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My Adventures With Compact Cushion Makeup

Spoiler alert: not any better than regular foundation.

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Hi, I'm Micah and I love makeup! I love makeup so much I regularly do "makeup haul" posts on Instagram and Snapchat. I love makeup so much that I troll beauty counters and online blogs looking for something new to put on my face.

instagram.com / Via Instagram: @maisongs

I've known about compact cushion makeup for a while. I follow some K-beauty vloggers ('K' meaning Korean) who teach viewers how to do their makeup like K-Pop idols and a lot of them use compact cushion makeup.

Recently, the trend has come to the west. Makeup companies, ranging from high end to drugstore, are creating their own compact cushion makeup.

Lancome Singapore Official Facebook / Via faithyvanitytable.blogspot.co.uk

As someone with darker skin, the shade range in the compact cushion makeup brands from Asia were extremely limited (obviously). And at the start of the experiment, I figured now that the trend has come to the US and UK there would actually be shades for darker skinned women of color (people of color... men can wear makeup too!) like me.

I tried three compact cushion foundations from different companies.

Micah Askins

Compact cushion makeup typically provides sheer, light coverage (you can easily apply more layers to create more coverage like any other foundation) with a bright, radiant finish. Compact cushion makeup from Korean and Japanese companies are usually BB or CC creams and provide skincare benefits like brightening dark spots, sun protection, and even smoothing out wrinkles.

I normally wear either Nars All Day Luminous Weightless Foundation (£32) in Tahoe or Urban Decay Naked Skin Weightless Ultra Definition Liquid Makeup in 7.5 (£27 - and wow that's a long name!). My ideal foundation has medium to full coverage with a matte finish -- the complete opposite of what compact cushions do. But I'm a makeup junkie so I tried them out anyway.

Compact Cushion #1 - Lancôme Miracle Cushion Foundation £30

Micah Askins

I'm going to be real with you guys. I did not like this foundation.

Let's go back to when I went to the store to buy this. The first red flag was when the (very, very nice) woman at the Lancôme counter immediately suggested that I test a different line of foundation when I asked to get matched with their Miracle Cushion line. She said that although they had shades for darker skin tones there wasn't much range in undertones and shades. And she was right. The shades went from Zoe Saldana straight to Lupita Nyong'o, skipping over everything in between.

After testing me with three shades we settled on #5 which we both knew was too light. Unfortunately, the other options were too dark so she advised me to mix it with a darker foundation. She also suggested that I apply the foundation with my fingers and to not bother with the sponge the cushion compact came with... which totally defeated the point of compact cushion makeup. Isn't that the appeal? The gimmick??? If I was supposed to use my fingers shouldn't I just buy regular bottled foundation??

Here it is applied all over my face with the sponge.

Micah Askins

The left side of the photo is my face in natural sunlight and the right side is my face in florescent lighting. Remember those kids shows where the characters would have to bake something and wacky hijinks would ensue and someone would somehow get flour all over them? Yeah. That's how I felt wearing this foundation.

I sent a snap to two of my friends and, surprisingly, they thought it was okay.

Micah Askins

But I knew deep, deep down in the remnants of my soul that it wasn't for me. I didn't feel comfortable and and it took way too much effort to apply.

Lancôme Miracle Cushion Foundation: C

Compact Cushion #2 - L'Oreal Glam Bronze Cushion De Soleil £14.99

Micah Askins

L'Oreal has the drugstores covered when it comes to compact cushion makeup. They have two different lines for the UK and the US. In the US, their compact cushions are called True Match Lumi Cushion Foundation. There's twelve shades available ranging from Creamy Natural to Cocoa. You can find it at any major drugstore for $16.99.

The UK has a line called Nude Magique Cushion that only has seven shades available.

Micah Askins / Via loreal-paris.co.uk

"Wow look at all those colors! Tons of people will be able to use this product!" said no one. With the darkest shade being "Rose Vanilla" there is essentially no shade diversity. Nude Magique Cushions do not have the range.

However, there is a darker option available in a cushion compact that's labeled as a bronzer.

Micah Askins / Via loreal-paris.co.uk

When you look at the display in the store the bronzer is right next to the Nude Magique compact cushions. Yet it's in a totally different section on the website.

The bronzer was the darkest shade they had (there's no way in the seven hells I'm Rose Vanilla) and I was VERY skeptical about it due to how similarly it looked to Lancôme.

BUT I WAS WRONG??!!

Micah Askins

As soon as I started blotting this stuff on my face I knew this foundation was magic. It fit my skin color so well and gave me an amazing natural finish. I didn't blend it very well around my forehead (I was exhausted at this point after Lancôme and I was only on product two!) but overall my face looked even and dewy.

There are some drawbacks: to get a decent amount of coverage you have to apply a lot of layers (I was worried that I'd use most of the product in the cushion). The finish is radiant and dewy so if you have oily skin, it will add to your skin's shininess. Also, if your skin tone isn't between Cushion de Soleil and Rose Vanilla or is significantly darker than the bronzer it just won't work. When I get darker (and I will because summer) I won't be able to use it anymore; but right now, in this moment I love this cushion compact.

L'Oreal Glam Bronze Cushion de Soleil: A-

Compact Cushion #3 - Shu Uemura Blanc:Chroma Brightening UV Cushion Foundation £41.50 (£32 for the case £9.50 for the refill)

Micah Askins

Shu Uemura is a popular Japanese makeup and skincare company. Their compact cushion makeup is loaded with skincare benefits and I desperately wanted to try out the product I had seen beauty bloggers rave about. Objectively, I knew that Shu Uemera wouldn't have my exact shade but I hoped there was something dark enough that I could work with.

A. Mess.

Micah Askins

I know that there's a lot going on in these photos so let me try to break it down as simply as I can. 1) I pressed too hard on the cushion and ALL the product came out on my fingers and soaked the sponge. 2) I tried to un-soak the sponge by applying it to my face. 3) Maybe these pictures aren't as complex as I thought.

Both of my Snapchat captions summed up how I felt about this foundation but I continued the experiment.

I then applied it the correct way and added powder, bronzer and blush so I didn't look crazy while I was grocery shopping.

Micah Askins

With the rest of my face on, the foundation didn't look too bad but I still felt like it was too light. The picture on the left is me with sun shining in my face and the disparity between my face next is obvious. The right is me in normal lighting in a hallway - the makeup looks better and more natural but there's still something off.

And I went to the ultimate truth-teller in this dark, unfaithful world.

Micah Askins

And there it is. That last sentenced sealed Shu Uemura's compact cushion's fate.

Shu Uemura Blanc:Chroma Brightening UV Cushion Foundation: B

Final Thoughts

Lancôme: I think the issue here was with the formula and application. The formula is too sheer (even if you do want light coverage, you're better off with a tinted moisturizer) and the sponge just adds to how horribly the foundation distributes on your face.

L'Oreal: Even though I love the Cushion de Soliel, I'm disappointed that the diverse shades are only available in America. Women of color exist in the UK too!

Shu Uemura: I'm really sad about this one. I really liked the formula and once the sponge wasn't sopping wet with foundation anymore, it applied really nicely to my skin. It gave me full, even coverage and definitely brightened my face! Although, that could be because it was several shades lighter than my natural skin tone.

Overall, I don't think cushion makeup is for me (it's too much of a hassle to apply enough layers for fuller coverage and I prefer a finish that's more matte) but I definitely see the appeal. Also: MAKE MORE DIVERSE SHADES! I love makeup and I am willing to spend money on makeup. I am any cosmetics company's dream come true. And you know what? There's millions of other people like me! We want to spend money on ridiculous and gimmicky products like cushion makeup but we can't if there's no shades for us. So come on beauty industry, do better!

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