The Lowdown on BB Creams

Bubble butt? Bumble bee? Beach babes? Oh man, can’t wait to see the type of spam comments I get for that one.
No doubt you’ve heard the term BB cream being tossed around. It’s sort of the new buzzword in the beauty community and both drugstore and high-end retailers are putting out their incarnations faster than you can figure out what they even are.

The term BB stands for “beauty balm” and the product concept originated in Korea where they were used as post-op treatments and/or lightening creams. Still crazy to me how our American market is filled with tanning products and other countries flood their beauty shelves with products to do the very opposite! We are never happy, are we?! 🙂

A BB cream can best be described as a tinted moisturizer on steriods. They are truly a multi-purpose product that can either add to your beauty routine, or eliminate several steps of it. The following are purposes that a BB cream can fulfill. Some can do it all, some a large number of the following:

  • Prime
  • Moisturize
  • Protect with SPF
  • Anti-aging benefits
  • Control oil
  • Even skin tone
  • Conceal mild blemishes
  • Minimize pores
  • Minimize fine lines and wrinkles

bb cream prod shots

BB creams can certainly fill a distinct purpose in a makeup arsenal. They are a great stand-in for foundation in a few situations, offering more coverage than a tinted moisturizer, more SPF and additional benefits in the anti-aging realm as well.
For example, because they can be applied with your hands like a moisturizer, they are very imprecise and quick. This enables you to apply a BB cream before running errands or in an effort to look presentable in the light of day when time is of the essence. Think school drop off, yoga class full of beautiful people, ya know.

Or perhaps you’re going to be at an outdoor event all day this summer and you can’t bear the thought of being makeup-less but also hate the idea of a mask of full coverage foundation. When I go to my summer music festivals, a BB cream is going to be a great product to pack!

I have been recommending BB creams to many younger girls recently, who come in feeling as thought they “should” wear foundation, but at 12-15 years old, do not need it at all! I show them the way it evens out their skin tone, but still looks like their fresh, youthful skin and protects them from the sun all the while. I would much rather see a pre-teen/teen in a BB cream than a serious foundation. Enjoy that skin while you have it girls!

The opinions expressed are my own and not that of my employer. I have had the privilege of trying various BB creams on a variety of skin tones and age ranges and I will share my thoughts based on these experiences.

Additional Thoughts
I still most enjoy the first BB cream I ever tried, the Garnier Skin Renew. The shade Light/Medium somehow works on my strange yellow/olive skin tone and looks glowy and diffused. I love the thicker consistency because it feels like I’m doing more than applying a thin moisturizer. I also really enjoy the scent.

For high-end, I tend to only prefer the BB creams with a shade range. The self-adjusting shades either work on you, or they don’t, and I find in very pale or very deep skin tones, they never properly adjust. I’ve seen so many “self adjusters” look peachy on a pale skin girl or ashen on an African American.

Smashbox and Too Faced BB creams offer very nice shade selections, as does Sarah McNamara Miracle Skin Transformer. Too Faced and Sarah McNamara are my top high-end picks. Too Faced is a bit thinner consistency than I’d like, and Sarah McNamara is borderline too thick, but like I said before, we are never quite happy are we?!

I look forward to seeing if BB creams have staying power in the beauty industry or what skincare/cosmetic hybrid will replace them next?! Stay tuned…


  1. Wake Up for MakeupItty Bitty Giveaway + News » Wake Up for Makeup

    06/06/2013 at 8:38 AM

    […] big giveaway, but wanted to give away 2 items relevant to what I’ve written about recently–BB creams and sun […]

  2. Teresa Fleming

    05/21/2015 at 2:23 AM

    I love bb creams but I have a hard time choosing the right one. I am self tan user and it’s very hard to find the right one.

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