Cushion Compact 101: What it is, Usage, Tips & Tricks

With the very recent launch of Lancome’s Miracle Cushion Compact in the US, joining the ranks of Amore Pacific’s Color 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. Here’s a summary of all the questions we’ve been getting from you guys on this fascinating development in beauty.


What exactly is a Cushion Compact?

Quite literally, it’s a lightweight SPF foundation soaked into a sponge cushion, within a compact. The cushion keeps the formula moist so that you get the dewy benefits of using a liquid foundation, combined with the convenience of a portable compact format.  The cushion also releases an appropriate dose of foundation onto the sponge, allowing for even coverage. Most cushion compacts are multi-taskers with high SPFs and a host of skincare ingredients.


‘Behind the scenes’ of a Cushion Compact

What’s the technology behind a Cushion Compact?

We could go on and on about this section, the science of it makes us 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 specialized 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. Vogue Korea reports that AP utilized initial customer feedback to roll out Hera’s UV Mist Cushion in the later half of 2008, with improved coverage and added hydration for a radiant, dewy finish.

hera_uvmistHera’s spokesperson, the luminous Shin Mina

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. We absolutely believe that the Cushion Compact will change the US and global beauty market because convenience and results always speak for themselves.

In the recent Makeup Seoul Convention held in mid April, there was even a special section to talk about the technology and future of Cushion Compacts, because a number of participants – many from product development and marketing teams from top global beauty brands – specially requested it. We get the feeling that a slew of brands outside of Korea will start launching their own take on the CC Cushion within the next few years.

bb cushion 640

How to use a Cushion Compact?

We can summarize 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 utilizing 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.  (Check out our post on structuring a morning skincare routine) 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.

Kora Lee, a makeup artist from JHJ Parapam, recommends as a last step, to spray a hydrating mist onto the puff and lightly tap onto skin for an extra hint of radiance.

Front and back of specialized puff applicator

How do you see Cushion Compacts evolving?

a. Next generation sponges with more anti-microbial properties
b. Diversification of product types – more hydration, more coverage, more shades
c. Cushions being applied to all forms of makeup & SPF  – primers, makeup bases, plain SPF without coverage, lip & cheek formulas.

Why did you guys decide to curate the Hera UV Mist Cushion?

Because Sarah and I faithfully use it ourselves, every day. SPF is the cornerstone of a healthy skincare routine and our philosophy is that it has to be a texture you love so that you are applying enough of it to be protected.  And Hera UV Mist Cushion SPF 50 ($45 for compact + refill) was our favorite pick out of the dozens of cushions we tested for long lasting, yet non-drying coverage.


Any questions, comments or feedback? Email us at love [a] glowrecipe [dot] com, we always love to hear from you!

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