Ahh, it’s nice to have friends who travel. They gain eye-opening experiences, life lessons, multicultural perspectives, blah blah…but most importantly, they can bring you back makeup goodies. My dear friend had the briefest layover in Seoul but managed to bring back the latest cushion compact by HERA: the Ultra Moisture Cushion in shade 21 Cool Vanilla.
The gorgeous pale purple and holographic packaging is almost reason enough to buy it. To top it off, the formula is actually really wonderful. I expected the usual satiny-dewy finish, but lo and behold, the Ultra Moisture is a soft, polished matte finish. ::mind blown::
As other reviews have noted, the formula–despite purporting to be ultra hydrating all day long–doesn’t actively moisturize nor create a glowy finish but rather maintains the moisture in your skin. Ultra Moisture simply refers to it not drying out your skin, which is a potential issue in general when wearing base makeup. The fact that the Ultra Moisture has a matte finish and wears for a long time without drying out my skin is quite impressive.
There’s reference to special technology and camellia oil, but I suspect the credit goes to the relatively low percentage of sunscreen ingredients. Whereas most of my other cushions are SPF 50/PA+++, the Ultra Moisture is only SPF 34/PA++. The Innisfree Ampoule Intense cushion–another cushion that boasts about preserving skin’s moisture–has the exact same SPF and PA rating. It makes sense that a lower percentage of sunscreen ingredients (and physical sunscreen ingredients in particular) would make a product less drying since I’ve personally experienced titanium dioxide and zinc oxide being a little drying.
The shade 21 Cool Vanilla is neutral-toned and the same depth as the Laneige-Target cushion in Light and the HERA Long Stay cushion in C21. I would estimate it’s equivalent to MAC NC15. In the photos below, you can tell that it isn’t yellow enough to match my neck, but everything matches well once I apply the rest of my spackle.
Note: Unlike some cushions, there are no “C” (medium coverage) and “N” (sheer, natural coverage) versions of each shade. There is just one version of each shade. I’ve never tried an “N” shade, but the coverage level of the Ultra Moisture is as high as the “C” versions of the HERA Long Stay and IOPE XP, which is to say that it is easily buildable to medium coverage.
So here’s the weird thing: The formula is by default a matte finish–a smooth matte that makes for a naturally polished appearance and by no means a life-sucking, flake-emphasizing desert. BUT it can become dewy if applied atop skincare that is super dewy.
What follows are some before-and-afters in different lighting and with different skincare.
First up: Atop skincare that leaves a light, moisturized sheen (Charlotte Tilbury Magic Cream and Algenist Ultra Lightweight UV Defense Fluid). No need to powder because there’s zero stickiness! I have to powder over all my other cushions to take away tackiness.
Next up: Atop skincare that is horribly, unnaturally, I-fell-into-a-laminating-machine shiny, i.e., Hada Labo UV Creamy Gel. The cushion takes the shine down a notch. But, consistent with its “ultra moisture” claim, it doesn’t suck all of the moisture and shine out.
The first several times that I wore this, I was in LA and wore it atop the Hada Labo UV Creamy Gel and thought that the cushion’s finish was supposed to be super dewy! I looked oily even though my skin is on the dry side.
The photos above were taken when I was back on the East Coast and I couldn’t recapture the intensity of the shininess that I experienced in LA. Maybe it’s the dry, heated air in my apartment; maybe it’s the lack of sun. But trust me, your skincare makes a difference. I might have thought I was taking crazy pills, but then I read Astrophoria’s review reaching a similar conclusion.
Overall, I completely recommend this cushion. I never thought I’d be one to love the matte look, but it’s great for looking polished and professional, like at work. A dewy finish just reads a little more casual.
Pros: Polished, natural matte finish. Buildable to medium coverage. Lasts all day without drying skin out. Leaves a smooth, non-sticky feeling so powder is optional. Finish is customizable, so to speak, depending on the underlying products used.
Cons: Once, I experienced some dryness and makeup breaking up on my chin after maybe 6 hours in the office. That seems to be an outlier though. Prep your skin well and this should be avoidable.