Flashback 90s: I remember being young, bright-eyed and financially paralyzed, and seeing the spunky commercials of ZA playing over and over in MTV. I wanted a piece of that blue-and-yellow striped powder compact toted by Karen Mok, though I had no idea how to pat it on my round cheeks. By the time I knew how, ZA was no longer in Philippine cosmetic counters, only glimpsed in Sasa in that odd trip to Macau or Hong Kong.
Fast forward 2013: ZA has ditched the retro colors in place of pink, white and silver — classic colors to capture the attentions of any girl. They have also been bought by Japanese giant Shiseido — a surefire way to capture my attention. So when my trusty Shiseido Sheer Mattifying powder foundation hit pan, I trotted on to the cheerful ZA store in Landmark. The thrift trip did not disappoint.
I <3 promos. I imagined my eyes must have twinkled at the SA’s mention of a promo. That day, they offered the compact case (usually sold separately, albeit cheaply, for P300++) free with the purchase of two powder refills. Supposed plus: it came in a limited edition design of Naho Ogawa. Naho who? Yeah, I said that too. Her resume on the box said she creates t-shirt designs for Anna Sui, which explains the whimsical drawings on the ZA compact case. The pink version was too teeny-boppy for me. Thank goodness it also came in green.
Minor disappointment: I came with my mind set on ZA’s famed Perfect Fit powder foundation. But alas, ’tis sold out, so the SA offered me the True White powder foundation instead. I’m a disbeliever of whitening care of make up, so the P200 premium for the True White (each refill cost P545) over Perfect Fit’s P300+ price was a bit of a turn off.
ZA versus Shiseido. It is a bit unfair to compare. Shiseido is a high end brand to begin with, but for those looking for a similar feel for less, ZA (much like its sister Majolica Majorca) did the job well. Patted with the sponge over moisturizer or CC cream gives fuller coverage. Dusted lightly with a brush over BB cream or liquid foundation sets the make up. Since it is a powder foundation, I set with a spray toner (Human Nature Balancing Toner is the current favorite) to prevent caking. For my oily skin, coverage lasted a good 5-8 hours needing only an oil blotting sheet. But I did notice the powder separates a bit in the forehead area, thereby needing touch ups and re-blending.
ZA does not claim to be an organic brand, as can be confirmed from True White foundation’s ingredient list. I am no expert in the long term effects of this cocktail of chemicals, but suffice it to say that I experienced no breakouts or allergies. Also, double cleansing at the end of the day is always non negotiable to ensure I’ve washed it all off.
The verdict. I can say nothing definitive about the claimed whitening properties, having used the product for only over a month now and also having no desire for whitening. Is it a perfect substitute for a Shiseido compact? No. Is it a good dupe. Yes. ZA’s version had the mandatory fine-milled powder to ensure good skin fit without the heavy feeling, in a good formula that risks neither allergy nor break outs. For all of those things, ZA moves up my recommended and repurchase list.