Shu Uemura Nobara Cream Cover Stick Foundation

You may remember my foundation showdown, where I pitted Bobbi Brown’s Foundation Stick vs. Shu Uemura’s Nobara Cream Cover Stick. Nobara came out on top, but there wasn’t much between them. P1000847

Or so I thought.

I’ve now had a year or so to test them out, and I now know for certain that I made the right choice. Nobara is the king of all foundations ever.



  • It’s versatile: you want sheer coverage? Spread a small amount all over your face with fingers or a wet sponge. Medium? Draw a couple of stripes on your face and blend out with a beauty blender or fingers. Full? Draw a lot of stripes on your face and blend it out with a stippling brush. “Sure”, you say, “you could do that with any foundation”, and it’s true, but not many foundations look that good at every level of coverage. A sheer foundation can be built up, but can cake or, even worse, settle into lines that you never knew you had. A full coverage foundation can be sheered out but can make the skin look dull. I’ve used Nobara for daily sheer coverage, date night medium, and wedding full, and it’s looked amazing in each incarnation.


  • It doesn’t transfer


  • It withstands heat and humidity: when Kyoto summer (think hot and very humid) came around I spent two weeks or so trying out my various foundations to see which would work for summer time. Nobara came out top. It lasted much better than my other foundations (but it still looked a little worse for wear at the end of a long day) and it didn’t pool into pores or sharp contours of my face (around the nose etc.) either. The latter was my chief issue, sweat and oil would basically force my foundation to migrate and pile up in 3 or 4 areas of my face.


  • It has a natural finish: even at full coverage Nobara still has a satin, glowy finish that stops it from looking too mask-like. It doesn’t feel exactly like skin, even at its sheerest, but it’s a far cry from foundations that feel ‘wet’ – like they never set, or those that feel powdery or rubbery.



the bottom line

The Shu Uemura Nobara Cream Cover stick is the foundation of foundations, I can’t think of anyone to whom I wouldn’t recommend it.

First Impressions: Bobbi Brown Illuminating Finish Powder Compact Foundation SPF 12

So I went to the Bobbi Brown counter at the department store today. In Asia, for some reason, the highly-anticipated new powder foundation from Bobbi Brown is already out on the shelves. A lot of people have been dying to know more about it so I went in to give it a little test drive. This isn’t a review as I have not bought the foundation, these are just my thoughts after having it applied and testing it for the evening.

If you’d like to find out more about Bobbi Brown Illuminating Finish Powder Compact then click here.

Now there seems to be some conflicting information with this powder: in the post I linked to the powder is recommended for oily skin and not dry. However as I was having it applied earlier today the sales assistant really emphasised its great benefits for dry skin.

Since I’ve been in Japan my skin has been in a funk and has been super dry, so these impressions are for the Illuminating finish powder with regards to dry skin.

As another disclaimer, I don’t usually have much interest in powder foundations. As a result, I’m not completely sure what I should be looking for in a powder foundation so if you do have any questions, comment or email, or ask me on twitter.


The coverage is nothing special for a normal foundation but I think for a powder foundation it’s quite good (correct me if I’m wrong – I assumed powder foundations rarely give full coverage). It completely evens out redness, covers my freckles mostly (though I actually like my freckles), and does slightly well on blemishes but they are still very much ‘there’ after application.

Difficult Patches

Okay so my skin is seriously dedicated to this blog – right now I have both dry patches and huge pores which means products really get put through their paces when I use them. On dry patches this foundation is surprisingly forgiving; in my experience powder foundations are totally unflattering on any bits of dry skin but this one actually doesn’t emphasise them at all. In most cases it actually does a good job of hiding them. When I look closely in the mirror I can see one stubborn area around my nose that has a few flaky bits. But when I say close, I mean about an inch away.

Again, with powder foundations I’m used to having my pores emphasised pretty drastically. Usually because the powder settles into them. However this actually had a smoothing effect on them which was a huge plus, and totally unexpected.

Click on the pic for a huge version. This photo was taken in a harsh light so any foundation flaws would be highlighted. In the large picture you’ll see the area around my nose which usually houses those evil massive pores I always go on about. They’re still visible (this product isn’t a miracle worker) but they look much smoother than usual. You’ll also see around my cheek that, like most powder foundations it seems, this one also highlights those annoying tiny hairs on your face. Oh also around my eyes is something different – there is none of the foundation there. In fact during the makeover a lot of different products were piled on there and actually made that area look pretty bad. But that’s not what this review is about. Oh and the redness on the cheeks is from blusher, not lame coverage.


The finish is matte but at the same time very natural. I dislike that term because it’s so overused, but I’d say it’s pretty apt for this foundation. Even though my skin was matte it didn’t look unnaturally so, there was a glow (I guess that’s the ‘illuminating’ part) that meant my skin didn’ t look aged – many powders have that effect on it – and it had a velvety finish.

You can feel this on your skin when you touch your face (I tried Armani Luminous Silk powder once and it seriously just felt like skin) but it is very soft, again it feels more velvety than powdery.

I can’t comment on lasting power as it’s only been a few hours and I’m going to bed soon but so far so good, though there’s a tiny bit of settling around the corners of my nose.


I am Alabaster in Bobbi Brown – in Asia it’s called something different but the colours are the same. Today I had this powder in alabaster applied but it’s actually a little dark. There’s no obvious tide mark but around my jaw you can see that there’s a difference between my actually skin colour and where the foundation has been put. Looking at the photo the match looks quite good, but in the mirror in real life there is a definite difference between my skin and the foundation shade.

Right I think that’s about everything, I would definitely recommend taking a look at this foundation. I was convinced it wouldn’t live up to the hype surrounding it but once I tried it on I can see how this powder is actually very impressive. When I’m in the market for a powder foundation, this one will be at the top of my list to check out.



Swatches: Canmake Melty Nude Lip, Nudy Glow Rouge, Coffret D’Or Beauty Essence Gel Foundation

Hello! So after yesterday’s heavy post I thought I’d lighten things up with some swatches I took at the drug store – I know it’s difficult buying online so I thought if I tried to swatch as much as possible it’d make everyone’s shopping a little more fun. If you have any requests email me or comment.

First off, Coffret D’or Beauty Essence Gel Foundation (seriously, I’m surprised they didn’t have to make the labels bigger to accommodate this massive name).

Okay so I don’t know much about gel foundation, I’ve heard some people say it doesn’t settle into pores as much as liquid foundation and so it looks more skin-like but that’s all I know really.

Anyway I’ve had a lot of requests for swatches of this Coffret D’or Beauty Essence Gel, so here they are.

First: My skin with some MAC shades on it. This was taken in different light (at home) so it’s not totally foolproof but it gives an idea of how pale my arm is (very- paler than my BB Alabaster face). I tried to adjust the white balance so that the swatches would be more comparable.

These are all the shades, sorry it’s quite blurry but I hope you can get an idea of the colours.

These are just the lighter shades, I included this picture because it’s sharper than the other one and so it might be more helpful.

Okay so none of the shades are light enough for my skin, and I would say if you’re NW15 you probably won’t find a match either. As a cool-toned girl, none of these tones match me at all. The Ochre shades are supposedly neutral but, while they were cooler than the Beige shades, I would still say they were warm overall. There is one tone, Soft Ochre which is more neutral but for some reason the only shade they have is ‘C’. The Beige tones are a strange colour. They’re warm but they have a kind of olive tint to them as well, I think if you were very warm you could wear these shades, and for those with olive tones they might be of interest to you too. The B shades are the lightest and D shades are the darkest. The difference between shades is quite small, and I wouldn’t consider the D shades to be that dark at all.

You can find this product on sale here.

Now, requests for Canmake lip swatches were pretty common too, so I’ve swatched the Canmake Melty Nude Lip (lipstick) and Nudy Glow Rouge (gloss) products for you.

Melty Nude Lip

I only realised after swatching that the testers hadn’t been in the correct order, oops! I wasn’t too impressed with these lipsticks, they were just ok. Then again I am not a fan of the ‘nude lip’ trend so I guess I was kind of biased against them in the first place. On lips (one of the testers had just been put out) they are VERY nude (what can I say I like to point out the obvious). On skin they look much darker and more vibrant than they actually are when applied on lips. Oh also, you may be finding it difficult to tell the difference between shades 1 and 2, I also have no clue. In the shop they looked so similar I could only see a tiny difference when I held my arm at different angles. 2 is ever so slightly more pink but other than that the difference is negligible.

I had to copy in the descriptions from the Canmake website because I thought they were cute:

color image [01] Baby Beige

A bright light beige. For a casual look that emphasizes your eyes.
Everyone will be fascinated by your lips, which will look perfect, yet somehow vulnerable!

color image [02] Creamy Nude

This is true nude-look make-up – a skin-tone beige that will suit everyone! For natural-looking lips ☆

color image [03] Baby Pink

A cute milky pink the color of cherry shells. For sweet-looking lips like an innocent young girl.

color image [04] Peach Beige

A pinkish beige that creates lips in a sophisticated skin tone.
For criminally beautiful lips that combine an adult sophistication with a certain impishness!

Canmake Nudy Glow Rouge

I have to say I was really impressed by these. As you know from last week’s Friday Round-Up I hate sticky lipgloss and Japan had yet to show me any formulae I hadn’t seen before. Enter Canmake Nudy Glow Rouge (overly-verbose naming seems to be a trend here). These are a bit like the Illamasqua sheer lipglosses in texture, but they are much more pigmented. They do have a little stick (there has to be SOME) but they actually feel quite creamy. I’m really tempted to get one of these, I just can’t decide on a shade right now. It seems like all of them would be good (though I’m not too keen on Honey Latte myself) but I’m leaning towards Rose Macaroon.

Here are the colour descriptions from the website.

color image [01] Rose Macaroon

A pinkish beige that gives your lips a gentle rose-pink color. Creates a gorgeous countenance that will make your skin look one tone brighter. Contains silver pearl

color image [02] Strawberry Whip

A lovable milky pink like a pink shell. For dainty-looking lips like those of an innocent young girl. Contains silver pearl × large gold light-polarizing pearl × large red light-polarizing pearl

color image [03] Brownie Chocolate

A deep beige that will accentuate the paleness of your skin. For grown-up yet sweetly neat-looking lips. Contains large gold light-polarizing glass pearl × large red light-polarizing glass pearl

color image [04] Sugar Milk Tea

A versatile milky beige that creates lips with a sophisticated skin tone. Very handy when you want to ensure that your eye make-up stands out! Contains large gold light-polarizing pearl × large red light-polarizing pearl

color image [05] Honey Latte

A bright beige close to your natural complexion.
The exquisite color calculated to blend in well with your skin is the perfect shade to make you look like a classy girl!

color image [06] Peach Milk

A creamy pink that blends in well with your skin. Melts into your skin, for perfectly cute, devilishly sexy lips ♡

You can get Canmake products here. (I didn’t do a huge search for the best prices so you might find them cheaper elsewhere).

Update: You can also get them from this site which comes highly recommended (see Kat’s comment below, thanks Kat!).

Review: Shu Uemura Face Architect Smoothing Fluid Foundation

I say review, but really this is more of a tribute to one of the most beautiful products in the world. I LOVE this foundation. I don’t often truly love a product but this one is just so perfect and it also has this… elegance that makes it a joy to apply. I know how silly this sounds, it is just foundation after all – but it doesn’t change the fact that it is such a lovely foundation. So excuse me if I gush a little in this review, I’ll try my best not to get overwhelmed.

I apply this with a stippling brush or, if I’m feeling lazy, I just use my fingers. I have recently discovered that using this foundation with a damp sponge gives the most natural finish ever – it makes the foundation more like a tinted moisturiser that evens out the skintone but also just melts into it completely. I have, however, tried it with a plain old paddle foundation brush and in my opinion this just doesn’t make the foundation look good. Perhaps my foundation brush skills are sub par — and considering my all-consuming love for the stippling brush this could be the case — but this method really didn’t do the foundation justice. Using my fingers gives light coverage and great skin-like finish. The stippling brush provides medium coverage yet retains the skin-like finish of finger application.

This is one of the things I love most about this foundation: it is so very natural-looking. It has a satin finish on my skin (bear in mind my sunscreen is really shiny so on normal people the finish could lean more matte) and it really doesn’t look like foundation at all.

While the coverage is buildable (and I actually mean that, not like when the ladies at make-up counters say it), I don’t think you could ever get full coverage from this foundation. I’d say it’s medium at most, though I often skip concealer when using it as it can cover the redness of blemishes quite well.

Click for a bigger photo!

In this picture I have really dehydrated skin around the bottom of my nose – but I thought I’d put it up anyway to show Face Architect under…adverse conditions. My blemishes are still visible but aren’t as angry looking as they were before foundation!

Usually I set this foundation with a powder to counteract the aforementioned sunscreen shine. However today I skipped the powder for the sake of science – I wanted to see how Face Architect stood on its own. I was pleasantly surprised. (Well, not really surprised because did I mention that I’m in love with this foundation?) Not only does it stay on (even around my oily areas), it doesn’t go…weird. You know what I mean – when you have to keep an eye on your foundation because you know after a few hours it’s going to settle into your pores/ start arbitrarily caking in areas/ go blotchy etc. Nope, Face Architect looks as beautiful as it did when I first applied it.

Nice job, Face Architect!

Yet another link to KarlaSugar and her beautiful swatches so you can see the colour range. A few shades are missing – the shade I wear (584) isn’t there – but you can get the picture of the large range of shades available from that link.  Here is a swatch photo I took of all my foundations for this post.

584 is about NW10, it is a tiny tiny bit dark for my skin but it is hardly ever noticeable. Like I said in my Foundation Stick Comparison the shades seem to differ between foundations so I’d recommend getting matched again even if you think you know which shade you are.

So did I mention I love this foundation? I did? Dammit. Right but why do I love this foundation?

It is good to my skin: if I’m paying a lot for something, I want it to be something that isn’t going to wreck my skin. Ideally I’d like it to be something that’s good for it and I honestly think this foundation does help my skin a little bit.

I can rely on it all day: even if I haven’t looked in a mirror all morning I know that my foundation will be looking good no matter what. I don’t have to worry about it slipping off my face, or pooling into my uber huge pores.

It’s easy: I can spend 30 minutes applying this to get a great finish, or I could spend 30 seconds and get an almost great finish. This foundation is so easy to use, especially in a rush – just pat it on my face and go.

It looks good: it looks good.

It feels luxurious: I saved this reason for last because it’s a bit silly. I most definitely wouldn’t buy a foundation because it ‘feels luxurious’ but it’s definitely a bonus that this one does. While I usually hate fragrance in foundation, this one is truly divine – it’s very subtle, fresh and feminine. The fact that it helps my skin also adds to the luxury feel: I feel like I’m pampering myself when I put it on.

So basically, try this out. Obviously this foundation won’t work for everyone because if it did everyone would use it, so perhaps it won’t work for you. But on the other hand, you may just become one of its many admirers (though maybe not quite the overzealous admirer I have become).

Comparison: Bobbi Brown Foundation Stick vs. Shu Uemura Nobara Cream Cover Stick

A thread on the MUA (Make-Up Alley) forums the other day prompted this comparison of the two foundation sticks I own: Bobbi Brown Foundation Stick and Shu Uemura Nobara Cream Cover Stick. Foundation sticks are marketed for their ease of use (a concealer and foundation in one), adjustable coverage and portability. But which one’s the best one?

This comparison won’t help you find out because there are more than 2 foundation sticks in the world but it’ll start you on your search (and then tell me the answer when you get to the end, mmkay?).

It’s hard to tell which foundation is better in terms of shade range. Shu Uemura seems to have fewer shades for darker skin, but the line does have many options for different undertones (but it still leans a bit yellow).  Bobbi Brown, on the other hand, must only hang out with people with warm undertones and believes ergo that every woman must have a yellow undertone. (Can you tell I’m bitter?) However her range spans a vast spectrum of shades: from very pale to very dark. Even though I’m cool-toned I can use Bobbi’s palest shade (Alabaster) because it seems to be more neutral than the rest of her range.

I’m comparing the Bobbi Brown stick in Alabaster to the Shu stick in 584.  Here is a swatch of the two foundations along with my other foundations (from this post).

In my opinion 584 in the Nobara cover stick is different from 584 in Face Architect Fluid foundation so even if you think you know your shade, test it first just in case. Bobbi Brown in Alabaster is a little paler than Shu 584 but I can wear both and not look weird (foundation-wise at least) as the difference is slight. As I said before, Alabaster is a lot more neutral than Bobbi’s other shades. 584 is slightly pinker than Alabaster but it’s still not far into the ‘cool’ range.

Warm undertones won’t have problems finding a shade in these foundation sticks: Shu Uemura has a plethora of yellow tones (the ‘5’ range is the coolest tone as far as I know) as does Bobbi Brown. Those with neutral undertones could have trouble with Bobbi Brown if their skin isn’t very pale as it seems only Alabaster can classed as neutral. Very cool girls could have a lot of trouble with these – I can just about get away with these shades but they do warm my skin up a bit.
KarlaSugar has swatches of the Shu Uemura cover stick and she also explains the numbering of the shades.

The Bobbi Brown Stick costs £26.00 for 9 grams and the Shu costs £30.00 (from SpaceNK) for 11 grammes. This works out to £2.89 per gram for Bobbi Brown and £2.73 for Shu.

For this comparison I tried to get coverage as full as possible. I put the sticks directly on my face (I know I know: germs, bugs and smallpox etc.) and then used a sponge to pat it in. I also used a concealer brush to spot conceal and conceal under-eye bags. I wouldn’t wear this much coverage from day to day.

Both were relatively easy to blend out with a sponge. I found the Shu more pleasant to apply as it just glides over skin because it has more slip than the Bobbi Brown. Nothing was wrong with the Bobbi Brown per se, but it was much tackier on skin than the Shu.

Here’s an uncomfortably close-up picture of the moon’s surface the foundations a few minutes after application. Neither look so hot on my mighty pores, and I can’t really tell which foundation has done a better job here. On my actual nose, however, the Shu cover stick has managed to cover my sebaceous filaments while they are still somewhat visible on the Bobbi Brown side. Bear in mind that I tried to take this picture in the harshest light possible – I’d rather show these foundations looking their worst so I can scrutinise every detail. (I’m not that repellent! Honest!)

The Shu Uemura foundation is advertised as a foundation/concealer duo:

‘the innovative formula … gives the instant high coverage of a concealer with the smooth glide of a foundation’

While the Bobbi Brown just promises ‘adjustable coverage’. However after some research (see the end of this post) I’ve discovered that the Bobbi Brown Foundation Stick is exactly the same formula as the Touch up Stick that’s advertised as a blemish concealer.

So I tried to test the two as blemish concealers as well. Neither a sponge nor fingers provided any noticeable coverage of blemishes, but after switching to a concealer brush I could see results. I think because of the Shu’s aforementioned ‘slip’ it did a better job of covering blemishes. I really had to cake on the Bobbi Brown to cover the blemish and it also wasn’t so easy to blend out.
Here are examples of the blemish coverage (I know, TMI right? But I’m willing to scar my one reader for the sake of science! Sorry reader.)

It’s annoying that the light is so dark on the Bobbi Brown example but you can see that the blemish is still slightly visible, especially when compared to the Shu example.

There’s not much difference between lasting power on these two. I assumed that Shu’s slip, which had been so helpful for application, might have been a disadvantage when it came to lasting power, but both have lasted until the end of the day. Sadly, both have pooled ever so slightly in my problem areas: around my nostrils and in the dip on my chin. This pooling isn’t terrible – you would have to look hard to notice it, but I’m still a non-plussed. As concealers, both look as they did when they were freshly applied. I would say it was a draw in terms of lasting power: both had the same longevity but also the same pitfalls. I asked my hermit brother to scrutinise my face and he said that my right side (Shu) looked a little bit better but he didn’t know why. Concise isn’t he?

Bobbi fought a good battle, but Shu comes out victorious as the new king of relativley reasonably priced foundation sticks (ain’t that a mouthful). To be honest though, I’m left feeling a little deflated about the whole foundation stick shebang. They’re easy to travel with because you can apply with your hands (but add a concealer brush if you have a blemish or two) and they look like the kind of foundation James Bond would use: the kind disguised as a chunky felt-tip pen. But that’s where their perks end – at least for me. I’d rather take my normal foundation (Shu Face architect fluid or the Graftobian HD) and Bobbi Brown creamy concealer and be done with it. I can apply those with my fingers too and they won’t take up much more space than these cool spy foundations.

Update 2011: I am in love with the Shu Nobara Stick, poor Bobbi has fallen by the wayside, see my updated review here.

Oh yes, the Bobbi Brown Foundation Stick and Touch Up Stick thing: I emailed Bobbi Brown customer service a few weeks ago asking for the ingredients of both these products. Here they are:

Touch Up Stick


Foundation Stick


Interesting…’but’ I hear you say, ‘maybe they have different amounts of each ingredient’ (yeah you were thinking it). That would be reasonable – perhaps the touch up stick is more pigmented and therefore a better concealer. But no, I went to the counter and compared on my arm for a good 10 minutes and I couldn’t see the difference. Still not quite convinced, I ask the Sales Assistant and she told me they are indeed the same product, but the Touch Up Stick is in a more convenient package for blemish concealing.

Anyway so if you’re looking at the Touch Up Stick to conceal blemishes you might want to consider the Foundation Stick + concealer brush combo as you get a lot more product for your money that way.