Just about any woman would agree that if there was a product that removes steps from your beauty routine, it’s at least worth a try. Couple that with antioxidants and other skin-loving ingredients, and you’ve got yourself a keeper. Short for “beauty balms” or “blemish balms,” BB creams have been popular in Asia for decades, but they are only recently gaining recognition in the U.S.
“The difference is between BB creams and other skin care products are that BB creams were created to include multiple benefits in one product,” explains Laurie Gail, WKLB Boston beauty columnist and freelance makeup artist.
What is BB cream?
So what exactly are BB creams? The combination of skin nurturing ingredients available in an array of shades to choose from make BB creams a multitasking dynamo.
“A BB cream can be used as a moisturizer or a foundation depending on personal preference,” adds Gail. “A BB cream can provide sun protection, act as a primer, cover imperfections, and even out skin tone, along with hydrating and providing coverage.”
Action-packed BB cream ingredients
“The difference between a BB cream and other beauty products is that it is a multipurpose product, aiming to provide a multi-level experience¿ to protect, with moisturizers and SPF, as well as ‘luminize’ making the skin look more perfect without the heaviness of a conventional foundation,” says Dawn Jacobson, a makeup artist with Utopia NYC.
Lab Series BB Tinted Moisturizer Broad Spectrum SPF 35 and Stila Stay All Day 10-in-1 HD Illuminating Beauty Balm SPF 30 both include broad spectrum sun protection (SPF) and ultra-hydrating ingredients.
BB creams blur the lines between skincare and makeup with ingredients like peptides, antioxidants, and vitamins A, C, and E, which are used for their anti-aging properties. Others employ soy and licorice to add a hint of color.
For women seeking anti-aging properties, look for age-defying blends like Origins A Perfect World SPF 15 Age-Defense Tinted Moisturizer BB Cream with White Tea and Lancôme Rénergie Éclat Multi-Lift-Multi Action Tinted Skincare.
BB cream application
Apply BB cream like a moisturizer on clean, toned skin and be sure it is fully absorbed and blended into the skin well prior to applying other products, advises Jacobson. Use a foundation brush to ensure complete coverage.
Finish with a foundation powder using a powder brush or wear it alone for a natural look. If you apply BB cream with your fingertips, be sure to apply it sparingly.
“I think the BB creams are perfect for women of any age, who want to look natural and healthy with a little glow but without a makeup-y look,” Jacobson adds.
Foundation brushes should be wide enough to easily apply the product, but precise enough for under-eye application, like MAC’s 190 Foundation Brush or LAMIK’s vegan-friendly foundation brush.
“Think of your skin type and needs when choosing a BB cream,” says Gail. “If your skin is on the dry side, choose one with more hydration; if your skin is on the oily side, look for an oil-free formula.”
$65 and Under
Estée Lauder Vérité Calming Fluid ($65)
Lancôme Rénergie Éclat Multi-Lift-Multi Action Tinted Skincare ($75)
Diorsnow BB Creme SPF 50 ($58)
$45 and Under
Bobbi Brown BB Cream Broad Spectrum SPF 35 ($42)
Clarins BB Skin Perfecting Cream SPF 25 ($40)
Estée Lauder DayWear Anti-Oxidant Beauty Benefit BB Creme Broad Spectrum SPF35 ($39)
Clinique Age Defense BB Cream SPF 30 ($37)
$35 and Under
Urban Decay Naked Skin Beauty Balm Broad Spectrum SPF 20 ($34)
Shiseido Perfect Hydrating BB Cream, SPF 35 ($33)
MAC Prep + Prime BB Beauty Balm SPF 35 ($30)
Smashbox Camera Ready BB Cream SPF 35, Travel Size ($19.50)