BB Creams

Curious about the BB Creams you’ve been seeing advertised lately? In most countries, the “BB” stands for Beauty Balm. In Asian countries it once meant Blemish Balm but now goes by Beauty Balm or the shorter BB Cream. Whatever name they go by, these products are claimed to do everything, from creating a flawless complexion to reducing pore size, healing breakouts, controlling oil, and lightening dark spots. That’s quite the to-do list!

Despite the hoopla fueled by the cosmetics industry and many beauty bloggers, BB creams are not must-have products. Essentially, the BB creams (Beauty Balms) sold in Western countries are little more than tinted moisturizers with sunscreen.

Overall, whether you use a BB cream or a tinted moisturizer, these products are all about convenience: sun protection, moisture, and sheer skin tone–correcting color from one product. The formulas differ widely from company to company, but sun protection and light coverage color are the norms.

Some BB creams have a thicker, creamier texture; some offer a bit more coverage than standard tinted moisturizers. As a personal preference, you may or may not care for the thicker texture—especially if you have oily, combination, or breakout-prone skin. The BB creams from U.S. brands—such as Garnier, Estee Lauder, and Smashbox—tend to have thinner, more lotion-like textures; they are nearly indistinguishable from tinted moisturizers with sunscreen, save for providing a touch more coverage.

The take-away message here is this: BB creams aren’t anything special and most claims of their extra abilities are marketing fluff, not reality. There are some great BB creams available, but even they are not must-have products. Really, the best reason to consider a BB cream is if you want more coverage than a tinted moisturizer, but not as much coverage as a standard foundation. Otherwise, this is a trend you can feel comfortable to ignore. If you find this trend too hard to ignore, make sure you use the best ones, and don’t get seduced by the does-it-all claims.