Saturday, November 1, 2014

Dim Light in a Foundation

Koh Gen Do Maifanshi Aqua Foundation SPF25 PA++ is a timely reminder of the importance of not buying a new foundation in a rush and without any prior research. It was my last day in Japan and I had some cash to burn, so when I stumbled across a Koh Gen Do stand at some pharmacy looking shop, I immediately decided to buy one of their foundations. I'd heard of the brand before but didn't really have any detailed concept of their products or ethos, except that their foundations appeared to be well-received by beauty bloggers/vloggers, on the pricier side and not widely available. While there were testers available, it was next to impossible to accurately gauge what my colour match was in the shop, so I opted for the seemingly least problematic shade, 013.






l-r: NARS Sheer Glow in Fiji, Koh Gen Do Aqua Foundation in 013, Make Up For Ever HD Foundation in 118

The main issue I have with Maifanshi Aqua Foundation is entirely my fault: I picked the wrong shade. As you can see in the above swatch, my two other most frequently used foundations, NARS Sheer Glow and Make Up For Ever HD Foundation, are considerably more yellow-toned. I would say that the MUFE is the best match for my skin tone (it has more neutral/beige undertones), while the NARS is close but sometimes too yellow and slightly dark. The Koh Gen Do in comparison, leans pink which is completely at odds with the natural undertone of my skin. Reading reviews after I'd already purchased the foundation, I think I should have picked 213. I did actually try 213 as well as 113 in the shop, but 113 seemed noticeably too light for me (though apparently it's meant to be the same lightness as 013, but just yellow-toned), and 213, although yellow-leaning, seemed a touch too dark.



Wearing NARS Luster blush

The first few times I tried Maifanshi Aqua Foundation, I applied it with my fingers and used at least 1.5-2 pumps, and I wasn't impressed with the result at all. Maybe it was because I'd just stepped off a plane (though I had washed my face and moisturised with a rich cream to prep), but contrary to claims of it being soft-focus and blurring imperfections, it seemed to accentuate every dry patch I had. The colour was also grotesquely off, much to my deep dismay. My face looked like I'd applied a liberal layer of Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powder in Dim Light. It was that exact same undesired effect that I complained about when I reviewed Dim Light, in that my whole complexion seemed darker, warmer, more tan and peach/pink-toned. I wanted a foundation that matched my skin colour, gave me good coverage, provided a natural but illuminating finish and that made me look fresher and more alive. This foundation just made me stare in the mirror critically examining what a flop decision I'd made in purchasing it.

The only way I can make Aqua Foundation work is if I apply a very light layer (one pump or less for the whole face) with a fluffy brush like the Real Techniques Multi Task Brush on properly exfoliated/moisturised skin, and then spend time patiently concealing any marks, blemishes or areas of redness with my NARS Creamy Concealer in Custard. This method is a bit of a pain in the ass since I'd much rather have a foundation that already gives me adequate coverage rather than having to go in with a concealer to finish the job, but it's the only way to get around the unwanted pinkness.

The foundation itself has a light, watery texture and is scant on coverage unless built up, which I wouldn't recommend (at least if you're like me and have purchased the wrong shade). Somewhat ironically, a light-handed application gives me a more dewy, softly luminous finish than if I apply the foundation any heavier. Staying power is ordinary (it's definitely considerably faded by the end of the day, especially if not worn with a primer or set with a powder in the morning), and I found nothing of particular note in terms of oil control or how transfer-proof it is.

Another puzzling aspect of this foundation is that I can't seem to find any information about it being SPF25. The Sephora website and other US stockists list it as SPF15 but the packaging seems identical. I don't know if it's some geographical discrepancy or newer formulation, but some clarification on the issue would be helpful.

Overall, I'm not enthused with Koh Gen Do Aqua Foundation despite high expectations (i.e. my brain attributing a general elevated quality standard to any cosmetic product made in Japan). I will continue to use it purely because it was expensive and it seems like a waste to neglect it entirely, and because it's an acceptable daily foundation so long as my skin's behaving and I can bothered to conceal afterwards. The whole experience has reinforced to me that buying the wrong shade foundation is akin to throwing your money in the bin.

33 comments:

  1. Ahh foundation shade problems 101. I currently have 5 foundations lying around that are totally not matched to my skin tone ranging from one that make me look like geisha to ones that would make an oopma loompa cringe. Sigh

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  2. Haha I am shite at matching foundations, too, but I'm sad that this was off for you, too, in terms of formula. :(

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  3. Oh too bad :// I actually had this foundation in this particular shade in my sephora shopping cart, but then I couldn't decide and left it there and went with the loose powder instead.. Now after reading some reviews, I think if I ever try Koh Gen Do foundation, I'd go with the Maifanshi Moisture one because it seems to provide more coverage than this one..
    I will completely avoid this one then if what it gives is a finish like Hourglass ambient powder which I truly dislike. Thanks for the review,Lena!

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  4. This is a bit off topic, but...

    Omg!!! I finally have an idea of what you look like! Your nose bridge is also incredibly tall! Very pretty!!!!! >_<

    Very off topic, but I just hit this because you haven't posted in a long time =( xx

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    1. Hahaha, so sweet of you! It's all angles and deceit I promise ;)

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  5. Oh no thats too bad! The same thing happened with me when I purchased the Guerlain Lingerie de Peau.. perfectly nice foundation but wrong color and VERY expensive! It hurts so bad! And you are so GORGEOUS Lena! Finally a picture! :D <3<3

    TheConscienceFund

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    1. It doubly sucks when a foundation is pricey!

      Ahhh, you're far too kind :) Thank you!

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  6. Welcome back! <3
    Although the foundation looks really natural and pretty on you skin, I totally agree the shade match is more important than anything when it come to foundation. (I think you said this before, too. ^-^)
    I love the Moisture version of the foundation. It definitely feels "better" on skin and covers nicely. I prefer yellow foundation and the 112 works nicely for me. The Aqua version is supposed to be liquid-y and skin-like so I'd still be interested in trying it. I find Japanese foundation to be either too pink or too yellow but there is usually a shade in the range that works for me.

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    1. Oh I see, maybe the Moisture version would've been a better fit for me. And yes, the shade match is so vital, but it's amazing to think of the discrepancies between shades that I own. Case in point:

      https://pbs.twimg.com/media/ByBl4CMCAAEfkB8.jpg

      Yikes!

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  7. Happy to see another sleep and water post again! Especially since you decided to show us more of your face. :)

    I read another mediocre review about this -- coincidentally from another Lena (Lenallure). Wrong shade aside, it sounds like one of those foundations that might suit a very particular type of skin or combined with certain primers/skin care products. It's too bad it didn't work out -- totally been there with you on a rash travel-induced shopping haze.

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    1. Oh, and I meant to add: maybe you can mix the KGD with the overly yellow NARS? Not sure if the textures will play nice but I feel like the colour issue may be resolved that way without sacrificing two mediocre bottles.

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    2. It's strange to me I never thought of that given NARS + KGD kinda resembles the MUFE in my swatch of all three. Hmmm. May try next time and see how that goes! I can't think of any strongly yellow-toned foundations I have other than the NARS.

      I need to read Lenallure's review of this! Foundations are so tricky, I think they're probably the most personal but crucial aspect of makeup to get right and the only way really is trial and error.

      Definitely need to minimise any future "rash travel-induced shopping hazes" :p Or you know, at least not buy anything I haven't at least read reviews on beforehand, lol.

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  8. Aw, too bad it didn't impress you much. I have to say though, it looks very nice on your (ridiculously smooth!) skin!

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    1. Awww thank you! It really was mostly just flattering lighting, haha :)

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  9. Oh, I'm sorry to hear this didn't work out for you - but I'm really happy to see your face! My only suggestion would be to try and mix the Koh Gen Do with foundations that are a bit too yellow for you - maybe it would work well with the NARS? I have a bottle of the same Aqua foundation in my back-up stash and I purchased a pink shade as well, but I am quite cool-toned.

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    1. Liz suggested mixing with the NARS as well, I definitely will try that and see how it goes! I think if you have quite good skin and you can find a decent shade match, this foundation is a pretty good everyday foundation so long as you're not after any spectacular kind of coverage or lasting power. I do like the subtly sheeny finish that it gives off but I find something like Bourjois Healthy Mix Serum achieves the same result but is much more forgiving on the skin and hydrating.

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  10. Ohhh you're back <3
    I never thought about getting this one, mostly because it's quite hard to get here and matching would be a nightmare. And after reading your review, I'm not really amazed by it at all. I really wanted to get a new foundation , and although I might do the craziness of getting a Korean one, I'm also thinking about getting one from MUFE or from other brands.
    Anyway, I'm happy that you are blogging again <3
    Take care*

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    1. There are just so many foundations out there, it's so hard to pick which one would be good to buy next! Hope you find one that suits you well :)

      And thank you! I hope I can maintain some of the momentum moving forward because I know I've been really lazy with the blog in the last few months.

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  11. The perils off trying to find the perfect foundation shade! I've mostly stopped trying new foundations now because I can never seem to find a match. Such a shame this wasn't impressive as you'd hoped, but I still think it looks really nice on you! <3 xx

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  12. Aw, sorry to see that you accidentally got the wrong shade! I tend to always buy my foundation blind in terms of not having a reference shade, I only buy a foundation after swatching them in real life and knowing that someone with the same color has it. I have bought/received a couple this last year that had a really beige/orange tone too dark for me now so I've had a few I had to dump. I personally love a foundation with a strong light yellow tone, neutral is okay too for me. Like yourself I've heard nothing but great things about that brand but I'm holding off for now until I give away/get rid of some in my collection. I love buying foundation from asian brands, it's easy for those of us who are fair/light in complexion.

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    1. Ugh, I hate foundations that are too orangey (Rimmel Wake Me Up in Soft Beige, I'm looking at you). Neutral is fine for me but yellow-toned is ideal (which is why I love Bourjois foundations so much, I generally find them to be quite yellow, though their CC cream was relatively pink which I disliked). I know what you mean about holding off until you get rid of or give away some of your collection - I've always resigned myself to just throwing out several foundations of mine that have seen better days and have been largely neglected due to superior options that I choose on a daily basis over them.

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    2. Hahaha! Tell me about it! I ordered Rimmel matte mouse in soft beige and it would've been fine although a tad beige but it turns orange!!! I ordered 103 true ivory and it's perfect! I much rather have a yellow and neutral foundation than one that's too beige or orange tone, it just doesn't work well with my complexion too! I too have thrown out a few recently. I thought I could make them work, mix them but I'm not touching them! Either I pass some that match my mom to her or they have to go!

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  13. I guess I'm lucky in the sense that I'm always the absolute lightest shade. This sucks! Too bad you got the wrong shade.

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  14. Awh, what a shame! Is there anything worse than getting the wrong foundation shade?! I am the absolute worse at matching my own skin tone. Slowly over time, I have kept mental notes of bloggers with the same skin tone as me/as close to possible and you're one of them.
    Speaking of Sheer glow, I just got matched to Fiji a couple of weeks ago and I've been trying out the sample and I'm in love! I'm a MUFE 120 so i guess I'm that slight bit darker and Fiji matched me perfectly.

    Chlo√©⎪ √† la foliee

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    1. Woooo yay! I love NARS Sheer Glow so much, it's my favourite foundation. Fiji is sometimes a little bit off for me but nothing too bad if I spend time properly buffing in the foundation and I don't use too much product. Nothing rivals the powerfully luminous finish it gives though, it just makes your skin look awesome. I had issues with it in the beginning because it doesn't cooperate well with dry, scaly skin, so adequate moisturisation + exfoliation is a must for me.

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  15. too bad this doesn't work out for you. I know I have been wanting to try their foundation for the longest time. But since it is so pricey, I dare not to buy it online as I worry I would pick the wrong shade.

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  16. I can´t wear foundation cause every foundation that I have ever tried have made my skin break out like crazy :/
    Maybe I one day will find one that works :)
    I remember that when I wore foundation I had the hardest time finding a foundation that matched my skin tone :)
    xx

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  17. I'm actually a fan of this foundation, but... the shade I have, which is the same as yours - 013, is too dark for me now. It was perfect before my laser treatments. Now, sadly, it's too dark.
    Overall, the selection of shades available seems to be lacking at KGD, and the sales lady at their salon even admitted as much.
    I liked how light the Aqua Foundation was. It worked very well with my super dry skin. I used it with either the green KGD base, or with a base from Chacott. I found it impossible to wear without any base.
    I liked the minimal coverage (more like a BB cream than a proper foundation) and the gentle glow.
    There is no shade in Aqua Foundation that suits me now, so I'm thinking getting a tube of Moisture Foundation. But then again, the color problem. I have no idea how to solve it :(

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    1. Oh wow, I'm surprised to hear it worked well for your super dry skin! My skin was a little bit dehydrated from the long flight I had from Japan back to Australia but even after cleansing and thickly moisturising, the foundation really clung onto dry areas and generally highlighted the dry texture of my skin. I thought it looked really awful, so I immediately dismissed it as a foundation that wouldn't work on dry skin.

      Maybe the trick is to wear it with a base. I don't have any appropriate bases but even then, I've got a bit of hyperpigmentation going on so I still need to conceal afterwards.

      Getting the foundation shade right is the trickiest part, huh? Seems like you either have to deal with a less than ideal match, or mix two separate foundations together to form a better match, which then interferes with the properties of the individual foundations that you like.

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    2. I find it that most Asian foundations need to be worn with a base. A beautician friend says they are made that way to last during the hot and humid months and during the cold and dry months. When I was getting the Aqua Foundation the sales lady immediately right of the bat said I needed a base to go with it, otherwise it's not going to work.
      I see the same thing with my Korean cushion foundations, they are a mess without a base.
      So far I've found only one foundation that is a holymotherofbatman what happened here perfect match, and that's the Hanyul Luminant Cushion in light pink. But yes, it's a cushion foundation.

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  18. So much Lena in one picture! I know the other comments have said likewise but it's amazing! You look lovely!
    I think I read something about Dianna Agron using Koh Gen Do foundation- I think I've seen it on Into the Gloss as well! Pity about the shade match- rookie error. Might end up mixing it with other foundations to get a better shade match, but it would defeat the purpose of buying such a formulation of foundation? You're so observant and particular about products and their properties and qualities. Reminds me of one of Alix from icovetthee's collaboration videos- Suzie from HelloOctoberxo was saying Alix was super attentive to characteristics of products and Suzie was admitting she just slaps it on and thinks 'that's nice'.

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    1. Haha, that's so sweet of you to say. I think I'm more just picky and critical, and I force myself to notice things about products so I can actually write something about them, otherwise I wouldn't know what to say except a general 'meh' or 'this is good'. I saw that video collab they did on both their blogs but haven't actually watched the video. Alix is sickeningly gorgeous though and she legitimately doesn't need any makeup :p

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  19. I really like this one, but i have the old one and i feel like it is better? At any rate, the shade range for this is a bit weird. I wear 123 in the moisture foundation for fall/winter, and this one i have the old shade OC-2 and what is meant to be the equivalent (143) in the summer. Bummer it didn't work for you!

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