Next Big Thing: Cushion Compacts

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A few weeks ago, our office was inundated with cushion compacts. Lancôme will launch their inaugural version— the Miracle Cushion—on April 29, and they are pretty darn good. Even Associate Editor Emily Ferber, a sworn non-foundation user if ever there was one, was taken with the formula. The delivery was preceded by Michelle Phan’s Top Shelf, in which she predicted the cushion compact's imminent rise to total-beauty-industry domination. So it seems like it’s the right time to ask: What’s the deal with cushion compacts?

The easy answer: Beyond the gimmick, the formula really is as good as everyone says. “It’s basically everything people love about a BB and a CC cream, but with more perks,” says Pauline Maynard from L'Oréal, who is behind some of most popular foundations worldwide. She points out the rampant popularity of the Laneige BB Cushion [photographed], generally referred to as the first to kick-off the trend and the best-selling cushion period. “It doesn’t cake because it’s super thin and light, but most of them have really high SPF—50 or higher—while most BBs only have 30.”

Not to mention, the switch-up from traditional foundation application is pretty fun. Take your thin, powder puff and press it into the cushion, which is basically just a sponge soaked in product. Tap all around your face, blend a little on the edges, and you’re done. No creases, no cracks, nothing. “Because you don’t swipe the product on traditionally, it reinforces that the cushion compact has a cooling effect that’s more breathable than other foundations,” Pauline added. Cons: It’s so fun to apply and build up on your skin, it doesn’t take long to notice there’s not a lot of product in the compact—it’s a lot of packaging (and money) for very little overall bang. Ferber is also actively trying not to think about what kind of bacteria is building up in the various sponges. A perfectly sanitary process it is not.

But with wide dissemination comes progress! Pauline mentioned that Korea has already started making cushions for blushes, concealers, and highlighters in addition to the more traditional colors. So plan on seeing more (and even better variations) very soon.

Photographed by Tom Newton.