All My Cushion: Ranking My Favorite Cushion Compacts

Cushions cushions cushions!  -Jan Brady

There are now cushions as blush, highlighter, and eyeliner, colorless cushions, cushion pens for concealer and lip color, cushions for your hair, even cushions for your butt!

(Haha, gotcha.)

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.

01 Rank Best Cushion Compacts

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.

02 Favorite Cushion CompactsUsage 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).

10 Best Cushion CompactsScoring: 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.

03 AmorePacific Hanyul HERA IOPE Laneige Innisfree Cushion ComparisonSophie’s Choice Angela’s Rankings Starting with Most Loved
(Click the links to see the full reviews.)

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.

04 AmorePacific Hanyul HERA Ultra Moisture IOPE XP Cushion Swatches Review

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.

05 IOPE XP Laneige HERA Long Stay Innisfree Water Glow Cushion Swatches ReviewThere you have it! To recap:

11 Ranking Favorite Cushion CompactsMore swatches (this time in indirect sunlight) and shade-matching thoughts…

06 AmorePacific Hanyul HERA IOPE Laneige Innisfree Cushion ComparisonSo this awkward pose is meant to show that all those beige stripes on my arm are deceiving; those shades actually match my skintone or are even too light. (I’m wearing the IOPE in C23.)

07 Best Cushion Comparison

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:

08 AmorePacific Hanyul HERA IOPE Cushion Comparison09 IOPE Laneige HERA Innisfree Cushion ComparisonSince the pigmentation is actually pretty high, there’s not that much leeway. I compensate for a shade that’s too light or too dark with bronzer (going heavier on either the face or the neck).

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!

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19 Replies to “All My Cushion: Ranking My Favorite Cushion Compacts”

  1. Thanks for doing this comparison! I love my IOPE cushion except the darkest shade is a bit too light for me, and it also settles in my pores after around 6 hours. I’m interested in trying Amore Pacific – did you notice anything better/worse than IOPE in terms of the wear and longevity?

    1. They’re quite comparable in terms of wear and longevity. Both last a whole work day. If you look closely (like an inch away from the mirror) after 8-10 hours and depending on how dry/oily my skin is and the weather, both of them are liable to look like they’re breaking up a little on the face. Nothing so noticeable that I wouldn’t feel comfortable going out to dinner and keeping my face on the rest of the night.

  2. THIS IS THE PARADISE OF CUSHIONS
    I have the Laneige one, and it’s my favorite…number 13 is my perfect match, but i’m curious to try the Hera too. Sadly the Amore Pacific’s isn’t easy to find for me, but I’m definitely putting the Hanyul on my wishlist, since it’s one of the cushions you’ll repurchase *-*

    1. I read your Laneige cushion review. The leo puppy pattern is too cute! I remember when the collection came out, I almost bought all the lipsticks just for the pattern.

      I hope you get to try the Hanyul; it can actually be found for a decent price right now ($34 USD with eBay seller rubyruby76).

  3. Hi- love your thorough reviews + esp. appreciate that you mention whether refills can fit an existing compact in another brand (saving $$ and materials)! I was wondering if you have any thoughts on the new Hanyul Luminant cushion (w/ the pinkish compact) vs. the original / discontinued kind you reviewed? Did they change anything besides packaging? Thanks!!

    1. I wish I knew! I *love* the look of the new Hanyul cushion. The name is the same, but the shades have different numbers. (Original was 1 and 2; new is 21 and 23.) So it’s entirely possible that they just renumbered the shades. 2catsinjapan (asianskincareblog.blogspot.com) has both versions, but I don’t know whether she has tried the new version yet. You could check with her.

  4. Thank you so much for this helpful comparison! ❤
    I'm drowning in my research because the IOPE C23 is a tad too dark (even for my tan summer skin), so I'm looking for alternative shades. Really trying to figure out if N21 or N23 would work better, because C23 seems darker than N23…

  5. Wah thank you so much!!! Looking for a comprehensive entry with the swatches for different cushions and I am so glad that I found yours!! Thank you 🙂

      1. Yes, I want to get Hera and IOPE but I cannot decide on the shade so this post is really a life saver! I’ve access to Laneige, Innisfree,Etude House and MAC here so it is nice to see how Hera and IOPE compare to them! Do you think that Laneige in Light is equivalent to Laneige in 13 or 21?

      2. I would have said Laneige Light is equivalent to 21 (based on being able to wear it when I’m about a MAC NC15), but several other (more recent) reviews have said it’s more like a 23 or closer to NC20-25 and their photos indeed make Laneige Light look orange/too dark on fair skin. So I’d be prepared for it to be a little darker than 21. I do love the Hera Ultra Moisture so ☺️ and am looking forward to being able to wear it again soon as my skin gets lighter in the winter.

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