I first tried both these foundations by Japanese brand Koh Gen Do a few days ago at Beauty Bar in Podium. I know I’m a little late on the bandwagon because bloggers were raving about these a little over a year ago? When I tried these I crankshafted my jaw up off the floor twice, first because of the excellent quality and second because of the price. They’re painfully expensive (almost matching Becca Luminous Skin Tint in price over at Adora) which is probably why the Koh Gen Do hype didn’t last for too long…these aren’t exactly budget friendly repurchase candidates unless no other foundation at all works for you.
These KGD gems are only so far the best and most luxurious foundations I have ever…as in EVER tried. Note though that’s a personal and professional opinion based on how I like my base products to work. Some of you might want more coverage. The Moisture Foundation is the more buildable formula. They’re both formulated with a majority of natural ingredients, free of mineral oil and mainstream nasties and they are made in Japan. The local price difference of Php100 between these two I find strange because they’re not that dissimilar in quality and one contains much more product for money than the other (and they cost the same abroad). I do have my reasons for purchasing 1 of each kind in spite of the small difference. For the review you’re about to read I applied both foundations from the center of the face outward with a Real Techniques Expert Face brush. This review won’t contain hand swatches simply because I’m saving product, it costs too much and the shades are almost the same anyway. What’s better than a foundation review? Well, how about two? Read more to see the full reviews and more photos.
“Aqua Foundation is made with the deep sea waters of Rausu, Japan. It balances the conditions of ions on the skin surface with rich minerals and nutrients. These minerals are close in composition of the human body which makes it easier to absorb and moisturize efficiently. “
- Koh Gen Do Aqua Foundation SPF15, 10z./30ml – “Sheer flawless finish that minimizes pores and imperfections. No artificial colors, fragrance, petroleum based mineral oil or paraben.”
Jojoba Seed Oil – Natural oil extracted from jojoba seeds to soften and protect skin.
Olive Squalane – Natural oil extracted from olive berries to soften skin and retain moisture.
Shea Butter – Natural oil extract from the seeds of the shea tree, softens skin and retains moisture.The combination of water and finely refined oil creates a perfect balance for a smooth foundation application.
Inactive Ingredients: Water, Cyclopentasiloxane, Neopentyl Glycol Diethylhexanoate, Isononyl Isononanoate, Hdi/Trimethylol Hexyllactone Crosspolymer, Peg-9 Polydimethylsiloxyethyl Dimethicone, Pentylene Glycol, Sea Water, Peg-10 Dimethicone, Sorbitan Sesquiisostearate, Mica, Glycerin, Phytosteryl / Octyldodecyl Lauroyl Glutamate, Sodium Chloride. Sorbitan Sesquioleate, Aluminum Hydroxide, Acrylates Polytrimethyl Siloxymethacrylate Copolymer, Butylene Glycol. Dimethicone. Phenoxyethanol, Stearic Acid, Aluminum Dimyristate, Silica, Zirconium Dioxide. Talc, Isostearyl Sebacate, Alumina, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea Butter), Squalane, Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract, Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil, Betula Alba Juice, Disodium Stearoyl Glutamate, Glycyrrhiza Glabra (Licorice) Root Extract, Glucosyl Hesperidin, Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate, Betula Alba Bark Extract, Kjellmaniella Gyrate Extract, Algae Extract, Alpinia Speciosa Leaf Extract, Iron Oxides.
The KGD Aqua foundation makes me think of a lighter version of NARS Sheer Glow with more comfortable wear. It’s got a semi-matte finish in my opinion, similar to another favorite of mine by Shiseido, the Perfect Refining foundation. It applies a little dewy at first then when it sets becomes soft and touchable. This is not as sheer as a tinted moisturizer but not as thick as the usual foundations, for normal to combination sensitive skin like mine, it’s fantastic. It feels fresh on the skin and I can see why Emily Weiss loved it for awhile. It’s the perfect semi-matte that goes on looking like healthy skin. To give you an idea how this foundation looks on more mature skin have a glimpse of how KGD Aqua Foundation looks applied on my lovely Mama. I applied it on her with the same brush and set it with some mineral powder. Mom has a more neutral skintone than me (I’ve got quite a yellow oriental undertone) so I neutralized my foundation on her with the #6 Makeup Factory mineral compact I used to set her makeup.
It has minimal sun protection at SPF 15. I tested both foundations to make sure I got a shade match for both by putting each on half of my face, the blended together perfectly and neither side of my face looked a different shade from the other. I’m a MAC NC30 and my current match in the Aqua foundation is OC-2 and my current match in the Moisture foundation is 123. OC-2 is slightly deeper and yellower than the Moisture range’s 123…but I wore my half-and-half face out after testing both in Beauty Bar and no one noticed my “TwoFace”.
This KGD Moisture Foundation is wonderful (but it shouldn’t cost Php100 more than the Aqua grr), my shade is 123 and it is supposedly slightly more dewy than the Aqua foundation…but honestly I had fantastic light at Beauty Bar BGC and I couldn’t tell the difference, both had a sophisticated non-greasy sheen that set to a semi-matte finish over time. What I could feel was this being an eensy-weensy little bit thicker and long-wearing. You can see here below that it covers my dark circles better than the Aqua foundation. This could go in my capsule kit and I wouldn’t really need an extra concealer if I had this, unless I required serious color correction. It would make an awesome evening or red carpet foundation since it doesn’t have SPF, it is a bit dewy but not overly so and it’s easy to powder to get a softer finish (I recommend MAC MSF natural pressed powder). The Koh Gen Do Moisture Foundation has a similar finish to KGD Aqua that contains more emollients and has slightly more coverage. It has no SPF which means it’s great for shoots (I’d save these though for high end projects or celebrity clients coz they’re pricy) and it also conveniently comes in a portable tube to the delight of MUAs like myself (as a professional if I could afford it I’d get more shades for my kit) but I hate that you only get 20 ml as compared to the 30ml you get in the bulky frosted glass bottle of KGD Aqua Foundation. How I wish both foundations were in 30ml tubes instead, I don’t see why the Aqua one has to be in a frosted glass bottle that’s so heavy and impractical to bring in your purse.
- Koh Gen Do Moisture Foundation , .71 0z./20g – “Natural matte finish that minimizes flaws and imperfections. No artificial colors, fragrance, petroleum based mineral oil or paraben.”
Vegetable collagen: Maintains the balance of water in your skin and gives it vitality and elasticity.
Jojoba oil: spreads easily on your skin. Retains skin’s moisture and prevents water from evaporating from your skin.
Squalane: Prevents skin dryness and keeps it moist and elastic.
Ingredients: Water, Isotridecyl Isononanoate, Octyldodecyl Lanolate, Sorbitan Isostearate, Cyclopentasiloxane, Butylene Glycol, Glycerin, Tribehenin, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea Butter) Fruit, Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil, Squalane, Saccharomyces Extract, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extract, Tocopherol, Magnesium Sulfate, Oleyl Alcohol, Phenoxyethanol, Talc, Titanium Dioxide, (+/-) Iron Oxides, Aluminum Hydroxide
I didn’t recall immediately when I tried these but ITG’s chief commander Emily Weiss put the Aqua foundation on her selfie Top Shelf feature 2 years ago as her fave foundation then. I saw the price tag the first time at Podium, and I wept (not really), debated for 20 minutes (yes, indeed) and walked away. KGD Aqua was Php2750 and Moisture was Php2850. The fact that they retail here is not what makes them expensive, they really are… even Amazon and Sephora sell both for $62.00 each (which confuses me even more about why 1 is more expensive than the other locally). My only comfort then having denied myself the purchase the first time around was that I had enough sense to do so at that time a few days ago, someone would have to tell me why it was worth that in the first place. In the last past month I made a handful of online purchases (2 or 3, 1 non-beauty) because of my wonderful but hectic Euro tour hangover. A constrained itinerary when I was abroad left me hungry to explore brands I had no time to look for whilst I was in the UK. For most of our stops in Europe it was: arrive, check in, eat, sleep, wakeup, eat, head to concert, eat, sleep, pack, fly, arrive next city ON LOOP, with just 2 or 3 free days to walk and explore for the whole 2 weeks we were there. As a result DutyFree was nice, a little generic but great help and when I got home I felt I missed out on some things apart from tourist spots. So I kinda sorta ran up 3 small invoices online shortly after I got back. As I was heading home from Podium a few days ago with the memory of Koh Gen Do on my face I was still feeling strangely victorious after having snubbed the best foundation I ever tried but then I did the next most futile thing lol. I texted my mom about my achievement in restraint and she replied “But why did you walk away? ” and I had no decent answer other than them being pricy, and then she reasoned something else on why I should get these now.
So for the first time a few days later I availed of Beauty Bar’s 3 months to pay 0% installment offer and headed over to their HighStreet branch to pick these up. These are expensive but I tried my best to research and best explain in the post the payoff value this foundation gives. If you are particular about your base this might tick all the boxes. I don’t want to be pretentious and just randomly tell you guys go ahead, go out and get this. I’m simply saying if you’re on the market for a high end luxury foundation this may not be among the mainstream brands usually mentioned but it is the best one I have tried so far…it just really comes with a hefty price tag. If you’re wondering which one I think is more value for money I’d say the Aqua foundation over the moisture one coz you get more product in the bottle for Php100 less and a minimal amount of SPF for daily wear.
*spelling corrections on the Before and After images…should be Koh Gen DO not DOH