What You Need to Know About BB Creams

The ultimate guide to BB creams. What are BB creams? Plus: BB cream vs. tinted moisturizer, the benefits of BB cream.

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Photo: Sephora‘s BB Cream selection

As any CF girl knows, staying on top of the latest beauty trends is a job in itself. Among the many hot new trends, one product type in particular has been lighting up my radar like crazy lately: BB creams are taking over the US!

Never heard of these before? Below, I will break down this hot product trend, explaining what BB creams are, their beauty benefits, and my picks for the best ones out there on the market!

What Are BB Creams?

BB stands for “blemish balm” or “beauty balm,” depending on who you talk to. These creams, originally used by German dermatologists to promote skin healing after laser treatments, were catapulted into popularity when Korean actresses raved about how great they made their skin look. The phenomenon then spread all across Asia. Now, U.S. beauty companies are jumping on the BB train, too!

BB creams are the ultimate multi-taskers; they conceal, protect, soothe, hydrate and brighten, all at once. The American BB creams are more sheer than their Asian counterparts, and provide a more healthy “glow from within” look, rather than the polished, porcelain doll look that the Asian brands tend to go for.

Depending on the brand, most BB creams can be worn alone, as a primer, or just as a concealer – it’s all up to you and depends on how much coverage you want.

BB Creams vs. Tinted Moisturizers

BB creams are similar to the tinted moisturizers we all love, with three main differences:

  • BB creams generally have higher SPFs than tinted moisturizers.
  • BBs are usually more pigmented than their moisturizer counterparts, and therefore provide more coverage.
  • It’s been said that BB creams are more like skin treatments than straight moisturizers – they often include extra ingredients to smooth skin or deliver antioxidants, and some can even fight acne and lighten acne scars.

The Benefits of BB Creams

For a girl on the run, these are absolutely perfect! You can skip moisturizing, priming, and concealing because one BB cream will do it all for you. As well, many BB creams include SPF as well as antioxidants and Vitamin C, which will help keep your skin looking gorgeous.

I think BB creams are great for girls that want to have a nice complexion but don’t feel like piling on the foundation or who want just a nice, healthy glow. If you live in a hot or humid climate, they might the perfect thing to wear in the summertime.

Which Brands Are the Best?

Many American beauty companies like Garnier, Smashbox, L’Oreal, Clinque and Boscia have been rolling out the BB creams by the truckload! Here are some of the top sellers out on of shelves right now, in no particular order.

  1. Clinique Age Defense BB Cream
  2. Smashbox Camera Ready BB Cream SPF 35
  3. Dr. Jart+ Premium Beauty Balm SPF 45 / PA+++
  4. MAC Prep + Prime BB Beauty Balm SPF 35

This is just to give you a taste of the BB creams that are currently available on the market! Remember, every BB cream has different benefits, so look at reviews and test before buying to find the one that will work for you.

What do you think?

Have you tried a BB cream? Do you have a favorite brand? Are you excited to try them? Let me know in the comments!

34 thoughts on “What You Need to Know About BB Creams”

  1. BB cream should not be used to replace the vital skin care steps! (moisturizing and sunscreen)
    BB cream only serve as a replacement of foundation and concealer as well as giving some ADDITIONAL sunscreen protection and hydration.
    Treat BB cream as make up. At the end you still need to clean your face thoroughly.

  2. Phidias, according to one of the reviews on the Estee Lauder website the medium tone of their BB cream is good for Indian skin.

  3. Okay well I was reading the back of the bottle on the bb cream and it said “skin perfecter”. I have freckles and I love them so I’m just wondering if the cream will fade them.

  4. I recently bought Garnier’s oil-free BB cream with perlite. I like the light texture and moisturizing benefits, as well as the broad spectrum SPF. But even the lightest shade (light/medium) was way too dark for my fair Irish skin and seemed to have a yellowish undertone that does not flatter me at all. Ive had to mix some white colored moisturizers into the BB cream just to make it light enough for me to wear, but this of course takes away some of the oil fighting benefits of the BB cream. *sigh. Hears hoping the color work out once summer’s here and it’s time to whip out the self-tanner.

  5. Well I’m a Philosophy Girl , so my skin is in great shape, I desided to add this Garnier BB cream light/ medium cause I hate foundation and the tinted foundations are just to oily for me. I used a bare minerals brush to apply this BB cream, WOW is all I can say, like said my skin is in really good contrition and this just made ur a flawless canvas , I do not use a lot of make up, and go without on days that I do not need to put it on, but I find myself applying this everyday cause I live that light flawless look, , hope it’s not going to be one of those products that they stop making after a couple years cause thR fad of BB creams went away , cause this is a keeper, a time saver , and a hey your skin looks amazing what are you using product.

  6. Regarding Garnier etc. being American or French product, keep in mind that some brands, like Garnier BB cream, come in European and US version. It goes without saying that the European version of a product is usually the better one 😉 The European Garnier BB cream has a different formula that includes European Blueberry, Squalane and Magnesium Sulfate.

  7. Hey Kaitlin u can actually find it in walmart and target and such but u have to look in the sections whaere the keep the garnier beauty treatments like the under eye circle roller.. its very easy to miss i had the same problem trying to locate it this week.

  8. Where can I buy Garnier BB cream? I haven’t seen it in Wal Mart, Target, or any grocery stores near me in Western PA.

  9. I absolutely love BB Creams! I had originally seen the Garnier commercials and was curious so I went online to do some research. A lot of the feedback was good (only a few people saying it made their skin look oily) so I decided to try it. I love it!

    I’ve always struggled with makeup being too heavy or too light or melting off in the sun and getting that ghost effect in pictures. I tried the cream and it felt really nice. It has a bit of a fruity scent but not overpowering. What I suggest is if you use it you should apply it medium to lightly and let it set for at least 10 minutes before applying anything else. I have mild dark circles under my eyes and dark spots from acne problems in my high school years and the cream completely evened all of this out. I look bright and fresh and my skin feels great. Even after I take it off my skin feels soft and smooth because of the moisturizers.

    Because I’m an African American it is only slightly lighter than my skin tone so I wouldn’t recommend it for those who have even darker skin than mine (I’m an NC-35) but it’s great as an all over primer for my foundation. And for the first time ever my face did not melt! My makeup stayed in place all night even though the whole place was crowded and hot and humid. I think the people who say it makes their skin oily are those whose skin doesn’t require a heavy moisturizer because their skin already produces enough. I have combination skin and my sister has dry skin and it works great for us.

  10. I’m so happy to see this article! I bought Too Faced Beauty Balm on a whim a few months ago, and I adore it. I use it as a primer under my foundation, and my skin has noticeably improved. I’ve been acne-free for a few years but still have some scars and dark spots left over as well as large pores and general uneven coloring. The BB has helped with all of those things. I had honestly given up on ever having good skin without foundation, but the balm has changed my perspective.

    It’s definitely not cheap, but a little goes a long way and based on the results I’ve gotten, I think it’s safe to say that I’ll continue to buy it forever. For the first time in my post-puberty life, I actually feel comfortable walking around without foundation. Still not my preference, but when it comes to your skin, any improvement is a big, big deal.

  11. I use a Korean BBCream from The Face Shop. I love it so much! It gives me coverage super quickly, has 25 SPF and makes my skin super soft.
    I was worried that since the trend in Asia is super clear face, that it would fade my freckles, but I’ve had to problem with that!
    Definitely recommended.

  12. i love bb creams! it’s been my makeup staple for years! here’s a tip: i found that japanese bb creams tend to have yellow undertone whereas korean ones have pink/ neutral tone to it. plus, japanese ones tend to be lighter in texture.

  13. I’ve been hearing a lot about these, but haven’t given them a try. I’m not willing to give up my usual moisturizer though, so I doubt I’ll be splurging.

  14. I’ve tried most of the BB creams (Too Faced, Smashbox, Clinique, Garnier, etc.) By far, my fave is Garnier. It’s a lot thicker than the others, and it feels amazing going on. I have freckles, and the coverage of the Garnier is superior. I gave my Too Faced BB cream away.

    I primed my pores using The Porefessional and then applied the BB. I dotted on concealer under my eyes on top of the BB. My skin looked dewy, and all my blemishes were covered. I didn’t get this result with the other brands.

    Another review said it doesn’t have SPF, but that’s incorrect. It is SPF 15. Hope this helps!

  15. I just wanted to ask, but since when are brands like Garnier and L’Oreal AMERICAN ? They are both french brands. So please, just talk about occidental brands, because not everything is American in this world.

  16. I just got my first ever BB cream from Korea – where it is (insanely) very popular: Missha, Signature Formula. I’m very excited to try it!

  17. i got a free original size sample of garnier BB miracle skin perfector at a store here in europe. when i first used it, my boyfriend actually noticed something was different and he wants me to use it all the time now! i will definitely re-buy once this one is empty

  18. My favorite bb cream brand is Kanebo. I’ve tried Kanebo, Innisfree, Sana, Kiss Me, and Skinfood. They’re all good. Japanese BB creams seem to suit my warmer asian skintone better than Koreans ones though, which seem to mesh better with cooler asian skintones (of course, this all varies depending on the brand). BB cream is not just a trend in Asia – it’s normal makeup staple that’s been around for quite a while.

    The author wrote a very holistic and well-rounded article, but I have to disagree with the people that claim BBs like skin treatments. BB cream is makeup, when it comes down to it. It’s not as hydating as regular moisturizers and it’s not as potent as skincare products. BB creams are makeup, but good makeup, with all the healthy antioxidants that US companies could have, and should have, been putting in your foundation years ago.

  19. Nicole K – Just read your comment. I might add that I have fairly oily skin too, which is why I was a sworn believer of powder products like Bare Minerals. I don’t have much trouble with the Garnier BB. I don’t break out from it and as long as I set it with Mineral Veil, I don’t get too oily over the course of the day.

  20. I use Garnier Nutrisse BB Cream every day as my daytime moisturizer and foundation. I touch up with some Bare Minerals for extra blemish and dark circle coverage and then set it all with Bare Minerals Mineral Veil. I’ve been doing this for over a month now and I’m definitely a happy camper.
    I chose to try Garnier’s first because its under $15, not something that can be said of other brand’s balms. I like it so much, I’d buy it again when it runs out instead of my original plan, which was to upgrade to one of the more specialty brands.

  21. BB Creams are really the way to go for summer make up! Why?
    1) So many Skin goodies (Like SPF and Vitamin C)
    2) They are light like a tinted moisturizer, but they provide more coverage
    3) Using BB Cream actually improves your skin!
    The third trait may seem hard to believe, but I’ve been using Too Faced’s BB Cream for two weeks, and I’ve noticed that my skin tone is more even, stubborn dark spots have faded, and my skin is overall brighter!
    Honest to blog, love this stuff!!

  22. “rather than the polished, porcelain doll look that the Asian brands tend to go for.”

    Oh how I wish I could get this with US BB creams. Maybe I can achieve it with multiple coats.

  23. I second Cristina; how do you guys keep so up to date? I’m in my second month of my fashion design course and trying to keep up is so very hard and is spread across so many sources (including CF!) that it feels I spend more time trying to keep up with everything rather then design.

    Personally, I don’t consider a lot of western BB creams to be a true representation of BB creams as a whole; most don’t have the same properties and are as sheer as a tinted moisteriser.

    The joy of a lot of Korean brands is that BB creams can go reasonably light, so it’s easier to find a match for me. But to some having issues with shade being too light or dark, do note that it’s exceedingly common for BB creams to oxodise within an hour or so to a darker shade so if testing them (if you have the option) put them on your hand and leave them for an hour to check the colour.

  24. BB cream is great – I’ve been using it for a couple years!

    The price is pretty hefty, at least in the States. If you know anyone who goes to Asia regularly (Korea, Japan, China, Taiwan – and I’m sure other countries have it), then get them to buy BB cream for you. BB creams that I buy in China are pretty much half the price of the ones that CF has listed.

  25. I use Skin79’s Gold version. It’s amazing, gives me perfect Coverage and even better, is not as heavy as foundation. A battle between foundation and BB cream? BB cream wins every time.

  26. I use the Missha BB cream in no. 13 which is absolutely perfect for my very pale skin! And it has spf 42!! Bought it on ebay for a really cheap price! Only a couple of pounds sterling 🙂

  27. I want to try BB Cream, but they never make them in my skin colour (I’m Indian).
    All I ever see on the shelves are “medium” or “light.” I would buy it if they had a better colour range.

  28. Im glad that the US finally jumped on the bandwagon!! I use the Korean brand Liole. It is probably thicker then the US brand. I will definitely try one of the US brands soon.

    • Karen – Me too! I am familiar with Liole and also with Missha BB Creams, they seem to be the two most popular ones in Asia right now.


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