Have you heard of cushion foundations? This stealth beauty trend hails from South Korea, the birthplace of so many amazing beauty trends (ombre lips, glass skin, essences…the list goes on). There’s a ton of brands offering these, from Korean brand Amorepacific to global giant Lancome.

When it comes to new trends, I don’t like to splurge on the most expensive options. What if I don’t like it? I’m particularly fussy about foundations and wasn’t ready to spend a lot of money on something that might not work for me.

So I was quite happy to see two drugstore dandies pop up at my local Ulta – Maybelline Dream Cushion Foundation and L’Oreal Lumi Cushion Foundation.

I bought both of them around the same time last fall and have been using them regularly for about 6 months. After time to reflect on the pros and cons of each, I thought I’d share my thoughts.

Cushion Foundation Showdown

What the heck is a “cushion foundation?”

First off…in case you’re unfamiliar with cushion foundations, here’s the scoop. It’s basically a sheer liquid foundation housed in a portable compact with a “cushion-like” sponge to keep the liquid from leaking out.

Right off the bat – yes, it’s way easier to travel with than your typical liquid foundation. So there’s pro #1.

Secondly, the cushion delivery system keeps you from accidentally pouring out waaaay too much foundation and ending up with cake face. It’s actually really difficult to use too much of this, which forces you to apply your foundation in thin, sheer layers. The way god and makeup artist Lisa Eldridge intended. Pro #2.

You might be wondering how sanitary that little cushion is after a few months of using it. I’ve wondered that too. The good news is that most of these compacts are airtight, keeping bacteria and other nasties out. I understand that many of the Korean versions have antimicrobial sponges but I couldn’t find any information from Maybelline or L’Oreal on their sponges.

Quick Note: I actually apply these with a beauty blender and clean my beauty blender every 2 weeks. Also, I only apply this in the morning on freshly cleansed skin so the likelihood of contamination is probably pretty low. Plus, you go through these little compacts pretty quickly. Mine are both almost gone so I’d guess with daily use, you’d probably run out in about 4 months.

Cushion Foundation SHOWDOWN
Maybelline Dream Cushion L’Oreal Lumi Cushion
Coverage  Sheer but buildable to light  Sheer but buildable to light
Finish  Satin  Glowy
Longevity  4  4
Packaging  4  4.5
Price  $15.99  $16.99
Shade Range 3 5
Coverage + Finish

Both of these foundations are really sheer but can be built up to a light coverage. Maybe if you use a flat foundation brush you can build it up to medium but it would require so much product that I would advise against that. Basically, don’t buy these unless you’re down for super sheer coverage.

Finish-wise, I find the L’Oreal compact, (true to its name), has a slightly dewier finish than the Maybelline one. If you have oily skin or live in a humid climate, I’d recommend the Maybelline one first. Likewise, if you have dry skin and want a luminous finish, try the L’Oreal one.


Both of these foundations have similar wear-time on me. Unless you’re dealing with code red heat and humidity, these foundations will last you for about 6 hours. If you finish with a little bit of powder, they can last closer to 8.

Because they’re so sheer, it’s actually sort of hard to tell when it’s fading. I like to use these with my Nars Radiant Creamy Concealer on any spots that need extra concealing and some MAC Mineralized Skinfinish Natural powder on my t-zone.


The packaging is pretty identical but I personally prefer the design of the L’Oreal compact. The rose gold makes it feel slightly more lux than the Maybelline white finish.

Cushion Foundation Packaging

Cushion Foundation Packaging

Shade Range

Maybelline loses a few points on this one. L’Oreal’s Lumi Cushion has 16 shades in the same range as their “True Match” line. Maybelline offers half that with only 8 shades. That being said, these are drugstore foundations so I wasn’t able to swatch.

Because these are so sheer, there’s probaby a bit of wiggle room when it comes to shade matching. I find that an exact shade match is more crucial for concealers or fuller coverage foundations.

The two shades I purchased (N2 in L’Oreal and 10 Porcelain in Maybelline) both seem to match me well. For reference, I’m an NW20 in MAC.

The Gist

Overall, I’m a huge fan of cushion foundation. “Cake-face” is my #1 makeup pet peeve and I have a tricky skin type that makes most foundations look patchy. These cushion compacts are so sheer and goofproof that I end up with perfect glowy coverage every single day.

Which one you should purchase comes down to preference and shade match. There’s only a $1 price difference and they’re both pretty inexpensive compared to Sephora prices.

If you have dry skin and/or prefer a luminous finish, go for the L’Oreal one. Otherwise, the Maybelline one will do you just fine.

Happy cushioning!