Oct 072011

I’ve begun experimenting with foundations by Koh Gen Do based on their stellar reputation. Up until now, they’ve been carried online on Koh Gen Do at at Barney’s New York’s. Recently, they’ve been added to Sephora’s online store. I’m hoping that they’ll also reach Sephora brick & mortar stores although I honestly don’t know. Liz and I have been flirting with the counter testers at Barney’s location in San Francisco for a few months, so finally I took the plunge.

Since Chanel has now discontinued the Pro Lumiere line, Chanel’s only “glowy” foundation is Vitalumiere fluid (which feels heavy on my skin) and Tient Innocence Compact (which has too much coverage for my skin type). There are reports that Chanel will release new Vitalumiere compact products in Spring 2012, although I’m not certain how those products will be formulated. Right now, my glowiest foundation is Guerlain’s Parure Gold (reviewed here), which is a very elegant foundation with medium coverage. When I wear Parure Gold, I sometimes cut it with a good moisturizer to make it slightly more sheer.

As background, Koh Gen Do has been formulating high definition foundations designed for makeup artists for use in film. The science relies on the use of deep sea waters which include minerals and nutrients that are easily absorbed into the skin. These foundations are blended with a perfect ratio (or “golden ratio,” as the company says) of pigment, deep sea water and emolients/oil) to give lustrous, moisturized coverage. If you love a soft glow, you will want to take a look. Both have a lightweight feel.

I’ve been trying two–the first is Koh Gen Do Aqua Foundation ($62/ 1.0 oz). This has been featured at Into the Gloss and The Beauty Look Book, and given favorable reviews on both. The Aqua comes in a glass pump bottle. This foundation feels lightweight and moisturizing on the skin. The color range is insanely small–only four colors. Four!! OC-1 is a bit light for my NC15/20 Chanel B20/Cameo/Ivoire skintone.

So far, my impression is that Koh Gen Do Aqua is a very, very sheer foundation in my opinion. It’s probably the sheerest foundation that I’ve tried–if my memory is correct, it’s sheerer than some tinted moisturizers that I’ve used (Tarte’s Smooth Operator, for example, seems more pigmented). If you are looking for a soft, moisturizing veil of color over relatively unmarred skin, this will work beautifully. If you have imperfections, a good concealer will be necessary.

Ingredient list (click to enlarge):

Koh Gen Do Moisture Foundation ($62/.071 oz/ Koh Gen Do Maifanshi Moisture Foundation), comes in a red squeeze tube that holds about 1/3 less than most foundations. It’s extremely packable, and comes if a far greater range of colors:

The Barney’s sales associate matched me to 123, which is the last time in my entire life I’ll ever let a sales associate match me. It’s a bit dark. I would have wanted to get 023. I’m sorry to say that I do not have swatches, but I’m hoping to persuade Karlasugar to do a set.

Ken Gen Do Moisture Foundation is 60% water, which is twice that of most foundations and even more than the Ken Gen Do Aqua Foundation. Although the sales associate thought that Aqua foundation would be heavier coverage (and based on the math, she’d be right), I found that Ken Gen Do Moisture Foundation was noticeably higher coverage. In other words, in my opinion Ken Gen Do Moisture foundation is a medium coverage (similar to Chanel Perfection Lumiere, but the Ken Gen Do had a softer, glowy texture), and Ken Gen Do Aqua Foundation is light/sheer.

Ingredient list (click to enlarge):

When I wore Ken Gen Do Moisture Foundation to dinner last night, DH gave a favorable review. He far prefers this look to Chanel’s Perfection Lumiere on me. Honestly I loved the look of the Ken Gen Do Moisture myself. It gives a very soft and glowy look, very natural looking, and felt extremely lightweight. It absolutely looked like “my skin but better.” It uses two differently shaped powders to smooth over imperfections, give an airbrushed finish and feels both lightweight and nurturing.

Here are some swatches of Chanel Vitalumiere Aqua in B20, next to Chanel Perfection Lumiere in BR 32. This swatch also includes the too-dark Ken Gen Do Moisture Foundation in 123 and the sheer Ken Gen Do Aqua Foundation in OC-1.

Ken Gen Do also makes some lovely primers. I got some samples of the Yellow (meant to diffuse redness) and Pearl White. These feel very moisturizing without being too oily when applied:

Here are swatches of the sample packets in the late day sun–Koh Gen Do Makeup Color Base in Yellow on the left (light and heavy swatch), and Koh Gen Dow Makeup Color Base in Pearl White (heavy and light swatch) on the right:


I’ve purchased Makeup For Ever’s HD Foundation recently, and my plan is to do a comparison with the Ken Gen Do high definition foundations. I’ll continue playing with these and report back soon. In the meantime, let us know if you’ve tried these and your impressions? Also, if you see these at your local Sephora, would you kindly tell us that as well?

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