The Battle of the BB Cushions feat. Laneige, Hera, and Sulwhasoo
Since Iope’s Air Cushion Sunblock XP achieved cult status and became known as the “Six Second Compact” – one is purportedly sold every six seconds – the onslaught of BB cushions released by major beauty brands has not abated. BB cushions are essentially upgraded versions of BB and CC creams – they boast the same skin-perfecting benefits of a BB cream while touting feather-light finishes thanks to the unique formula and applicator (a special spongy puff that does not soak up the formula but rather, spreads a thin layer evenly across your skin). Best of all, most of these cushions contain at least SPF 35 and above, making it a skin hydrator, cover-up, and sunscreen all-in-one. The BB cushion certainly blurs the boundaries between skincare and makeup, arguable one of the first products that actually benefits your skin while functioning as good makeup. (Most) tinted moisturizers are not even close!
Laneige BB Cushion SPF 50+ PA+++ (Retail: $34)
This was the very first cushion that inducted me into the world of BB cushions. The Laneige BB cushion boasts SPF 50, and contains MELACRUSHER™, their proprietary ingredient made using yeast extract from mushrooms that helps to reduce melanin content in skin, making one’s skin look brighter over time. While that sounds extremely promising, I found the color closest to my skin tone, 23 – Sand Beige, not really beigey or neutral at all but a tad too pink/orangey. (My skin tone is towards the cooler side, not yellow or pink but in between.) Furthermore, it pilled quite easily from my skincare routine – admittedly a lot of steps – which only makes application a little more cumbersome than normal, having to use a dry brush to clean up the flakes. I also found the formula a tad too dewy-looking for me in the summer, and the oxidization over time noticeable, leaving a few weird streaky marks. That said, my skin did stay moisturized throughout the day, which is important for me.
Hera UV Mist Cushion Ultra Moisture SPF 34 PA++ (Retail: $40-48)
The first time I used it, after I was done with the Laneige cushion, I was IN LOVE. The formula was much smoother than Laneige’s, and it didn’t look streaky after a couple of hours in the summer heat. It left a dewy finish (but not to the point that it looked oily), the formula was extremely hydrating (great for my dry skin – no flakiness!), and even though there weren’t a lot of color options, I found one (23 Cool Beige) that was essentially a solid match for my slightly darker-than-usual skin tone in summer. Because it was only SPF 34, I still used my sunscreen of SPF 50+ before I applied the Hera cushion. This took the place of any sort of foundation – I’d like to think of good BB cushions as a skin finisher in that you get the “no-makeup makeup look” with these babies. A little brow gel and cherry lip balm finishes this simple look for work beautifully.
The UV Mist Cushion Ultra Moisture also contains hyaluronic acid, camellia oil, and yarrow extract: the first two help to keep and seal moisture, while the last one has cell renewal properties to make skin smoother over time. This cushion also supposedly gives a cooling sensation upon application, but I did not detect that.
The only con I could think of was that it pilled just a little after I apply it post my 10-step skincare routine, but if I waited a little (we’re talking 2 minutes after putting on sunscreen before applying the cushion), the problem was resolved. If you don’t have dry skin, you might not want to use something as occlusive as this in the warmer months, but the hydrating properties and good coverage of this cushion makes it a wonderful winter staple.
Hera × Nicholas Kirkwood Edition UV Mist Cushion SPF 50+ PA+++ (Retail: $50)
This was the “original” Hera cushion with SPF 50, but without the “ultra-moisturizing” properties of the Ultra Moisture cushion. I got the Nicholas Kirkwood special edition and the compact is the prettiest cobalt blue with red (Hibiscus?) flowers. 😍 While I loved the Ultra Moisture cushion but wished the SPF value was higher, I thought I could find the original cushion the embodiment of everything I looked for. It was a little different – the color C23 Cool Beige was lighter in this version than the 23 Cool Beige of Ultra Moisture. Perhaps it was due to the coverage – the C’s boast higher coverage than the other iterations (such as N or Ultra Moisture).
A little goes a long way with this cushion, I use it sparingly so as to avoid looking like a geisha. I only use it for those occasions that call for full face makeup, since I generally prefer light coverage cushions.
Sulwhasoo Perfecting Cushion Brightening SPF 50+ PA+++ (Retail: $65)
After my experience with Hera cushions, I wanted to take things to the next level. I’ve been hearing all sorts of lovely things about Sulwhasoo’s cushions, and having used Sulwhasoo skincare products for a while (I love the Ginseng Concentrated Cream!), I decided to bite the bullet and try Sulwhasoo’s BB cushion. As it was summertime when I contemplated buying this, I wanted a coverage that was as light and breathable as possible with at least an SPF 50 rating, hence I chose the Perfecting Cushion over Evenfair – less coverage, a high SPF, and brightening effects.
First impression was how I look a lot fresher and perkier with the perfecting cushion. It has just the barest hint of coverage, and yet it was dewy enough to make me look like I just had a rejuvenating facial. This is also the only cushion that gets me carded, regardless of how much eye or lip makeup I have on. Can you believe that?! The color closest to my skin tone (23 Medium Beige) was slightly lighter than I would like for the dead of summer – nothing some light contouring wouldn’t fix – but it works perfectly with my fall skin tone sans contouring for a fresh face look. I believe the licorice purifying water, pearlescent complex, and magnolia extract help to keep my skin bright and hydrated, while maintaining a translucent finish. Nowadays I’ve been using this in lieu of the other cushions – I’ll certainly be repurchasing when my second refill is out.
What do you swear by and which do you want to try? Let us know in the comments section! Key To Radiance is not affiliated with or sponsored by any of the brands mentioned.