If you’re familiar with Asian cosmetics trends, then you’ll be more than familiar with BB cushions… possibly even more familiar than I am. But for the rest of my readers who are asking – what’s that?! – or have dabbled a bit like me but never embraced it… then please join me in musing on this newfangled invention a little.
Just for the sake of discussion (and to masquerade as a product review), let’s bounce around with Sulwhasoo’s Evenfair Perfection Cushion which was launched just a few months back. I have been trying out a small sample of it (as pictured above) for the past couple of weeks, but the real product looks like this:
Just like most other BB Cushions in the market, Sulwhasoo’s Evenfair Perfection Cushion comes in a round plastic compact in which the actual product is contained in a sponge-y “cushion” (hence the name!). To prevent the product from drying up too quickly, there is usually a lid that snaps over the cushion and serves as a tray for the sponge applicator. The similarity in design may be attributed to the fact that most of the BB cushions originate from Korea and are manufactured by Amore Pacific. Consequently, pretty much any BB cushion fits in any of the cases. This last point bears keeping in mind as all the brands sell refills so you can save money and precious real estate on numerous cases (particularly since these things dry up fairly quickly once opened, so it is recommended you finish them up as soon as you start).
As with foundation, each of the brands like to differentiate themselves with varying skincare claims, coverage, finish and wear time. Given Sulwhasoo’s strength in skincare, the Evenfair Perfection Cushion touts various skincare ingredients such as apricot kernel oil to promote skin elasticity and resilience; adenosine for wrinkle correction and arbutin for brightening. And leveraging on the brand’s background in traditional Korean herbs, the Evenfair Perfection Cushion uses White Lily, Peony, Solomon’s Seal, Lotus, and Adhesive Rehmannia to moisturize the skin. Generally I am skeptical of skincare benefit claims in makeup as I am unlikely to use them consistently for long enough periods to ascertain any results. It also does not smell particularly herbal-ish to me, reminding me instead of old Palmolive bar soaps (not pleasant). So, I am first and foremost interested in the performance.
Texture & Finish:
Like any BB cushion, Sulwhasoo’s rendition goes on lighter and feels more watery than traditional fluid foundations. The advantage here is you may start out with a thinner layer and build up gradually for a more natural look. However, for those of us preferring more coverage, this takes a much longer time as the product sheers out substantially (needing several layers for decent coverage) and takes time to dry (as you can see from the swatches above, it applies rather “wet”). Attempting to apply in thicker layers and faster strokes tend to leave streaks. In fact, the latest rendition of BB cushions now come with a new “improved” antibacterial sponge applicator that is really not conducive for sweeping across the skin, tugs if you attempt to do so, and is meant to be patted on (takes me a lifetime and then some just to get decent enough to leave the house!).
For a BB, Sulwhasoo Evenfair Perfecting Cushion provides decent coverage, buildable up to medium coverage using traditional foundation terminology. It also dries to a semi-matte finish which I personally prefer over the dewy looks of yesteryear. However, I found the finish to fall somewhat flat, lacking the 3-dimensional light of some of the better foundations that I’ve been favoring lately. Furthermore, there are only 4 shades available, and the shade that I had sampled – Medium Beige (which is the most popular shade) – looks rather yellow and turns slightly grayish on me. Worse, I found this to be rather drying, emphasizing pores and bumps and even miniscule hair on my nose that I’d never noticed before were brought to my attention.
In terms of wear time, I found Sulwhasoo Evenfair Perfecting Cushion to last about 5-6 hours on me before the shine starts to become conspicuous. This is quite decent for a BB, though the Laneige Snow Soothing Cushion (reviewed here) surpasses Sulwhasoo’s for extreme wear.
So, what is the appeal of BB cushions?
For those residing in very dry climates and where natural dewy looks are prized (most notably Korea), BB cushions offer all that in a convenient package. However, there is a learning curve to applying these BB cushions well, and it takes more time to get a flawless finish than with a traditional fluid foundation. As a replacement for foundations, BB cushions lack the coverage and polish. On younger skin the difference may not be immediately noticeable, but sadly youth is elusive.
There are many brands of BB cushions out there that I’ve yet to try, so I remain hopeful there may be one out there that I’ll eventually fall in love with. If you have a personal favorite, please feel free to let me know!