The Search for The Holy (Foundation) Grail Part 1: YSL Top Secrets BB Creme in Clear / Fair

Greetings from the mountains of mystery, fellow rogues!

You may have noticed that it’s taken me a day longer than usual to pop up and greet you with new adventures in makeup! Well, I’ve been off on a particularly challenging adventure, but today I’ll be bringing you the first part of the loot!

Yes, I’ve been on a quest (haven’t we all?) for the Holy Grail of Foundations, and I’m pleased to say that I have returned victorious, without even encountering a single bloodthirsty rabbit. My Holy Grail of Foundations actually turned out to be a three-part process, even more astonishingly, they all come from the same brand: YSL. This is going to be quite a long review, but if you want the Cliff Notes, skip to the ‘Verdict’ at the bottom.

Today, we’re looking at the incredible base of this Foundation Trinity, YSL Top Secrets BB Creme in the shade Clear.

YSL BB Creme in Clear Review Swatch

YSL BB Creme in Clear, the base of my Holy Grail of Foundations.


I should probably make some initial comments about my preferences and needs when it comes to foundation, so you can see where I’m coming from in choosing these products as my favourites.

I have very fair skin with a slight pink undertone, but I’m actually annoyingly neutral (quite hard to find in foundations, actually. My wallet was relieved of the distress of me liking any of Guerlain’s by the fact that they almost literally make me look like I rubbed Twisties (Cheetos, I think, for those in the States?) all over my face. It went beyond Oompa Loompa, that orange tone).

I’m also allergic to even the medium end of heavy coverage. I cannot *stand* the feeling of having ‘stuff’ on my face, which as you might imagine makes foundation hunting a bit tricky. It must be absolutely weightless, and relatively sheer/light. I am very fortunate to have no acne, but I still have pimples, pigmentation, redness, dark circles and dodgy skin texture on my super-desert-arrgh dry cheeks – there’s plenty of work for a sheer foundation to do! I don’t get particularly oily, but at the end of a long day the little triangle just above the space between my brows, the tip of my nose and the centre of my chin do get a little sheen to them.


YSL BB Creme in Clear Review Swatch

Details on the back – YSL seems to think you can use this as a primer, which I suppose I do in a way. Kind of. Unfortunately, the ingredients were on the box, which is long-since gone…


In terms of lastability, I don’t want to have to touch up liquids at all. If I’m going to use a liquid/cream foundation product, it needs to stay put. Preferably without a setting powder, and through up to three hours of ballet. Powders I will happily pat on a bit more of (just like I really don’t mind re-applying lipstick).

When it comes to finish, I’m fairly flexible – I tend to like ones that are closest to actual skin – not too dewy and not too matte, although if forced to choose I would probably err on the side of matte. Since I like sheer products, this isn’t usually a huge issue, but it is undeniably a factor.

Right! Time to cut the chatter, and get to the product! Let’s start with packaging, before we delve into the real loot:

As you can see from the photos above, the YSL BB Creme comes in a longish white tube with a gold cap. It is totally, utterly functional and secure. Sure, maybe it’s easy to knock over if you try and store it upright, but that’s a minor quibble and depends on how you lay out your makeup chest. The opening of the bottle is excellent – a narrow nozzle that allows you to squeeze out any amount of product you desire, from the smallest dot to the most generous squiggleblob. No wastage here, and the product isn’t exposed unnecessarily to the air.

YSL BB Creme in Clear Review Swatch

The super precise nozzle – more accurate than Ooly with a crossbow (shh, don’t tell her I said that).


Next, let’s move on to the colour match – the most important part of any foundation, for me! Here is also one of the catches – because this is a ‘BB Creme’, naturally it has a limited shade range. There are a whopping three in this range (hands YSL the Rubber Battleaxe Prize for Unsurprising Failure – I love the brand, and they have 4 of my HGs, but limited shade range in BB creams is not exactly uncommon), and I am matched to ‘Clear’. From what I can see on the US website, the shades in your part of the world are called ‘Light’, ‘Medium’ and ‘Dark’ We have the same, but for some reason they decided to call ‘Light’ ‘Clear’. Anyway, as you might expect, I am the most vampiric shade, which is not always the easiest to find in any brand.

The lovely thing about this shade is that although you can convince yourself that it has some pink undertones to it, it is gloriously neutral to me.Perfect for someone whose undertone is ‘transparent skin, can see all veins’.


YSL BB Creme in Clear Fair Review Swatch

Daylight blob and blended swatches of this BB Creme on the arm of the common rogue. No shrubberies were involved.


I know what you might be thinking about that picture: Syl, you forgot to do a blended swatch. But that’s the beauty of this BB creme for me – it blends flawlessly into my skintone. No excess pink, no excess yellow tone. Just perfect. And before you totally despair of the coverage, you should note two things. Firstly, this BB cream is really quite buildable. Even up to medium, I think – I tried to put some on my face to show you, and ran screaming to the bathroom to wash it off. Did I mention I don’t like stuff on my face? That’s not to say it felt at all cakey or unpleasant. I’m just weird like that.

Anyway, I invite you to notice that even with one very sheer layer, the veins in the square are less blue than the parts outside the square. Additionally, that little birthmark inside the square is normally a ‘so-fake-they-shouldn’t-let-people-drink-it cherry cordial’ pink/red, which the BB creme has toned right down – this is important, as general low-grade redness/pinkness is one of my problems, especially on my cheeks right next to my nose and the centre of my chin.

Still not convinced? How about some face pictures?! (Do also bear in mind that this is one sheer layer of a western BB Creme)

YSL BB Creme in Clear Fair Review Swatch

One very sheer layer of YSL’s BB creme on the face of a rogue. No other makeup at all is present, neither is Photoshop. Just my inability to take two photos the same distance from my face.


Just one very sheer (like I said, I’m funny like that) layer of this BB Creme has toned down the pores and redness around my nose, the darkness around my eyes, and some brown pigmentation spots. What it has left, however, is my natural skin texture and freckle, meaning that the finish is very natural.

Speaking of natural and finishes, this BB creme is very blendable and buildable, and you have plenty of time to work with it. It dries down first a little tacky, then like freshly (but not tackily or stickily) moisturised skin – plump and what I like to think of as dewy – fresh,Β  but not in any way shiny. Other things sit on top of it well (as we’ll discuss in upcoming posts), and It lasts me a whole day without fading or creasing. I do get a little bit of sheen on the spots mentioned earlier. Some more really nice things: this contains sunscreen (SPF 25, not too shabby) that doesn’t irritate my skin ( no mean feat), a lovely fregrance that I think smells like fresh pears, and sufficient moisturising capabilities that I can put it in my dry cheeks with no other moisturiser underneath, and I never see a single flake – my cheeks (and the rest of my face) are hydrated all day.

A note on cost/benefit: This is an expensive BB cream. However, as mentioned, I have a foundation holy trinity. Sometimes I use all three products, sometimes only one. As a result, I have had this tube fore almost a year and it’s still going strong (and hasn’t gone off in any way!). Additionally, if, like me, you like sheer coverage, you’re going to get even more mileage. Also, when you live in the land of >$40 Revlon Colorstay, nothing seems bad, really ;-). At the end of the day, I am so finicky about my foundation requirements, and so sparing with it, that I am happy to save up and invest a bit to get a perfect product. Your mileage (pricewise) may vary, but if my Holy Grail sounds great to you too, I’d urge you to consider going and at least getting a YSL MUA to put some on you and see how it goes.

The verdict: A perfectly toned, blendable, buildable, lasting, wightless, flawless, nice-smelling BB Cream. Fullstop. Holy Grail. I also use a couple of other HG foundation-related products from YSL, so check back for the rest of this series!

The practicalities: YSL Top Secrets BB Creme costs NZD ~80.00/USD 50.00 40 mL/1.3 fl. oz,Β  and may be found at YSL counters in department stores the world over, and from (or your region’s equivalent if applicable).

Until next time, fellow adventurers, don’t forget to check for traps!


I am an adventuring rogue, not a mercenary for hire, and as such, all opinions expressed here are my own, based on a genuine fondness for/interest in this product. If you have any queries or suggestions, please do not hesitate to pin your parchment to the board (contact me) at thepaintedrogue [at] gmail [dot] com., or use the contact form provided! All images on this blog are the property of The Painted Rogue unless otherwise stated. These images may not be reproduced without permission, unless you want a fleet of gelatinous cubes after you.



28 thoughts on “The Search for The Holy (Foundation) Grail Part 1: YSL Top Secrets BB Creme in Clear / Fair

  1. as another person who can’t _stand_ the feel of ‘stuff’ on her face I am very intrigued πŸ™‚
    do you find it tends to ball up or slide off at all on the areas you get a bit oily?


    • hm… I’ve never had it ball up at all, and it’ll only slip a bit if I go overboard with moisturiser before I apply it (not really a surprise). I find if you work a thin layer or two really well into the skin, nothing shifts it until you want to wash it off! However, I am pretty dry, so slippage isn’t an issue I usually experience πŸ˜€


  2. Hey Syl, glad to hear that you found a holy grail foundation! I know your problem with Guerlain. While I love both Guerlain formulas I’ve tried (Parure de Lumiere and Tenue de Perfection), I know the limited shade selection upsets many people. I am technically speaking between two shades as well, but my foundation has to match my neck (which is darker), so the slightly darker shade fits.

    Anyways. If you don’t like to feel a layer of anything on your face, this does look like a good option! The lightest base product I’ve tried is GA Maestro. Have you looked into that?


    • Sadly, we only get GA clothes here 😦 I’ve heard such good things about it though! Guerlain’s funny – they certainly don’t *have* to make foundations for pinkish vampires like me! but it’s kind of odd that they really seem to shy away from one particular undertone! Having said that, we only get a limited selection of their limited selection here, if you know what I mean, so I might have missed something.


    • Hehe, thanks. I love it so much! It provides just enough coverage to tone down my ‘issues’, but doesn’t leave me feeling like I’ve obviously got makeup on.



  3. Thank the Powers you’re also a neutral. Isn’t it so frustrating when majority of foundations are either warm-/cool-toned? There’s not enough neutral foundations in the world (that I know) except for MAC but then most of those have medium to full coverage, which I also don’t like. I was always matched to warm-toned shades in stores and it leaves me so disappointed when I go outside and find myself more yellow-looking under natural light. Sometimes I just buy my base makeup online to avoid all those.

    YSL was pulled out of my country 2 or 3 years ago. It’s a shame this BB cream is a good neutral. I would have loved to know which shade I might use.


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    • Someone didn’t read all the captions and click all the links… πŸ˜€

      Unless you mean pictures, in which case I am hampered by the lack of both pot plants and rabbits in my dwelling… 😦


  5. I’m all for lightweight foundation, too! I don’t like when I can feel it on my face but I do have a lot of acne to cover so sometimes it’s inevitable to use something a little thick. 😦

    I’m a huge fan of BB creams and I’ve been looking at this product for a while now. I think it’s about time to go have a look. Not sure I’d find my perfect shade, though, but we’ll see. Thanks for a very detailed review, Syl! πŸ™‚


    • You’re very welcome! πŸ™‚ Definitely go check it out, it might be worth considering even if you want to use it as a tinted primer for days when the acne is giving you grief and you want a little extra mileage from your makeup without the added weight. πŸ™‚


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  9. I think I need to check this one out at some stage — you know, once I make a dent in my stash of 8(? I don’t even know) base products. I’ve been using the Sunday Riley Effortless Tinted Primer as my super lightweight skintone evening-out base (scored for $18 on Trade Me!) and really like it, apart from the random ginormous specks of glitter! I exaggerate, but they really are weirdly graded mica flecks in there for a product that’s meant to be “effortless”.


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