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Old October 28th, 2012, 04:48 PM   #1
Shell
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Default BB Cream--Have You Tried It Yet?

I’m not an expert on BB Creams, but I’ve tried a few, and I love the idea of BB Creams, so I thought I'd share some of my thoughts and experiences with you. They are supposed to be one step skin protection and beautification—several benefits all in one product! Here’s some stuff I’ve learned from researching BB Creams over the last few years, and a review of some of those I’ve test driven, plus a few more that I’ve just swatched. I’ve tried to give some pointers to those just considering their first BB Cream, or maybe looking for more skin care/beauty options than the traditional multi-step process of moisturizer, sunscreen, primer, foundation, illuminator, and finishing powder that many beauty mavens recommend.

BB Cream has been around for awhile, but it's just recently that Americans have discovered it. What is BB Cream, and where did it come from? BB Cream was invented by dermatologists in Germany for their laser surgery patients to use to protect and nourish their sensitive facial skin. It had sunscreen, soothers, and even tint to help hide redness. But these are not the creams taking the beauty industry by storm. Shortly after BB cream was invented, it was discovered by Asians, particularly Koreans, who still set the standard for BB cream and dominate the BB cream market.

Asian BB creams, or blemish balms, or beauty balms--hence "BB creams", are quite different from the new Western and American BB creams. Asian BB creams attempt to be a healthy alternative to foundation, especially for people who may have suffered from acne or other skin issues. Korean creams are thick, opaque, and contain sunscreen. They should take the place of both sunscreen and foundation. They often provide moisture and even such skin benefits as brightening (called "whitening" in Asia--they will not change the color of your skin--they exfoliate dead skin cells), and making wrinkles and acne scars less visible.

Asian BB creams have been popular in the US for awhile, but many Caucasians and people with tans or darker skin have trouble matching the colors found in Asian BB creams. The two Asian BB creams that I've tried were both kind of a pinky-grey color, and then after application they tended to blend fairly well with the skin. They are often only offered in one or maybe two colors. They generally offer medium to heavy coverage.

Western and American BB creams are not the same as Asian BB creams. While Asian BB creams claim to replace moisturizer, sunscreen, brightening and anti-wrinkle agents, primer, and foundation--all in one product; most non-Asian BB creams sold in the US are more similar to tinted moisturizers. They don't all even contain sunscreen--a big benefit to many of the Asian style BB creams. American BB creams seem to provide moisture and light to medium foundation type coverage. Some have healthful ingredients such as vitamin C and a variety of botanicals which the formulators claim have beneficial effects. Many people seem to use primer or moisturizer underneath American BB creams, and foundation or powder over them--this is not recommended with Asian BB creams which tend to cake up if you apply powder over them.

So, why would anyone choose a Western or American style of BB cream? First, these creams are often available in brick-and-mortar stores and so can be sampled before purchase. Generally, Asian BB creams are only available online, or in Asia of course. Secondly, if you are interested in very light coverage, you might want to consider an American BB cream, or even a tinted moisturizer. Thirdly, unless you're fairly pale, or Asian, you might have a hard time getting an Asian BB cream to look natural on you. So, if you're very pale, tanned, or have olive or black skin, you might want to look into an American or Western style BB cream. Two American BB Creams have a large range of colors, including colors for olive or black skin: Smashbox and Bobbi Brown. I have swatched Smashbox (I wear the lightest color) and it sank into my skin nicely. NARS also has a tinted moisturizer that closely resembles BB Cream, Pure Radiant Tinted Moisturizer, which has an SPF of 30 and many beneficial botanicals, so is a kind of American BB Cream. It also has the largest color range I've encountered--9 shades from lightest (Finnish--my color) to Polynesia, which might be suitable for the skin of individuals of African or South Asian descent. I have swatched this one and it blended well.

So, now, a small survey of the BB creams that I have personally tried. First, let me tell you about my skin. I am Caucasian, I have pale skin--about a NW15 according to MAC, a Porcelain according to Laura Mercier, a 010 according to Dior, and Aspen in Aveda tinted moisturizer; nothing in BareMinerals is light enough for my winter skin. I have a pink or blue undertone, and I also have a tendency to have both under eye circles and undesirable redness due to mild rosacea. My skin is very sensitive, as are my eyes, and I often have irritation due to botanicals, scent, and sunscreen. I also get breakouts from heavy, oily products. However, I do not have acne scars, hyperpigmentation, or any serious facial issues. Oddly, I tan very easily--strawberry blonde hair not withstanding. I like wearing very natural looking make up. I don't like to look "made up" or artificial. I also don't wear much besides lipstick, face tint, and eyebrow pencil--sometimes I'm lazy and skip all of these things.

One important point I should note is this: if you use Asian BB creams, or Japanese sunscreens, you should be sure to thoroughly cleanse your face each evening to prevent breakouts. Some may come off with soap, others may require an oil cleanser (or the Oil Cleansing Method--OCM), or cold cream. If you experience breakouts just using soap or mild cleanser, try these other more complete methods before giving up on BB cream.

Here are the BB creams I've tried (full face for at least a full day unless otherwise noted):

Missha Perfect Cover BB Cream in #21

This is probably the preeminent BB Cream on the market and it's produced in Korea. At the time I tried it, some years ago now, this was the lightest color it came in. It now comes in several formulations and at least one lighter color--#13. I purchased it directly from Missha and it was reasonably priced, came with several samples, and they had great customer service.

What was it like? It was quite thick--more so than any foundation I've tried. I was about the color of silly putty, maybe more putty colored than pink. It goes on in a very masklike way, and takes quite awhile to dry. It did blend with my skin fairly well, but is shiny, so it didn't really look natural. It is lightly scented, but not offensive. It also comes in a nice pump tube.

Pros:
Excellent coverage--even for under eye circles
High SPF--42PA+++*
Some color variety
perfect skin
dewy quality
reasonably priced--$14.48 on Amazon

Cons:
a bit heavy
dried slowly
not really buildable
the color was a bit off
shiny
online only

Dr. Jart+

This is another Korean BB Cream. I find it to be quite similar to the Missha, but better. It is also kind of silly putty colored, and has medium coverage. It is lighter/thinner than Missha. It is also somewhat buildable. It has no real scent that I've noticed. It does change color, but still doesn't match my skin perfectly, but it does look nice, and I prefer it to the Missha. It did blend better as the day wore on. Is it my perfect BB Cream--no, I don't think so. I got my sample at Sephora, which they were happy to provide. If you have a Sephora near you and want to try BB Creams or Tinted Moisturizers (or any other beauty product) I highly recommend them--they have fine customer service. Try to go during the week when they're not completely overrun like Saturday afternoon when I went.

Pros:

Excellent coverage
High SPF 45 and PA+++
light to medium coverage
available at Sephora
nice pump tube

Cons:

One color fits all
pricey--$45
shiny


Skin79 Premium Pink BB Cream

This is quite reminscent of the Missha BB Cream--I'd say about halfway in between Missha and Dr. Jart+. It's a nice color and thinner than either of the other two creams. It blends well--a little goes a long way! At first it looks very opaque, but it does sink into a more natural look. However, there is one thing that I really don't like about it, and that's the scent. It's very strongly scented and I'm not sure that I can get used to it.

Pros:

nice color
light to medium coverage
buildable
reasonably priced--$14 at Amazon
cute pump bottle
SPF 25, PA++
whitening and wrinkle reduction promised

Cons:

heavy scent
not a completely natural color--but good
bottle not handbag friendly (pump might leak--no cover)
a lot of silicones--might irritate some sensitive skin

Etude (yes, this is a French word, but trust me, it's a Korean BB cream)

I've ordered this and have yet to try it--review coming soon.

American/Western BB Creams

Stila

This is my favorite BB Cream so far. It has a number of beneficial ingredients that claim to brighten, moisturize, and erase wrinkles, and I do think it was making my skin look better. It also has very light coverage, but is buildable. My skin doesn't look perfect in this, but natural and very nice. Sadly, it only comes in one color, and as the fall progresses, I'm finding that it's getting too dark for me, necessitating a search for a winter BB Cream. I plan to return back to this one in the summer, even though it contains no SPF. Even though I don't consider this to be a traditional (read "Asian") BB Cream, it's also not a foundation or tinted moisturizer. In fact, Laura Mercier's tinted moisturizer is thicker and has better coverage than the Stila, and it has sunscreen. People say that this has a blackberry scent, but I don't smell anything.

Pros:

light coverage
peach color--maybe better for non-Asian skin?
available at Sephora and Ulta, as well as online
10 beneficial botanicals
natural looking

Cons:

only one color
pricey--$38 ($28 at Amazon)
light coverage
no SPF or PA

Clinique

In general I don't like Clinique foundation products. The colors are too dark and tend to turn orange on me. I don't like their City Block either for the same reason. This BB cream was dark pink colored (I have #1--the lightest color) and opaque and felt like drugstore foundation--which I don't like. It was also the same color as many drugstore foundations--at least how I remember them from the late 1970s. I didn't really want a sample of this, but the MA was so nice (at Sephora) that I took one. I may try to wear this all day as I have the others, but with my limited test, I can pretty much tell I won't like this--I washed it right off.

Pros:

SPF 30
available at department stores, Ulta, Sephora, and online
matte
3 colors

Cons:

pricey: $37
pink and opaque
matte
low SPF, no PA rating
strong scent

Smashbox

It has five colors--excellent selection. It felt more like foundation than anything else, and I felt like it didn't sink in, but sat on top of the skin. It left my face white looking because of this. It was unscented. It dried completely, but was a bit masklike and matte--good if you like that finish. SPF 30, chemical sunscreen only.

Pros:

great color selection--one of the best
very light color for alabaster skin
sheer
SPF 30
unscented
available at Ulta, Sephora, department stores
buildable

cons:

a little dry
chemical sunscreen
price-y $38
low SPF, no PA rating

Bobbi Brown

Here is another brand with an excellent color selection, including two very light colors--one pink and one yellow. It felt more like foundation than anything else, and I felt like it didn't sink in, but sat on top of the skin. It left my face white looking because of this. It was strongly scented, and even after washing my hands several times, I could still smell it--so that's a big negative for me.

Pros:

SPF 30 (chemical)
large color selection, including light colors
available at Sephora and department stores
matte
buildable

Cons:

very strong scent
low SPF, no PA rating
price-y: $42
dry and matte
not blendable

Maybelline Dream Fresh BB Cream

The Maybelline BB Cream was very light feeling and sheer. The color match was just about perfect (Light), especially as it sank in. It has no scent and SPF 30 with a physical sunscreen. It's also very inexpensive--$7.44 at Target. This is a really great product at a really great price. It will not cover deep acne scars or hyperpigmentation, but if you have only minor skin imperfections--you might just enjoy this product.

Even if you want more coverage from a BB cream, and this has the least coverage of all of the ones I've tried, it is a splendid sunscreen--you get 30 SPF in a physical sunscreen that gives your face a nice glow instead of a white cast as so many physical sunscreens do. Even if this doesn't make the cut for me as a BB cream, it will definitely go into my beauty bag and handbag as a friendly and attractive facial sunscreen.

Pros:

five colors to choose from
unscented
sheer coverage
SPF 30
promises to smooth, hydrate and brighten complexion
tube is travel and handbag friendly

Cons:

not very buildable
sheer coverage might not be enough for some people
no PA rating given, though with a physical ss it must have one


BB Creams that I've swatched on my hand or wrist, but not tried on full face for at least a day:

Too Faced--four colors: tried Vanilla Glow (lightest color) way too dark. Blended well. (Some Ultas, Sephora, department stores)
Boscia--one color only: dark pink/peach, blended badly. (Ulta, Sephora, department stores)
Dior--one color only: dark/tan, blended fine. (Sephora and department stores)
NARS (tinted moisturizer with BB Cream attributes): 9 colors--this is the best color selection: I tried Finnish (lightest color) and it matched and blended great. I would definitely consider this one for light coverage--chemical sunscreen only. (Ulta, Sephora, department stores)

There are of course many other BB Creams--both Asian and Western--available. The full reviews are for creams that I have actually worn on my face, not creams that I have swatched in Ulta or Sephora--those are listed out at the bottom of the article for your convenience.

What BB Creams have you tried? Which are your favorites? Asian or Western?


*Asians are leaders in the development of broad spectrum sunscreens. This is partially because Asian women prize very white and youthful looking skin. In the West, we have focused only on protecting against UVB rays; those are the ones that cause sunburn. So, when you buy SPF based on a number (e.g. SPF 15 or SPF 60), you are protecting against sunburn. If you buy a sunscreen with a PA rating, you are protecting against UVA rays, which are the rays which cause aging. The more +, the more protection it offers. Most Asian skin products are PA+++. I know that for many years now, I have used only Japanese sunscreens, and so have had the benefits of broad spectrum screen. I like Shiseido sunscreens in the blue and orange bottles.
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Last edited by Shell : November 1st, 2012 at 05:27 PM.
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Old October 28th, 2012, 07:29 PM   #2
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Thank you for this thread, Shell! I haven't tried any BB creams beyond spot tests of Asian ones with names I can't remember, but I am really interested in finding one that works for me.

You're inspiring me to be more active in figuring out what that might be.
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Old October 28th, 2012, 08:28 PM   #3
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If you test anymore, let us know! I want to try Shills, which I know is a brand from Taiwan.
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Old October 29th, 2012, 06:30 AM   #4
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What does BB stand for?
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Old October 29th, 2012, 10:27 AM   #5
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I've been using the Smashbox BB cream in the lightest shade for a while and love it. I tried the Garnier one and it was so-so. I really the Smashbox one. The color is good and the coverage is good. I think I'd consider trying NARS are I generally like their products. I won't consider anything I can't walk into a brick and mortar store to purchase. I need to try products and see the color and test how they feel on my skin. And paying shipping on a little tube of make up? No, just no. Not happening.
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Old October 29th, 2012, 04:34 PM   #6
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Waitingsolong, BB stands for "blemish balm" or "beauty balm."

Carolyn, I hear ya. I have such a hard time with colors and makeup that I don't even buy drugstore brands as I can't test them out. I have to buy in a brick and mortar store.
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Old October 29th, 2012, 06:51 PM   #7
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I use the Garnier instead of foundation when I wear makeup (once a week or so). I live in the desert so the SPF is a must, even in winter. I have olive tone tanned skin though, so it blends wonderfully on me. Not a huge fan of the scent but it fades quickly.
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Old October 29th, 2012, 06:56 PM   #8
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Thanks for the info! I have used a tinted moisturizer in the past and liked it. I have not tried a BB yet, but have been looking at them.
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Old October 29th, 2012, 07:41 PM   #9
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kpzra, I have heard good things about Garnier, but I have very pale skin, so I haven't tried it. I'm glad that it works for you! I like how inexpensive and easily available it is.

FrozenBritannia, I've used tinted moisturizer as well, and I have the same sorts of issues with those that I have with BB cream, but honestly, I think BB cream is nicer and more beneficial to skin, so that's the way I'm leaning. I do want to try NARS TM, and I went to Nordstrom today to get a sample, but my local store is too small--they didn't have it. I got a Smashbox sample and a Bobbi Brown sample--so it wasn't a wasted trip.

Which TMs do you like?
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Old October 29th, 2012, 08:04 PM   #10
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I have tried the almay one (too dark as I recall) and this one, which is actually a foundation apparently, but it was the same sort of thing. http://www.lisewatier.com/eng/produc...usse_matifiant

I thought it was a tinted moisturizer though, I recall the lightest shade was called illuminator or something, but the tube looked like that. I had the porceline one and it was a bit dark in the winter I found, but that could have been the hair colour change too.
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