But For Real, Though--What Is BB Cream?

November 2, 2015 by Lisa Fogarty
shefinds | beauty

The multi-tasker (or cheapskate) in you probably yearns for the day when you can can open your makeup bag and find no more than four products that will get the job done. Enter BB cream, which makes achieving a more efficient beauty routine a reality because it truly is a busy girl’s dream come true.

What Is BB Cream?

If you’re new to the “ABC creams,” here’s a quick introduction: like many other magical potions, BB cream (which stands for “beauty balm”) originated in Korea. It blew up in the States a few years back and and is now available at many different price points, which has made it an extremely popular product, especially among women who are looking for natural coverage.

If you’re naturally a makeup-phobic person who values great skincare over heavy cosmetics, BB cream is right up your alley. “Think of it as makeup that is also good for your skin,” says Julie Fredrickson, co-founder of Stowaway Cosmetics. “Ours is a hydrating, buildable cream with a nearly matte finish that moisturizes, primes, conceals, and visibly reduces the appearance of pores and fine lines. Often they contain the types of ingredients you could expect to find in skincare beauty products that are both moisturizing and anti-aging.”

Although different formulas vary, a good BB cream probably contains the same basic formula of a good moisturizer plus adequate broad spectrum UVA and UVB light protection and tint (for foundation coverage), says Fayne L. Frey, MD, FAAD Dermatology & Dermatological Surgery. “The intent of the BB cream was to create a multi-purpose skincare product, one product that was not only a facial moisturizer, but also a foundation and sunscreen, as well,” Frey says. “This offered several advantages. The consumer doesn’t have to concern herself with which product she should apply first. There was also the financial advantage of purchasing one product versus purchasing three products.”

Jennifer Trotter, owner and artist at Lip Service Makeup, says BB creams are light and don’t contain as much pigment compared to heavier cream foundations, so you shouldn’t expect major color correction or intense coverage. If you’re simply looking to remove minor redness and make your skin glow, a BB cream is the ideal product.

How Should You Apply BB Cream?

Because BB creams tend to be more watery than foundations, Trotter says they should be applied with a different level of care. “Apply a pea sized (or two) amount to your fingertips and blend onto your face manually and quickly,” Trotter says. “Then use a dampened beauty sponge applicator to pat the BB cream into your skin, blend the edges and jawline and ensure coverage is even. Always make sure your hands are clean when applying cosmetics with your fingers, and if your BB cream doesn’t come in a tube (the most hygienic way to dispense product), be sure to pour some out. Don’t touch the top of the bottle with your fingers because that can introduce germs.”

“Additionally, unless you have extra dry skin, you’ll want to apply at least a tiny bit of setting powder after applying BB cream; if you don’t, the rest of your makeup will slide off your face,” Trotter says. “I like to set BB cream with micro-milled, no-color setting powder dusted on with a really big fluffy brush for a light, but effective application. If you have great skin and want to keep the dewy look, then just set your t-zone and leave cheeks with a bit of sheen.”

How Do You Choose The Right BB Cream?

Since BB creams don’t come in an array of shades like foundation–your choices are often limited to light, medium, and dark–Trotter says to err on the side of caution and go darker because lighter formulas could make you look pasty. Or, purchase a light and a dark shade and blend a bit of each together until you’re satisfied with the color.

If you have oily skin, Fredrickson recommends looking for a BB cream formulated with Silica, which naturally absorbs excess oil and reduces the visibility of pores. One to try: Radiant Complexion Beauty Balm by Stowaway Cosmetics. If you have dry skin, Fredrickson says ingredients like Red Algae extract help retain hydration while maintaining an overall smooth texture. Odacité Tinted Sunscreen with SPF 30 contains red algae extract, aloe vera, and jojoba oils to hydrate skin while covering up signs of rosacea, acne, and melasma.

For more beauty tips, check out the amazing anti-aging serum that includes bee venom and 7 surprising facts about Bath & Body Works.

[Photo: Sephora]



Lisa Fogarty is a lifestyle writer and reporter based in New York who covers health, wellness, relationships, sex, beauty, and parenting.

From Our Partners

Learn more about RevenueStripe...

From Our Partners

Learn more about RevenueStripe...


14 Valentine's Day Gifts To Give Yourself Because #Self-Love

Who says you have to be in a relationship to ...


Here's How To Get Three Bestselling Super-Volumizing Mascaras For Just $9

Unless you've been blessed with crazy long and thick ...