Top 7 Best Japanese and Korean Cushion Foundations to Buy Online 2019 – Tried and True!

Top 7 Best Japanese and Korean Cushion Foundations to Buy Online 2019

Cushion foundation is like the precocious child of liquid and powder foundation. It covers and moisturizes, and yet it’s fast and portable, well-suited to rushed makeup routines in the morning. It was born in Korea, but soon caught on all over the world–and Korea’s close neighbor, Japan, wasn’t going to miss out on the fun.

Lancome and NARS have their own much beloved versions of cushion foundation, but it’s worth talking about brands that come from this part of the Pacific. So we ordered the 7 most popular Japanese and Korean cushions from Japan’s e-commerce giants (such as Amazon, Rakuten, and @cosme) and tested them all. We also consulted three experts, who looked for the following:

  1. Finish
  2. Ease of Application
  3. Longevity

This is how we tested and found the most exceptional Japanese and Korean cushion foundations.

Table of Contents

Introducing the Experts Who Lent Us Their Knowledge

This time around,  we borrowed the expertise of hair and makeup artists Rika Fujiwara and Mutsuki, as well as the former fashion retailer and Instagrammer Chie Kato.

Chie Kato, Rika Fujiwara, and Mutsuki
〈Chie Kato, Rika Fujiwara, and Mutsuki〉

Beauty Gurus

{Left: Former Fashion Retailer and Instagrammer Chie Kato}
She used to work in fashion as a retail clerk (also the time when she started her blog). After she got married, she quit her job in in the fashion industry. Now, as a housewife, she's still very active, Instagramming daily about fashion, cosmetics, and hair. She's got over 100,000 followers.

{Middle: Freelance Hair and Makeup Artist Rika Fujiwara}
She's a freelance hair and makeup artist and an expert in aromatherapy certified by the Aroma Environment Association of Japan. She also pens beauty columns. She studied under Mr. Hiroki Murooka from the hair and makeup studio ThreePEACE for four years before going independent.

{Right: Hair and Makeup Artist Mutsuki}
She's a popular freelance hair and makeup artist who can turn anyone into an idol. Her creations are known for being girly, exquisite. In the industry, she has a huge following who can't get enough of "Mutsuki Magic," which brings out the innate beauty of actresses and models, leaving them doll-like yet natural.

Sorry, but What’s a Cushion Foundation Again?

Sorry, but What's a Cushion Foundation Again?

Cushion foundation is just liquid foundation that’s been absorbed into a sponge and stuffed into a compact. You apply it just as you would any other foundation–by tapping or buffing onto your face with a cushion puff.

Cushions originated in Korea, but everyone loved the idea of being able to apply liquid foundation with few tools and without getting it all over your hands. It spread like wildfire over to Japan, where there are now tons of brands. Cushion foundation’s appeal lies in its ability to shorten any makeup routine.

How to Choose a Japanese or Korean Cushion Foundation – Buying Guide

We’ll get into how we tested and compared all of our products, but first we want to share three things you should keep in mind when choosing cushion foundation.

① You Want a Natural Finish that Leaves Your Skin Looking like Skin

You Want a Natural Finish that Leaves Your Skin Looking like Skin

When choosing cushion foundation, you want something that can go on thin and make it look like you aren’t wearing any makeup–in a good way.

Generally speaking, cushions don’t offer much in the way of coverage when compared to other types of foundation. (This, of course, differs by brand.) But, to put it another way, that means cushion foundations are perfect for lending glow and a natural finish to your look.

② You Want Something that Melts Easily into Your Skin

You Want Something that Melts Easily into Your Skin

Choose cushion foundation that blends well into your skin. That means something that’s so light, you can’t even tell it’s on your face.

On the other hand, if you get a cushion that’s too thick, you’ll start rubbing at your skin when buffing it out, which can dehydrate your skin. With cushion foundation, less is more.

③ And You Want Something That’s Long-Wearing

And You Want Something That's Long-Wearing

One of cushion foundation’s great strengths is you don’t need to apply it over a primer. But what that also means is if your foundation does start wearing off, then your skin is directly exposed to the sun’s rays.

That’s why its essential you find a cushion that’s long-lasting–and this holds doubly true in summer.

What Products We Ordered and How We Tested Them

What Products We Ordered and How We Tested Them

Now to introduce the 7 most popular Japanese and Korean cushion foundations that we ordered and the process by which we tested them.

{The Products We Tested}

  1. Missha M Cushion Foundation (ミシャ Мクッション ファンデーション)
  2. Etude House Any Cushion All Day Perfect (エチュードハウス エニークッション オールデイパーフェクト)
  3. Witch’s Pouch Moisturize Cover Cushion (ウィッチズポーチ モイスチャーライズ カバー クッション)
  4. Sweets-Sweets Marshmallow Cover Cushion (スウィーツスウィーツ マシュマロカバークッション)
  5. shu uemura blanc:chroma Brightening UV Cushion Foundation (シュウウエムラ ブランクロマ ブライトニング UV クッションファンデーション)
  6. IOPE Air Cushion Cover (アイオペ エアクッション カバー)
  7. Time Secret Mineral Liquid Cushion Foundation (タイムシークレット ミネラルリキッドクッション ファンデーション)

We then tested for each of the following things:

Test ①: Finish
Test ②: Ease of Application
Test ③: Longevity

Test ①: Finish

Finish

First, we looked at finish.

We had our three experts apply the cushions onto their hands and give us their impressions–whether it left skin looking translucent or was rather cakey.

The Big Takeaway: We Loved Cushions that Went on Thin but Had Decent Coverage

The Big Takeaway: We Loved Cushions that Went on Thin but Had Decent Coverage

There were quite a few products that looked cakey or turned out too matte for our tastes. However, comparatively speaking, cushions from high-end brands didn’t go on too thick and had lovely translucent finishes. A little really went a long way.

We’re talking Western brands here, but our experts especially love the cushions from NARS and Lancome. They even out skin tone and leave you looking put together, even without primer.

Rika Fujiwara
Hair and Makeup Artist
Rika Fujiwara's comment
The best cushions are the ones that even out skin tone with just a thin layer. A good example is Lancome's cushion foundation, which goes on thin but really moisturizes the skin.
Chie Kato
Former Fashion Retailer and Instagrammer
Chie Kato's comment
When it comes to cushion foundation, you want something that isn't thick and leaves your skin glowy and translucent. It's important that it doesn't feel sticky or heavy upon application.

Test ②: Ease of Application

Ease of Application

Next, we asked our experts to look at how easy each cushion foundation was to apply.

They told us basic things like how easily each compact opened; they also looked for things like how thick the foundation was and whether it blended easily into the skin (rather than just sitting on top of it).

The Big Takeaway: When It Came to Application, High-End Brands Won Yet Again

The Big Takeaway: When It Came to Application, High-End Brands Won Yet Again

We couldn’t help favoring high-end brands this time around as well. Sadly, most of the drugstore cosmetics we tried tended to feel heavy.

We also thought there were cases that were so cute, they were tacky, as well as cases that were just difficult to open. The shu uemura cushion spread the easiest, whereas the products from Time Secret and Sweets-Sweets were thick.

Mutsuki
Hair and Makeup Artist
Mutsuki's comment
If a product doesn't feel like it's bonding well to the skin, then chances are that, as the day goes on, it'll separate and look more and more like it's sitting on top of your face. You want something that's soft and blends!

Test ③: Longevity

Longevity

Finally, we tested for longevity.

We applied the cushions onto our arms. We then combined horse oil and water in a bottle and sprayed the swatches three times. Finally, we wiped at our arms with a tissue to see how much foundation came off.

The Big Takeaway: IOPE and Time Secret Stuck Fast!

The Big Takeaway: IOPE and Time Secret Stuck Fast!

{Above: IOPE Air Cushion Cover; Below: Time Secret Mineral Liquid Cushion}

The thicker, wetter foundations started trickling from our arms. We had products that started fading as soon as we sprayed them with liquid and others that came off completely when we swiped at them with a tissue.

On the other hand, the cushions that applied like silk did well in repelling our mixture. And when we wiped the swatches with a tissue, they didn’t come off in a way that was immediately noticeable.

The Final Verdict: Top 7 Best Japanese and Korean Cushion Foundations to Buy Online

Now to introduce the 7 best Japanese and Korean cushion foundations available online. They were ranked by how well they did on our tests and given an overall grade ranging from D to A+.

7. Witch’s Pouch Moisturize Cover Cushion

Witch's Pouch Moisturize Cover Cushion

Visit Global Rakuten for more details

Price: $9.78

Was Kind of Cakey and Sticky… And the Case was Just a Bit Tacky

We weren’t pleased with how thick this foundation looked or how sticky it was to the touch; it also had a unique smell to it that was hit or miss. Honestly, when we applied too much, the fragrance was overwhelming. A few of us were also turned off by the cutesy pink packaging.

Finish D
Application D
Longevity D
Overall Score D

6. Etude House Any Cushion All Day Perfect

Etude House Any Cushion All Day Perfect

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Price: $21.96

Decent Range of 6 Colors, but We Weren’t Happy with Its Finish, How Short It Lasted, and How It Applied

This foundation comes in six shades–including vanilla, beige, and pure–not bad for an Asian cosmetics brand. However, it felt thick and tacky to the touch, and it wore off quickly, so it landed solidly at the bottom of the ranking.

Finish D
Application C
Longevity D
Overall Score D

5. Sweets-Sweets Marshmallow Cover Cushion

Sweets-Sweets Marshmallow Cover Cushion

Visit Global Rakuten for more details

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Price: $17.97

Has None of the Dewiness You’d Expect from Cushion Foundation

We appreciated that it had moisturizing ingredients like hyaluronic acid and ceramides–but it somehow still managed to be far too matte for our tastes. Also, it didn’t blend well into the skin, so it’ll most likely crease with time.

Finish B
Application C
Longevity C
Overall Score C

4. Missha M Cushion Foundation

Missha M Cushion Foundation

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Price: $9.98

Boasts a Natural and Vibrant Finish! That is, Depending on Your Skin Type

Missha’s cushion foundation put up a great fight during our longevity test. Furthermore, it leaves your skin vibrant and looking like skin. It’s got a nice dewy finish–and we’d say that as far as drugstore cosmetics go, this cushion is a good find.

However, Mutsuki warned us that, on certain skin types, this foundation could end up greasy or wearing off faster. If you can, look out for a tester first, especially if you have oily skin.

Finish B
Application B
Longevity A
Overall Score B

3. Time Secret Mineral Liquid Cushion Foundation

Time Secret Mineral Liquid Cushion Foundation

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Price: $17.97

A Drugstore Foundation, but Blended Well and Provided Great Coverage! Doesn’t Leave You with Porcelain Skin, Though

This cushion was affordable, but it blended so easily into our skin that even our experts were impressed.

It also had great coverage for a cushion foundation and evened out skin tone. On that note, however, it didn’t do much to give us translucent porcelain skin. It’s a good choice if all you’re looking to do is hide blemishes.

Finish A
Application A
Longevity C
Overall Score B

2. IOPE Air Cushion Cover

IOPE Air Cushion Cover

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Price: $29.94

A Wonderful Cushion that Makes Your Skin Glow and Blots out Blemishes

IOPE’s cushion foundation is meant to go on thin, so it spreads easily, doesn’t look cakey, and hugs your skin in just the right way. Just a bit goes a long way in covering up blemishes, pores, and wrinkles.

We also loved the sleek case. However, for some reason, we had to push pretty hard into the cushion to get any product out, so it was just the slightest bit annoying to use.

Finish A
Application A+
Longevity A
Overall Score A

1. shu uemura blanc:chroma Brightening UV Cushion Foundation

shu uemura blanc:chroma Brightening UV Cushion Foundation

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Price: $41.68

The One mybest is Obsessed with: shu uemura

First off, this one offers UV protection. The experts loved how it imparted a warm dewy glow onto our skin, and members from our editing department gave it two thumbs up.

Out of all the cushions we tested out this time, this one had the silkiest texture. The foundation was fluid and blended quickly into our skin.

Even though it felt light, it was long-wearing; even though the finish was natural, it went a long way in concealing our blemishes!

Finish A
Application A+
Longevity A+
Overall Score A+

How to Use Cushion Foundation

How to Use Cushion Foundation

Apply cushion foundation with brisk tapping motions. Don’t hit yourself, but if you use just a bit of force when applying, the foundation adheres more readily to your skin, which will help it last longer.

If you top everything off with a face powder, you’ll also save yourself a few touchups. Just remember that, to keep a dewy finish, you should be applying just a thin layer of powder.

Make Sure You Keep Your Sponges and Puffs Clean

Make Sure You Keep Your Sponges and Puffs Clean

If possible, you want to regularly switch out the puffs and sponges you use to apply cushion foundation. After all, these sponges are soaked through with cushion foundation–cushion foundation is a liquid, and liquid is breeding ground for all sorts of microorganisms.

In order to keep your puffs clean, you should wash them once a week and only use them after they’re completely dry. You can also keep a few spares as backup.

How About a Concealer to Go with That?

How About a Concealer to Go with That?

Suddenly sprouted a pimple and need a little extra coverage? (It happens.) We also tested top-selling Japanese and Korean concealers–check it out below.

Summary

We invited three experts, purchased the 7 most popular Japanese and Korean cushion foundations, and tested them all.

Cushion foundation is a must for hectic mornings. The next time you have a chance to take a breather and do some retail therapy, make sure you keep this guide in the back of your mind.

Original by Yukina Matsuda; Translation by Jasmine Li

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