Cushions cushions cushions! -Jan Brady
Now that I’ve used my 7 (yes, 7!) cushions for a while and found myself reaching for certain ones over others, I wanted to share my personal ranking of my favorites.
In alphabetical order, the 7 that I own are:
- AmorePacific Color Control Cushion in 104 Tan Blush
- Hanyul Luminant Cushion in 2 Beige
- HERA UV Mist Long Stay in C21 Cool Vanilla Cover
- HERA UV Mist Ultra Moisture in 21 Cool Vanilla
- Innisfree Water Glow in 23 True Beige
- IOPE Air Cushion XP in C23 Cover Beige
- Laneige BB Cushion (Target version) in Light
Before I get into the rankings and swatches, here’s some context…
Experience: I’ve been using cushions for 2 years now. AmorePacific was my gateway cushion. My rankings are based on the cushion formula without regard to price, packaging, or shade, although my experiences are inherently limited to and influenced by the particular shades I use. I’m also judging these as purely makeup products even though a lot of them make skin-improving, moisturizing, and sun protection claims. So little product is applied that I don’t think those claims make sense. Also, as with any foundation, smooth and well moisturized skin produces optimal results.
Usage Conditions: I experience all 4 seasons and usually spend all day in a climate-controlled office or home. Typically I apply cushions without primer and with light powder (either all over or just under the eyes and around the edges of my nose and face). After using it with various moisturizers and sunscreens, I’ve noticed that the glowiness of some cushions can increase or decrease depending on the underlying products that I’ve applied. So experiment to see what works for you.
Skin Profile: My skin is dry with flaky spots in the winter and normal with a slightly oily T-zone in the summer. As a function of the shades that I have, I wore the AmorePacific in summer, the IOPE in spring, summer, and fall, and all others in fall, winter, and spring. For reference, I typically have trouble getting liquid bases (including tinted moisturizers and BB creams) to apply evenly on my skin as they tend to sink into large pores and exacerbate any dryness. Before I used cushions, I used mineral makeup for more than 5 years (bareMinerals and Laura Mercier).
Scoring: I’ve scored them on a scale from 1 to 10. Ten would be “OMG flawless every time and reliably works with different types of skincare and in different weather.” None of them scored a 10. Perhaps because the brands are all under the corporate AmorePacific umbrella, the differences among the cushions are fairly small despite differing ingredients and marketing claims. The main thing to take away from the scores, which range from 7.5 to 9.5, is that the differences in quality are not great and that even the lowest-scoring cushion is a good product.
1. TIE: AmorePacific Color Control Cushion and Hanyul Luminant Cushion (score=9.5)
Smooth, luminous medium coverage. Wears well without drying out skin. Creamy.
3. HERA UV Mist Ultra Moisture (score=9.25)
Polished matte finish that can be made dewy if applied after dewy skincare. Medium coverage. Wears well and retains matte finish without drying out skin.
4. IOPE Air Cushion XP (score=9.0)
Medium coverage with a satin sheen. Wears well without drying out skin.
5. TIE: Laneige (Target version) and HERA UV Mist Long Stay (score=8.25)
If I had to split hairs, these might be ever-so-slightly more oil-controlling/drying than the cushions above. There is also a sort of . . . not chalkiness but opacity to them. Anyway, they are still lovely cushions that provide medium coverage with a satin finish and wear well comfortably.
7. Innisfree Water Glow (score=7.5)
Dewy, creamy glow. Coverage buildable to just short of medium. Tends to turn patchy and wear off sooner than the cushions above, which could indicate that it’s drying. I had bad experiences and good experiences with this one but eventually concluded that the very fact of its inconsistency is a fault. When it’s good though, it’s very good.
Even though I patted the cushions onto my arm with Rubycell puffs, exactly the same way that I would apply them to my face (albeit with a heavier hand), the swatches show up differently than they do on my face.
I’ve translated the cushion shades into MAC shades here:
Update June 2015: I’ve been reading cushion shade-matching posts on the Asian Beauty subreddit and have noticed a few comments saying that Laneige Light is dark and orangey on NC15 skin. It’s possible that Laneige has changed the color over time (I bought mine in Feb. 2014) or that I was just plain wrong. Please read more recent reviews before buying.
Closing Thoughts: It’s funny, I use cushions almost every day but still find mineral makeup to be superior. I deliberately haven’t listed any cushions on my list of favorites. Ultimately, I experience the same issues I’ve always had with liquid makeup sinking into large nose pores and being unforgiving on dry-skin days (which have been frequent since I started using tretinoin in the fall). If you don’t have those issues, you probably won’t with cushions either.
I still use my favorite Laura Mercier Mineral Powder occasionally and whenever I do, I’m reminded that it’s easy to use, effective and quick at covering redness and spots, reliable, natural-looking, and long-lasting. I actually often use this instead of a cushion for my nose and to conceal spots.
If I were to ever run out of cushions (I have enough refills to last me through next summer!), which ones would I repurchase? The AmorePacific, Hanyul, and IOPE XP all feature the satin glow finish that I prefer and cover the range of shades I go through each year, so I’d buy one of each. The IOPE bridges the gap between the AmorePacific range, which (at Sephora at least) lacks fair shades, and the Hanyul range, which lacks tanner shades (I see that the cushion now comes in shades 21 and 23, but if they’re just the same shades renumbered, then the range still runs very light).
Hope this helps with your shopping adventures. Thanks for reading this dissertation of a blog post!