There has been a lot of interest and hype in K-Beauty cushion products ever since they were released (2008). With the very recent launch of Lancome’s Miracle Cushion Compact in the US and UK, joining the ranks of Amore Pacific’s Colour Control Cushion Compact and Laneige BB Cushion, it’s official. The global cushion compact wars have started – and we expect customers everywhere to be the happy beneficiary of an increasing range of choices. I’m sure everyone in the beauty world is familiar with cushion compacts but to those who don’t, you might ask WHAT ARE CUSHION COMPACTS?  It first started as a BB Cream/CC Cream/Foundation product from IOPE. So many letters… basically it’s a lightweight buildable watery foundation product in a compact. While traditional compacts contain dry or loose powders that often need to be packed on the skin, cushion (chubby) compacts contain a sponge soaked in BB cream with a provided silicone puff(but with a bit more SPF and coverage).The silicone pad gives an airbrushed finish when used with a light stamping or patting motion. It’s basically everything people love about a BB and a CC cream, but with more perks! Some people were concerned that a sponge might not be sanitary with multiple uses, so now there are metal cushions available that dispense a squirt of BB when you depress the pan with the provided rounded sponge.

The finish of a good cushion foundation is spectacular: sheer, even, dewy, perfectly natural and skin-like, but with just enough coverage to even out skin tone and perfect your look. Chok-chok for days!. Chok-chok (to those who don’t know) It's a Korean phrase meaning moist—and more often than not, it's used to describe luminous skin. For over a decade in Korean beauty culture, using powder to achieve that matte finish of ones complexion has been considered a cardinal sin. I’ve only seen a lot of “dewy’, no makeup makeup , natural looking skin at the catwalks during fashion weeks. Finally, the rest of the world is getting on board. Yes, the dewy glow is in.

What’s the technology behind a Cushion Compact? We could go on and on about this section, the science of it makes me geek out a little bit. Amore Pacific (AP), parent company to Hera, Iope, Amore Pacific, Laneige & Etude House, had been researching a way for women to have on-the-go SPF & makeup reapplication for years. Inspired by the consistently even stamping of stamp pads used by parking lots to validate tickets, the AP R&D team was able to create a hybrid SPF-makeup product that could be reapplied on top of makeup without ruining it. Each sponge has anywhere up to 800,000 ‘pores’, through which the foundation seeps out evenly when pressure is applied. Significant research was also behind the applicator, which is made of a specialised material that holds up to 9 times it weight in water, is extremely densely woven for fine application, and is anti-microbial.

The launch of Iope’s Air Cushion in 2008 in Korea was nothing short of ground breaking. The interesting thing was that it was originally intended more for SPF reapplication, and coverage was not extensive. The formula also had cooling properties, perfect for Korea’s hot summer months. Customers, however, began using it as their go-to foundation.

From Laneige to Sulwhasoo to HERA, lots of Korean brands have carried cushion compacts and perfected the formula over the years. Only recently have Western brands picked up on the trend like Lancome and heard apparently MAC made one as well, so there’s no question that cushion compacts, like BB cream, will also find their way to other high-end lines and drugstore brands.

Do you think this trend is here to stay? Cushion compacts have dominated the Korea makeup market since its launch in 2008. In 2014, AP’s brands sold 1 cushion compact every 1.2 seconds. The average time it takes to apply foundation has gone from 13 minutes to 7.  It’s now over 40% of the foundation market and shows no signs of slowing down. 
How to use a Cushion Compact? I can summarise this in 3 words, hydrate, build and pat. The beauty of the Cushion Compact is that a fine layer of foundation is picked up, similar to the technique of a make up artist and the utilising the puff applicator will help evenly ‘stamp’ this formula all over the face. In short, a fail-proof way to apply makeup that looks natural, non-cakey and flawless. In order to have the right canvas for the Cushion Compact to go on evenly, skin should be very hydrated. And as any good makeup artist would , we recommend that you gradually build coverage – which is exactly what the compact and applicator is designed to do. And finally – take your time to fully pat everything in. This is similar to the buffing part of applying foundation but the patting motion ensures that your look stays dewy and non-matte. I’d definitely recommend as a last step, to spray a hydrating mist onto the puff and lightly tap onto skin for an extra hint of radiance!

Now that you know a bit of these bad boys, here’s one of my favourite cushion foundation— The Sulwhasoo Perfecting Cushion Foundation. This cushion comes in a really luxe-looking classy, glossy beige compact with a golden chrome trim. There’s a mirror on the inside of the lid, with a two-part compartment at the bottom a top one that stores a puff applicator and one below that holds a sponge (or “cushion”) soaked in a super runny foundation. The foundation also comes with an additional foundation refill and applicator. 

It is a fresh, lightweight cushion foundation that delivers long-lasting coverage for a naturally flawless complexion. It's formulated with apricot kernel oil to promote collagen formation in the skin, improving skin's elasticity and resilience for powerful anti-wrinkle benefits, along with Jaumdan™ Water and antioxidants to deliver optimal hydration and a lifting effect. Its unique, flexible film-fixing polymer offers a thin protective barrier for a flawless finish that lasts up to 12 hours and SPF 50+ protects the skin from harmful UVA and UVB rays that cause photo-aging. 

Combining oriental medicine with skincare to balance the Yin and Yang that’s crucial for beautiful skin, its ingredients include:

—Sulwhasoo’s signature ingredient, Jaeumdan , which is a blend of Korean herbal medicinal plants (Small Solomon’s seal, Adhesive Rehmannia, White Lily, Chinese Peony, and East Indian Lotus) to counter the effects of Yin deficiencies like dryness, fine lines and wrinkles.
—Apricot kernel oil and Korean herbal water complex to promote skin resilience and hydration.
—Flexible film-fixing polymers to form a thin protective barrier so that skin is left flawless and smooth.
—Octinoxate, Titanium Dioxide and Zinc Oxide for broad spectrum protection against UVA and UVB rays.

It comes in 4 shades — #13 Light Pink, #21 Medium Pink, #23 Medium Beige and #25 Deep Beige – to cover pale to medium light skin tones. My NC30 skin tone fell right in between #23 and #25. #23 was much lighter than my natural skin tone while #25 was warmer and slightly darker. Needless to say, I went with the #25 and it was perfect!

The foundation compact comes with a full-size refill and you can buy it here. Despite this product’s claims of SPF 50+, UV protection, you should not rely on it as a standalone sunscreen. Sunscreen must be applied in the appropriate quantities in order to receive the advertised amount of protection, and as the point of cushion foundation is an extremely sheer layer of coverage, I doubt that you’ll be getting even SPF 2 with a normal amount of this product. When and how to use: After allowing 15-20 minutes for your sunscreen to absorb, lightly press the included puff into the cushion pad to pick up product. Lightly dab and pat puff over your face, picking up more product from the cushion pad as needed. Again pro tip: For an ultra-sheer finish, spray puff with a facial mist before pressing into the pad. 

Overall, Sulwhasoo Evenfair Perfecting Cushion lived up to its reputation of being a premium cushion foundation with its moisturising yet lightweight texture, buildable coverage and great wear!

Maybe that is why I'm obsessed with cushions (expect more of it on this blog). Because besides the fact that they also brighten up my skin (BB cream helps achieve that by evening out dark spots, dullness, dryness, and other imperfections) cushion compacts contain moisturiser, SPF, and blemish coverage (and sometimes acne- or wrinkle-fighting ingredients), they can help simplify my makeup routine. Also, the coverage is sheer to light, which makes it virtually impossible to make a mistake while applying -- perfect for travel and on-the-go. I can’t  wait to get my hands on the “Brightening” version— The  Sulwhasoo Perfecting Cushion Brightening.

Would love to hear your thoughts about cushion compacts! What you love about it ? 
How do you wear it?

Love and light,

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