Koh Gen Do Aqua Foundation Swatches

Koh Gen Do

1. Koh Gen Do Aqua Foundation SPF 15/PA ++, 1.0 oz for $62.00

I first heard about Koh Gen Do Aqua Foundation from super blog INTOTHEGLOSS (here, here and here).  This was the go to foundation for blog founder, Emily Weiss, and I think she still wears it as she hasn’t posted an update on whether or not she has changed her preferred foundation, although possible.  [Update: Yup, she did.  Apparently, it is all about Giorgio Armani’s Maestro Foundation talked about here.  Too bad.  Armani foundations runs pink-beige or orange-beige on me.]  Since I am a foundation nut, I knew I would eventually try this out to see if there was a skintone match. 

First, some more information about the brand.  Koh Gen Do was created by actress Ai Saotome, using traditional asian botanicals, to create an eco-friendly makeup line that could withstand high definition cameras by providing a natural, satiny smooth coverage minimizing skin imperfections, as well as enriching the skin with minerals and nutrients for a fresh, glowing complexion.  For those who care, this is a foundation that is created without parabens, sulfates, phthalates, synthetic fragrances and dyes, GMO’s and triclosan.

Koh 2

The shade range for this foundation is very limited.  It is very noticeable pink/peach shades and beige/orange shades.  There are basically three skintone ranges: PINK (PK), OCHRE (OC), and BEIGE (BE) – although BEIGE only has one shade.  I only received samples of the BEIGE and OCHRE shades.  It was very obvious to me just by eyeballing it that OC – 1 was too light and OC – 3 would be too dark.  I wasn’t sure about OC – 2 or BE – 1.  These shades don’t really match my skintone.  Granted, I COULD make them work.  I have dealt with worse.  But the current explosion of new foundations with more diverse undertones and skintones ranges means that I no longer have to settle for JUST OK foundation matches.  It’s too bad, though. 

Koh Gen Do Aqua Foundation has an incredible texture.  It offers a sheer to medium buildable satin coverage that is incredibly malleable.  What the hell does that mean?  Many foundations “set” and become a little dry – this offers a moist coverage.  I was still able to blend the foundation without it dragging on my skin, a solid 10 minutes after application.  It is great news for dry skintypes who hate a tight feeling to their foundations.

OC – 1 through OC – 3 have orange undertones from the lightest to a slightly deep medium.  I am not sure why it says that OC is meant for yellow undertones.  The OC shades are warmer, but there is a beigey orangeyness that reflects skin that tans with a orangey undertone.   I think OC – 3 would match MAC NC 35 tones, while OC – 2 would match MAC NC 25-30OC – 1  would match MAC NC 15-20BE – 1, which is meant to reduce red undertones in skin, is a deeper yellow-beige shade than the “yellow” undertoned OC – 1.   I think if they made a BE – 2, it would be a better skintone if you are more yellow than orange or peach.

Here are the swatches:

Koh Swatch 3 Text

Update: After a comment regarding usage of this foundation on oily skin, I decided to try it out.  I tried this on for 7+ hours and it is a very elegant, bare feeling foundation that provides a satin finish to the skin and medium coverage.  I tried OC-2, which was unbelieveable orange on me, but my face did not become an oil slick, and the coverage only became more dewy as time passed.    The foundation did not migrate or disintegrate.  However, this is the winter and I basically sat around with it on.  If you can  find a foundation match, go for it
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.

Temporarily Up

Comparison swatches:

Origins Plantscription: Light-Warm; By Terry: Honey Beige; Lancôme: Buff 7 Warm; Koh Gen Doh: OC1 & OC2




    • I’ll test it out on my super oily skin and let you know in the comments. I won’t walk outside with it, though. Not a real color match. As a super oily skinned person, I stay away from foundations that says it moisturizes skin. Hydration is one thing, supreme moisture is another. Will let you know.

  1. Whateverblogaddress – I am very impressed with this foundation. After wearing it for 7+ hours (in doors doing no real physical exertion) my skin is not an oil slick. The foundation has not evaporated, melted off, or shifted. The foundation gives a satin, glowing finish, which only becomes more dewy as time goes by. As a matter of fact, I think it made my skin LESS oily. It is an incredibly lightweight foundation – feels like nothing at all, kind of like Urban Decay’s Naked foundation. But there is NO shade match for me. I tried OC-2 and it was unbelievably orange on me. oompa loompa. If you can find a match, I would get a sample and try it out. This is a really elegant feeling foundation and the finish is glowing, natural skin (in the right shade).

    • This is a very good foundation. I think this is actually better than the YSL Touche Eclat because it offers even coverage that is very lightweight but hydrating without being greasy. I think you would likely be OC-1. I would have gotten it, despite my new foundation ban, if there were a color match for me.

  2. sorry for bombarding you with comments today. As previously mentioned (actually, I’m not sure if the comment went through) so I’m repeating myself – I’m Southeast Asian, medium fair skin, MAC NC20-25, Chanel B20-30, neutral undertone (prefer to stick with beiges and yellow though). I want a good foundation for my dry, dehydrated skin. I’ve narrowed my choices down to this one (Koh Gen Do Aqua), By Terry Sheer Expert, and Chanel Vitalumiere Moisture Fluid. Which one would you recommend? And if this Koh Gen Do one, do you think I should do BE-1 or OC-1? OC-2 seems scarily dark for me…

    • No worries! I have to restrain myself when I discover a blog from commenting a lot, so I am glad you just went with you! haha. By Terry does not oxidize and the Honey Beige is lighter then OC-2 and has a hint of apricot in it compared to very orangey looking OC-2. Honey Beige can lean peachish and may be a good winter foundation but it is LIGHT? I think OC-2 may be too dark on you. However, it corresponds well to MAC’s NC30ish. I actually took a comparison swatch for your benefit and am uploading to this post. I took a swatch of Lancôme’s Buff 7W and Origins Light-Warm as comparison for you. However, I also want to suggest Armani’s 5.75 and Dior’s Nude Glow in Medium Beige or Sand. If you have a Sephora near you, you can get samples of these shades and compare for a bit. I am waiting for my iphone pics to upload.

      • Thanks so much for the swatches! Sorry for the confusion – I meant to say by terry in vanilla beige, not honey beige but that’s fine. When u say Armani, were you referring to luminous silk? I actually previously thought 5.75 would be a good match for me as well. Never looked at the Dior but I’ll check it out. Damn, I really wanted to try the KGD or by terry as I prefer light coverage but thanks again!

      • Oh sorry! I meant Vanilla Beige. it is the only one I have. I checked out your blog and your coloring varies greatly, likely because you tan well. I think you can wear Vanilla Beige, BE-1 and OC-1 depending on the season. I sadly can’t remember which line from Armani the 5.75 is from but I believe it is the only 5.75 shade. Either way, just go to a Sephora and go bonkers with samples. Most close call foundations require a few days test in various lighting. Good luck!

  3. Forgive my butting in: i have similar coloring, Asian, light with green/yellow undertones and find the by Terry vanilla beige is quite nice but leans a bit pink. KGD Aqua Oc1 was ateeny bit light but was the perfect undertone. Wish they would have a shade darker than OC1 but not orange like OC2. The GA Maestro was so nice in texture and everything else but the shades were too pink to work. 😦
    Btw, thanks for sharing your foundation adventures as I’m apparently on the same journey; I can’t find a decent one and God knows I’ve tried just about everything else..

    • No, butting in is awesome! Hopefully original commentator will read your response. I agree with all of your comments actually. The Koh foundation is incredibly nice, though. Interesting. Have you guys tried Gorgeous Cosmetics Perfect base in 1-Y or 1-BN? I haven’t posted it yet but I may have to get on the ball on that as it may be helpful.

  4. Nice review!
    I am having a hard time deciding the shade for my NC 42 skin tone. I’m not African-American. I’m Asian and have yellow undertones. Lots of foundations I’ve tried turned pink after a while so its hard to find a foundation of correct shade and the right undertone.
    Do you think OC-3 will be too light for me?
    I’m also considering to buy their moisture foundation in 301. But I think it might be a bit too dark.
    I can’t get samples delivered to the country I live. I’ve to buy the foundation at Barneys website. It would be a shame If what I buy so expensive doesn’t match my skin tone. Appreciate if you could share your opinion. Thank you 🙂

    • Hi. I have seen MAC NC42 in person and know someone who matches to that shade and they have very strong, medium golden skin tones. Koh’s OC-3 looks similar. However, OC-3 seems to have a hint of red in it compared to NC 42. I know if you have greenish undertones, like I do, any hint of red in a shade looks really off on yellow-greenish skin tones. I do have question though. Are you east/pacific asian or asian-indian (of any nationality), while both could have golden-green undertones, the overtones are actually quite different.

  5. Thanks for the review. I really need to try the aqua foundation! Do you know which shade in the aqua foundation is the closest to the By Terry sheer expert 3 cream beige (which is very close to my skin tone)?

    xo Diana

    • Hi Diana – Unfortunately, I do not know but I would check out Beauty Professors blog. She has swatches of By Terry foundations and you could maybe compare to my swatches for the Koh Gen Do Aqua foundation, if she hasn’t already swatched those.

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