Friday, 5 October 2012

Giorgio Armani Maestro Foundation - review

The latest foundation release from Giorgio Armani Beauty is Maestro.

Maestro is water and powder free - it is essentially a pigment in oil base, composed of several oils of varying volatility.  The result is a foundation that is supposed to be long wearing and complexion perfecting, whilst being thin and undetectable on the skin.  Maestro is the resultant product of many years of research (eight, I hear), and is being hailed as progressive in the field of foundation chemistry.

Image courtesy of Giorgio Armani Beauty
I obtained two samples shortly after its release here in Australia - I chose shades #2 and #3.  Shade #2 is quite pale and yellow toned, whereas #3 is pale and peach toned.  In the sample pots, #2 appeared too yellow, and #3 appeared soft and more suited to my skin.  However, when I swatched Maestro on my face to check my match, #3 was too peach for me, but #2 was perfect. 
L - #2    //    R - #3
I tested the foundation and did a 'time lapse' study of it, taking notes every ten minutes for the first hour, and then every hour thereafter, for a total of nine hours.  I did a time lapse observation because of the volatility of the oils in Maestro - it has already been well documented online that you need to let this foundation settle for a little while before drawing a conclusion on its appearance.

A quick chemistry 101 to alleviate the negative connotation attached to the word volatile.  In chemistry terms, volatile simply means that a substance evaporates readily.  Volatility refers to how readily a substance vaporises.

Testing Day

I wore Maestro at home only (whilst doing blog duties and depotting).  I wore the foundation alone, with no other makeup, from 1:30pm until 10:30pm.

My skin was prepped as follows:
Cleansed with CeraVe Hydrating cleanser;
Spritzed with Garden of Wisdom Witch Hazel hydrosol spray;
Hydrated with Garden of Wisdom Blueberry Hyaluronic Acid serum;
Moisturised under the eye area only using Skin Food Black Raspberry eye cream.

I used no moisturiser (apart from eye cream) or sunscreen.  I did not use any primer.  My intent was to try the foundation on very clean, hydrated skin, so I could get the most accurate results for the purposes of trialling the foundation.

I prepped my skin at 1:00pm, and let it settle for twenty minutes.  I began applying Maestro at 1:20pm.


Applied Maestro, using fingers only (no sponge, no brush).  I took my time applying it, working in sections on my face, starting from the forehead, and working my way down to the chin.


Maestro applied, and hands washed.

My first impressions -
The colour is a good match.  The texture is unlike anything I have ever tried in a foundation - it does feel like a dry oil.
Coverage is light to medium.  It is somewhat buildable - building the coverage may take some tweaking with regards to application method - this will need experimentation.
Applies well using hands only.  Blends easily with fingers.
The foundation appears flat, almost powdery.  I can still see my uneven skin tone due to residual hyperpigmentation and redness.
My redness is only minimally evened out - I can still see it through the foundation.
Skin texture is somewhat evened out, but my skin still looks like skin.
Doesn't grab onto facial hair; doesn't cake around the lip line.
It went patchy in between my eyebrows, which is a trouble spot for me with any foundation.  It did accumulate around the edges of my eyebrows.
The foundation feels comfortable.  No apparent greasiness.
The foundation highlights every flake sitting on the surface of the skin.
Overall first impression - do not like.


Colour has improved.  Skin still looks dry/flaky.  Foundation is still patchy in between my eyebrows.
Facial redness has lessened - this may be my skin settling post application as opposed to the foundation settling.
I had to clean my brows with a damp spoolie which is normal for me with any foundation - but Maestro isn't as cloggy and comes off easily without disrupting the surrounding foundation.
Texture is still good.
No greasiness.


Looking better - foundation appears less flat.
Colour continues to improve.
Still flaky.
Skin texture around the sides of my face near my hairline is exaggerated.  Facial hair is now very apparent.


Colour further improved.
Still flaky, and now patchy looking in some spots.
Fine lines under my eyes are now apparent.  No smile line settling yet.


Colour is seemingly fully developed.  Skin is still flaky.  Texture starting to improve.


Overall it looks better again, but still very flat.


Maestro appears to be fully developed.  The colour is fantastic and a very close match.
The finish has improved, but it isn't amazing.
Skin is very soft to the touch.
Still quite dry looking, and flakiness is still apparent.


Overall, better again.  The foundation is now almost creamy looking.
Still happy with the colour.
Minimal settling in lines.
Looks flat from a distance.


Oil breakthrough is apparent on the pores on my nose.
Forehead is starting to look a little shiny.
Texture is okay, but still a bit ordinary.
Minor settling in lines.
Skin is still soft.


Some oiliness, but no separation.
Minor settling in lines is now a little more visible.
Still a bit dry looking, flakiness still apparent.
Overall not happy with the coverage - I can clearly see my hyperpigmentation and surface redness.


Finally, the foundation no longer looks dry.
Skin is soft.
Foundation still feels like dry oil on the skin.

Whilst my skin no longer looks dry, I might as well have no foundation on at all.

8:30pm to 10:30pm
Still looks like I have nothing on my skin - literally, nothing.

My thoughts....

Maestro sadly left me completely underwhelmed.

The feel of the foundation and the texture is amazing to the touch - it felt lovely going on.  It smoothed out the texture of my skin - but my skin texture is in great condition anyway, so this was just an added bonus.  I was also impressed by how the foundation did not separate as I started to get a little oily.

But where it came unstuck was the finish, the coverage, the colour matching and the longevity.

The finish is downright flat.  Not the kind of flat you get from a matte foundation - 'dehydrated skin' kind of flat.  And this did not alleviate until two hours later.  Sorry, but I do not wish to wait two hours for a foundation to look its best.  And the finish when it reached this point was short lived - lasting about an hour.  After that, it started to look like I had nothing on at all.

It highlighted every flake on my face.  Every one.  I should state at this point, I observed flakiness separate to texture.  I observed the underlying true texture of my skin - Maestro was excellent in this regard - but surface issues were highlighted, in my case the flakiness.

The coverage and colour matching can be addressed at the same time.  Whilst I do not need a lot of coverage for my skin, I do need my foundation to at least even out some residual hyperpigmentation and surface redness.  Maestro failed to do this.  But, I feel this has to do with the colour matching technology of this foundation.

The colour matching is a catch 22 - whilst Maestro developed to a true colour match on me, it simultaneously seemed to colour match my redness and hyperpigmentation.  The colour matching technology of Maestro is reflective - thus, it reflects your true colour tone through the foundation to get the closest colour match possible.  It will level out very minor redness, but for more diffuse surface redness - not a chance.

After six hours, it looked like I had no foundation on at all.  Nothing.  When I cleansed my face later that evening, my skin looked exactly the same as it did with Maestro on.  (On that note, I highly recommend an oil cleanser to remove this foundation).

At $98AUD for 30ml, I expect a lot more from a foundation.

So, who will Maestro work for?  This is extremely hard to answer - my experience and the experiences of others tells me that the only way you will know yourself, is to try it yourself.

I suspect the most suitable candidates for this foundation are those with very even skin colour and only minor imperfections, who just want to balance their skin out a little bit with a foundation that is imperceptible - Maestro will achieve this for you.  If you have some minor textural imperfections, Maestro will also work.  I also suspect this foundation will work on people with freckles who wish to embrace them as opposed to covering them.

For peeps like me who have skin colour issues, I would say there is a high probability Maestro will leave you underwhelmed, as it did for me.

Other reviews to check out...

Best Things in Beauty has an amazing write up about Maestro I highly suggest checking out, as does Drivel About Frivol.  The Beauty Professor has swatches of all the colours too.

I hope this review has been potentially helpful for some - thanks for reading!

Bern x


  1. Thanks for the review - a lot of people have reviewed this simply raving about it but have forgotten about the details that make a review important! I'm glad to read a bit more about it. I guess this will be a no for me then since I have oily skin, and it doesn't seem to last very long.

    1. I think we all got a little wrapped up in the hype Annick!! Thankfully I'm still ever the pragmatist :D
      I will never write a false review, on principle alone.
      Thank you for the feedback.
      As for its suitability - I think it will be okay with oily skin as it did not separate and to me, the greasiness wasn't 'gross' - regardless, I still can't and won't recommend purchasing this product purely based on my experience. I will however still say that it needs to be tried to reach an individual conclusion - so if you are able to try it for free at any point, do it.
      This is definitely a try before you buy foundation.

  2. In a way I'm so glad to hear this, I've been dying to try this since it came out, but thanks to your wonderful review, I can see it's 100% not for me at all.

    Thanks hunni, you've saved me and I'm sure loads of others a small fortune xxx

    1. But you have such lovely skin!!! This may work on you!!
      You never know. If you are able to get a sample, do try it, just so you know for yourself for sure.
      I hope I have saved peeps money - at the same time I hope I have still encouraged people to try a sample if/when possible.

    2. Eeeepppp I only have such lovely skin because of great foundation :)
      Ill try and get a sample if I can, if nothing else to experience the texture, who'd have thought foundation could be like a dry oil.
      Thanks for the awesome review as always lovely xxx

    3. Thank you lovely!
      Happy to have helped!

  3. (Is it creepy that I've been creeping and waiting for this post?)

    Love your detailed and informative post. I still want to give it a try, but counters near me say they don't have samples. I may need to bring in a sample container so I can get a better try. I tried some on my face at the counter, but the intial color turned me off (so pink), but still curious to see how this performs.

    The lack of performance is a bummer as is the flat appearance. I like my foundation glowy.

    1. Hahaha Belly! You make me laugh dear!
      You will more than likely need to take in a pot or two of your own to get a sample. When I asked for a sample, the SA told me they wouldn't be getting any in - and in true Bern style, I did the "watch me pull a rabbit from my hat" shiz and hey presto, I have empty sample pots in my bag ready to go lol!
      If you like glowy, I would say Maestro won't be for you. But definitely grab some pots, and get at least two or three shades to try. The colours look deceptive - well, #2 and #3 did as I explained in my review. The reflective pigments will give you a more true colour match once it settles and the volatile oils start to evaporate.
      Good luck, and please let me know if you try it, and if you like it!

  4. Very thorough review! Thanks so much for this. I will definitely sample before purchasing *fingers crossed*

    1. Thank you Karima! :D
      Please let me know if you get a sample, and how you find it. I will be most interested in hearing about your experience with Maestro!

  5. I was glad not like it. This is full of alcohol ,bad for the skin. Big hugs from Greece. Amalia

    1. Thank you Amalia! Yes, alcohol can be detrimental to some skin types.
      Better foundations are out there!

  6. Thank you for this review - I have dry and often flaky skin and was planning to purchase this foundation. Where I live they don't give samples so I have a (very expensive) drawer of unusable foundation and sunscreen. So which foundations and, why we're at it, sunscreens do you prefer for your dry skin?