We put the Shiseido’s new “Self-Refreshing” foundation to the test - is it good?

I’m not new to the world of luxury foundations but I’ve never heard of a self-refreshing foundation before. So when Shiseido launched the Synchro Skin Self-Refreshing Foundation with SPF 35 PA++++, my interest was piqued! This foundation features ActiveForce Technology which is supposed to enable the foundation to “resist humidity, respond to heat, rebound from facial movement, absorb oil, and diffuse light for a just-applied look”. It sounds like a great match for my oily skin and the tropical climate, so I decided to test it out!


The 3000-peso foundation (30ml) comes in a total of 30 shades, with 12 of them available locally. At the launch event, Shiseido used a shade-matching device that scanned both my neck and cheek. My result was 340 Oak in the Medium-Dark spectrum, and it looks completely undetectable once blended into my skin! I’m pretty thrilled about finding a perfect match instead of needing to mix products to get my correct shade, plus I didn’t notice any yellowing or oxidation afterwards.

The foundation has a thick texture and can look thick if applied with a buffing brush or fingers, so minimalists beware (and party gurls rejoice). I personally found it to look too makeup-y, and the Self-Refreshing aspect was lost to me but I didn’t want to use the foundation without trying to make it work as best as I could! I made it my quest to find the best way to wear the foundation, to make it look as smooth and fresh as possible. After multiple application attempts, I found that mixing mediums worked better to smoothen the finish rather than blending techniques. Here are three ways I tested them:


This way lasts the longest. The foundation fades evenly at the 8-hour mark, but no oils were absorbed and it definitely doesn’t look just applied, even when set with the Synchro Skin Invisible Silk Loose Powder.

Freshly applied at the launch event: I had better skin that day and the foundation made me look flawless! I was surrounded by some onlookers, and we were all shocked after the makeup artist finished. (Photo by Shiseido)

Freshly applied at the launch event: I had better skin that day and the foundation made me look flawless! I was surrounded by some onlookers, and we were all shocked after the makeup artist finished. (Photo by Shiseido)

The foundation is buildable, so you can apply a bit more to cover marks, redness, and other discolorations. However, I feel that the makeup looks very obvious, even when the natural oils of my face mix in. I’ve used makeup-y foundations before and for finishes like that, I prefer them to be texture-enhancing.

While the Self-Refreshing foundation will not enhance your imperfections, it has a tendency to look like foundation on skin. One pump is more than enough for me though, and I’ve found that it can be cakey and fussy to work with if you apply too much.

Freshly applied

Freshly applied

Even when blended to full opacity, I’m happy to report that there is no flashback despite the SPF 35 PA++++ rating. 

Conclusion: Used as is, I like how the foundation fades evenly and covers a lot of marks, but would prefer it to look less makeup-y.


Full disclosure: I added way more sunscreen than usual when I mixed it with the Self-Refreshing foundation, and I found this to give the best result! I usually mix the sunscreen with around 75% of a pump of foundation, and really work it in with my fingers to get that superhealthy skin effect. Then I pump out a rice-sized amount of foundation to layer on the areas that need more coverage. After doing the last blend with a dense brush, the result looks gorgeous.

You can now see what they mean by Synchro Skin. When set with powder, it also fades evenly around the 5 to 6-hour mark. Don’t expect this mix to last long if you’re oily though, and I’m on the oilier-side of the spectrum these days. Even though it layers very well, it won’t smoothen dry patches, but it won’t emphasize them either.

Conclusion: The foundation is great for thinning out and layering!


I wanted to take it further because I thought that thinning the foundation was the best way to go. Mixing it with sunscreen looks good at first, but it doesn’t look “just-applied” anymore at the 3-hour mark. If you have dry skin or are wanting just a tint, this might be the way to go.

I imagine this would be a nice solution if you lived in a colder climate (where you wouldn’t have to set with powder). Obviously this mix has the most skin-like finish, but also has the shortest wear time. At the 8-hour mark it actually just looks like good skin, but that’s not so bad since it’ll be night time by then and dark out. I do know people who prefer foundations to be thin and fading (like my mom), and for some days, it’s totally what I need!

Conclusion: Mixing with oil makes the formula lightweight with a thinner finish, resulting in quicker fading.



Okay, now this is a powder for people who hate powders! The powder, which costs P2,500 (6g) and comes in Matte and Radiant finishes, is so very finely-milled that when you press a brush or puff into the mesh sifter, it looks invisible on the puff.

It does look invisible when blended on top of the foundation, and doesn’t produce flashback. However, I feel like it’s difficult to pack on more of it, which an oily girl could use. The formula is definitely luxurious and would benefit those with textured or mature skin. I don’t mind oil that much so I’m into this powder, but if you need your face to be completely set, invest in something else.

The Radiant finish manifests in a subtle glow.

The Radiant finish manifests in a subtle glow.

While I really enjoyed both products based on the premium design of the formulas and packaging components, I do acknowledge that the user needs to know certain techniques to make the foundation truly sync with your skin. At this price point, some people don’t want to have to do extra work to finesse a foundation. If you’re a full-coverage, like-to-be-snatched kind of gal (which I sometimes am), maybe this is not for you. I can’t say that it “self-refreshes,” but if you like a skin-finish, then this is a nice enough luxury formula. What’s more is at least you can have a device match you correctly so you don’t end up spending on something that’s wrong for you.

 What foundation finish do you prefer? Let’s discuss.