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Reviewed: Sappho Essential Foundation, the Best Natural Liquid Foundation

Sappho's pro-quality foundation rivals even Luminous Silk. Really!

I get asked a lot to recommend an all-natural face makeup, whether it be a tinted moisturizer, BB, CC, foundation—anything! People (including me) are frustrated, because there simply aren't a lot of good complexion products out there in the natural space. 

Heck, don't we all have trouble finding a good foundation, no matter what the ingredients list? #truth

This is why I'm SO thrilled to have discovered the liquid foundation from Sappho Organics. Even if I didn't know their foundation was natural, I'd be buying it anyway—it's THAT good. The fact that it's made with safe ingredients like organic aloe vera juice and jojoba oil is just a bonus. A huge, huge bonus.

From The Styling Edit Archives

The eco-friendly, recyclable packaging of Sappho Organics Liquid Foundation.

I first discovered Sappho last year at The Detox Market (a.k.a. my favourite little Toronto shop), when founder JoAnn Fowler was in town from Vancouver for one-on-ones with select press. (Yes, Sappho is Canadian. Another bonus!)

JoAnn is an Emmy-nominated makeup artist who created her foundation while on set for the hit TV show 'The L Word'. She told me that her health-conscious celebrity clients began asking her to use organic makeup on them—but after testing dozens and dozens of products, nothing measured up to JoAnn's high standards. (Sound familiar? I've found most natural stuff out there to be weirdly coloured and textured... think chalky, powdery, orangey, etc.) 

At the same time, JoAnn was learning more and more about the harmful effects of chemicals in cosmetic products, and became angry. She decided she could no longer in good conscience work as a makeup artist without being able to offer a viable, safe alternative to her clients.

And that's the (short) story of how Sappho was born. For the longer one, I have an in-depth interview with JoAnn coming up soon, so stay tuned!

JoAnn did my makeup during our meeting, and I swear it was one of the best and most natural-looking makeup jobs I've ever received as a beauty editor all these years. Simply put, she just gets how women want to look—and our high standards for what we want to put on our faces.

There are eight shades of the Sappho Organics Liquid Foundation, and JoAnn sent me Leisha, the second lightest and the one she used on me. 

Sappho Organics Liquid Foundation in Leisha.

Fun fact: each shade is named for an actress from 'The L Word'. Here are the shade descriptions:

  • Mia: Pale complexion with slight pink undertones.
  • Leisha: Light to medium skin with a slight olive undertone.
  • Rachel: Medium or very slightly tanned skin tone.
  • Lisa: Middle tone with yellow undertones.
  • Kate: Medium tanned skin tone with a slight olive undertone.
  • Jennifer: Deep tan with olive or golden undertones.
  • Sarah: Medium to deep caramel skin tone.
  • Pam: Medium dark tone with a bit of red for an undertone. 

The first thing you notice when you open the bottle is how great this stuff smells. It's slightly sweet and botanical, very pretty and not cloying at all. For the first time in my life, I'm actually happy about how a foundation smells! (I written off many for reasons of heavy/weird fragrance alone—I can't imagine putting them on my face! I'm looking at you, Diorskin Nude Air...)

The ingredients in Sappho Organics Liquid Foundation.

Of course, the wonderful scent is from the essential oils that replace synthetic preservatives in this formula. That's right, there are no parabens, nor phthalates, gluten, mineral oil, talc or dimethicone. The base is aloe vera juice, which is amazing for your skin, along with the antioxidants vitamin E, organic rooibos, tea tree oil and organic green tea extract. Here's the full ingredients list:

Aloe barbadensis (Organic Aloe) Juice, Simmondsia chinensis (Organic Jojoba) Oil, Titanium Dioxide, Aspalathus linearis (Organic Rooibos) Extract, Calendula officinalis (Organic Calendula) Extract, Emulsifying Wax, Camellia sinensis (Organic Green Tea) Extract, Tocopherol (Vitamin E), Iron Oxide, Mica, Zinc Oxide, Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary Extract), Azadirachta indica (Neem), Stearic Acid, Limnanthes alba (Meadowfoam) Oil, Daucus carota sativa (Carrot) Oil, Boswellia carterii (Frankincense) Essential Oil, Melaleuca alternifolia (Tea Tree) Essential Oil, Cistus ladaniferus (Rockrose) Essential Oil, Cedrus deodora (Cedarwood) Essential Oil, Lavendula officinalis (Lavender) Essential Oil, Anthemis nobilis (Roman Chamomile) Essential Oil, Konjac Glucomannan (Mannan), Citric Acid.

Each bottle comes with a re-usable pump:

This pump comes with each bottle of Sappho Organics Liquid Foundation.

And they recommend you apply it with the Sappho Organics Foundation Brush, sold separately, which is indeed a lovely and cruelty-free brush (although other foundation brushes would work, too).

The Sappho Organics Foundation Brush features a sustainable bamboo handle.

I would describe the coverage of the foundation as light, but buildable to about a medium if you keep layering—hence the foundation brush recommendation. If you need even more coverage in areas, you can leave a drop of the foundation to dry out a bit (just expose it to air for a while), and then it goes a little thicker, like a concealer. Sappho also sells two regular Concealers.

What impresses me most of all (and there's a lot here to impress!) is the absolutely beautiful colour and texture, which is worlds apart from other natural foundations. Because JoAnn is a makeup artist, her eye for skin tones has informed the shade selection, and they're top-notch. For me, Leisha is a perfect match to my fair, neutral skin and looks completely natural. 

Blended and unblended swatches of Sappho Organics Liquid Foundation in Leisha.

The finish is slightly luminous but not oily or shimmery. In fact, it dries down to look and feel like you're not wearing anything at all! And isn't that the ultimate goal? I love that it covers minor redness and evens out skin tone, without adding any heaviness.

Cool story: JoAnn told me her foundation replaced the famous Armani Luminous Silk (usually the favourite of makeup artists) on a recent movie set she worked on. JoAnn's assistant was using Armani, but upon reviewing the HD footage, the director thought it looked terrible—obvious, heavy and distracting! So they switched the entire set to Sappho for a much more natural skin finish, even under the harshest HD cameras. 

The downside I've found with this foundation is that it fades more quickly than mainstream ones, at least on me. I get more longevity if I add a light powder—currently using RMS Un-Powder—and a more substantial concealer around the nose and chin. As you can see here, it doesn't quite get rid of all the redness on my chin, which admittedly is redder/drier right now from Retin-A. I probably should've applied another layer there!

Wearing Sappho Organics Liquid Foundation in Leisha.

If you like full coverage, then this probably won't be the foundation for you. There are times when I definitely need a more long-lasting foundation that's a bit more perfecting (even if it's not as invisible as this one up close), so for that I'll still reach for my trusty Make Up For Ever

But for times when I just want something light and good for my skin, without any silicone feel, I'm willing to trade off a bit on longevity and coverage for the healthy ingredients and absolute weightlessness. 

The bottom line: If you've been searching for a great natural skin makeup AND hate the heavy look and feel of traditional foundations, then you must, must, must check this one out!

Where to Buy

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