not getting anything that justifies any of those products' high price tags. If anything, Tom Ford's makeup confirms what we've been saying about cosmetics for years: There are good and bad products in all price ranges, and expensive doesn't necessarily mean better!
For more information about Tom Ford Beauty, visit www.tomford.com.