FACE | What the hell is photography fluid?

Hylamide Photography Foundation and NIOD Photography Fluid

Remember when Stephen King wrote a bunch of books as Richard Bachman so he didn’t oversaturate the market with books all written under his real name? Me either, because it happened before I was born, but bear with me.

I first heard about the NIOD Photography Fluid, Opacity 12%* from Ruth a year or so ago, and have been curious about it ever since. When I got the chance recently to pick a few things from Recreate Yourself to try, it was first on my list. I then discovered Hylamide also makes a Photography Foundation*. I decided to compare the two ‘competing’ products.

then discovered that Hylamide and NIOD are made by the same company, Deciem. Sneaky. It’s like picking between a King book and a Bachman book— it doesn’t really matter which you choose, because they’re very similar, and your money’s going to the same place. The Hylamide and NIOD formulas aren’t identical, though, so they’re still worth a comparison.

A genuine question a friend asked me when I posted these on Instagram: “Does it go on your face or in your camera?” This is the problem you run into when you create a new category of product before the market knows exactly what it is. (It goes on your face.)

Photography fluid is a base makeup product designed to make your skin look exceptionally good in photos. Intrigued? Same.

NIOD Photography Fluid, Opacity 12%

The advertising copy for NIOD Photography Fluid seems designed to overwhelm and confuse you with scientific-sounding nonsense. They claim LIGHT REFRACTION TECHNOLOGIES (‘a systematic confusion of a perfect-looking skin surface’), CHROMATIC RADIANCE TECHNOLOGIES, CAMERA HUE CORRECTION TECHNOLOGY (‘Sixth-generation, ultra-fine hue corrector blacks out red tones’), as well as a Surface Mesh Adherence Technology and an Oil-Free Hydration Bio-Sugar Complex.

NIOD Photography Fluid

As far as I can tell, it’s a semi-iridescent serum that offers a little bit of coverage and a little bit of hydration, to the extent that it could make your skin look a little bit smoother and reflect light in a way that “blurs” uneven texture and skintone.

You can wear it on its own or under foundation, suggesting to me this is really just a highlighting, smoothing primer. NIOD Photography Fluid only comes in the one shade, so it’s a very white-girl product.

Hylamide Photography Foundation

Hylamide Photography Foundation

Hylamide Photography Foundation offers much of the same, although it’s available in two deeper shades as well as the transparent (read: white) one. Their selling points might sound familiar: ‘Nano fractions of silica-based prisms [to] create light confusion‘, ‘ultra-advanced super-fine hue correctors [that] black out unwanted tones‘ and again, that Oil-Free Bio-Sugar Complex.

Hylamide is more practical to use, coming in a squeezy bottle with a nozzle tip rather than a glass bottle with a dropper. It is also significantly cheaper: $28.18 compared to $42.34 (both NZD).

NIOD Photography Fluid and Hylamide Photography Foundation swatches

And side-by-side… well, I don’t see a huge difference here. Hylamide’s photography fluid might be slightly more yellow-toned.

I decided to get a little bit Stephanie Nicole and compared the ingredients lists of the two photography fluids. How different are they, really? While this isn’t the most thorough investigation, you can see that the formulas are, by and large, very, very similar.

(Green highlight = same ingredients in the same order; yellow underline = same ingredients in a different order; red underline = unique ingredients.)

Photography fluid ingredients

Of course none of this matters if the product doesn’t work on the face… so here we go. Two unedited photos under studio lighting. In the first photo I am makeupless, besides eyebrows, and have just moisturised my skin. In the second, I have Hylamide Photography Foundation on the left and NIOD Photography Fluid on the right.





The photos speak for themselves really—I won’t be relying on a photography fluid alone any time soon. That being said, there’s still promise in these products as primers! It’s just that, as primers, they are nowhere near as novel or exciting.

Have you tried a photography fluid? Would you?

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  • What curious products. They look like over-hyped strobe cream – is that a fair comparison?

  • Shinygirl

    I assumed they were for developing photos… you live, you learn. I don’t think I’ll bother trying these – thanks for being the test bunny!

  • WhiteLady

    Hi Morgan! I’ve been using the NIOD for over a year now, and as far as I understood it, and as I use it, it’s not a primer (it would be way too reflecting) but something to be mixed in with your foundation before applying for a blurring/radiant effect. I have gotten countless comments about how good my skin looks since I started using it, and with 5 times a week use I still haven’t finished my first bottle! Give it a go using it like that and see if you like it. And since it blends into the foundation it can be used by people with any skin tone…

    • Hi, thanks for your comment! The NIOD site says “Apply instead of or under liquid foundation to balance out undesirable colour tones and skin imperfections.” but I agree with you, it’s too reflective to be used this way. I’ll definitely give it a go mixed in and see how it works out.