Turns Out Cushion Foundation from the Drugstore Can Be Just as Good as the Expensive Stuff

I tried L'Oreal True Match Lumi Cushion, or as it's marketed here in Europe, Nude Magique Cushion. Here's what I thought.
Publish date:
May 18, 2016
drugstore beauty, foundation, drugstore foundation, cushion makeup, L'oreal

I personally love drugstore foundation, although I know it's something that doesn't work for everyone, particularly because of the ever-present shade-range problem. That said, I know people are always looking for drugstore recommendations. I've been using the new L'Oréal cushion compact for three weeks since I picked it up on holiday, and I wanted to give you guys my honest appraisal of this product.

This will probably be old news to a lot of you: Korean cushion compacts have been available for a while through various retailers, and Tynan talked about this very same foundation on xoJane back in January. But if you're in Europe like me, chances are you haven't seen a cushion compact in stores before!

As you can see below, the compact contains a thin "cushion" which is soaked in the foundation. The compact comes with a sponge applicator that you dab onto the cushion, and then onto your face.

Before we go on, I should mention that this foundation is marketed differently in the US and Europe. The version that Tynan reviewed is called True Match Lumi Cushion, while the one I've seen on the shelves in Germany and Ireland is called Nude Magique Cushion. The formulations are very similar with just a few differences, but I'll go into those later.

The packaging

There are pros and cons to the packaging and concept of this foundation. On one hand, I love the way it's designed. The compact is sturdy and light, with a good-sized mirror. I've been carrying it around all over the place — to the beach, out shopping, on a night out, and on several flights — and it does not leak at all. The label on top of the package has rubbed off a bit, but whatever.

However there's no getting away from the problem of the sponge. It's a fine sponge. But obviously, it's a sponge that just hangs out there, not getting washed between uses if you're taking it away with you.

Personally, it doesn't bother me; using the sponge with clean hands and not on any active breakouts or when I have a cold is precautionary enough for me. I haven't noticed that it has caused me to break out in the time that I have used it. I have washed the sponge several times but it never looks particularly clean.

The formula

The foundation feels thin with lots of slip and a cooling feeling when you apply it. One of the things that's interesting about this foundation was the SPF 29, which seems to have been achieved with a mixture of regular and nano titanium dioxide, a physical sunscreen. There is more research to be done on whether nanoparticals of titanium dioxide could be potentially harmful. (You can read a bit more about the subject in this paper.) For now, research seems to show that nanoparticals of titanium dioxide cannot penetrate the skin when applied topically like this.

It's not clear whether or not the US version has SPF, but most retailers don't seem to list it as a feature.

The application

The package actually comes with some instructions on the back. L'Oréal says you should tap the sponge for light coverage, and glide it for stronger coverage. I am a contrarian and do the exact opposite.

I start by gliding a thin layer all over. This stuff layers really well, so I tap the sponge repeatedly in the areas I need more coverage, such as my chin, nose, and redder parts of my cheeks.

Reappliaction as the day goes on is super easy — with the large mirror inside the compact you can see exactly where you need to top up, and the foundation never pills or gunks up when I add more.

The coverage

I took some pictures to show you exactly what the coverage looks like on my skin. Suffice to say it's a very lightweight foundation. I really loved the finish — just as it promises, really glowing and dewy. Day-to-day this is exactly the sort of coverage I'm looking for, especially as my freckles come out in the summer and I want to show them off.

If you have blemishes or scarring, this stuff will not cover them on the first pass. Sometimes I'll add a little bit of concealer where I need more coverage.

The wear

Obviously, this foundation is designed to be reapplied regularly, which is something I actually enjoy doing because using any kind of compact makes me feel fancy. But I wanted to spend a day in the same makeup and show you what it looks like after it fades.

I put the foundation on at around 10:30 a.m. Most of the day, I was at home working, and then in the afternoon I commuted into the city on my bike and back again — around an hour of cycling altogether.

I took the photo above and below at around 6 p.m. and as you can see, the foundation has pretty much disappeared, especially on my forehead, where admittedly, my bike helmet rubbed it off.

One thing I will say is that my skin is very dry normally, and that some supposedly long-wearing foundations fade very patchily on my face. The L'Oréal does not dry me out at all, as you can see from all that healthy shine (it's possibly a bit of sweat from my ride, too).

The price

This is on the very upper end for a drugstore-level foundation. I bought this on sale in Germany for around 10 euros, and then went to buy it again in Dublin and found that it costs 22 euros full-price. Given that my favorite Essence foundation costs 4 euros all year round, it's a bit steep! Still, the formula, packaging, and finish are all more high-tech than your average drugstore foundation. The US version is around $15.

Final thoughts

As much as I think I should probably dislike this product because of the price and the sponge, I've got to say that I really love it. I like light-coverage foundations with SPF because they suit my lifestyle. I'm outdoors a lot and I like to walk or cycle everywhere. On days when I'm being active, I don't want to wear a heavy foundation, because everyone hates those alarming flesh-colored drips that appear when you start to sweat.

I love being able to apply a little makeup without needing to bring liquid foundation with me wherever I go. I've also never found a foundation that promises dewy and actually delivers for my dry skin. I am definitely looking forward to the inevitable proliferation of these compacts in drugstore aisles!

  • What do you think of cushion compacts? Do they gross you out?
  • What's your favorite drugstore foundation?