When I was travelling in Asia a couple of years ago, one of my favorite things to do to kill time was to stop by one of many Sasa stores, the Asian equivalent of Sephora only with much brighter lights and many different kinds of products I had never heard of before. One of the concoctions that the ladies tried to sell me was this new fangled face cream they were calling BB that came directly from Japan. It was going to hit North America any day they said. When in Hong Kong, I figured, and bought a tiny bottle to try.
I really liked the small bottle and surprisingly didn’t have to wait very long for BB creams to literally flood the North American cosmetic markets. If you’ve not heard of them, seen one in a store or read a magazine where they are literally giving the stuff away attached to tear out pages, you’re living under a rock and I’m amazed you even made it to this webpage. The Sasa webpage has 640 results containing BB, they’re coming out with BB shampoos and many are now heralding their cousin, CC creams as the new thing. But let’s take a step back and look at what do these miracle potions actually do?
What is a BB Cream?
The first thing to know about it is what the acronym means: Beauty Balm. While not being made up of any set ingredient list, BB creams are designed to replace all of the serums, potions and elixirs you use on your face everyday into one skin perfecting, tinted cream. A dream, right? Current BB creams include moisturizers, primers, foundation, anti-aging serums and SPF protections all rolled into one little convenient tube.
Surprisingly, BB creams aren’t new. They were initially introduced in the 1960s by a German dermatologist, Dr. Christine Schrammek-Drusio, as a way to help her patients recovering from plastic surgery protect their sensitive skin and conceal redness and scars from the surgery itself. It seems to have remained a surgical treatment until Asian actresses heralded the benefits of the BB and Asian cosmetic companies began to make retail versions of the cream.
Here are some of the benefits the creams are said to possess:
“The coverage is often mineral-based, and is intended to both cover and treat blemishes such as acne, sun spots and age spots. It also has anti-wrinkle, anti-inflammatory and soothing effects. Several contain hyaluronic acid and Vitamin C. The Huffington Postreports that some companies say BB creams have skin-regenerating properties” (Wikipedia)
In all honesty, I see BB creams as the next step in the tinted moisturizer market. They don’t have the full coverage of a foundation or several of the new technologies and ingredients found in individual products, so while they are definitely a step in the right direction – any time something I put on my skin has added benefits, I call it a win- I don’t see it as many beauty companies and magazines do claiming it to be the “newest big thing”
I’ve tried three different products available in North America:
- Garnier Skin Renew Miracle Skin Perfector BB Cream ($10.79 at Target)
- Kiehl’s Since 1851 ‘Actively Correcting & Beautifying’ BB Cream Broad Spectrum SPF 50 ($37 at Nordstrom)
- Smashbox “Camera Ready” BB Cream SPF 35 ($39 at Nordstrom)
Here is a photo of the three BB creams I currently have “on rotation”:
Product #1: Garnier Skin Renew Miracle Skin Perfector BB Cream ($10.79 at Target)
- Love the price of this BB cream, I feel like it’s a great deal.
- There is no SPF at all in the potion. As you know from my previous articles on sunscreen, this means I still have to put on SPF underneath my cream everyday.
- Thin coverage which may or may not be what you’re looking for. Personally, I had to add concealer to cover up a couple of imperfections that weren’t fully covered up by the BB cream.
- Tube lasts forever as the product goes on thinly and spreads really well. One tube lasted me 6+ months of daily use
Product #2: Kiehl’s Since 1851 ‘Actively Correcting & Beautifying’ BB Cream Broad Spectrum SPF 50 ($37 at Nordstrom)
- One of the most expensive BB creams I tested but having tried many other Kiehl’s product in the past and loved them, so was optimistic.
- The sunscreen fanatic in me adored the SPF 50 in this cream. Not piling on an additional layer of oily creams every day had to be good for my skin. In about 2 weeks of use, all of my breakouts had cleared up and my skin was noticeably softer… Without any changes to other products
- Coverage is medium, it will cover minor imperfections but still leave things like freckles showing through.
- Tube lasts quite awhile as product does go on quite easily despite the good coverage
Product #3: Smashbox “Camera Ready” BB Cream SPF 35 ($39 at Nordstrom)
- The most expensive product I tried, and the smallest tube
- Yay for SPF! Like that it’s embedded into the product
- Coverage is very heavy. It covered up freckles and imperfections, which was good for days when I wanted more coverage or a night out.
- Product felt a little oily as I think it was a factor involved in the heavier coverage. My face appeared less oily though, as I think it includes some of the Smashbox Photo Finish primer which the brand is famous for
- Tube didn’t last nearly as long as the others, but again, it was much heavier coverage.
So all in all, my thoughts? If you are absolutely head over heels in love with your tinted moisturizer, stick with it. But if you’re looking to try something new then this could be exactly what you’re looking for. Until
CC (Never mind, already exists), DD (Oops, this one exists too) or EE creams come out.
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