#TuesdaysWithLarry: The Truth About Cushion Compacts

Everything you need to know about this massive beauty trend

With almost every beauty brand hopping onto the K-beauty cushion compact bandwagon, it’s not surprising that we’ve experienced an explosion of cushion-based product in the past three years. And then there are compact-dispensing foundations that are disguising as cushion compacts, which I will get to later.

I have said this many times and but let me repeat it: Cushion compact is NOT new. (Gasp!) 

Just like BB creams (which are originally formulated in Germany), the Koreans did not discover the cushion compact, even though the Korean brands are currently dominating the market for both products. Stila Cosmetics launched the Stila Sport Pivotal Skin cushion foundation as early as 2001, but sadly it was too advanced for the market back then.

You had to apply it with your fingers because it came without a sponge, and nobody brought up the suggestion of applying it with a brush. With the absence of product placement on television and celebrity endorsement, the Stila Sport Pivotal Skin fizzled out in a few years.

Here is the original Stila Sport Pivotal Skin write-up:
A multi-use formula that gives sheer coverage and protection of SPF8 in one sweep. Minimizes pores and reveals an inherent dewiness with a finish so complete that powder is unnecessary. Touch and sweep on fresh, youthful skin. Tips: Touch sponge pad gently and apply with fingertips, working with a small amount of product to keep it sheer. Over application defeats the luminous quality of pivotal skin.

Basically, it means that the cushion foundation is sweat-resistant and creates a glow with a translucent and skin-smoothing coverage.

The advantage of a cushion compact is that it is very portable and easy to carry around for touch-ups, with the added benefit of sun protection. The cushions also target different skincare needs, from whitening or brightening to anti-ageing and oil control.

There are some “cushion compacts” that come empty and require you to pour your own liquid foundation into them. That is not a cushion compact, sweetie. That is your liquid foundation in a sponge, kept in a circular container.

A liquid foundation is designed to be kept in a bottle, as some contain solvents that evaporate upon exposure to air. This allows the foundation coverage to be left on your skin without a sticky finish, and some can even dry easily into a film that is sweat- and sebum-resistant. Imagine pouring this foundation into a compact – wouldn’t it get coagulated? #ThinkPlease

Now that we have everything from cushion compact blushes, cushion compact colour correctors and cushion compact powder to cushion compact highlighters... I cannot wait for cushion lipsticks and gloss! *fake excitement*

Oh wait… We do have it!

Created by some obscure brand, the cushion lip tint looks like a tiny cushion compact, which appears to be the perfect host for spreading cold sores (no thanks to sharing of lip products).

There are also brands that claim to have cushion concealers, but they are really just cushion pads placed on the nip of the concealer tip. #Boring

My concern about these cushion-based products is the hygiene. Yes, there are preservatives in the product, and the application sponge can be cleaned or changed (some even claim that the pad is antibacterial). But with continuous use and constant touching up, this pad is always exposed and will be a focal contaminant point. This is worsened in our humid weather, where sebum and sweat mix in the heat - not great news for those who are already suffering from acne.

My suggestion would be to use a synthetic brush to pick up the product and transfer it to the back of the hand (make sure you get enough product at one go, and wash the brush every week). Use this amount to apply the foundation wherever needed. The sponge that comes with the product is great for touching up during the day, and should be washed once a week and replaced monthly.

Here are some of my recommended tools for cushion usage:


If you really need a sponge to use with your cushion foundation, try the Dior DiorShow Backstage Blender. Apply the foundation using the oblique side and dab with the rounded side to increase coverage. For a brush alternative, check out 13rushes’ 13rave brush, which works well with the cushion to spread the product quickly due to its larger and slightly angled flat surface.


Obviously, you have to use the puff with your cushion compact to touch up if the foundation fades. Remember to open the flip cap before picking up a little bit of product, or you will end up looking like Song Hye Kyo on Descendants Of The Sun, trying to touch up her foundation in the lift using a dry clean puff. #LarryShade


For blushers and highlighters, try Makeup Forever Double-Ended Sculpting Brush in 158. Use the domed side to apply your cushion highlighter and the angled side for your cushion blusher. 

With so many cushion products in the market, which ones are good? I have tried these below and I grew quite fond of them.

Cushion Compact/Foundation

Both Sulwhasoo Perfecting Cushion and Laneige BB Cushion Anti-Aging are skin smoothing and provide great wear in our weather.


YSL Le Cushion Encre de Peau Fusion Ink Cushion Foundation is amazingly lightweight and gives that classic YSL light-in-you glow.

Shu Uemura Blanc:Chroma Brightening UV Cushion Foundation has the highest coverage amongst my recommendations.

MAC is also launching a cushion called MAC Lightful C Quick Finish Compact SPF 50, which will be launched next month in Singapore. It gives a glowing, translucent finish.

All of the above cushions will give you a complexion that looks amazing in real life and also photograph extremely well, so you will not get that pasty, washed-out look.

Cushion Blush

KYE for Shu Uemura Fresh Cushion Blush and L’Oréal Paris Lucent Magique Cushion Blush

Cushion Highlighter

Laneige Cushion Highlighter and MoonShot Moonflash Cushion

If your face ends up with a lot of of sheen, and you want the tone to appear less oily, use NYX High Definition Finishing Powder on your T-zone to reduce the shine.

Now go through and layer on your cushion-based makeup, foundation-highlight-blush it goes. Let your face glow, let the brilliance through; but make sure it doesn’t look like you are dipped in oil and sweat. #GlowNotFryingWok

For more from Larry Yeo, check out #TuesdaysWithLarry: The Right Red Lipstick For Your Skin Tone and #TuesdaysWithLarry: Let's Talk About The Contouring Craze.

Report a Problem