The Climb is our series that highlights a top-selling item from brands both established and buzzworthy. In these monthly features, you'll hear straight from the brands about the fascinating history of how one extra-special piece exceeded expectations and became a forever product. This month's focus is on the luxury favorite Armani Beauty Luminous Silk Foundation. Find the story behind the brand’s best-selling base below.
Twenty years ago, you'd probably be hard-pressed to find the barely-there, no-makeup makeup looks that seem to be taking over right now. Instead, complexion products were applied with a heavy hand, eyeshadows were bright and unblended, and we won't even get into the pencil-thin eyebrows. But even then, with the world obsessed with imitating their favorite Spice Girl, Giorgio Armani Beauty was trailblazing the dewy finish. Enter Giorgio Armani Beauty's Luminous Silk Foundation, a game-changing formula that set the tone for makeup, emulating glowy skin rather than porcelain.
The fan-favorite foundation sells 1,000 bottles each day just in the United States alone, according to a brand spokesperson. For context, that's two bottles every three minutes. According to a 2019 end-of-year study conducted by Cherry Pick, Luminous Silk was the No. 3-selling foundation in the country that year, trailing only slimly behind formulas by Anastasia Beverly Hills and Fenty Beauty. Since its March 2000 launch, Luminous Silk has also garnered the adoration of everyday beauty lovers and celebrities alike with fans such as Cate Blanchett and Cynthia Erivo, just to name a few. Kim Kardashian has also been a Luminous Silk obsessive for years, mentioning the foundation by name as her must-have complexion product in an interview with Into The Gloss in 2015.
And while there are very few beauty products that withstand the test of time — two decades, to be exact — Luminous Silk is further proof that anything Armani does is destined to be timeless.
"In the '90s when they tried to create complexion makeup, it was always very heavy and created with tons of different products," Johan Lundin, Armani Beauty Product Innovation Director, tells TZR. "So when conceptualizing Luminous Silk, we thought about how we could create one product that works for everybody that creates luminous, natural skin. Giorgio Armani has always obsessed with skin. He always says that if the skin doesn't look good, nothing looks good." With that in mind, it took a whopping 10 years — and thousands of trials — to finally master the formulation. "We created a portfolio for what would be the perfect one-size-fits-all foundation that also had a skin care base and would fit all skin types. In addition, it had to have a buildable coverage."
Unlike most foundations on the market, the long-wearing 40 shades don't oxidize or change colors as the day goes by. How your complexion looks upon application is how it will look upon removal. "Luminous Silk doesn't have volatile ingredients," Lundin says. Part of the key for that is that we didn't use white opaque fillers. Those often make dark shades go gray and ashy quicker, and that wasn't what we wanted."
While Luminous Silk remains a fan-favorite, Lundin reveals that changes are still being made to the formula to this day. "Luminous Silk was the first silicon and oil hybrid foundation brought to the market," he says. "And while now we don't necessarily think of silicones positively, at the time, it was revolutionizing what was happening in makeup. But now, for instance, we are changing certain silicones and making them more compliant with the guidelines of today's world. Some silicones are good and some are not, but Luminous Silk really trailblazed the silicon and oil emulsion."
Most unique, however, is that while all 40 shades boast the same composition overall, no one hue has the exact same formula. Reason being, Lundin says, is that to properly achieve the correct color payoff, especially for deeper shades, there had to be changes made for each. It's one of the reasons that actress Adria Arjona loves it so much. "My skin tone is a little tricky and when I wear foundations from other brands, I have to mix two of them to find my right color," she tells TZR. "But with Luminous Silk, I know my exact shade both for the winter and for the summer. Elastic is my favorite word to describe it. The texture is silky and smooth, and it always stretches onto my skin."
Makeup artists rave about it just as much. "My first time actually using Luminous Silk was about four years ago," Terrell Mullin, a celebrity makeup artist whose clients include Cynthia Erivo and Chanel Iman, says. "I was on a television set working with a friend of mine and she told me to try this foundation she loved. As soon as I touched it I knew it was a gem. I fell in love with what it does to the skin, especially to the black skin. It's really hard for people of color to find the right colors and tones." Mullin says that Luminous Silk is one of the only foundations he's tried that so seamlessly mimics natural skin. "It doesn't take away from your complexion," he says. "It just evens everything out and gives it a flawless finish." For optimal application, Mullin prefers to apply with a brush. "A lot of times I like to use my fingertips," he says. "But it depends on who I'm working with and what kind of relationship I have with that client at the time. While I love the warmth of my fingers, I enjoy applying this with a brush. It glides on so smoothly. This foundation is truly unlike anything else out there."
So while you're on the hunt for your newest foundation, remember the words of Mr. Armani. We're sure it'll lead you in the direction of Luminous Silk.
We only include products that have been independently selected by The Zoe Report's editorial team. However, we may receive a portion of sales if you purchase a product through a link in this article.