Sulwhasoo Perfecting Cushion Brightening No. 17 Light Beige
Okay, I feel like this review is way overdue, considering I’ve been testing this cushion for the past few months and definitely formed an opinion by now. Sulwhasoo [pronounced suhl-ha-soo] cushion foundations are not as popular in the West as they are in Asia, but considering that Korean cushion foundations, in general, are basically the gold standard, I am happy to share my thoughts on this one in the hopes that it may help you decide whether you need it or not. After all, Sulwhasoo cushions are not exactly cheap, averaging around $60 per compact, so it makes sense to do some research first.
As with all things from this brand, Sulwhasoo Perfecting Cushion Brightening SPF50+ ($65) is not just a foundation. It currently comes in 7 shades and recommended for normal to oily skin types. Sulwhasoo describes it as providing medium to full coverage with “a flawlessly satin, soft matte finish”, and special reflective particles that will boost luminosity and radiance – both terms are definitely subjective.
The formula is infused with Magnolia extract and Licorice root extract that have been clinically proven to be beneficial to oilier skin types for their skin smoothing, antioxidant, antibacterial, and anti-inflammatory properties [source, source]. It also contains crushed pearl powder to give a soft glow to the skin and make it appear more even-toned by reflecting the light in a subtle and very flattering way. Other noteworthy ingredients that were not touted as superstars on the packaging include cell-communicating Adenosine, soothing Honey, brightening Arbutin, antibacterial Sacred lotus extract, humectants Glycerin and Sodium Hyaluronate, and a few additional antioxidant plant extracts at the bottom of the list. It also contains a mix of physical Zinc oxide and Titanium dioxide, and chemical Octinoxate sunscreens to offer maximum broad-spectrum sun protection SPF50+.
The full ingredient list was actually kind of hard to find, but I managed to find it on the Dailymed government website because anything that claims to be a sunscreen has to be registered as a drug in the US.
Ingredients: Water / Aqua / Eau, Cyclopentasiloxane, Phenyl Trimethicone, Titanium Dioxide (Ci 77891), Cyclohexasiloxane, Butylene Glycol, Butylene Glycol Dicaprylate/dicaprate, Lauryl Peg-9 Polydimethylsiloxyethyl Dimethicone, Cetyl Peg/ppg-10/1 Dimethicone, Dimethicone, Sodium Chloride, Sorbitan Isostearate, Acrylates/ethylhexyl Acrylate/dimethicone Methacrylate Copolymer, Aluminum Hydroxide, Mica, Iron Oxides (Ci 77492), Phenoxyethanol, Polysilicone-11, Polymethyl Methacrylate, Fragrance / Parfum, Stearic Acid, Glycyrrhiza Uralensis (Licorice) Root Extract, Disteardimonium Hectorite, Triethoxycaprylylsilane, Hdi/trimethylol Hexyllactone Crosspolymer, Caprylyl Glycol, Glycerin, Iron Oxides (Ci 77491), Ethylhexylglycerin, Alcohol, Disodium Edta, Adenosine, Iron Oxides (Ci 77499), Mother Of Pearl, Sodium Hyaluronate, Silica, Propanediol, 1,2-hexanediol, Panax Ginseng Root Extract, Lilium Tigrinum Flower/leaf/stem Extract, Magnolia Biondii Flower Extract, Nelumbo Nucifera Seed Extract, Paeonia Albiflora Root Extract, Polygonatum Officinale Rhizome/root Extract, Rehmannia Glutinosa Root Extract, Honey / Mel / Miel
MY SKIN PROFILE:
I’m 35+, with typical combination skin: an oily t-zone and slightly dry cheeks. My main concerns are hyperpigmentation from sun exposure, loss of firmness, and first signs of aging. My skin is fairly resilient and not prone to breakouts anymore, although it used to be pretty reactive.
Sulwhasoo Perfecting Cushion Brightening SPF50+ in the shade No.17 Light Beige. Take note of the undereye creasing.
WHAT I LIKE:
The finish. Despite the promised semi-matte, it’s more of a glowing satin that turns slightly dewy toward the end of the day as my combo skin produces some extra oil throughout the day. It definitely never gets to the point of looking greasy on me.
I also like that for $65 you are getting not one, but two full-sized foundations because each compact comes with a sealed refill that also includes a new round applicator as well.
Finally, I find the coverage absolutely gorgeous! It looks so natural on my skin that sometimes I can’t even tell if I applied the foundation or not.
WHAT I DON’T LIKE:
The foundation starts breaking up after 10-12 hours, which to be fair, is what was promised on the box. If you need it to stay put for more than 10-12 hours, you will definitely need to touch up at least once sometime during the day.
Another thing I wasn’t a fan of is the undereye creasing. The foundation always stays put in my nasolabial folds, around the nostrils, on the chin and forehead – basically all the places that are prone to creasing throughout the day. It works well everywhere, except for the undereye area where it creases horribly [you can probably see it in the photo above]. So now I either have to set the undereye area or avoid getting anywhere near it when I put on my foundation in the morning, and just use a regular concealer instead.
Then there’s an issue of inclusivity. I mean, 7 shades for an Asian foundation is considered a lot – many Korean brands that make products marketed for the Asian market have 2, maybe 3 tops. However, since the brand decided to expand into the Western market, they should have developed additional shades that are more inclusive for the consumers in this part of the world. Just my 2 cents.
Lastly, it transfers. Again, there was no promise that it wouldn’t, and if there’s anything I learned about Korean foundations, it’s that most of them aren’t self-setting, like we’re used to in the West. This one stays creamy on the skin throughout the day, sort of like a moisturizer, and will rub off easily if you touch your face.
I won’t lie, I’m a bit biased toward Sulwhasoo, because all of the products I tried so far worked really well for my skin. I started testing this cushion already expecting great results and felt extra bummed when those expectations weren’t met [even when the brand never promised those specific results]. Sulwhasoo Perfecting Cushion Brightening worked really well for my combination skin, in fact, it was my go-to foundation throughout this summer and early fall. It gives my skin the most natural dewy glow and medium coverage and stays put AM to PM. However, touchups were definitely in order if I had plans for the evening that day, and that’s something to keep in mind.
Objectively speaking, Sulwhasoo Perfecting Cushion Brightening didn’t totally deliver on the promise to give a matte or semi-matte finish. It always appears more dewy or radiant, at least on my combination skin, which I personally don’t mind. I don’t like how badly it creases on my undereye area, so now I just try to avoid getting the product anywhere near it when I apply my foundation in the morning.
Other than that, I found Sulwhasoo Perfecting Cushion Brightening a solid addition to my makeup routine. It’s been my go-to product for months and I plan to finish it completely, including the refill which by the way I still haven’t touched, so it definitely lasted me a long time.
Sulwhasoo Perfecting Cushion Brightening SPF50+ ($65) is available at luxury retailers like Beautylish, Nordstrom, and Neiman Marcus.
Have you used a cushion foundation before? Let me know in the comments below!