All of the cushions that I’ve spent any time using so far have been Asian – and mostly Korean. But there are options on the market now that make it easy to find a western cushion foundation rather than importing one or buying it at a boutique price.
Yves Saint Laurent Touche Eclat Cushion Compact, $48
This cushion is a Nordstrom exclusive, which means that you can only purchase it at a Nordstrom store or on their website. I went into my local Nordstrom’s at the Mall of America and got color-matched. I’m a YSL B10. That was a little lighter than I anticipated being, but the B20 was definitely too yellowy on my skin.
YSL is a luxury brand, so the packaging is similarly luxurious. The entire compact is golden, which looks super fancy on display but smudges like nobody’s business. I also find that the catch doesn’t feel super secure. It comes with a puff applicator, like I would expect with a cushion. However, the cushion is divided in half – half is apparently supposed to give you a higher-coverage application. I couldn’t tell any difference between the coverage I got using either side.
This is a mesh cushion, and my first time trying one like it. I don’t know why the mesh unnerves me as opposed to a sponge that looks like you could find it next to the kitchen sink, but it does. The mesh has the YSL logo stamped into it. Fancy pants. I find that it’s more difficult to get a decent amount of product out of this cushion than with a regular Korean cushion. Additionally, the mesh makes the placement of product onto the puff inconsistent. This foundation has a distinct scent to it that I can’t really put my finger on. It’s not pleasant, but it’s not super unpleasant either.
This cushion provides light-to-medium coverage with a semi-matte finish. It does not do well on flaky skin; it has a powdery consistency that looks almost chalky on dry or textured areas of the skin.
After about three hours, the foundation had very slightly collected in the fine lines under my eyes. It wasn’t really noticeable from a distance, but up close in the mirror I could tell. At a little over four hours in, it was definitely in my fine lines and was noticeable. I could blend it out with a fingertip and that seemed to do the trick.
Buildable: not so much.
Touchups: yes, but it’s easier to use the fluffy (flocked) side of the puff to do it.
Unlike most of its Korean counterparts, this cushion compact comes without with a free refill. That makes it more money for the foundation than I’m willing to spend on a regular basis. This foundation comes in 8 colors that only seem to go up to a medium skintone.
Saturday Skin All Aglow Sunscreen Perfection Cushion Compact, $40
This packaging is what I’d call cute but mid-range budget. It’s clearly plastic but it’s got a summer design that I kind of enjoy. The sponge itself is a regular sponge, only it’s a mounded sponge so it doesn’t lie flat inside the cushion. It’s easy enough to get product out of the sponge, so no complaints there. There’s a hint of fragrance in the foundation but it’s barely noticeable to me. It comes with a regular puff applicator.
This cushion has a matte finish with light to medium coverage. If you are looking for even a semi-matte cushion, this one isn’t going to do it for you. It sets on almost powdery, which is great if you dislike the wetter, more oily feel of a dewier cushion.
Three hours into wearing this cushion, the oil from my skin was starting to push through a little around the nose. Four hours in, it was doing the same on the rest of my face. After five hours, the foundation looked a little cakey close up but was generally still doing okay at a regular distance. This cushion never settled in the lines under my eyes.
Buildable: Possible, but if you wear too much of this product it’s going to start to emphasize any skin texture issues, and it will get cakey with thick layers.
Touchups: Possible, but require a little bit of extra blending.
This cushion comes with a refill, which makes it a decent price if it comes in your color. There are only three colors to choose from, though, none of which are suitable for darker skintones.
Dior Capture Totale Dreamskin Perfect Skin Cushion, $82
I think that this might be my first Dior product, guys. I’m moving up in the fancy world!
The cushion has a very spring-like, feminine feel. It’s a blush color with a silver accent around the rim of the compact. It’s standard plastic, so it’s not very luxe feeling, but it doesn’t seem cheap either. I expected a little more from the Dior brand, especially given the price point.
The cushion is the closest to what I expect of a “standard” cushion compact of all the ones I’m reviewing today. It also has a faint scent, not sweet or powdery, but not particularly strong either. It comes with a regular puff applicator.
This cushion provides a sheer to light coverage, with a semi-matte to lightly dewy finish. I found that this cushion had pretty minimal touch transfer, which is great. I hate the idea of touching my face (or my clothes touching my face) and foundation rubbing away. It also feels really natural on my skin, which I’m a big fan of. I hate feeling like I’m wearing foundation even though I like the benefits that it provides.
About an hour and a half into testing this foundation, it felt like there was nothing on my face, so I applied a second layer to one half and continued testing. Three and a half hours in, the skin-like finish remained, with no weirdness on either side. Six hours in, there wasn’t a whole lot of pigment left on the side of my face with only one coat of foundation. The other side was still going strong.
Touchups: Yes, if necessary, although by that point you might need to just reapply all over.
This product never settled into my fine lines.
This cushion is the most expensive of the ones I purchased, so of course it’s my favorite. Figures. At least it comes with a refill! (Whatever lets me sleep at night, right?) It’s available in 5 colors, so you’re not likely to find a perfect match, but there is an actual range of shades in this line.
Maybelline Dream Cushion, about $12
I actually purchased this on a whim while I was in Dallas about a month and a half ago. I was walking around town and realized I hadn’t packed any foundation. At the Dallas World Aquarium I wasn’t that concerned about my skintone, but I was going out later that night and I wanted to look nice. So I hit the Walgreens on my way back and picked this cushion up.
This packaging is super cheap, which makes sense because this was a really inexpensive product. There’s nothing wrong with it – it’s just that the compact is entirely plastic and the sponge is a lot softer and more porous than the more expensive versions. It’s also this kind of beigey color on the bottom and a slightly less beige sticker on top that I think is an attempt at rose gold. The foundation has a decently strong fragrance that reminds me a little bit of play-dough.
This cushion has a semi-matte finish, with medium coverage. Three and a half hours into testing, I could see the oil from my skin starting to push through the foundation. It was starting to look a little cakey as well, especially on parts of my skin with more texture. By six and a half hours in, it was mostly gone in oily areas, and it was mostly gone period after seven and a half hours.
With a cushion this inexpensive, you don’t get a refill – you just go and pick up another one. This cushion comes in 8 colors, but since it’s a drugstore product you won’t be able to test the color before you purchase it, so be careful!
Lancome Teint Idole Ultra Longwear Cushion Foundation, $47
The packaging for this cushion is pretty. It’s a black base with a gold top, stamped with the Lancome flower symbol. The down side is that, like the YSL cushion, the gold seems to attract fingerprints and smudges. The puff is more flocked (fuzzy) than a regular one would be. The sponge itself really sucks – it’s like a plastic mesh over what I presume is an actual sponge. That means it’s hard to get product onto the puff and it’s difficult to deal with the sponge after you’ve used a bunch of the foundation. When I tested this out at Sephora prior to purchasing it I basically had to remove the puff in order to get a sample of the foundation itself.
It looks like this product comes with a refill, but it doesn’t – that packaged bit is the actual cushion, and you need to insert it into the case before you can use the product.
This product has a skin-like finish; it’s slightly dewy at best but not really matte. This was one of the cushions with the best coverage; I would consider it medium to full coverage.
An hour and a half into testing, the foundation started to settle a little into the fine lines around my eyes. This was easily remedied by using a fingertip to re-blend the foundation a little. Three and a half hours in, my facial oil was starting to push through the foundation, meaning that the coverage was degrading a little in the more oily areas of my face. Six and a half hours in, the foundation was starting to break down in the more oily spots. It’s about that time that I would need to either reapply or clean my face and start again.
Buildable: A little, although you’ll never get to super full coverage.
Touchups: Yes. The flocked puff is pretty helpful here.
This cushion doesn’t come with a refill. I would have thought that Lancome would be better about that. It’s disappointing and unless I absolutely loved the foundation itself the ratio of payment to product received would make me unlikely to repurchase this cushion.
One thing about this cushion is that it comes in a variety of colors, although only three of them are for folks with any skin tone darker than what I’d call “medium”. There are 16 colors available on Sephora’s site. Weirdly, all the lighter shades are labeled by number, name, and a description of the skin tone it’s suited for – for example, the shade I purchased is #210, Buff (for light skin with neutral undertones). But the three darkest colors (all called Suede) have no undertone descriptors. The fact that they are all called Suede doesn’t worry me – there are two Buff shades as well. But you’d think that they’d put in a descriptor. The colors have a (N) for neutral or (W) for warm listed next to them, but if you hadn’t looked at the light colors to get a sense of the pattern how are you to know?
I think that’s a Sephora error rather than a Lancome error, since the Lancome site has no undertone descriptors listed for any of the shades, just the (N), (W), and (C) markers. It also seems like maybe the Lancome site has better marker indicators of the actual foundation color, since their site has the same product numbers as Sephora but the range looks like it would work for more skintones. Just something to keep in mind as you shop.
Dr. Jart Air Mesh, $48
The cushion here is a little strange – it’s very squishy and malleable to the touch, almost like it’s a fine mesh over a balm or pudding of some kind. The foundation itself is liquid and unlike the other mesh cushions, comes out evenly and easily onto the puff. The case is plastic, kind of boxy and not particularly attractive, with a crosshatched pattern on the top. The puff is the regular type. The foundation has a light, almost spicy fragrance.
This is a medium coverage, dewy foundation. Like the Lancome foundation, within about an hour and a half this had settled a little into the fine lines under my eyes; also like the Lancome, I could easily smooth the foundation out with a fingertip to correct the problem with minimal fuss. Three and a half hours in, my face was starting to look a little oily. There was minor breakdown of the foundation in the more oily areas of my face. Six and a half hours in, the foundation was starting to majorly break down; by seven and a half hours in the foundation was mostly gone.
Touchups: Yes. This formula is pretty wet (for a western foundation at least) and holds on to itself very well, which makes it suitable for both building up and touching up.
This cushion also doesn’t come with a refill, which like the Lancome makes it overpriced for my budget. Also, it only comes in one color, which is not mine.
No foundation review (or mini-review) would be complete without swatch colors so without further ado here is a large photo of all the foundations side by side!
As you can see, the YSL B10 is the best match for my skin, and the Dior is pretty decent as well. The Lancome is simply awful, and the Maybelline and Dr. Jart are both extra pink. I got color matched for the YSL, Dr. Jart, and Lancome, so just for your own sake (returns are a hassle even if a shop has a great policy) test it out in person, then walk out into the sunshine before you purchase if you can!
So it’s a lot easier to buy a cushion foundation nowadays, which is a great thing. Of all the cushions, my favorite is the Dior – it isn’t the best color match, but its got the skin feel that I want, and the color is close enough that I won’t look ridiculous walking around wearing it.
I hope these mini-reviews and swatches were helpful! Let me know in the comments if there are any other products you want me to take a look at.