I spoke with Claudia Dellenbusch, a rep for Dr. Christine Schrammek Kosmetik; Schrammek is our our German scientist from the ’50s and the woman who invented BB. According to the brand’s website, she “spent many years working in a skin clinic as well as in her own surgery, dealing with the skin problems of hundreds of patients.” According to Dellenbusch, blemish balm originated about 53 years ago, when Schrammek was developing an herbal peel (now a range of products dubbed Green Peel). She needed something gentle for sensitive skin post-peel and ended up using a cream “she produced herself in her own small laboratory.” Then things got interesting.
Blemish balm was introduced to the German market in 1967. Per the Schrammek mythology, the smooth, flawless complexion it offered made the product popular with Korean nurses working in Germany, who in turn brought it back with them to Korea. Though Blemish balm wasn’t specifically created with the Asian market mind, it swiftly gained ground there: ”There has been a company representative in Korea since the 1980s,” Dellenbusch said, “When Dr. Schrammek accepted the invitation of a cosmetic representative to travel to Korea in 1985, blemish balm had already become quite popular there. Not only in Korea, but also in Japan there was a breakthrough.” Since the 1990s, blemish balm had been “referred to in Asian markets as ‘BB cream,’ and so the name of an entire product category was born. The ‘hype’ started there and came now back to the rest of the world.”
As far as Dellenbusch and the team at Schrammek Kosmetik are concerned, all the rest are imitators: “There are a lot of products on the market which call themselves Blemish Balm or just BB cream.” The biggest difference is primarily in “the range of application.” Their formula boasts “an anti-inflammatory, regenerative and soothing effect. Blemish balm not only conceals impurities, but also helps regulate dysfunctional skin processes and alleviate skin problems.” The original blemish balm, essentially, is all about skincare, while “[other] ’BB creams’ are more created as a tinted, light make-up.”
Basically, BB creams are an offshoot of this blemish balm, a lab-developed cure-all for a variety of skin conditions: ”emergency help for pimples and blackheads, “an anti-itch treatment for insect bites, alleviating the “pain of lip blisters,” healing ”mild burns and slight wounds,” concealing “impurities, redness, enlarged pores and hyperpigmentation,” with an all-around “anti-inflammatory and soothing effect [that] supports the regeneration process after a laser treatment.”
Which brings us back to our original question!