What Exactly Is A BB Cream And Why Should You Be Putting It On Your Face?

Applying Cream

Bonus points if you already know what the “BB” in BB cream stands for–if not, don’t worry, we’ll get to that in a second. BB creams are a fairly recent phenomenon on our shores (they’ve been big in Asia for awhile). Remember a few years back when there was a sudden influx of them popping up on every makeup counter? They’re still so new that “BB cream” isn’t in the dictionary yet. (I find this slightly unfair because “selfie” and “dubstep” made it in.)

The “BB” stands for “blemish balm” or “beauty balm,” and according to WebMD, it is a skincare-makeup hybrid. Its multi-purpose formula replaces the need to have individual products. BB creams combine moisturizer, primer, SPF protection and a bit of foundation coverage into one miracle product. There are formulas that specifically target anti-aging and zits. Is this where the term “hero product” came from?

BB creams are generally tinted to match your skin tone. They come in a few different shades usually light, medium and dark. Because of their sheer formula, you don’t have to worry about getting exactly the right shade, unlike foundation.

Who Is It For
Anyone who wants to streamline their morning routine and buy one product instead of six. So that would be everyone.

If you suffer from acne and wrinkles, there are specific formulas to target your skincare concerns. (See below for recommendations.)

If you’re looking for the full coverage of a foundation, you may find a BB cream’s coverage too light. BB creams have sheer coverage, similar to a tinted foundation, so if you like a perfectly matte and powdered face, don’t toss your foundation. Or try setting your BB cream with powder.

Why You Should Use It
Uh, hello, spending $15 on one product instead of $150 on five. Plus you can hit the snooze button for another 10 minutes because you’ve chopped your beauty regimen by more than half.

BB creams are applied in the morning, after you wash your face and use your toner. (Remember we discussed how beneficial toners are last time.)

You apply your BB cream all over your face, the same way you would use a regular moisturizer. Because of their sheer color, there’s no need to use a brush or sponge, unlike with foundation.

1. Maybelline Dream Pure BB Cream
This BB cream is perfect for those of us prone to the occasional pimple. It contains 2% salicylic acid and it’s oil-free, so it won’t clog pores.

2. Smashbox Camera Ready BB Cream SPF 35
In addition to containing a good dose of SPF protection, this BB cream comes in 10 different shades–enough to rival a foundation’s.

3. Garnier Skin Renew Miracle Skin Perfector Anti-Aging BB Cream
The mouthful of a name explains what this multi-purpose product does. It evens out your skin tone while reducing wrinkles over time. It also contains SPF 15, to keep you protected from the sun’s harmful rays.

(Photo: Richard M Lee/Shutterstock)

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    • Anne Marie Hawkins

      I’ve been using Maybelline Dream Fresh for everyday and I love it. It gives me sun protection without making me break out like most sunscreens do, and it layers pretty well depending on how made up I want to look, from not at all to full-on.

    • elle

      So you guys are just rehashing old articles at this point? And this one isn’t nearly as good. Sigh I remember when this site was worth reading every day….and in what world are BB creams a new phenomenon?

    • Janice

      Every one wants to improve their beauty. Sometimes facial creams will help you to do that. But in some cases, it will not give you proper result. Different types of famous cosmetic surgery services are also available. It will also give you better result.

    • tempura-san

      As much as I love it on other people, I’m almost freakishly not into makeup, particularly foundations. I always feel as if I’m being suffocated when I wear them, so BB cream has been a revelation to me. I’m also Asia-based, so I have access to the good stuff.

      I actually use two BB creams in combination: a Korean brand called Dr G, which has a BB cream line called Hydra Intensive (SPF 30), and Bobbi Brown’s BB cream in medium-dark (one of the darker shades). The Asian brands generally come in lighter colors but I find that their coverage is quite good; it’s still lightweight, which I love (see: fear of suffocation) , but it tends to blend over and into your skin better than a lot of the Western ones. I mix in the Bobbi Brown cream mainly for the color – if I don’t, I wind up with a mismatched face/neck, which is never particularly attractive.

      After I apply, then I usually will dot a Mac concealer under my eyes and over any spots if necessary. BB covers a LOT of the small discolorations, minor blemishes and blemish scars and un-eveness, but, as Heather mentioned, it doesn’t do a whole lot for that whopping one on your chin or under-eye shadows.

      I finish with a translucent powder and then I’m usually set to go.

      Fully recommend BB creams. They’re really easy, come with higher sun protection, and it doesn’t feel like you’re wearing anything on your face. The Dr G one that I mentioned can be found here, along with about a million other Asian ones: http://www.sasa.com/SasaWeb/eng/category/listByCategory.jspa?categoryId=401010310&page=1&sortBy=11