Beauty | 08.25.2022

What are BB Creams, and Why are they Better? 

Woman applying BB cream to her fingertips.

By Franki Hanke

These BB creams have been blowing up lately, but what the heck does BB even stand for? If you’re in the dark about this persistent trend, you’re not alone, but you’re about to be illuminated. 

What are BB Creams?

Shortened from “Blemish Balm,” BB creams originate from German dermatologist Christine Schrammek. She designed the product as a lighter alternative to foundation for her clients after harsh skin treatments like peels. 

Then, years later, the formulation style took off in Korea as an all-in-one perfector or beauty balm for subtly evening out skin tone. Practically, they are essentially a tinted moisturizer with skincare benefits in makeup. 

What’s the difference between BB Creams and foundation? 

Compared to your typical foundation, BB Creams provide less coverage in exchange for a more natural finish to the skin. They combine hydrating skincare with skin-perfecting for a simpler beauty routine. 

Many formulations even include a low SPF for additional protection. 

What’s the difference between CC Creams and foundation? 

Similarly to BB Creams, the term “CC Cream” is popular in the beauty aisles lately. In practice, these products are incredibly comparable, though CC usually represents “color correcting” or “color corrector.” In practice, both will offer a lightweight coverage for minor imperfections and discoloration. 

Side by side, CC creams usually offer more coverage than a BB cream counterpart. 

Should I use BB Cream? 

Do you wear makeup day to day? 

If not, a BB cream would provide a brightening correction to your skin similar to your natural skin. The light, dewy finish of most creams wouldn’t feel as heavy as full coverage foundation, so it’s a happy medium between feeling cakey and going naked-faced. 

If so, a BB cream has a few major advantages to a foundation, especially for daily wear. It’s hybrid skincare and makeup product, so it’s less taxing to your skin than other beauty products. Plus, the tint is lighter for less settling and gathering in your skin’s wrinkles or fine lines. 

For hot summer days, BB Creams add some coverage without the risk of looking like a melting statue. As they wear off, it’s more subtle compared to higher coverage makeup. 

Woman applying a BB cream to her face with a sponge.

How do apply BB Creams

Even though they have extra skincare benefits, don’t skip out on your normal skincare routine. Start with a moisturized base before you apply. 

If you’re revamping your entire routine and need recommendations for your daily moisturizer, read our article 10 Best Face Moisturizers for Dry Skin

Even if your BB of choice has sunscreen, don’t rely on it for your only coverage. Especially if the coverage is under SPF 30, that’s not enough for the day! Opt for additional cream spf for the sun protection of a broad spectrum SPF of 50 or higher.

Formula-wise, BB creams tend to feel more like a lotion than a foundation. For a natural finish, apply them with your fingers and/or a damp beauty sponge. Makeup artists would tell you, to let the heat from your fingertips melt the product into your skin before tapping over with a sponge to even out coverage. For more coverage, use a BB cream alongside a concealer on specific dark spots, under-eye circles, or breakouts. 

Once applied, BB Creams can be the base for any kind of makeup look. Keep it simple with a little highlighter and mascara and you’re out the door fast or dress up your face as much as you’d like. 

Find Your Favorite BB Cream

Everyone’s skin and routine react differently to different products, so expect some trial and error before you find The One, but out of hundreds of options, try one of the best BB creams first. 

Persistent Winner: It Cosmetics Your Skin But Better CC+ Cream

Don’t get caught up on the technicality in the name, this CC Cream is a long-lasting favorite for a reason. With 23,950 reviews on Ulta on the original formulation (and two specialized formulations now) this is a standby for natural, light coverage. 

Initially, there’s sheer coverage, but it builds up to medium. Add to that a physical SPF 50 thanks to Titanium Dioxide and Zinc Oxide for a powerful all-in-one product. Ingredients also include moisturizing superstars: niacinamide, glycerin, colloidal oatmeal, and snail secretions. While snail might sound polarizing, it’s popularized in Korean cosmetology and has shown, so far, to be beneficial. The addition of ascorbic acid, an antioxidant, furthers the brightening skincare effects. 

As an added benefit, the squeeze-tube packaging is break-resistant and non-bulky so it’s a perfect multitasking addition to your travel bag. 

Shop on Amazon for $33. 

Vegan Option: Tarte BB Tinted Treatment Primer

For a true BB cream on the higher end, Tarte’s vegan formulation provides light coverage that can act as a base layer beneath foundation or a total replacement. With 3,500 reviews on Sephora, it’s one of the most popular high-end BB creams with true, light coverage. 

The vegan formulation keeps the ingredient list of this product much shorter than others. It doesn’t pack the same ingredient punch as other products but focuses on emollients that perfect your skin’s tone and texture instead. Plus, there’s the added benefit of two physical sunscreens: Titanium Dioxide and Zinc Oxide for added protection. 

Shop on Amazon for $43. 

Budget Hydrator: L’Oreal Paris Magic Skin Beautifier BB Cream

On the budget side, this drugstore superstar is providing hydration and even tone for under $10. With 22,837 reviews on Amazon, this BB cream has had fans for a decade. 

As a true BB cream, this product provides sheer to light coverage with the added benefits of hydrating glycerin, soothing panthenol, and antioxidant tocopherol. If you struggle with makeup gathering in fine lines, the Magic Skin Beautifier has an ingredient (methyl methacrylate crosspolymer) that appears as tiny, tiny balls in the product that help to smooth the product over textured skin. They absorb oils and give a matte finish. 

Shop on Amazon for $6. 

Affordable Oil-Free Option: Maybelline Dream Fresh BB Cream 

Another drugstore favorite to try, if your skin doesn’t love the L’Oreal option, is equally beloved with 28,333 reviews on Amazon. 

The key differences between our two drugstore picks appear in their ingredient list. While the L’Oreal option above provides several moisturizing properties, Maybelline’s BB cream provides several antioxidant flower extracts from Chamomile and Aloe. Sensitive skin might find this a nourishing option with the added benefit of skin soothing pigments. Maybelline’s is also silicone-free, in contrast to L’Oreals, which results in a lighter formulation. Typically, oily skin agrees with better. Plus, Maybelline’s BB cream has SPF 30 for a little extra sun protection. 

Shop on Amazon for $7.

For more of our favorite BB creams (and more comparisons between each one), read our article about the best of the best in BB creams that goes live on Sunday, August 28th.

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