Which BB Cream Is Best For Me?

What is a BB cream and why is it so popular all of a sudden?

BB creams started out in Europe in the 1950s as a protective cream for patients who had laser surgery.  BB creams then spread to Asia where a natural understated look is more popular.

It gained massive popularity with TV stars and regular women alike and now BB creams are found in the makeup drawers of almost all women and girls in Korea, Japan, China, and Southeast Asia.

What does the BB in BB cream mean?

The BB stands for “Blemish Balm” or “Blemish Base”.  BB creams are great because they are lighter than traditional foundations and they give you enough coverage to hide discolorations and spots without looking heavy like regular makeup. Plus BB creams include ingredients that protect your skin such as sunscreens, moisturizers, and vitamins.

So what’s the difference between a BB cream and a tinted moisturizer?

3+ in 1 step

BB creams are basically tinted moisturizers with much better coverage and tons of upgrades and nifty features.  These miracle creams are moisturizer, primer, light foundation, and sunscreen all mixed in one.  Imagine how much time you’ll save every morning if you could finish your face in just one step!  This stuff is so popular that even men in Asia use it.

For some reason BB creams never really caught on in the US, however there is a large following of devoted users in the blogosphere and online forums.  I’ve noticed that several big companies such as Garnier, Maybelline, and L’Oreal are now pushing BB creams in the states this year.

In many parts of the US, big bold makeup and glamor is the preferred aesthetic.  Much more so than the natural and subtle makeup that Asians and Western Europeans prefer.  Will BB creams earn a permanent place in American makeup drawers or will this be just a fad and forgotten about next year?

Can I use BB creams instead of foundation?

If you only want a light coverage then yes. BB creams are not really meant to replace regular foundation and concealer completely. BB creams mainly do three things:

  1. Moisturize and protect against sun damage
  2. Brighten your complexion
  3. Even out skin tone and cover up minor imperfections

If you want a heavy coverage and a made up or matte look then you will still have to use a primer, foundation, concealer, and/or powder.

However for regular day to day makeup like going to school, work, or running errands, then  BB creams are much easier to use and healthier for your skin too.

BB creams are not equal!  BB cream reviews.

Just like regular foundation, the best brand of BB cream will depend on your skin type, condition, and the type of coverage you prefer.  I’ll cover what I’ve found to be the best BB creams for several skin conditions.

This list will be updated as new products come out and as I think of new questions.

My goal is to make this into a giant BB cream resource!

Personally I alternate between using Estee Lauder Cyberwhite BB Cream  and mixing my own BB cream with sunscreen, moisturizer, and mineral makeup.

I usually have decent skin with only a bit of darkness under my eyes and maybe some red acne marks if I’ve been careless with my diet.   I prefer a lighter coverage that doesn’t feel thick and greasy so Cyberwhite is my everyday go to BB cream.  Cyberwhite is a brightening BB cream with SPF 35 PA+++ so not only does it cover imperfections, it also helps them fade over time!

American BB Creams vs. Korean BB Creams

Even though many American brands now make BB creams, I still prefer Asian products, with Korean cosmetics at the top of the list.  That’s because Asian BB creams are formulated for the humid weather in Asia so they hold up great against oily skin and in summer weather.

Trust me, if a makeup product can keep you looking lily fresh in 100F degree weather and 90% humidity, it’s a keeper!

Can I use BB cream if I have acne?

You will have to be more careful than people without acne.  Look for a BB cream that is either water based or contains only non-comedogenic ingredients.

BB creams for people with acne are usually the same as the BB creams for oily skin.  Some brands that make BB creams for acne or oily skin are:

Which BB cream has the best coverage?

While better than tinted moisturizers, most BB creams provide only medium sheer to light coverage.  Sometimes though you need more heavy duty coverage either due to acne, dark spots, or other scarring.

If you don’t want to go back to foundation and concealer, do not despair.  There are BB creams out there for people who need a bit more makeup.

One of the most recommended brands with heavy coverage is Dr. Brandt Flexitone BB Cream.  This is a one color fits all BB Cream that adjusts to your skin tone after it is applied.

Are there BB creams with whitening powers?

Skin Bleaching BB Creams You Can Find In America

Yes!  You’ll want to look for Asian brands or BB creams marketed as anti aging formulas that will fade age spots.

Skin bleaching is a sensitive topic and it is something that is done for a variety different reasons, not all of which are related to the reasons commonly assumed in American culture.

This is a topic for another day!

My holy grail BB Cream is Estee Lauder’s Cyberwhite which is also a whitening/brightening formula.  I have old acne scars and freckles and this has helped them slowly fade away.

Other whitening BB creams that you can buy online in the US are:

  • Hanskin BB Premium Magic BB Cream
  • Sulwhasoo Snowise Brightening BB Cream –  Sulwhasso is a Korean brand and Korea really does make the best BB creams in the world.  Snowise stays on all day, brightens your complexion, and even does your dishes for you!  The #1 shade suits porcelain/light skin while the #2 shade is for fair/medium skin.  I don’t really get pale enough except in the winter to use this product year round.

Are there any BB creams without spf?

Yes!  Some BB creams use physical sunblocks which rely on minerals rather than chemical spf to block out UVA/UVB rays.

Look for BB creams with ingredients such as zinc oxide and titanium dioxide.  The ingredients you’ll want to avoid are “spf” sunscreens such as oxybenzone, homosalate, and avobenzone.

On that note… Is it possible to make your own bb cream with mineral makeup plus sunscreen/lotion?

Why of course!  If you can’t find the right BB cream, then this is one of the best ways to get all the benefits.  When I run out of my precious Cyberwhite, this is actually what I do.

My skin condition changes from normal to combination depending on the weather and my diet.  Plus my skin tone changes from winter to summer, so you can see why it’s impossible for me to have just one BB cream.

Instead I mix up my own BB cream with three ingredients.  My favorite sunscreen, the right shade of mineral makeup, and a squirt of moisturizer (either cream or serum depending on the weather).

I can vary the amount of mineral makeup in the mix for depending on what type of coverage I want for the day.  And if I want a more matte or dewy look I can add or subtract the amount of  highlight powder or “dewy” foundation in my usual mix.

For those of you who want specific details, here are my DIY BB cream formulas. This is what works for me. Your mileage may vary.

What about BB creams without silicones?  Or hypoallergenic BB creams? Do those exist or are they like unicorns?

Yep!  There are BB creams that are water based, fragrance free paraben free, or silicone free.  Now if you want one product to meet all of those conditions then you might be better off mixing your own like I do.

Silicone Free BB Creams

Paraben Free BB Creams

  • Boscia BB Cream –  Not only free of parabens but also free of artificial fragrances and dyes.

Skin Soothing BB Creams

  • Sulwhasoo Snowise Brightening BB Cream –  Mentioned above in the whitening BB creams section, but this product deserves a second mention.  Contains 26 herbal medicinal ingredients to soothe and heal irritated skin.

Do you have a question you’d like to ask?  Or an experience to share?

Leave your thoughts in a comment below!

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