Viral Tirtir BB cushion with 30 shades and why is that important

It’s been a hot minute since I’ve written on here, so hi again!  I have come back out from hiding and am back to bring you some news.  If you haven’t been on the internet lately, specifically Tiktok, you may or may not know there is a ridiculously viral Korean BB cushion gaining speed in popularity right now.  And if you have been a long-time reader, you would know I used to (and maybe still am) a huge BB cushion fanatic and still own 50 BB cushions in my collection.  Naturally, I had to get my hands on it to try, which I posted an Instagram reel not too long ago if you want to check it out.

With all the hype going around, I wanted to dig deeper into the brand.  Is Tirtir a Korean or Japanese brand, who is the founder and what is their brand story.  Is the Tirtir red cushion really that good and do they have more versions to choose from?  And how is a Korean brand able to produce 30 shades while other bigger brands like Laneige only able to offer 8 shades even though they’ve been in the North American market for almost a decade, if not longer.  We’re going to dive into all of these topics and hopefully I can answer majority of the questions you might have.  Let’s go~

Who is Tirtir and what is their brand story?

I actually couldn’t find much information about the brand, nor were they able to give me the brand philosophy when I reached out. From what I could gather, Tir is an acronym for “Trust + In + Radiance”.

“Our mission is to help our customers find their own inner, healthy radiance, and we hope our products can help do so by bringing out the glow in everyone.”

Tirtir was founded in 2016/2017 by Korean beauty influencer Lee Yubin who was born in 1988 and graduated with a degree in clothing/ fashion.  She went on to launch a clothing shopping mall called “TheThat” in 2013 and operated for four years.  Other then that, there doesn’t seem to be information on the website either which is odd. I did find this article from the Korea Post dating back to 2021 and it highlighted how Lee Yubin received “$10 million export tower” award at the 57th Trade Day.

Picture from Korea Post article

Is Tirtir a Korean brand or Japanese brand?

There seems to be confusion around this topic, rightfully so though.  Tirtir is a Korean brand, however, the red cushion gained lots of popularity in Japan and even won first place Cosme award for the best cushion foundation in 2022 and 2023.  For those who don’t know, Cosme is Japan’s consumer cosmetic rating system which is based on consumer rating and not bought out by advertisers. 

A lot of times, Korean brands and even Western brands have Asia-specific products only sold in specific countries or regions.  In Tirtir’s case, this was exported to Japan and it gained such a cult following in Japan, which is now causing confusion for overseas folks now discovering this gem and thinking it is Japanese because of the Japanese hype it is already getting.

What is a BB cushion?  What is the difference between BB cushion and BB cream?

To understand what BB cushion is, we have to first understand what BB cream is.  BB cream is short for “blemish balm”, and was originally formulated back in 1960’s in Germany by dermatologist Dr. Christine Schrammek.  BB cream was formulated to help her patient’s protect their sensitive skin after facial peels or surgery.  It was then popularized in South Korea and was a smash hit during the early 2000’s, with brands like Skin79, Etude House, Missha and Skinfood fueling the popularity spreading across Asia.  Sadly back then, BB creams had an unfortunate grey undertone to them and also had 1 to 3 shades to choose from if you were lucky.  Shade selection was little to no choice and we all had to just suffer because they were comfortable on the skin and gave us decent coverage for every day.

In 2008, Amorepacific (Korea’s equivalent of Estee Lauder mother company housing many other brands) released a new product that was soaked in a special urethane foam and housed in what we now know as the cushion compact.  IOPE (an Amorepacific brand) introduced its air cushion sunblock in 2008, and than 2013 was when they released their iconic IOPE air cushion XP.  I remember those days vividly wanting to get my hands on it so bad that I did an internet trade with someone off of Reddit.  Those were the struggle days when online shopping was not as accessible as it is now.

Fast forward to the present day, almost all Western brands including drugstores and high-end luxury brands now have BB cushions in their product lineup.  The one thing that K-beauty has always struggled with is their shade selection.  Even for such a homogenous country as well as the neighboring countries, I remember visiting Korea and seeing so many women on the street walking around with unnaturally ghostly-looking faces.  I do understand it is a deep-rooted cultural thing where you’re considered more attractive if you have pale skin because back in the ancient days, those with darker skin technically was the working class who slaved away in the sun, working jobs like farming while the noblemen were inside being fed grapes and staying away from the sun.

Why is Tirtir 30 shades of BB cushion revolutionary and why it needs to be celebrated?

Those of you who have had experience trying to buy any type of base makeup from a Korean brand would know you always only had 2-3 shades to choose from, 5 if you are lucky and most likely you’ll find those 5 shades from a luxury brand.  Tirtir did start with only 3 shades to choose from like most Korean brands, however, Tiktok content creator @missdarcei who is a Canadian content creator, created a buzz on the Tirtir cushion when trying on their newly expanded 9 shade range, garnering 20 million views on that video.

She is known to try not only Western brands but Korean brands as well as, calling out the fact that no Korean brands carry her foundation shade.  One would say “well of course they don’t have her color, Korea/ Asia is such a homogenous country/ continent, why would they have a color suited for an African American/ Canadian descent?”  Most people and brands would just leave it alone, but Tirtir was smart and used that as constructive criticism. In a short frame of time of just 4 months, somehow Tirtir has been able to pull together 30 shades.  30 SHADES!!  The last time that has happened and made a splash in the beauty world was Fenty.  I’m not sitting here saying no other Western brands have 30 shades in their existing lineup of foundations, but for a Korean brand….. that’s unheard of.

So we went from these humble 3 shade beginnings, to……

Now 30 shades have released on June 5th of 2024.

In comparison to what Puritio’s cica clearing BB cream which offered a decent range of 6 shades, this now compared to Tirtir’s 30 shades is laughable.  I would say BB cream are suppose to be a “tinted moisturizer” type of product, so they are thinking it should somewhat blend into the skin thinly so shade range isn’t a huge problem.  I have seen people swatching and reviewing these.  I personally never jumped on reviewing these because they looked SO grey, it’s almost taking two steps forward and five steps back to early 2000’s.

Heimish also did what Purito did, offering 8 shades with their BB cream line.  The light range is pretty terrible and the medium to dark is alright??

Lastly, Laneige does have a slightly bigger shade range with their BB cushions and foundations, offering 15 shades.  I know they have this cool customizable foundation robot in Korea which you can custom-make your own foundation, but who is realistically going to fly to Korea just so they can get the perfect shade match.  The shade range goes up to 150 shades (don’t quote me, it is something crazy though), but couldn’t they spend that money to invest in expanding their North American shade range if they have been in the market for a decade now??  Laneige, surprisingly, doesn’t already have a huge range of shades readily in stores since their mother brand (Amorepacific) is the Korean equivalent of the Estee Lauder group in the east.

So what does this mean for the future?  With Tirtir’s smart and strategic move to produce 30 shades of foundation for a Korean brand, this now sets a higher standard for all other K-beauty brands.  I’m hoping this ideology will seep into Korea’s domestic market as well and offer the people at LEAST 10 shades to choose from.  For Korean brands marketed towards overseas markets like Beauty of Joseon, Purito, Cosrx, they will now have to step up to the plate and offer the people what they want.  If an “unknown” (unknown to the overseas market) brand like Tirtir can magically produce 30 shades and include a dark chocolate, melanin-friendly shade that isn’t BLACK (yes, I’m talking about you Youthforia), any other brand can do it too.  The people no longer will settle for less.

Which Tirtir cushion is best for dry skin, oily skin, normal skin?

For those who didn’t know, Tirtir has 5 versions of BB cushions. Tirtir mask fit red cushion is the most popular at the moment, offering 30 shades while the rest still has 3 shades to offer.  Which version is suited best for you?  Let me break it down:

Tirtir cushion for oily skin –> Tirtir mask fit cushion (black compact) for natural matte coverage
Tirtir cushion for oily skin –> Tirtir mask fit all-cover cushion (pink compact) for higher matte coverage than the black one
Tirtir cushion for normal to dry skin –> Tirtir mask fit aura cushion for light to medium coverage with a semi glow finish
Tirtir cushion for normal to dry skin –> Tirtir mask fit red cushion (red compact) for medium to a buildable high coverage
Tirtir for normal to dry skin –> Tirtir my glow cream cushion (white compact) for a light, dewy finish

I haven’t tried all the versions yet, so don’t quote me on my predictions on which cushion would be suitable for your skin type.  I’ve only tried the fit red cushion for the time being and it is a beautiful formula with very good coverage!  It doesn’t cling onto my dry patches, has a light natural glow and my skin looks truly flawless.  I didn’t get the right shade the first time, so now that I have four more shades to try, I’ll report back and see how it performs throughout the day.

Where can I buy Tirtir in Korea, Japan, USA?

For those of you visiting Korea, here are the two places you can find Tirtir’s store and products.  Both locations are located in Seoul, South Korea.  Specific products can be found in Olive Young, however most skincare and makeup products aren’t found offline.  Your best option is to visit Tirtir’s showroom.
Hapjeong (Hongdae) Branch: 5 Jandari-ro 3an-gil, Mapo-gu, Seoul 04043
Seongsu Branch: 21 Wangsimni-ro 6-gil, Seongdong-gu, Seoul 04778

As for those visiting Japan, you can find Tirtir products at these locations:
Cosme in Harajuku (1 Chome-14-27 Jingumae, Shibuya City, Tokyo 150-0001, Japan)
LOFT in Shibuya (21-1 Udagawacho, Shibuya City, Tokyo 150-0042, Japan)
Mega Don in Quijote in Shibuya (28-6 Udagawacho, Shibuya City, Tokyo 154-0042, Japan)

And for those who are living in North America, Tirtir can be found on Amazon US and Skincupid.

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In conclusion, I think Tirtir’s fast response to their virality is a true testimony of how their brand is going to grow in the future.  A responsive brand that puts its money where its mouth is truly deserves recognition, especially when we know how long it normally takes brands to produce just one brand.  It normally takes months, if not years!!  And to be able to somehow perfect the shade range, when even Western brands can’t seem to get darker shades right for years.  Like WHAT??  I’m excited to see what Tirtir has to offer and hopefully they can also fix their official website’s terrible loading speed LOL.

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