What is BB cream? It is an all-in-one beauty product. BB stands for beauty balm or blemish balm. This multi-tasking hybrid of skin care and makeup reportedly does the job of 6 other products: skin treatment, moisturizer, sunscreen, primer, concealer, and foundation.
Many BB creams contain broad-spectrum SPF 30 or higher, which is the daily use recommended by the American Academy of Dermatology. BB creams tend to contain zinc oxide or titanium oxide, which provide water-resistant sunblock.
Regarding skin treatment, BB creams can contain:
- Anti-aging components (eg: peptides & antioxidants such as vitamins A, C, & E)
- Moisturizing components (eg: hyaluronic acid & glycerin)
- Ingredients to help even out skin tone (eg: licorice & arbutin)
- Light-reflecting particles to give skin a luminous finish (eg: mica)
- Silicone-based ingredients to help smooth the skin, like a foundation primer (eg: dimethicone)
Where Has BB Cream Been All My Life?
German dermatologist Dr. Christine Schrammek developed the first BB cream in the 1960s in order to help protect her patients’ skin after undergoing surgical procedures. It was further developed by Korean cosmetic companies in the 1980’s. In 1985, BB cream was introduced to South Korea and Japan, where porcelain skin is highly valued. In Asian markets, skin-whitening properties are an important element in the popularity of BB cream. In 2011, Western cosmetic companies such as Garnier launched BB creams tailored for Western markets. For example, Estée Lauder’s formulation for North America does not include whitening properties.
Pros of BB Creams:
- Save time and money in beauty routine
- Contain SPF
- Conceal blemishes better than tinted moisturizers
- Can be used under a lightweight foundation to help conceal acne scars
- Help achieve fuller coverage without having to use a heavier foundation
Cons of BB Creams:
- Not as effective at moisturizing
- Thicker texture than tinted moisturizers
- Do not contain acne-fighting ingredients (acne ingredients and SPF cannot be combined into a single product due to FDA regulations)
- Limited range of shades
- Target fairer skin tones (original formulations are high in white pigments)
Who Should Use BB Cream?
- People with normal to oily skin
- People who don’t need heavy moisturizers or anti-acne products
- People with light to medium skin tone
- People who don’t like wearing makeup, but want to protect their skin and cover up imperfections
- Men can use BB cream too!
What About People With Darker Skin Tones?
Fortunately, there are some BB creams that cater to relatively dark skin tones:
- Sleek’s Be Beautiful Blemish Balm
- Gosh’s BB Cream
- Maybelline’s Dream Fresh BB cream
- Smashbox’s Camera Ready BB Cream SPF 35
- Illamasqua’s Skin Base Foundation
Which BB Cream Is Right For Me?
Before buying any BB cream, do some research. Since BB creams come in fewer skin tones than conventional foundation, expect to test several creams before finding the right one for you. When testing BB cream, wait for at least 15 minutes to see if it matches your skin tone, as formulas often change hues and take time to settle.
To apply BB cream, use your fingertips to lightly warm up a coin-sized amount of the cream. Apply it all over your face, lightly dabbing your eyelids.
Do-It-Yourself BB Cream
Bhagwandas, Anita. “Beauty for Dark Skin: the BB Cream Debate”, The Guardian, March 15, 2013.
Leung, Hannah. “Learn Your BB CCs”, Global Times, March 24, 2013.
Levitt, Shelley. “What Are BB Creams?”, WebMD, October 5, 2012.
Niven, Lisa. “10 Best BB Creams”, Vogue, January 17, 2013.