Lancome Miracle Cushion Foundation: Launched with guns blazing! (Source)
I had a bit of a "Whoa, Nelly!" moment at all the fanfare, because BB cushions and cushion foundations have been popular in Asia for awhile. And like all beauty products, it is very much a trend-based phenomenon, and more marketing gimmick that actual substantial formulation change. I've written previously about BB creams (and CC creams) and whether they justified the hype behind them, and also BB and CC cushions and whether the product was worth the hype as well, so I thought it would be interesting to take a similar ingredients analysis-based approach to Lancome's Miracle Cushion. (On a totally unrelated side note, I find it interesting that Lisa Eldridge - I absolutely admire her, by the way - is holding the cushion applicator puff the way you would a normal foundation sponge when applying traditional liquid foundation, rolled up in her hand. I've never seen anyone in Asia apply their cushions holding the applicator this way, because you could tear the thin applicator puff over time. Most people I've seen just press the puff flat to their face with tapping motions to blend, rather than roll or rub the applicator across the face.)
Lancome Miracle Cushion Foundation: Collaboration with Lisa Eldridge (Source)
I thought an interesting question to explore would be: From a formulation perspective, is the Lancome Miracle Cushion actually any different from the myriad of Korean BB cushions and cushion foundations we have here already? In fact, since BB cushions and CC cushions are really just souped up versions of BB creams and CC creams, are they even any different from your run-of-the-mill BB cream? Or, for that matter, a more traditional tinted moisturizer or foundation?
I thought this question was worth exploring, although I've already written about BB/CC Cushions before, because there is often a perception that Western BB creams/CC creams are somehow "inferior" to Asian BB and CC creams, although, as I've blogged before, from a formulation perspective, they're not significantly different. In fact, when I first blogged about BB creams and how they weren't really worth the hype a few years back, I got a bunch of feedback from some diehard BB cream fans saying that I was doing the analysis wrong, and that I needed to look at Asian BB creams because those were so much better than Western BB creams (nevermind that 1. I'm an Asian girl born, bred, and living in Asia, and 2. I looked at primarily Asian brand BB creams for that post). I guess what I'm trying to find out here is whether this perception of a Western BB/CC Cream/Cushion/Foundation is really justified by the ingredients, and since Lancome has just launched its Miracle Cushion, it seemed like the perfect time to compare a Western Cushion to several Asian ones, and see if there was really any difference!
Here we go again! Ingredients analysis time!
So, you know where that leads us to! That's right, a good ol' ingredients analysis. As usual, because the first few ingredients make up the bulk of the product by far, I'm going to take a look at the ingredients lists for BB and CC cushions that I've been able to find, and I'll concentrate my analysis on the first 15 ingredients, since those are the main ingredients in the product. I figure I'm already pretty generous because as the cosmetic chemist bloggers at The Beauty Brains note (isn't is super cool, cosmetic chemists actually blogging about skincare science? *fangirl swoon*), "the first 5 ingredients are the ones that matter the most. After the fifth ingredient everything else is probably below the 1% line". This is a similar approach to the one I took in my ingredients analysis of BB and CC creams, too.
The Product: Lancome Miracle Cushion
In order to begin our comparisons, we should first look at the ingredients list of the Lancome Miracle Cushion. I dug around and found it on none other than Asian Skincare Blog, one of the blogs I read and follow!
Lancome Miracle Cushion Foundation (Source)
Aqua, Methyl Trimethicone, Dimethicone, Ethylhexyl Methoxycinnamate, Ethylhexyl Salicylate, Glycerin, Butylene Glycol Dicaprylate/Dicaprate, Lauryl PEG-9 Polydimethylsiloxyethyl Dimethicone, Diphenylsiloxy Phenyl Trimethicone, Pentylene Glycol, Butylene Glycol, Trisiloxane, PEG-10 Dimethicone, Magnesium sulfate, Acrylates/Stearyl Acrylate/Dimethicone Methacrylate Copolymer, etc.
From a first glance, you can see the Lancome Miracle Cushion isn't all that different from a typical BB cream or BB cushion - it's got water, a bunch of silicones and polymers so the product feels nice on the skin (Methyl Trimethicone, Dimethicone, Trisiloxane, Lauryl PEG-9 Polydimethylsiloxyethyl Dimethicone, Diphenylsiloxy Phenyl Trimethicone, PEG-10 Dimethicone, Acrylates/Stearyl Acrylate/Dimethicone Methacrylate Copolymer), some of which may also provide some emollient effects to the product. There are also sunscreen filters (Ethylhexyl Methoxycinnamate, Ethylhexyl Salicylate), a bunch of emollients (Butylene Glycol Dicaprylate/Dicaprate), and some humectants (Glycerin, Butylene Glycol), and thickeners (Magnesium Sulfate). It will probably feel nice and lightweight on the skin, with the silicones and all, and for people who have never encountered cushions before (say if your only exposure to makeup has been via Western brands), then it's certainly unique, but it's not a particularly groundbreaking product, from a formulation perspective.
So how does it compare to other existing Asian brand cushion products? I've lined up 7 of them so we can take a look!
1. Espoir Face Slip Nude Cushion Dewy SPF50+ PA+++
Let's start off with Espoir's Face Slip Nude Cushion Dewy SPF50+ PA+++. This, as the name suggests, promises a dewy finish, with "30% coral water", whatever that is (to be fair, two of the minor ingredients are Hydrolyzed Coral and Coral Powder, so there you go). Well, let's see the main ingredients.
Espoir's Face Slip Nude Cushion Dewy SPF50+ PA+++ (Source)
Water, Zinc Oxide, Cyclopentasiloxane, Butylene Glycol, Titanium Dioxide, Ethylhexyl Methoxycinnamate, Phenyl Trimethicone, Cyclohexasiloxane, Cetyl PEG/PPG-10/1 Dimethicone, Cetyl Ethylhexanoate, Glycerin, Niacinamide, Dimethicone, Sorbitan Isostearate, Methyl Methacrylate Crosspolymer etc.
We can see the use of some of the same humectants (Butylene Glycol, Glycerin), UV filters (Ethylhexyl Methoxycinnamate), silicones and polymers (Phenyl Trimethicone, Dimethicone). The main difference is in the sunscreen filters used - while the Lancome version uses primarily Ethylhexyl Methoxycinnamate, the Espoir version also uses the physical filters Zinc Oxide and Titanium Dioxide. There are also some differences in terms of silicones and polymers used - for example, Cyclohexasiloxane, Cetyl PEG/PPG-10/1 Dimethicone and Methyl Methacrylate Crosspolymer appear in Espoir's version but not Lancome. I also like that there is Niacinamide in there, as it has some skincare benefits. But the gist of the formulation is fundamentally the same: water, sunscreen filters, some humectants and emollients, and a boatload of silicones and polymers.
So overall, while this is not a dupe for the Lancome Miracle Cushion, there are some similarities formula-wise between the Espoir Face Slip Nude Cushion Dewy and the Lancome one, which will probably translate into aesthetic qualities in the product (e.g. thickness, skinfeel, so on) rather than functional benefits, other than sunscreen.
2. Sulwhasoo Evenfair Perfecting Cushion
Sulwhasoo is kind of like Korea's answer to La Mer, in that it is very arbitrarily pricey, and also appeals to tradition and nature - while La Mer has sea kelp extract with a legendary formulation story, Sulwhasoo has Korean herbal medicine as its base. Despite the high price tag, people certainly haven't been hesitating to pay their prices - they have been steadily growing in popularity in this part of the world. So let's see if the ingredients actually justify the high price.
Sulwhasoo Evenfair Perfecting Cushion (Source)
WATER, TITANIUM DIOXIDE (CI 77891), CYCLOPENTASILOXANE, ZINC OXIDE (CI 77947), ETHYLHEXYL METHOXYCINNAMATE, PHENYL TRIMETHICONE, CYCLOHEXASILOXANE, PEG-10 DIMETHICONE, BUTYLENE GLYCOL, BUTYLENE GLYCOL DICAPRYLATE/DICAPRATE, ARBUTIN, LAURYL PEG-9 POLYDIMETHYLSILOXYETHYL DIMETHICONE, ACRYLATES/ETHYLHEXYL ACRYLATE/DIMETHICONE METHACRYLATE COPOLYMER, POLYHYDROXYSTEARIC ACID, SODIUM CHLORIDE, etc.
Despite the high price, there are already some similarities between Sulwhasoo's formula and Lancome's. There is the use of similar UV filters (ETHYLHEXYL METHOXYCINNAMATE), silicones and polymers (PHENYL TRIMETHICONE, LAURYL PEG-9 POLYDIMETHYLSILOXYETHYL DIMETHICONE, ACRYLATES/ETHYLHEXYL ACRYLATE/DIMETHICONE METHACRYLATE COPOLYMER, PEG-10 DIMETHICONE), humectants (BUTYLENE GLYCOL) and emollients (BUTYLENE GLYCOL DICAPRYLATE/DICAPRATE). Again, we see some minor differences, primarily in the silicones used (CYCLOPENTASILOXANE appears in Sulwhasoo's product but not Lancome's) and UV filters (again, Sulwhasoo has TITANIUM DIOXIDE and ZINC OXIDE in addition to ETHYLHEXYL METHOXYCINNAMATE. But between the Sulwhasoo cushion product and the Espoir product, I feel like the Sulwhasoo version is somewhat closer to Lancome's product than Espoir's.
Is the minor difference in formulation really worth the high price? My view is not really. But as we shall see, the formulation of cushion foundations/BB Cushions/CC Cushions don't differ very much from one to another. So past a certain point, you're really just paying for branding.
3. Etude House Precious Mineral Any Cushion
I've actually looked at the Etude House Precious Mineral Any Cushion before in my BB/CC Cushions comparison and analysis post, but it turns out this was worth revisiting now that we're comparing it to the Lancome Miracle Cushion.
Etude House Precious Mineral Any Cushion (Source)
WATER, CYCLOPENTASILOXANE, ZINC OXIDE (CI 77947), TITANIUM DIOXIDE (CI 77891), ETHYLHEXYL METHOXYCINNAMATE, METHYL TRIMETHICONE, DICAPRYLYL CARBONATE, CYCLOHEXASILOXANE, CETYL PEG/PPG- 10/1 DIMETHICONE, BUTYLENE GLYCOL, NIACINAMIDE, ACRYLATES/ETHYLHEXYL ACRYLATE/DIMETHICONE METHACRYLATE COPOLYMER, METHYL METHACRYLATE CROSSPOLYMER, SORBITAN ISOSTEARATE, VINYL DIMETHICONE/METHICONE SILSESQUIOXANE CROSSPOLYMER, etc.
Here we see some similarities in the UV filters (ETHYLHEXYL METHOXYCINNAMATE), silicones and polymers (METHYL TRIMETHICONE, ACRYLATES/ETHYLHEXYL ACRYLATE/DIMETHICONE METHACRYLATE COPOLYMER, PEG-10 DIMETHICONE), humectants (BUTYLENE GLYCOL). The main differences are again, in the UV filters, where Etude House also includes ZINC OXIDE and TITANIUM DIOXIDE, as well as slight tweaking to the polymers and silicones to give a slightly different feel on the skin - for example VINYL DIMETHICONE/METHICONE SILSESQUIOXANE CROSSPOLYMER, CYCLOPENTASILOXANE and CYCLOHEXASILOXANE appear in Etude House's version as well. There is also NIACINAMIDE, which Lancome's version doesn't have. So again, the main differences are in the silicones and polymers, which may lead to the product feeling somewhat different on the skin, but still fundamentally providing the same function.
4. Laneige BB Cushion Anti-Aging BB SPF50+ PA+++
Laneige is perhaps one of the Korean brands that has really acheived a certain level of penetration into the West - it seems like most people who take a cursory interest in Asian beauty would have heard about the brand in some form or another. At one point, everyone was really raving about their BB cushion, and Laneige has since expanded their BB cushion range to include BB cushions for dewy finish, matte finish, anti-aging claims, and so on. Good ol' capitalism - what's not to like?
Laneige BB Cushion Anti-Aging BB SPF50+ PA+++ (Source)
Water, Zinc Oxide, Cyclopentasiloxane, Titanium Dioxide, Ethylhexyl Methoxycinnamate, Phenyl Trimethicone, Cyclohexasiloxane, PEG-10 Dimethicone, Butylene Glycol Dicaprylate/Dicaprate, Glycerin, Lauryl PEG-9 Polydimethylsiloxyethyl Dimethicone, Arbutin, Butylene Glycol, Polymethyl Methacrylate, Acrylates/Ethylhexyl Acrylate/Dimethicone Methacrylate Copolymer, etc.
Again, we see a similar pattern emerging - same UV filters (Ethylhexyl Methoxycinnamate), same silicones and polymers (Phenyl Trimethicone, PEG-10 Dimethicone, Acrylates/Ethylhexyl Acrylate/Dimethicone Methacrylate Copolymer, Lauryl PEG-9 Polydimethylsiloxyethyl Dimethicone), same humectants (Butylene Glycol, same emollients (Butylene Glycol Dicaprylate/Dicaprate). Again the differences are mainly in the UV filters (once again, Laneige has Zinc Oxide and Titanium Dioxide in addition to Ethylhexyl Methoxycinnamate), and some slight differences in terms of choice of silicones and polymers (Cyclohexasiloxane, Polymethyl Methacrylate). But again, sun protection aside, this is pretty close to the Lancome Miracle Cushion. I imagine the Laneige Cushion as well as the Sulwhasoo cushion would be the most similar to the Lancome Miracle Cushion, from a formulation perspective.
5. Laneige BB Cushion SPF50+ PA+++
Let's try another Laneige Cushion, shall we? This is apparently an updated version of the original formula (which I've looked at in my previous blogpost on BB/CC cushion ingredients analysis). I think I'll let the copy from the Laneige HK website speak for itself: "LANEIGE Advanced BB CUSHION is a global hit with outstanding 1 million global sales performance of selling one piece every 10 seconds. Advanced BB CUSHION offers 6 benefits including Easy Application, Moisturizing Effect, Natural Improved Coverage, Water Resistant, Brightening Effect and UV Protection, for a perfect and natural-looking nude makeup that lasts for 12 hours!"
Laneige BB Cushion SPF50+ PA+++(Source)
Water, Cyclopentasiloxane, Zinc Oxide, Titanium Dioxide, Ethylhexyl Methoxycinnamate, Cyclohexasiloxane, Phenyl Trimethicone, Butylene Glycol Dicaprylate/Dicaprate, PEG-10 Dimethicone, Lauryl PEG-9 Polydimethylsiloxyethyl Dimethicone, Arbutin, Butylene Glycol, Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract, Yeast Extract, Manganese Sulfate, etc.
New and updated, eh? Well it's definitely not exactly 100% the same formula as the original BB cushion, but here the "advanced" really refers more to incremental advancement than disruptive new formulation, with the same formula of "lots of silicones & polymers + sunscreen filters + humectants + emolllients". And this is also quite similar to Lancome's Miracle Cushion, formula-wise - there are the same silicones and polymers (Phenyl Trimethicone, PEG-10 Dimethicone, Lauryl PEG-9 Polydimethylsiloxyethyl Dimethicone), humectants (Butylene Glycol), emollients (Butylene Glycol Dicaprylate/Dicaprate), and sunscreen filters (Ethylhexyl Methoxycinnamate). Again, minor differences are in the choice of UV filters (seems like Lancome didn't add Zinc Oxide or Titanium Dioxide in significantly high amounts), and also some tweaking of silicones and polymers (again, Cyclohexasiloxane is high up on the Laneige ingredient's list, but not on Lancome's). The Laneige version also has Arbutin, a fairly common whitening ingredient, as well as some plant and other extracts, Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract and Yeast Extract.
Other than the difference in sunscreen filters, I imagine the differences between the two to be cosmetic rather than functional - one may feel thicker or thinner than the other, but otherwise, they are pretty similar.
6. AmorePacific Color Control Cushion Compact Broad Spectrum SPF 50+
AmorePacific is actually the parent company of Laneige, Etude House, IOPE, and a number of other brands. So it's not too surprising that there are some similarities in formulas across all three brands. This particular formulation also made an appearance in my previous blogpost on BB/CC cushions too!
AmorePacific Color Control Cushion Compact Broad Spectrum SPF 50+ (Source)
Ethylhexyl Methoxycinnamate: 7%, Titanium Dioxide: 4.15%, Zinc Oxide: 9.8%
Main inactive ingredients:
Phyllostachis Bambusoides Juice, Cyclopentasiloxane, Cyclohexasiloxane, Peg-10 Dimethicone, Phenyl Trimethicone, Butylene Glycol, Butylene Glycol Dicaprylate/Dicaprate, Alcohol, Arbutin, Lauryl Peg-9 Polydimethylsiloxyethyl Dimethicone, Acrylates/Ethylhexyl Acrylate/Dimethicone Methacrylate Copolymer, Polyhydroxystearic Acid, Sodium Chloride, Polymethyl Methacrylate, Aluminium Hydroxide, etc.
And, here we go again. Same silicones and polymers (Peg-10 Dimethicone, Phenyl Trimethicone, Lauryl Peg-9 Polydimethylsiloxyethyl Dimethicone, Acrylates/Ethylhexyl Acrylate/Dimethicone Methacrylate Copolymer), same humectants (Butylene Glycol), same emollients (Butylene Glycol Dicaprylate/Dicaprate), and some similar UV filters (Ethylhexyl Methoxycinnamate). The main difference is that instead of "Water/Aqua" being the main ingredient, AmorePacific has listed "Phyllostachis Bambusoides Juice" as the main ingredient (i.e. water with some plant extracts mixed inside), and also, the formula has Alcohol in the list. Some of the polymers and silicones are also different, such as the inclusion of Cyclopentasiloxane and Cyclohexasiloxane, but, again, this general formula isn't anything we haven't seen before.
7. IOPE Air Cushion Sunblock EX SPF50+/PA+++
Last one! IOPE was apparently the first brand ever to put out a cushion product, and the first to start the trend. So if we see any similarities in formulation, we shouldn't be too surprised.
IOPE Air Cushion Sunblock EX SPF50+/PA+++ (Source)
WATER, CYCLOPENTASILOXANE, ZINC OXIDE, TITANIUM DIOXIDE, ETHYLHEXYL METHOXYCINNAMATE, PEG-10 DIMETHICONE, PHENYL TRIMETHICONE, BUTYLENE GLYCOL DICAPRYLATE/DICAPRATE, LAURYL PEG-9 POLYDIMETHYLSILOXY-ETHYL DIMETHICONE, ARBUTIN, BUTYLENE GLYCOL, MINERAL WATER, LIPASE, CHITOSAN, ACRYLATES/ETHYLHEXYL ACRYLATE/DIMETHICONE METHACRYLATE COPOLYMER, SODIUM CHLORIDE, etc.
And, sure enough, there are some similarities in the usual ways. Similar sunscreen filters (ETHYLHEXYL METHOXYCINNAMATE), similar silicones and polymers (PEG-10 DIMETHICONE, PHENYL TRIMETHICONE, LAURYL PEG-9 POLYDIMETHYLSILOXY-ETHYL DIMETHICONE, ACRYLATES/ETHYLHEXYL ACRYLATE/DIMETHICONE METHACRYLATE COPOLYMER), similar humectants (BUTYLENE GLYCOL), and similar emollients (BUTYLENE GLYCOL DICAPRYLATE/DICAPRATE). Here the differences are mainly due to some of the sunscreen filters (again, ZINC OXIDE and TITANIUM DIOXIDE), and a few silicones and polymers (CYCLOPENTASILOXANE), as well as some of the skincare ingredients (CHITOSAN, which is a water-binding agent). And again, the differences aren't that great. The two products are probably fairly similar.
No better way to end off by revisiting our most pertinent questions - how unique is the Lancome Miracle Cushion? Are the existing Korean brand products similar to it? And, should I spend my money on it?
How unique is the Lancome Miracle Cushion? Are the existing Korean beauty cushions similar?
There isn't a 100% direct dupe for the Lancome Miracle Cushion, because there are some key differences, namely:
1. The Lancome Miracle Cushion relies primarily on Ethylhexyl Methoxycinnamate for UV protection, but the Korean brands tend to also use Zinc Oxide and Titanium Dioxide as well.
I know most people may not care too much about the sun protection in makeup items, but if you are going to use this for sun protection, then my opinion is that it's always better to have physical filters in addition to chemical ones, because some of the chemical filters can degrade over time. In particular, the two that are used in Lancome's Miracle Cushion, Ethylhexyl Methoxycinnamate and Ethylhexyl Salicylate, do degrade over time, so the sun protection afforded by the product decreases over time as well. Physical filters (like Titanium Dioxide and Zinc Oxide) aren't as prone to this type of degradation, which is why I personally like a formula that is stable, and has some physical filters in there. I could go on more about sunscreen, but much of what I would say has already been covered in my sunscreen tips post from sometime back, so I won't belabour the point.
2. Most Korean beauty brands seem to have Cyclohexasiloxane and Cyclopentasiloxane fairly high up in the ingredients list, but these are not in the first 15 ingredients for Lancome's Miracle Cushion Foundation.
Cyclohexasiloxane and Cyclopentasiloxane are volatile silicones, which means that they evaporate into the air pretty quickly upon application, and don't leave any residue behind. As a result, they are often used as dilutents or carriers of some sort, in foundations, primers, eyeliners, hair products and so on. Their function is basically to spread the product out on the skin, and then they quickly evaporate, leaving the rest of the product behind. In products like foundations and primers, you will feel that the product is silky to the touch and "dries down" pretty fast, while in things like eyeliners (like the Benefit They're Real! Push Up Liner), their evaporation allows the product to "set" and dry very quickly. So Lancome hasn't included these, which means that from a sensory perspective, the Miracle Cushion may not seem to "dry" or "set" as fast as some of the other Korean brands. But this is more of an aesthetic difference than a functional one.
Lancome Miracle Cushion Foundation: Made in Korea by Cosmax (Source)
So that being said, while there are some differences between Lancome's Miracle Cushion Foundation and existing Korean cushions, are they still by and large very similar? I'd say yes. They all use the same general formula, which you know well by now (water, silicones, polymers, sunscreen filters, some humectants, some emollients), and while they may not feel exactly the same or provide the same coverage as the Lancome Miracle Cushion, you can bet the don't differ all that much either. In fact, one of the blog I read (and I love!), Asian Skincare Blog, found out that Lancome's Miracle Cusion was actually made in Korea, and made by CosMax, a contract manufacturer that also manufactures for a number of other Korean brands, including Etude House, Tony Moly, Too Cool for School, Clio, and others. So while the brand may be Western, leading people to think it is somehow different from the Korean cushions, the truth is, it's pretty darn similar, right down to the factories it is made in. So much for those ads proclaiming the "new technology inside".
So, should I buy the Lancome Miracle Cushion or not?
At this point, you can probably guess whether you would like the Lancome Miracle Cushion or not. If you've tried other Korean brand BB or CC cushions and have liked them, then chances are, you will like the Lancome Miracle Cushion as well. If you've tried the Korean cushions before and disliked them, I doubt this is going to change your mind. It will probably function pretty much the same way as other cushions function - to give you a nice, lightweight, but even application with a polyurethane puff applicator. That aside, if you have sensitivities to silicones, or to certain sunscreen filters like Ethylhexyl Methoxycinnamate, then you probably wouldn't like the Lancome Miracle Cushion, either. On the bright side, if you've been an avid user of some of the pricier BB cushions (like Sulwhasoo's), and you're looking for cheaper options, now you know which are the more similarly-formulated products, in addition to Lancome's version.
TL;DR, the Lancome Miracle Cushion may be new to the West, but it is very similar to existing Korean cushion products
In summary, I guess that's really all there is to it. Whether or not you think it is worth shelling out for the Lancome version of the Korean BB cushions is up to you, but for those who are wondering if this is really any different from the Korean BB cushions, I'd say the differences are pretty minor. I hope this post helps you to make an informed choice when considering your next cushion purchase, be it the Lancome Miracle Cushion, or another cushion product!