Perfect Refining Foundation SPF 16
Last Updated:03.12.2015
Jar Packaging:No
Tested on animals:Yes
Review Overview

This thin-textured liquid foundation has some strong points, especially for oily, blemish-prone skin. It feels weightless and provides impressive coverage and a lasting matte finish. Sadly, the inclusion of alcohol and lavender oil (the scent of both is detectable as you blend) is a problem for skin because they cause irritation, and that hurts the skin. Although this foundation has strong points, there are lots of great foundations available that don't have these problems.

  • Fluid, silky, feather-light texture is great for oily skin.
  • Blends easily and sets (quickly) to a powdery matte finish.
  • Concentrated formula provides medium coverage.
  • Extensive shade range offers many neutral to slightly yellow colors.
  • The amount of alcohol makes it a potential cause for concern due to the irritation and dryness it can cause, plus it causes free-radical damage.
  • Contains lavender oil, which can cause skin cell death and oxidative damage.
  • Shade B100 is too rosy; O40 is slightly orange.
  • Emphasizes the slightest bit of dry skin and magnifies wrinkles.

More info:

The blend of alcohol and lavender oil not only has the potential to hurt the skin's healing process and its ability to produce healthy collagen, but also can be a problem for oily skin. Why? Irritation from problematic ingredients stimulates oil production at the base of the pore, so you run the risk of oily skin becoming even more oily.


Active Ingredients: Octinoxate 1.9%; Titanium Dioxide 4.1%; Inactive Ingredients: Water, Dimethicone, Cyclomethicone, Nylon-12, SD Alcohol 40-B, Diethylhexyl Succinate, Glycerin, Lauryl PEG-9 Polydimethylsiloxyethyl Dimethicone, PEG-10 Dimethicone, Erythritol, Xylitol, Sodium Glutamate, Polyglyceryl-2 Diisostearate, PEG/PPG-36/41 Dimethyl Ether, Sodium Hyaluronate, Lavandula Angustifolia (Lavender) Oil, Paeonia Albiflora Root Extract, Aluminum Hydroxide, Aluminum Distearate, Alumina, Disteardimonium Hectorite, Triethoxycaprylylsilane, Polysilicone-2, Vinyl Dimethicone/Methicone Silsesquioxane Crosspolymer, Butylene Glycol, Tocopherol, Dipentaerythrityl Hexahydroxystearate, Barium Sulfate, Sodium Metabisulfite, BHT, Methicone, Dimethicone/Methicone Copolymer, Tetradecene, Phenoxyethanol, Benzoic Acid, Titanium Dioxide, Iron Oxides, Zinc Oxide, Mica.

Brand Overview

Shiseido At-A-Glance

Strengths: Most of the sunscreens provide sufficient UVA protection and present a variety of options, whether you're looking for titanium dioxide, zinc oxide, or avobenzone; a handful of good (but not great) moisturizers; worthwhile oil-blotting papers; foundations with sunscreen that provide sufficient UVA protection (and there are some wonderful foundations here); pressed powder with sunscreen for oily skin; the Perfect Rouge Lipstick is one of the best creamy lipsticks at the department store; mostly good mascaras.

Weaknesses: Expensive; several drying cleansers; boring toners; no AHA or BHA products; no products to effectively manage acne; no reliable skin-lightening options despite a preponderance of products claiming to do just that; irritating self-tanners; gimmicky masks; jar packaging; uneven assortment of concealers (and some terrible colors); average to disappointing eye and brow shapers; average makeup brushes.

Shiseido is one of the largest cosmetic companies in Japan, and the founder wants consumers worldwide to know that the brand he began is meant for all who seek beauty. Oddly enough, Shiseido (pronounced "she-say-doe"), whose products have a distinctly Japanese appearance and appeal, began in 1872 as Japan's first Western-style pharmacy. Its products have been sold in the United States for over 40 years, and it has become a nearly overwhelming product line. Although there are some respectable products, Shiseido's skin-care collection is far from a total approach to anything, unless your skin-care mantra is "it has to be average yet needlessly expensive and the routine has to include more products than any other line recommends."

A total approach to health and beauty would take into account all that has been learned to date about how skin functions, how it can repair itself, how it ages, and what it realistically takes for it to look, feel, and function at its best. Such an approach does not, however, involve cleansers with alkaline ingredients that cause skin to be unnecessarily dry, lackluster toners, or far too many products with alcohol; that can only harm the skin, which isn't beautiful in the least.

If anything, the numerous skin-care options presented here are merely average or really disappointing. Many of the moisturizers have luscious textures, but again, it takes more than a sensational feel to create exceptional products that have your skin's best interest (and best appearance) in mind.

One point of difference with this line is that Shiseido insists on regular facial massage. That means you'll find several facial massage creams, although most of them have traditional moisturizer formularies that differ little from what's seen throughout the lineup. Shiseido maintains that routine facial massage creates firmer skin that's less prone to sagging because the massage action tones the muscles, but that simply isn't true. The muscles of the face are among the most frequently used. Repetitive muscle movements are a prime cause of expression lines around the eyes, mouth, and on the forehead. Botox has become such a popular procedure because it selectively prevents these muscles from working, which smoothes creases and lines. Massage alone cannot do that; if anything, routine facial massage can encourage lines and sagging by stretching the skin. Furthermore, when skin slackens and sags, it involves more than just the muscles. Sun damage plays a role in collagen and elastin destruction, as does gravity, which causes fat pads beneath the skin to slip. And then there's bone loss, and the fact that, as we age, skin continues to grow (yet has less to hold on to). Massage to repair sun damage—give me a break!

For more information about Shiseido, visit www.shiseido.com.

Shiseido Makeup

Although Shiseido is known more for their seemingly endless array of skin-care products, their makeup, while not without its problem-child products, is clearly not just an afterthought. The main and most impressive part of the color collection is the foundations. For the most part they have silky textures, and provide adequate sun protection (at least an SPF 15 with UVA-protecting ingredients). If you're keen on shopping this line you should also pay attention to their Perfect Rouge Lipstick, lip gloss, the mascaras, and some distinctive specialty products. Items to avoid entirely include the eye and brow pencils and a couple of the eyeshadows; the makeup brushes are serviceable, but pale in comparison to what makeup artist–backed lines offer. Ignore the inflated claims that accompany many of Shiseido's makeup products, but don't ignore the best of what they have to offer—because in that regard, they're better than ever!

About the Experts

The new Beautypedia Team proudly and unequivocally maintains the commitment to help you find the best products possible for your skin. We do this by relentlessly pursuing and relying on published scientific research so you will have unbiased information on what works and what doesn't-and the sneaky ways you could be making your skin worse, not better!

The Beautypedia Team reviews all products using the same research, criteria, and objectivity, whether the product being reviewed is from Paula's Choice or another brand.

Member Comments
Summary of Member Comments
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Developed allergies!

My face used to love this product but in the last year, I've begun to notice slight bumps develop throughout the day (they would go away over night so I know it's something I put on during the day). I stopped using it and the bumps went away. I'm sad to let this product go :(

Reviewed by
Disagree completely with Paula's Choice

This product does not contain denatured alcohol. Nor does it smell of lavender, My biggest problem with Paula's review is the claim that essential oil of lavender causes 'cell death,' can irritate skin, and increase sebum production. Ridiculous! Lavender oil is a powerful anti-microbial / anti-inflammatory essence. This foundation is featherlight yet offers buildable coverage and does not migrate. Skin looks and feels smooth. Apply with brush in circular motion to coat pore walls = flawless.

Reviewed by
Glenn B
Beautypedia Team Response

Hi, and thanks for your review. Unfortunately the assessment of lavender oil is taken from scientific studies on the matter - it can indeed be a harmful ingredient. For more information (and sources) on why that is the case, see our ingredient dictionary definition here: http://www.paulaschoice.com/cosmetic-ingredient-dictionary/definition/lavender-extract-and-oil

—Paula's Choice Research Team
Lavender Oil not a problem

I have combination skin that is prone to break outs with dry flaky patches. This foundation provides good coverage and is very light on the skin. I have acne scares and hyper-pigmentation and this provides adequate coverage. Lasts a very long time on the skin and doesn't make me oily. I do not notice any fragrance or irritation. And, I do have sensitive skin.

Reviewed by
Rachel M
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