We all know and love cushion compacts like BB cushions. A sponge-like applicator saturated with a BB cream, they are handy and compact, and have lots of skincare benefits, like added SPF and anti-aging properties. Just toss them in your bag after your morning makeup routine and you can do touch-ups as the day goes by. But did you know that cushion compacts are also incredibly versatile? From acing the new Korean ‘non-touring’ trend to customising your own concealers all with your cushion compact, here are 13 tips, tricks and hacks as told by industry experts.
#1 Find your glow quotient
A cushion is a cushion is a cushion, right? Wrong. Cushions are not one-size-fits-all products (and not just for women of East Asian descent, FYI). To wit, the latest slew of cushions comes in a full spectrum of matte, semi-matte and lustrous formulations, so there’s bound to be something that’ll suit your particular concerns. To tame shine on oily skin, go matte with Belif’s Moisture Bomb Cushion-Matt Bullet, SPF50+/PA+++, $49, that’s infused with a sebum-absorbing powder for a shine-free finish. To infuse dull skin with dewy radiance, pat on a lustrous formula such as Nars’ Aqua Glow Cushion Foundation SPF23/PA++, $68 (launching in September 2017); this weightlessly luminous cushion plumps skin with moisture and even promises to protect it from pollution.
#2 One cushion, three ways
A cushion is one of the most versatile items in your makeup stash. “Use it as a CC cream to even out skin tone; a pre-foundation primer to brighten and prep skin; or a post-makeup fixer to increase the staying power of your makeup,” suggests Alan Huang, senior trainer at Innisfree Singapore. He recommends Innisfree’s No-Sebum Correcting Cushion SPF34/PA++, $19, for its shine-proof and long-wearing properties.
#3 Know your cushion ABCs
Confused with the arbitrary alphabets assigned to your favourite beauty product? Here’s a crash course. ‘BB’ stands for ‘blemish balm’ or ‘beauty balm’. ‘CC’ stands for ‘colour correcting’ – though in many cases, it may simply suggest an ‘upgraded’ version of an existing BB product in a brand’s stable. In other words, if evening out skin tone is your main concern, CC cushions are your best bet. First Aid Beauty Hello FAB 3 In 1 Superfruit Color Correcting Cushion, $59, blends green, pink and purple pigments to simultaneously tame redness, even out skin tone and illuminate dull skin; while IT Cosmetics Your Skin But Better CC+ Veil Beauty Fluid Foundation SPF 50+, $62, is enriched with illuminating pigments to conceal imperfections and imbue your complexion with a soft veil of radiance.
#4 Colour-correcting cushions
If you have specific skin concerns, you’ll want to home in on single-toned colour-correcting formulas such as Etude House Any Cushion Colour Corrector, $32, in Pink, Mint or Lavender. Are bluish dark eye circles the bane of your existence? The Pink cushion will correct it. Concerned about angry red blemishes peeking through your makeup? The Mint cushion will neutralise any redness. If you have sallow yellowish skin, pat on the Lavender cushion for a healthy glow.
#5 Mind the gap
Fix gaping pores with this simple trick from Mamonde’s senior beauty trainer, Arica Sen. Blend a medium coverage cushion such as Mamonde’s High Cover Liquid Cushion, $38, over pores to camouflage them. Then, tap any residual product on your sponge directly over pores for added coverage – the light-diffusing effect will blur out the shadows cast by pitted skin. Another good cushion to try is Shu Uemura’s Stage Performer Fresh Tint All-in-one Hydrating UV Cushion SPF38 PA+++, $68 – it’s infused with a new silicon-based pore-concealing gel for a smooth and virtually flawless finish.
#6 Age-cancelling formulas
More luminous and hydrating than your conventional powder compacts and full-coverage liquid foundations, cushions are great for blurring out fine lines, hydrating parched skin and basically breathing life back into dull complexions – ergo, they are one of the easiest youth-enhancing hacks available for your money. For the best results, pick formulas that are supercharged with anti-ageing actives. For instance, Su:m37 Water-Full CC Cushion Perfect Finish SPF50+/PA+++, $67, is formulated with goodness gleaned from Tibetan moss, four different medicinal fungus, bamboo sap and snow lotus, all of which are said to saturate skin with moisture; while Sulwhasoo’s Perfecting Cushion Intense SPF50+/PA+++, $105, is enriched with red pine and plum blossom extracts that promise to rejuvenate and protect your skin from external aggressors.
#7 Hot weather essentials
Cushions aren’t merely a fuss-free way of touching up your makeup on the go. Many new formulas also provide enhanced protection and comfort in the face of intense sun exposure. Shiseido’s Synchro Skin White Cushion Compact SPF40, $75, promises to buffer your skin from the damage incurred by free radicals with thyme extract, and is also said to brighten skin and reduce sun spots with powerful skincare actives. The Body Shop Fresh Nude Cushion Foundation SPF 25 PA++, $39.90 (available in end-August 2017), is even said to lower your skin temperature by 1°C, and helps to soothe sensitised skin with organic aloe vera and English rose water. Don’t leave for Siloso beach without one of these stashed in your tote!
#8 Strobing with a cushion
Bought a cushion that’s two tones too light for your skin? Don’t whitewash your entire face with it. “This can make your skin look as pasty as a badly baked macaron,” warns celebrity makeup artist Larry Yeo. He recommends using a paler shade selectively on your cheekbones, nose bridge, forehead and chin as a natural-looking highlighter instead. Alternatively, invest in a highlighting cushion such as Laneige’s Cushion Highlighter, $34, which has been specifically created for strobing. Infused with moisture- and radiance-boosting ingredients, it perfectly complements your BB cushion to accentuate your bone structure with that signature lit-from-within K-beauty glow.
#9 Korean-approved contouring
‘Non-touring’ is the latest rage in Korea, shares Sulwhasoo global makeup artist Jamie Yoon. Vastly different from the harsher ‘grid-like’ Kardashian-style Kontouring school of thought, ‘non-touring’ is infinitely more natural, radiant and effortless. Jamie recommends attempting this look with a slightly darker cushion. “Use No. 25 from the Sulwhasoo range for natural contouring and No. 33 to create a more defined contrast. Fold the puff into a half-moon shape, pat small amounts of the cushion formula under the cheekbones, as well as along the jawline and hairline. Unfold the puff to blend the product in seamlessly,” he says.
One reason ‘non-touring’ is best achieved with cushions? “Most powder bronzers contain orange or red tones that can appear unnaturally dark if applied with too heavy a hand. Those with matte finishes may also cancel out the dewy translucence of your cushion base,” explains Tina Oh, training manager of Laneige Singapore.
#10 Brush and glow
Puffs applicators are awesome for on-the-go touch-ups, but if you’re applying your cushion at home, trade your puff for a dome-shaped foundation brush, says Larry Yeo. “Many cushion puffs are too thin and don’t pick up enough product for even application over the face,” he explains. Try 13rushes Universal Do-It-All Face Brush, $39.90: this versatile brush was designed in collaboration with the celebrity makeup artist himself and will be launched in August 2017 at www.13rushes.com.
#11 Need more coverage
Not everybody can pull off that off-duty no-makeup look. If you need to conceal imperfections, Larry recommends Western brands over Korean brands for their amazing medium-coverage formulas. Try Mac Cosmetics Lightful C Quick Finish Cushion Compact, $63, or Make Up For Ever UV Bright Cushion SPF35/PA+++, $64. These buildable formulas work beautifully around the undereye area to conceal dark circles, as well as on the T-zone to smooth away imperfections.
#12 Concealing with cushions
The difference between regular concealers and cushion concealers such as Laneige’s Watery Cushion Concealer, $35, is that the latter gives you a lighter and more translucent coverage. The secret to making these weightless cushion concealers last is to prep skin well, says Tina from Laneige. While it’s vital to moisturise your skin prior to makeup, always blot your face with a tissue to remove any excess before applying your concealer. Otherwise, oil-based moisturisers, serums or essences may prevent your concealer from adhering well to your skin, and may even give rise to the appearance of unsightly crease lines.
#13 Customising your own cushion concealer
Run out of concealer? Jamie from Sulwhasoo suggests customising your own concealer to address your specific under-eye concerns. If you have greyish dark circles, blend your cushion foundation with a touch of a coral lip colour to create a soft salmon pink concealer; to correct green-tinged dark circles, blend your cushion foundation with a pink lip colour. You may never buy an off-the-rack concealer again with this trick!
Text: Annie Tan, HerWorldPlus / Additional text: Cheryl Lim