Many major Japanese beauty brands release two base makeup collections a year. Spring/summer releases are usually in March and April, and fall/winter releases are usually in September and October. (They are more or less released two months after the seasonal point makeup collections are available.)
The size of the collection varies. Sometimes there are just a couple of items (perhaps a new foundation and a primer), and sometimes there can be a major collection revamp.
Very often, when a new product is launched, the existing equivelant will be discontinued. This means that a Japanese base makeup product can sometimes only be available for 12 months. (This is especially the case with some department store brands.) For example, during the Raycious era (2000 – 2007), a new powder foundation was released every March and the previous version would be discontinued. Not all the products are updated at this rate, but many do get revamped about every other year.
So, on the whole, every six months, a base makeup collection goes through an update, and possibly a few products are phased out. (One obvious exception would be a new base make range whose lineup is still growing, like Primavista.) My suggestion is that, if you discover a Japanese base makeup product that you can’t live without, consider picking up some extras. (The next version might not suit you equally.)
There are some general differences between spring/summer and fall/winter releases. Spring/summer releases tend to have higher SPF and PA. They are often more sweat-resistant and are better at sebum-control, and the finish is often slightly more matte. Sometimes, the coverage is more on the natural side.
Fall/winter releases usually have a more emollient texture.The foundations sometimes have more coverage, and the finish is more luminous. The primers tend to be for further moisturizing the skin.
It can be quite useful to know in which season a product (particularly a foundation) is released. In Japan, there is quite a big temperature difference between summer and winter. If you have combination or oily skin and you happen to live in a tropical or sub-tropical climate, you probably don’t need a very emollient cream foundation (even though it might be a best seller in Japan.)
(Though the choice of a powder foundation or a liquid/cream foundation is often a matter of preference, I tend to suggest powder foundations for people with combination or oily skin. I think those with normal or drier skin do have more choices. Liquid/cream foundations would generally work fine, and there are some powder foundations with a very smooth and velvety texture that can work very well on dry skin even without a primer.)
Apart from regularly checking the official websites of Japanese beauty brands, Japanese beauty magazines offer great editorial content on new base makeup releases. Biteki runs a major base makeup feature twice a year (usually in the May and October issues). Voce’s popular monthly feature, “Voce Experiment” regularly tests out the latest foundations. Even if you don’t read Japanese, these features are usually abundant in photos of new products.
Tomorrow, I will touch upon the choice of foundation shade.