Youth Liberator Serum Foundation Broad Spectrum SPF 20
Oh how we wish this foundation was the wonder product YSL claims it to be, but alas it is not. The first thing we noticed about Youth Liberator Serum Foundation is the strong soapy/rosy scent that comes from the volatile fragrant plant extracts it contains (and this contains a LOT of fragrance—far more fragrance than anything remotely beneficial—in fact this is almost void of anti-aging ingredients). That's a bad sign because a strong fragrance is never a good thing for skin due to the irritation it can cause (see More Info).
The liquid formula is housed in a clear bottle with a pump-style dispenser. There are two problems with this. First, the design of this specific pump applicator makes it hard to control how much product you dispense so you can end up with more than you need (and at this price that's a real waste).
Second, the antioxidant vitamin E this foundation contains will break down with repeated exposure to light so what you're paying extra for won't be as effective as it should be, not to mention vitamin E on its own is as exciting as white bread. This is truly a lackluster formula.
As far as the shades go, the range is extensive and offers medium coverage for light to dark skin tones. Watch out for any shade with an R in its name (BR20, BR40, BR50); those have rosy undertones that look unflattering. Otherwise, the shades are mostly neutral with a natural, satin finish.
Another ding: While this does contain ingredients to provide broad-spectrum sun protection, the SPF is too low to make this reliable as your sole sunscreen product. Products rated SPF 30 or higher are recommended to provide adequate sun protection.
- Extensive shade range of mostly neutral colors.
- Natural, satin finish.
- Strongly fragranced.
- Contains multiple irritants.
- SPF is too low to provide adequate sun protection.
- Packaging doesn't protect the formula from degrading when exposed to light.
- Pump applicator makes it difficult to control how much foundation comes out.
- Outrageously priced for such a lackluster formula.
Yves Saint Laurent At-A-Glance
Strengths: Every sunscreen includes avobenzone for sufficient UVA protection; some moisturizers with elegant textures; good makeup removers and toners; Radiant Touch is a favorite for good reason; intriguing blushes; two fantastic mascaras; very good liquid highlighter; innovative gloss/stain lip products.
Weaknesses: Expensive; no AHA or BHA products; no products to manage acne or combat skin discolorations; mostly mundane moisturizers and serums; pervasive use of jar packaging; antiwrinkle claims that epitomize ridiculous, yet cost hundreds of dollars; mostly average foundations; eyeshadow quads; mostly average lipstick and gloss options.
We have never reviewed an expensive cosmetics line with the intent of criticizing it based on the price tags alone. Our standard for reviewing all cosmetics remains the same whether the prices are rock bottom or stratospheric. What cannot be denied is that there are many consumers who just refuse to give up the notion that, in terms of cosmetics, expensive means better. If you're one of those consumers you may have been curious about our take on Yves Saint Laurent's makeup, which by far outshines their skin care.
In the past, as we surveyed the other French-themed lines at the department store (including Lancome, Chanel, Dior, and Guerlain), YSL almost always came in last, barely stepping up to the plate to compete in any category. Lately, we've been pleasantly surprised to find several impressive products, along with some needed improvements for many of their previously lackluster options (whose price-to-performance ratio was depressingly low). YSL still isn't the French line to set your sights on and fill your makeup bag with, but there are enough positives to make a trip to their counter worthwhile, assuming that your budget extends far enough to comfortably afford these items. (Even the best products from this line have less-expensive counterparts, but if you're label-conscious, you should know what to focus on.)
What's not so great is the lack of sufficient UVA protection in products with sunscreen, or SPF ratings that are too low given what we know about the need for a sufficient level of daily sun protection. Adding sunscreen to many of the foundations and lip products was a smart move, but doing so without getting the basics right doesn't get a passing grade. Most of the mascaras are surprisingly average also, yet on the other hand the foundation and powder shade selections have improved considerably. It's this off-kilter blend of outstanding and boring products coupled with steep prices all around that earn this line an "approach with caution" statement. However, careful shopping from YSL will undoubtedly net you some wonderful products you'll be pleased with, at least until the credit card bill comes due!
When it comes to skin care, Yves Saint Laurent relies heavily on its fashion heritage to convince consumers to give these products more than a passing glance. Based on the formulas and outlandish prices, we see no reason for anyone to admire, let alone purchase, most of the skin-care products this brand sells. The claims are nothing short of ridiculous, especially for any YSL product designed to minimize wrinkles or stop sagging. It's good that all of the sunscreens provide broad-spectrum protection, but the cost means you'll be replacing them quickly (if you're being diligent about liberal application, as you should be) and, of course, all of them contain wafting fragrance. The moisturizers are much less impressive, but carry some of the most too-good-to-be-true claims imaginable. None of what they're said to do in terms of wrinkles, skin regeneration, firming, and sculpting skin is the least bit reliable, though many of the moisturizers have luxurious textures.
What's missing is a focused approach to provide skin with what it really needs to thrive and remain healthy. Some of the basics are covered, but antioxidants are seemingly an afterthought, water-binding agents and skin-identical substances are mostly lacking, and once again fragrance takes precedence over advanced ingredients with substantiated research to support their use. If your skin-care routine must involve a designer brand, you'd be better off shopping Chanel and only considering YSL for the makeup products they have that, cost notwithstanding, are worthy of the attention they get in, where else, fashion magazines.
For more information about Yves Saint Laurent, call 800-399-0929 or visit www.ysl.com.
About the Experts
The Beautypedia team consists of skin care and makeup experts personally trained by the original Cosmetics Cop and best-selling beauty author, Paula Begoun. We’re fascinated by skin care and makeup products and thrilled when they meet or exceed our expectations, but we’re also disappointed when they fail to perform as claimed, are wildly overpriced, or contain ingredients scientific research has proven can hurt skin.
Our mission has always been to help you find the best products for your skin, no matter your budget or preferences. Beautypedia’s thorough and insightful reviews cut through the hype and provide reliable recommendations for all ages, skin types, and skin tones.