And basically, that could be the end of this review, because you already know everything you need to know about the brand new Shu Uemura Blanc:Chroma Brightening UV SPF50+ PA+++ cushion foundation. Or perhaps blanc:chroma, as it says on the package.
The oil was a freebie.
Paid and sponsored shills will tell you how great this Blanc:Chroma (a.k.a. blanc:chroma) is.
Luckily for you, I'm neither paid nor sponsored.
And luckily for you, I am actually a huge Shu Uemura fan girl (and an Utowa fan girl, too, if any Shu folks are reading this). Because I have this giant soft spot in my heart for all things Shu, I'll go as easy in this review as humanely possible.
So, let's be gentle now and say it as kindly as possible - this cushion is absolute shit. Rubbish. Garbage.
And trust me, that's a huge, fat understatement. Actually, I didn't think it was even possible, but it's a step down from the Lancome Miracle Cushion ver 1.0 (a.k.a. Lancome Blanc Expert, as it was called in Asia, ver 1.0).
At least those cushions were, you know... cushions.
But let's start at the beginning...
Rumors about a Shu Uemura cushion foundation had been going on for over a year. And despite Shu being, just like Lancome, a L'Oreal brand (and we all know how those cushions ended up), I was excited like a chihuahua high on Red Bull and acid when the actual release date was announced.
On Friday, February 26th, I got in the car and drove through the woods on winding mountain roads to the only Shu counter on the outer reaches of northern Kanto. I even managed to find a parking space close to the entrance to the mall. I took it as a good omen.
The Shu Uemura counter was moderately crowded, which gave me time to saunter over to Dior to play with their new cushion foundation, incidentally, released on the same day (more about it later). It's raining cushions, you people! A few years too late, but losers can't be choosers.
Back over at the Shu place, a friendly SA didn't even bat an eye when I asked to swatch ALL the available blanc:chroma cushion foundation shades. The closest, though still far from ideal, match for me turned out to be number 584 (fair sand).
And so with my Shu Uemura members' card in hand, I asked for a set. Because you see, as always in Japan, this kind of shit is sold here piecemeal. You buy everything separately - a case, a refill, and because Shu Uemura brought it to a new low - an applicator puff. A heartfelt f*ck you to whoever thought of this idea. The SA wanted to assemble my new cushion, but once I showed her the cushions in my purse (had an Iope and an AP cushion with me that day), she decided that I was suitably experienced to take my new Shu Uemura cushion home still all wrapped up, shiny and new.
If this is the first time you are hearing about cushion foundations, please click on the "cushion foundation" tab in the top menu and start there.
Basically, it's a sponge saturated in foundation and housed in a special compact. You press on the sponge with an applicator and pat it gently onto your face. This method of application is what makes cushion foundations so popular and trendy, because it creates a flawless, photoshopped look.
OK, back to Shu Uemura blanc:chroma brightening UV cushion foundation.
So, what do we have here?
Purple (lilac? violet?) boxes.
Inside there is an ever so slightly off-white purplish cushion compact.
The foundation is labeled as SPF 50+/PA+++, but please for the love of everything that is dear, do not rely on makeup as your sole source of UV protection. Don't listen to people who tell you that makeup with SPF is enough, that you don't need a separate sunblock/ sunscreen. They are blabbering idiots.
Shu says that it's a high cover foundation (think a crappy version of Estee Lauder Double Wear - I say that, not Shu, of course) that is supposed to brighten, have superior staying power, feel invisible on the skin and offer a flawless finish. Basically, your standard base makeup promises.
I can't be arsed to retype the PR bullshit, so here it is from the website verbatim:
And some more:
Screenshots taken from Shu Uemura's Malaysian website (because it's in English).
You can read all the PR spin here - click.
The compact case is identical to the Lancome cushion case, and they are mutually interchangeable. That means that a Shu refill will also fit into a Banila Co and A-True cushion cases.
Now, the question is whether or not you'd want to fit that refill anywhere other than a trash can... We shall see...
There is no leaflet in the box. That actually made me happy. Because it's eco-friendly. But that actually made me unhappy. Because if I am going to pay that much money for something, it better have all the bells and whistles, or paper leaflets, of a high-end brand.
Here, all relevant information is printed on the box.
The shade number is printed on the box only, but not on the foil packaging. Very confusing. And very cheap. And not nice at all. Imagine you have two different refills out of their boxes. You're shit out of luck.
You gotta open the refill packet to make sure you got the right color.
Refills are pretty standard 13 grams. Nothing special here.
And finally here you have the color number. It matches what's printed on the box. Hallelujah!
As you can see, this cushion is made in Korea.
The refill was a ridiculously tight fit into the compact. I don't know if all of them are like that, but mine was. Oddly enough, it fit into the Lancome compact quite easily. That leads me to believe that Shu compacts might run a bit tight indeed. Or are simply shoddily made. Somehow it wouldn't surprise me.
And here it gets all funky.
First, the puff.
Holymotherofbatman! What is it?
It's a normal pressed powder puff. A fuzzy little thing.
It's not a cushion puff!!!
I tried using this... this... thing to apply the foundation, and with absolutely zero surprise to no one, it didn't really work. The SA must have known it as well, because they didn't even bother with this abomination and used good ole triangle sponges.
The ironic thing is that one of the expert Shu people (Yuji Asano, international chief make-up artist / product designer) says this:
“I wanted to create an application puff which delivers visible coverage and beautiful natural radiance that are achievable for every woman effortlessly and without special technique.”
Yuji darling, you say you created a powder puff? Really? You mean, you got the brilliant idea to make it light purple perhaps?
Sweetcheeks, if fuzzy powder puffs were so awesome for cushions and natural radiance, then the good folks over at Amore Pacific (who invented the damn cushion thing in the first place) would be falling over each other to stick fuzzy powder puffs into their award winning cushion pacts.
Dear Yuji, you can spin it any way you want, but it's still a turd. Using this puff you will not achieve a "cushion" effect on your face.
I tossed it into my makeup drawer (briefly considered giving it to my cat to play with) and replaced it with a Rubycell puff (bought a bunch of those way back).
So, with the puff out of the way, we can finally open the refill lid.
Holymotherofbatman! What is this thing?
There is no sticker protecting the "cushion" surface. The "cushion" surface is white. The foundation sits deep in the bowels of the refill pot. Reminded me of a brand new A-True cushion. They also used to come out white. But, but... A-True was an actual cushion.
This thing here? Not so much.
The surface of the whatever-it-is is protected by a net.
You can see it better once you press on it to dispense some foundation.
The new Lancome cover type cushion, the one with SPF 50+ is also a net-type cushion.
What's under that net? Hmmm... Inquiring minds want to know.
With a box cutter I gently pried the net from under the refill's rim. I had to know what was in there. As a kid I used to saw AA batteries in half to see what was inside. I guess I never quite grew out of that phase of my life.
So, there it is. The innards of Shu Uemura blanc:chroma brightening UV cushion.
There is no sponge inside. Just this glass wool-like material that made me think of wall insulation.
As a cost-cutting measure it was a brilliant move. Why invest in a high quality sponge (I guess I wasn't the only one who complained about the too porous Lancome cushion sponges, better fit for moistening stamps at the post office than for use in a cushion compact), if you can get rid of the sponge altogether? Winning!!!
I was able to push the netting back under the edge of the refill, so the cushion remained usable.
I dug around the net a bit and saw that Shu claims that this "new innovative cushion mechanism" (a.k.a. this wall filler thingy) is called "non-woven fiber matrix".
Non-woven fiber matrix is a fancy name for fiberglass. Fiberglass is a fancy name for... yep, you guessed it, glass wool!
I'm a f*cking genius! I know my wall insulation like a proper architect's daughter that I am.
Interested in the ingredients? Here they are (printed on the box).
Shu Uemura blanc:chroma brightening UV cushion foundation ingredients:
Denatured alcohol as the fourth ingredient. Wow! I'm impressed. It takes a special talent to release a product so mediocre and charge this kind of money for it.
And yes, I know, it takes a special kind of dumb to actually buy it. Guilty as charged.
Shu Uemura blanc:chroma brightening UV cushion comes in 6 shades.
Colors starting with "7" are yellow-toned. Colors starting with "5" are pink-toned.
Here, I swatched all of them for you, because I'm awesome like that.
Artificial light, no filters applied.
Number 764 is listed as "standard shade" on Shu's website.
I bought number 584 (a.k.a. fair sand). It looks very light next to other Shu Uemura blanc:chroma cushion shades. But, but...
Here is how it swatched next to Iope N21 cushion and MAC NW10 and NC15.
And here they are all blended:
Despite the less than ideal color, I decided to give this cushion a chance.
I wore it for 9 days. I was planning 2 weeks, but my skin needs a break. So I am going to stop now.
- - pretty heavy cover
- - this stuff is virtually waterproof! The SA tried to remove the store swatches using one of Shu oils and a makeup remover. That night I took a bath. The next morning I took a shower. There were STILL remnants of the swatches on my arm.
- - the formula is very drying. Let me repeat it - very drying.
- - because the formula is very drying, it is not suitable for dry skin.
- - it doesn't visibly oxidize, the color stays true through the day.
- - it lasts, and lasts, and lasts.
- - it emphasized fine lines, pores and dry patches.
- - it needed to be used with a primer.
- - it kills the thin and sensitive skin under the eyes.
- - ugh
- - it breaks me out. Not huge big zits, but rather closed comedones everywhere. An explosion of closed comedones. My skin was smooth and fine in the morning and covered in small white bumps in the evening.
- - no dewy effect
- - no glow
- - just a normal nearly matte finish.
- - the applicator that came with the cushion is a joke.
Unedited photo, natural light.
- KohGenDo base (pearl)
- Shu Uemura blanc:chroma brightening UV cushion in 584
- KohGenDo Illuminator (white)
- Anna Sui highlighter
- Majolica Majorca cream de cheek blush (coral cream)
- Shu Uemura drawing crayons (orange and lilac)
- Shu Uemura drawing pencils (gold and brown)
- Dior It-Lash mascara
- Shu Uemura Lip Lacquer in BG02 and CR01
I can only get away with this cushion while wearing a turtleneck.
Because of the cover you can't really see the comedones on my forehead, but they are there, trust me.
Who would be happy with this cushion?
Hmmm... someone who needs more cover than what Korean cushions can provide. Someone who doesn't like dewy. Someone who doesn't have dry skin and a lot of wrinkles. Someone who is not sensitive to alcohol.
In other words - this is a very western foundation packed into a quasi-cushion form.
I should have sat this one out. That'll teach me.
- refill - 4200 yen plus tax
- case - 1300 yen plus tax
- puff (yes, they charge you extra for this piece of shit puff) - 500 yen plus tax
From now on, I'll stick to Shu Uemura point makeup. Now, that stuff is definitely worth buying.