L'Oreal Magic Nude Foundation vs. Giorgio Armani Maestro Fusion

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Armani ($62), L'Oreal ($10)
I'll throw any lazy readers a freebie spoiler: these foundations are the exact same thing. (Boom, I just saved you fifty bucks). 

It's no secret that L'Oreal owns Giorgio Armani cosmetics, and as anyone familiar with the Eyes to Kill eyeshadows and L'Oreal 24 hour infallible shadows knows, the organization likes to recycle their high-end products in the drugstore. When I first spotted Magic Nude at Target, I was desperately hoping it would be the same as the Maestro, and the natural finish claim sure sounded like it. 

For those of you who haven't tried the Maestro (or its True Nude doppelganger), the foundation is well-known for its incredible lightweight feel and natural, skin-like finish. Coverage-wise, it (they) are very light, and are better for oily skins as the finish runs matte while still mimicking the appearance of real skin. 

But the real buzz around the Maestro is the new-technology texture. L'Oreal/Armani describe the foundation as "An ultra-fine oil-pigment 
suspension that perfects the complexion, instantly igniting skin’s natural luminosity." This is where I'd chuck in L'Oreal's description of Magic Nude, but for some reason, I can't find the product on their website. It may seem illogical for an oil-based foundation to suit oily skins, but it doesn't feel greasy or heavy--just light and slippy and almost silicone-y which is a huge part of its weightlessness. I tend to be hyper-aware of the makeup sitting on my skin, but Maestro/Magic Nude is the kind of makeup you slap on and then forget about. You'd have to have quite good skin to wear these foundations, as the coverage is light and difficult to build higher. That kind of defeats the purpose anyway, as the light coverage is in line with the product's light consistency and look on the skin. I love it for my oily skin, but mature skins should stay away, as I tried some of each as under-eye concealer and both settled into my creases. 

No idea why I thought this picture would be helpful...

The liquid to powder spiel Magic Nude is working refers to the slippy, runny nature of the product that quickly sets into a very natural powdery finish. That's the technology that put Maestro Fusion on the map, which of course, is part of Magic Nude as well. It's also what makes the foundation so weightless on the skin, and even this powder-lover skips powder when wearing either one of these products. 

I've worn each foundation on its own and then experimented wearing each foundation on one-half of my face (a bit sketchy since the shades don't match), which was what confirmed that these products are the exact same thing. I spent quite a while studying each half of my face in a magnified mirror, and both Magic Nude and Maestro looked the same on my skin, and felt equally lightweight. I did check-ins throughout the day, and without powdering my face, I had to blot roughly every five hours. I didn't have trouble with either one wearing off, and as I continue to analyze my face, I honestly couldn't see any difference in the foundations (apart from the shades). The one discernible difference is that the Magic Nude might be ever so slightly looser in texture. Both foundations are fairly runny and require a good shake before application, but I think the Maestro is just a hair denser. That's really only something you feel if you run a bit of both between your fingers as I did, and again, I'm not even sure if the difference is actually there. 

Where packaging is concerned, L'Oreal went with an incredibly ugly retro glass bottle, and although there's no pump, the small dispenser hole doesn't release much foundation at a time. I'm used to my Revlon ColorStay, so the lack of pump doesn't bother me, and it's actually beneficial that such little product comes out. The texture of Magic Nude/Maestro doesn't suit being built-up, so I prefer the small dispenser, especially in comparison to Maestro's dropper applicator. The pipette just seems a bit cumbersome and doesn't necessarily dispense a more specific amount of product. 

Of course, with any comparison like this we have to talk about ingredients. Both list octinoxate (3%) as the active ingredient, and apart from that, here is each foundation's list of "other" ingredients. (I had to do it in pictures because the ingredients weren't listed online, and I had no intention of typing them out).

L'Oreal Magic Nude ingredients
Armani Maestro Fusion ingredients

Surprisingly, the Maestro contains more ingredients (unless those are the allegedly good-for-your-skin ones?). The first few lines of ingredients for both foundations are the same (though not quite in the same order), and Maestro has a lot more flower oils and other chemicals thrown in at the end. Cosmetic ingredients are listed in order of their quantity in the product, so I don't especially care about the differences at the end of the ingredients list. But people who argue in favor of buying high-end foundations tend to do so because more expensive brands supposedly use better-for-your-skin ingredients. Yes, Armani has a few more ingredients in the way of fragrance and floral things, but I can't see how any of those things would benefit your skin. 

The final verdict: L'Oreal Magic Nude and Armani Maestro Fusion are the same thing, with only the tiniest potential difference in consistency that has no effect on wear, finish or coverage. The more expensive foundation contains more ingredients, but I don't know that they benefit the skin in a way that the Magic Nude doesn't. This is another case of paying for the brand and not the product--with a hefty $50 price difference. 

Some people complain about L'Oreal recycling their products, but I don't mind as it it allows people on a budget to try new technology makeup you wouldn't typically find on drugstore shelves. (Just as long as you do some research to avoid buying the same thing twice!).

P.S. I was playing with the Armani Luminous Silk foundation a few days ago and really liked the look of it. Does anyone know if L'Oreal makes a drugstore dupe of that one?

Sorry this post was a bit long, but I take my foundation comparisons very seriously. Get a life, Leili. 

Happy Wednesday!


  1. This was amazingly helpful and detailed! Thanks! Might try it out when it reaches Canada

  2. Just bought L'Oreal's version! I was honestly going to buy the Armani last week. Sooo glad I waited! xoxo

    1. Thank goodness you did--nothing worse than kicking yourself over money you didn't have to spend!

  3. Awesome review. I just bought the L'oreal and really enjoying it. Now that I know it's so comparable to the Armani version, make myself feel good about not splurging on the expensive version :)

    New follower. You have a lovely blog here.


    1. Thank you! I'm happy to have you!

      P.S. Just took a look at your blog and am hooked--guess who else has a new follower? =)

  4. great review!!!
    I have just recently purchased the l'oreal magic nude ( yes..it took so long for it to reach Germany..) and I love it so much!
    I was looking for comparison review about it and the GA maestro on google and stumbled upon your blog! love your detailed review and love your blog as well!!

    1. Thank you so much, Pamela!

      Happy to hear that you're loving the Magic Nude!

  5. Giorgio Armani Luminous Silk Dupe