Can’t Live Without: Shiseido ZA Two-Way Foundation

by PJ on Sunday, March 23, 2008

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(Shiseido ZA Two-Way Foundation)
This favorite foundation of mine got a very brief mention in my post on my foundation routine almost precisely a year ago (the one in the cherry-pink case). After I did a couple of Foundation Face-Offs (SUQQU vs. Chanel and Lunasol vs. Coffret D’Or), I thought I should highlight my favorite foundation for the past few years.

Launched in 1997, ZA is a drugstore brand from Shiseido that is targeted at those in the mid-20’s. What is interesting about ZA is that it is a Shiseido line that is not sold in Japan. According to ZA’s website, it is available in Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Malaysia, Thailand, China, Indonesia, and Hawaii.

(ZA Two-Way Foundation)
(I wear #22.)
(image from

Even though Sofina’s Raycious is also one of my favorite foundation lines, its annual powder foundation releases over the past few years seem to be getting paler and a lot more luminous. (I prefer a satiny matte finish.) Despite their very good sebum-control efficacy, the overly luminous finish doesn’t really suit me. This is where ZA comes in (while I use Raycious foundations mainly for highlighting and precision concealing).

For me, a good foundation should even out my skin-tone (particularly the mild redness), offer a medium coverage, create a matte finish, control shine, and minimize the look of pores. ZA’s Two-Way Foundation does all of these relatively well.


SPF 20, PA ++, 8 shades (see above)


The finish is predominantly matte with a very subtle and natural luminosity.


The texture is more on the dry side (which is good for sebum control). Among major Japanese cosmetics lines that release different powder foundations for spring/summer and fall/winter, this foundation’s texture is more like that of a spring/summer release.


The coverage is around medium, and it covers mild redness and minor imperfections quite well. (I wear #22, a light-to-medium shade with a subtle yellow undertone. It evens out my mild redness effectively and gives a very natural look.)

Pore Coverage

It offers relatively good and pleasantly long-lasting pore coverage.

Shine Control

The shine-control ability is fairly good. The slightly drier texture makes the powder absorb sebum well, and the absence of shimmery particles means that the shine does not look more pronounced than it already does. (But it is worth mentioning that Coffret D’Or’s new Beauty Lasting Pack UV has an even better shine control ability.)

Lasting Power

It has a very good lasting power, which manifests in two ways. Firstly, what happens with some powder foundations I have tried is that, after I blot out the shine for several times during the day, the foundation starts to look patchy and cakey. But I have rarely experienced this with ZA. Also, the shade of the foundation darkens very minimally and only after a very long day. Sometimes I have to have my makeup on for more than 12 hours and this foundation still looks pretty good right before I take my makeup off.

Overall, this foundation really suits me. Even though there are a few other powder foundations I’ve tried that perform better in one or two categories above, this is by far one of the most well-rounded foundations that I have used so far in terms of my personal foundation-wearing preferences.

Unfortunately, for those of you that might be interested in ZA but don’t live in the regions mentioned above, I have not yet come across a website that carries ZA and delivers internationally. But I will keep you updated if I have more information.

Updated on April 2nd, 2008:

– Two readers have told me that ZA is no longer available in Hawaii.

– A reader has noticed that some ZA items are sold on-line. Please refer to the comment section for the link.

Thank you all for the alerts!

Related Posts:

Paul & Joe Foundation Primer N

Raycious Pressed Powder

Lavshcua Loose Powder

(For me, all of these work well with ZA Two-Way Foundation.)

Other items in my “Can’t Live Without” series:

Dove Body Silk

RMK Cleansing Oil N