Koh Gen Do Aqua Foundation Illuminator Review & Swatches

Remember my review of the Urban Decay Naked Skin Foundation that made my face look a little flat? Well, here's one of the many ways to fix that. I mix a few drops of this heaven sent Koh Gen Do Aqua Foundation Illuminator with the foundation and apply. Voilà! Perfect, glowing skin, and natural-looking every time!

Koh Gen Do Aqua Foundation Illuminator
Koh Gen Do Aqua Foundation Illuminator

Shown above is the deluxe sample I received a while ago which is just a small bottle with a screw cap. The full size comes in a pump bottle. There are 2 shades available for this illuminator: IL00 (pearly white) and IL01 (pearly beige). I have the IL01 and it couldn't have been a more perfect shade for me. Actually I honestly don't think the shade matters much because while it may look rather beige-y coming out of the bottle, once applied and blended into the skin (or mixed with foundation), the beige tint becomes invisible, only the delicate rose gold shimmer that is making an impact. So, it's safe to say that it will not “tweak” the color of your foundation. It is also scent-free, so people who are sensitive to scent will really enjoy it.

Koh Gen Do Aqua Foundation Illuminator
Koh Gen Do Aqua Foundation Illuminator
Koh Gen Do Aqua Foundation Illuminator
Koh Gen Do Aqua Foundation Illuminator

I love the weightless texture of this illuminator. It's neither too thick or too thin, and is so easy to spread out. When mixed with foundation, it gives your face enough shimmer for an all-over, glowing-from-within effect, while still looking very natural. Most illuminators tend to emphasize pores and fine lines, making the skin appear shiny or greasy, that's not the case at all with this illuminator.

I even tried mixing more than a healthy dose of it with my foundation just to see if it would make me become an oily mess and to my surprise, it didn't! This thing can be layered and layered and will still keep your skin looking as “real” as it can be. I am truly impressed!

If the all-over radiance isn't your thing, try applying it post-foundation only on the areas you want to highlight. I usually dab small dots on the area such as the top of my cheekbones, above the Cupid's Bow, or forehead, and smooth it out with my fingers to illuminate and contour for a subtly sculpted face. It applies smoothly on top of the foundation without balling it up or making it look patchy or streaky. I normally don't apply it all over the face post-foundation, though, as it seems to make my face a little more “dewy” than I'd like. But if dewy skin is your preferred finish, then by all means! :)

And here's the best part – it does it all without causing excessive oil! Besides my usual slightly shiny T-zone in the afternoon, the rest of my face still looks pretty much the same as when I apply it in the morning. The same radiance, the same subtle glow. So, another big plus here for the awesome staying power.

Koh Gen Do Aqua Foundation Illuminator in IL01 on NC30; unblended (L) and blended (R)
Koh Gen Do Aqua Foundation Illuminator in IL01 on NC30; unblended (L) and blended (R)

I really have been loving this illuminator and have been incorporating it into my foundation routine for the past few weeks. It really does make a difference to complete the look of my skin and makeup. For a subtle but sophisticated radiance, I think this illuminator is truly worth every penny. :)


US$39 at SephoraBarneysKoh Gen Do




  • ! I’ve been debating between Chanel’s Illuminating Base and Giorgio Armani’s new Fluid Sheer in 13 but I think I might get this Koh Gen Do one instead!!!

    I’ve a few illuminators too – NARS Illuminator in Orgasm (SOOO GLITTERY!) and Benefit’s Watt’s Up! (Emphasizes pores like nobodys business)

    • Much cheaper than Chanel and Giorgio Armani hehe! Doesn’t mean you can’t buy all of them, though. ;)

      I have The Multiple in Orgasm! It looks nice! But I don’t have the Illuminator. Glad to know I can pass, haha!

      I also have Benefit’s Watt’s Up! I love that thing! :D Oh wait, what are you talking about pores?!! You are only 14!!! You got no pores!!!!!! Ha ha!

      • Hahahaha yes yes I’m 14……. 10 years ago!!!!!!

        GAHHH YES I WANT THEM ALL! (My bf will kill me.. again)

        I wanna try The Multiple though!!!! Esp the new matte ones that I heard is coming out in 2014!!!!!! Although I’m really wanting the Puerto Vallarta one!!!!!

        I have the orgasm blush and it looks nice as a blush but it’s super glittery for everyday use…….. I love mixing the illuminator with my foundation though. BUT this KDG looks so much nicer than my orgasm illuminator :(

        Ok now wait…. We were just talking about the Dior Glow Primer right….. Shit……. SO MANY WANTS!

        • Language!!! LOL!!! I know… we have problems… we want way too many things…. my “to-review” box is getting out of control. :( So much new stuff that I can’t use because I haven’t photographed them yet!!! TORTURE! Ha ha.

          Oh, and I got your package!! THANK YOU SO MUCH!!! I love CC cream and black liquid liner so much, they are my staples. HOW DO YOU KNOW?! And I have never tried anything Etude House so I’m especially excited!!!!! Thank you, Rachelle, thank you thank you thank you!! <3

          • Yay yay yay review review review!!! Hahahaha you’re welcome!!!!!!!!! I might get more stuff from Etude House…. I can’t resist!!!!!! My last ‘haul’ was the Ulta one…. I need to buy something else……

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