Feb 182014

Shu The Lightbulb Foundation01

Shu Uemura has released The Lightbulb Foundation in the U.S. ($55) (online only). This foundation is said to provide a “multi-glow oil complex” for a natural glow with high coverage.

Shu Lightbulb Foundation3

The foundations comes packed with a lightbulb-shaped sponge for application.  The round, wide end is designed to encourage a glowing finish. You are supposed to use the wide end with a tapping motion to set a glow on the cheeks and down the center of the face.  The narrow end is a “glow controller.”  This smaller pointed side is said to be good for buffing the foundation into the skin to provide a more satin texture. As an aside, I used this sponge for a few trials, and it worked well. I also used a sponge from my Chanel powder foundation compact, and I got good results with that as well

Shu Lightbulb Foundation2

I concur with Shu’s description the this foundation is high coverage, and gives a lit-from within glow. The glow is not the same glow that you get when you add a liquid luminizer to a standard foundation. Instead, the foundation seems to provide a healthy, lit-from-within look that is somehow in the pigment of the foundation even when matted down to a satin finish. There’s definitely some kind of magic in this formula. Here is the pointed, narrow end of The Lightbulb sponge, which comes to a gentle cone point at the end.

Shu Lightbulb Foundation1

The heavy coverage comes at a price, however. This is not a “lightweight” foundation–I definitely felt it on my skin throughout the day. It doesn’t feel like it completely dries down.  I certainly recommend powdering this down, not only to tame the glow but also to minimize its transferability.

Shu Lightbulb Foundation4 copy

I should note that, like many modern foundations, Shu The Lightbulb takes a while to settle onto my skin. I gave it a good 15-20 minutes until this somewhat thick product really spread and settled.  Until then, I could see pores that I didn’t know I had, and it looked a bit mask-like. If this happens, don’t panic. Maybe do your nails or answer some emails, give it some time to warm to your skin. It changes quite a bit during the first half-hour. Below, you can see that the pump bottle is a nice touch.

Shu Lightbulb Foundation5

 I also had problems with Shu’s The Lightbulb wearing well throughout the day. It’s not advertised as a long-wearing foundation.  Without a base or primer, I got breakthrough glow by 10:00 a.m. on my combination skin. By the end of the day, there were several of my skin flaws showing through the foundation that I had applied at about 7 a.m. that day. Ingredient list:

Shu The Lightbulb Foundation03

With the  Sunday Riley Effortless Breathable Primer and topped with the Guerlain Meteorites powder, I had a vastly different experience. Of course, I got the same high coverage and lit-from-within glow as before. However, I did not get breakthrough glow until very late in the day.  Also, the high coverage lasted well into the evening without any movement.  I really loved the look of the Shu The Lightbulb Foundation with this combination. In the interest of full disclosure, however, I should note that the Lightbulb foundation still felt a bit heavy compared to the some of the super-lightweight feeling foundations that I’ve tried in the past. In other words, despite the vastly improved longevity, I still could feel the Lightbulb foundation on. Some don’t mind that, but some do and so I wanted to let you know my experience.

Shu Lightbulb Swatches1

I ordered Shu The Lightbulb in 774, which runs toward yellow. Something told me that I should have gone with the more neutral 574, but that one was out of the stock on the day that I ordered. As you can see, Shu 774 is much yellower than MAC NC 15, and certainly yellower than NARS Sheer Glow in Deauville. For the record, Shu’s number system is as follows:  the first digit tells you how pink or yellow the foundation is: 1 is the most pink; 9 is the most yellow; 5 is neutral.  The second digit refers to how dark or light the shade is (the higher the number, the lighter the shade).

Overall, I think this foundation is going to be a bit controversial. In addition to the online-only aspect for U.S. buyers, I think that some will love the coverage and look.  For me, a good primer was necessary to ensure longevity. The dry-down issue is going to be a factor for some, as well as the overall feel of the foundation. I will say that, set properly with a good primer and powder, this gives fantastic coverage and the texture (once it settles in) does give an outstanding look. As ever, these are just one beauty blogger’s thoughts, and so you experiences might certainly vary.

In the U.S., Shu Uemura The Lightbulb Foundation is available online only at Shu Uemera’s website.

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  7 Responses to “Shu Uemura Lightbulb Foundation and Sponge Set Review”

  1. I’ve never tried anything from Shu Uemura, but this foundation could sway me.

  2. I’m so glad you reviewed this! I’ve been eyeing the foundation, but it’s hard to find reviews on Shu products in general being as they only sell online, and even harder to find someone with light skin tone review the products.

    I wear about the same color intensity as you, but I’m a hair lighter and more yellow, so my guess is 774 might be a good match for me. I wear Nars in Gobi, and while MAC NC15 is okay, it tends to be too pink. The Chanel Beige 20 is definitely too dark and pink on me. Here’s to hoping that I get a good match!

    Also, thanks for sharing the ingredients. I’m sensitive to certain ingredients found in a lot of skincare and cosmetics, so I greatly appreciate this!

  3. I’m so glad you reviewed this! While it sounds nice, I don’t think it’s right for me.
    Have you tried the Ellis Faas foundation? A local store gave me a nice sized sample. The coverage is light but buildable and it actually seems to disappear into my skin (in a good way). Definitely my next foundation purchase.

  4. I’m using this foundation too! You def. need a primer for it to last til the evening though – I forgot mine and some parts looked a bit flaky… :/
    What do you make of the sponge that comes with it? I haven’t used it myself because I think they’re a bit gimmicky (and waste too much product). Do you think it gives a better finish than a foundation brush?

    • You know, I was wondering about that too. I used a Chanel makeup sponge and it didn’t seem to make much difference. I think it’s more in the pressure and amount of buffing, rather than the brush shape itself. The lightbulb sponge probably was the most useful in helping me learn that the pressure, and amount of buffing, really matters with this particular foundation.

      I forgot to use any sponge at all one morning and just used my fingers. I went over it a brush afterwards. It was more matte than usual on that day. But if the sponge is lost, the foundation is still very usable once one understand how it works.

  5. It looks a bit darker then NARS Siberia?

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