Sun Protection Liquid Foundation SPF 42 PA+++ deserves much praise not only for offering substantial sun protection via its in-part titanium dioxide sunscreen but also for having a silky, lightweight texture that blends easily. It offers a sheer matte finish but can provide medium to nearly full coverage if needed, all without feeling thick or looking heavy.
The silicone-enhanced fluid is ideal for normal to very oily skin and an excellent option for outdoor wear when you're active because it stays in place and is water-resistant. That doesn't mean you can apply it once and sit by the pool or play volleyball all day, but it is one of the few foundations that provide sufficient sun protection and keep looking fresh even through strenuous activities. Just be sure to reapply periodically during long days outdoors, and take other sun-protective measures, too (hat, sunglasses, seeking shade when possible).
Of the shades available, SP40 and SP50 are a bit too peach for most medium skin tones. The other shades are great options for light and dark (but not very dark) skin.
From a formulary perspective, we wanted to let you know that this foundation does contain a small amount of fragrance as well as isopropyl alcohol (also known as rubbing alcohol). In all likelihood, neither is present in an amount that would be cause for concern.
Note: Although this foundation provides broad-spectrum sun protection on its own, you must apply it liberally and evenly to get the stated level of protection. A sheer or spot application will not provide the amount of sun protection the label indicates. If you're not likely to apply this foundation liberally, we recommend applying it over a moisturizer with sunscreen rated SPF 20 or greater and setting your foundation with a pressed powder rated SPF 15 or greater.
Second note: PA followed by plus signs (PA+++, for example) is a designation used in Japan for rating the UVA protection of a sunscreen. The SPF number is about the sun's UVB rays; there are very few countries that have a UVA rating reference. Three plus symbols after the "PA" indicate the highest level of UVA protection, which can be as low as PA+, which means some UVA protection. The PA standard is not accepted or used in other countries, but because NARS is owned by Japan-based Shiseido, some of their products have begun to include it on the labeling. The concept is interesting, but ultimately the SPF rating and the active ingredients matter far more because the method of assessing UVA protection is not widely accepted, primarily because it is very difficult to get agreement from scientists on what tests to use and what they mean.
This full-coverage, liquid foundation leaves a flawless, transfer-resistant, dewy and luminous finish that lasts for hours. Resistant against water and oil. PABA-free.
Active Ingredients: Octinoxate 1.9% Titanium Dioxide, 8.3% Inactive Ingredients: Water, Dimethicone, Trimethylsiloxysilicate, Isododecane, Polymethyl Methacrylate, Cyclomethicone, SD Alcohol 40-B, PEG/PPG-19/19 Dimethicone, Hydrogenated Polyisobutene, BIS-Butyldimethicone Polyglyceryl-3, PEG/PPG-14/7 Dimethyl Ether, Saxi Fraga Sarmentosa Extract, Sodium Hyaluronate, Sophora Angustifolia Root Extract, Aluminum Hydroxide, Aluminum Distearate, Alumina, Isotearic Acid, Triethoxycaprylysilane, Trisodium EDTA, Silica, Polysilicone-2, Alcohol, Sodium Magnesium Silicate, Hydrated Silica, Butylene Glycol, Glycerin, Tocopherol, Distearyldimonium Chloride, BHT, Syzgium Jambos Leaf Extract, Hydrogen Dimethicone, Tin Oxide, Phenoxyethanol, Fragrance, Titanium Dioxide, Iron Oxides, Mica.
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.
Shiseido doesn't have the issue of sun protection down yet, as witness a few of their sunscreens that still lack sufficient UVA protection - even though they participate in Japan's UVA-based PA rating system (explained in the Sun Products reviews below). And when it comes to state-of-the art essentials such as antioxidants, cell-communicating ingredients, and substances that reinforce the structure of healthy skin, Shiseido typically comes up short. You'll hear (and read) much talk about the company's exclusive technologies, but terms like Bio-Regenerine, Phyto-Capsule Emulsification, Optimal Balance Network, and Deacti-Complex are meaningless without significant, proven ingredients to support each technology's alleged function. We're sure they are intended to make the products seem more advanced and special to consumers, but the proof is in the ingredient lists, and very few of Shiseido's lists fall under the category of impressive.
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.
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!