Sheer and Perfect Compact Foundation SPF 21
Sheer and Perfect is a finely milled pressed-powder foundation that offers light coverage with an ultra-subtle glow. Calling this powder a "foundation" is a stretch given how sheer it is, and we wouldn't count on it to cover the more obvious imperfections, but it can help even out the skin tone ever so slightly.
The shade range includes several options, spanning from fair to deep, although for some reason not all Shiseido retailers carry every shade. Most of the collection is neutral-toned, but watch out for any shades that seem to have an unflattering pinkish undertone; although the pink base can help counteract a too-yellow complexion, the goal is to make sure it still looks natural in daylight.
Sheer and Perfect absorbs oil, at least in the short term, while imparting an understated radiance. If you have very oily skin and you're looking for a powder to keep your skin matte, this isn't for you, but those with normal to dry or combination skin will likely find the ultra-subtle luminous finish nice for a natural, youthful glow.
Although this fragrance-free powder is on the translucent end of the coverage spectrum, it can be stippled over problem areas for more coverage without looking chalky or caked on. Not an easy feat to master, but Shiseido did!
Likewise, we were pleased by how well Sheer and Perfect held up throughout the day, while also noting that it is easy to use for on-the-go touch-ups. The broad-spectrum sun protection via an in-part titanium dioxide sunscreen is an added anti-aging bonus. However, we don't recommend relying on this as your sole form of sun protection because it's hard to apply a powder liberally enough to obtain the SPF number on the label, so we strongly recommend wearing this with another reliable source of sun protection underneath it.
For all our praise, we must reiterate that this "foundation" powder doesn't offer enough coverage for visible imperfections, but if super sheer coverage with a hint of glow is what you want, then this delivers!
Note: The total price is $38.50, with a one-time purchase of the refillable compact.
Note: This product was recently downgraded from 5-stars to 4-stars due to its less-than-optimal SPF rating. Although this does provide sun protection, it's less than SPF 30. The problem? Health experts and medical boards around the globe agree that SPF 30 or greater is best when it comes to providing a reliable defense against the damage the sun can do. Yes, a foundation with less than SPF 30 is acceptable if your daytime moisturizer is rated SPF 30 or greater, but we wouldn't want anyone thinking an SPF under 30 is the best for skin. See More Info below for details.
- Finely milled pressed powder offers sheer-to-light coverage to even out the skin tone.
- Ultra-subtle glow looks natural on the skin.
- Shade range caters to fair-to-deep skin tones.
- Fragrance-free formula provides broad-spectrum sun protection.
- Some shades have an unflattering pinkish undertone.
- SPF 21 is below worldwide standards for optimum sun protection.
Sunscreens Rated Lower than an SPF 30: An extensive body of research and a growing number of medical organizations around the world have determined that a sunscreen rated SPF 30 or greater is mandatory to ensure adequate sun protection.
Although a sunscreen rated lower than 30 will provide protection at the SPF number on the label and may claim broad-spectrum protection, we always point out when it does not have a rating of SPF 30 or greater because that's so important for the health and appearance of your skin.
References for this information:
Journal of Clinical Oncology, September 2016, ePublication
Photodermatology, Photoimmunology, and Photomedicine, August 2014, pages 212–219
The Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology, September 2012, pages 18–23
Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, May 2008, Supplemental, pages S149–S154
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-brightening 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).
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!
About the Experts
The Beautypedia team consists of skin care and makeup experts personally trained by the original Cosmetics Cop and best-selling beauty author, Paula Begoun. We’re fascinated by skin care and makeup products and thrilled when they meet or exceed our expectations, but we’re also disappointed when they fail to perform as claimed, are wildly overpriced, or contain ingredients scientific research has proven can hurt skin.
Our mission has always been to help you find the best products for your skin, no matter your budget or preferences. Beautypedia’s thorough and insightful reviews cut through the hype and provide reliable recommendations for all ages, skin types, and skin tones.