If you go around the beauty counters these days, chances are, you won’t miss seeing BB creams —they’re everywhere, in several brands and various formulations, shades, finishes and price points.
And it seems the beauty industry’s obsession with alphabet-named creams shows no sign of abating. Say hello to the CC cream, the new “color” or “complexion-correcting” essential.
Short for blemish balm or beauty balm, BB creams were originally formulated in Germany by dermatologist Christine Schrammek in the 1950s. Initially used to protect the skin after laser procedures and surgery, these products were introduced in South Korea and Japan in the ’80s.
Because BB creams were endorsed by top Korean actresses, they gained huge exposure in the Asian market. Today, even Western brands have followed suit and introduced their versions of BB creams, and now, CC creams.
BB cream vs CC cream
Not quite a face cream, not quite a foundation, BB creams moisturize, prep your skin for makeup, reduce shine, cover minor imperfections, provide sun protection, and even have skincare benefits.
CC (color or complexion-correcting) creams have similar properties, but have thinner and lighter consistency, and often offer a little more coverage. If you have dark spots or generally dull skin, a CC cream will help brighten and even out your skin tone.
But whatever name they go by, these products claim to do everything, from creating a luminous complexion and shrinking pore size, to anti-aging and whitening—the list goes on.
There are just so many options available. The last time I checked, one Korean brand alone sells 15 different BB creams, which makes it confusing for customers when choosing which BB or CC cream to buy.
Do they really work?
In truth, BB and CC creams are like souped-up, tinted moisturizers with sunscreen. They actually remind me of a product I used when I was a teenager—a tinted sunscreen by Clinique called City Block.
A drawback of some BB and CC creams is the shade selection. These creams usually come in only one or two shades, and though these colors are supposed to blend with every skin tone, they’re still too light for some people with morena complexions.
Overall, though, BB creams appeal to women (and I hear they appeal to men as well) because they’re convenient, multipurpose products, not to mention great alternatives for those who want the natural, “no-makeup” look.
I’m a fan of BB creams since I don’t like wearing foundation, but if you need more coverage, you can wear this under foundation just like the Koreans do, or just simply use foundation and concealer.
The most important thing to keep in mind is that if you want good skin, it’s achieved with the help of skincare products, and not just with BB and CC creams.
And as with other makeup and skincare products, there are good BB and CC creams and there are bad ones as well.
How to choose BB or CC creams?
1. Test the product on the back of your hand or on your face to check the coverage and texture. Test the color if you’re buying a whitening formula, or one with high SPF; these formulas tend to look lighter or pinkish on the skin.
2. For oily skin: Avoid luminous and shimmery formulas. These formulas will only make your skin look oilier. Choose one with a smooth matte finish (like Missha M Perfect Cover BB Cream, The Face Shop Face It Power Perfection BB Cream, Pond’s Flawless White BB Cream) or gel-type consistency (like Chanel’s CC Cream) instead.
A sweat-proof formula is ideal for oily skin, too, like Laneige’s Snow BB Soothing Cushion with SPF 50.
3. If you have normal to dry skin, luminous, creamy formulas will work best for you (like Clinique’s Age Defense BB Cream, Dr. Jart Water Fuse BB Beauty Balm with SPF 25). I have normal to combination skin, and one I’ve been using for a long time is Etude House’s Precious Mineral BB Cream with SPF 30. This has medium coverage, so I use only a small amount.
4. Apply sparingly. A little does go a long way. The good thing about this product is that it will last you a long time. Use a small amount, then add layers if you need more coverage; too much can lend a mask-like appearance. You can also apply BB and CC cream with a brush to control coverage.