Friday, April 6, 2012

BB Creams. What are they?

Photo: By Studio 504/Stone Collection (Getty Images)

Over the next several weeks I will review a BB cream or foundation every Friday. I wanted to keep it focused on BB creams to start for a few reasons.
a) I have several BB creams I most desperately want to review for all of you
2) There is no day in the week that rhymes with BB Cream so I snuck it in under the Foundation Friday feature
iii) I use BB cream as my main foundation most days, so it might as well be a foundation.

Some of you might be asking what exactly is a BB cream.  BB cream, also known as Blemish Balm, Blemish Base or Beblesh Balm, is a cosmetic item sold mainly in East and Southeast Asia, however larger beauty brands Like Estee Lauder, Clinique, L'Oreal and others are introducing BB creams to the US and European markets as well.

BB Cream was originally created in Germany by a Dr. Schrammek in 1967 it was initially used by dermatologists to help laser surgery patients protect, soothe and refine highly sensitive skin while providing light coverage for post-laser scars, acne and other blemishes. The cream eventually found its way into a broad mainstream market when Korean actresses started to use it and recommended it.

The different formulations that BB creams come in could fill a book.  However, the main purpose of them is to be regenerative, anti-inflammatory and soothe the skin. Some have anti acne ingredients, some are anti-aging, others have lightening/whitening effects to  them, and even others are supposed to even skin tone.  Some people use BB creams as a primer before foundation and others, like me use it in place of foundation.  Many BB creams are touted as a moisturizer, skin refiner, primer, foundation, sun screen and pore minimzer all in one tube. This makes them not only a time saver, but an economic skin care solution.  They are not an over hyped Tinted Moisturizer. (TM) TMs usually do not have sunscreen, or lightening agents or anti-aging formulations. TMs are simply a moisturizer that is tinted. Period. (with one exception being the NARS Illuminating Tinted Moisturizer, which I reviewed and compared to a BB cream)

Advantages to a BB cream are:
  • It's like skin care and makeup combined. It improves the skin's condition/tone and provides coverage for dark spots and other blemishes at the same time
  • Gives a natural, "no makeup look"
  • Many can provide coverage like a foundation but not as heavy so it's great for warmer and more humid climates.
  • Helps conceal uneven skin, discoloration, acne and other blemishes.
  • Encourages healing and soothing in skin and skin regeneration
  • Contains Sunscreen Protection
  • Some have Anti-Aging and Skin-Lightening agents.
Disadvantages to a BB Cream Are:
  • There is not a wide range of color selection because many of the BB Creams from Asia (Korea & Japan) have only one or two color choices. Those with darker skin are left out.  However this is changing with the popularity of BB creams in the US. Hopefully US brands will start to carry a wider range of colors.  So far NARS is the only BB like cream that offers shades for darker skin.
  • Many BB Creams are loaded with Silicones. Those sensitive to silicones might have to try several brands before they find one that works for them.
  • Many of the labels and in turn the ingredients are written in Japanese or Korean and therefore you may not be able to discover exactly what is in the product you are using.
  • Many times you will have to purchase BB creams from ebay or on-line sellers from Japan and Korea. This may make getting your product in a timely fashion harder.

Over the years I have tried probably 14 to 18 different BB creams. I didn't have much success 5 years back, but recently I have found more BB creams with a matte finishes and better oil controlling formulas.  This means that there are answers for even us Oily Skinned gals out there to get a BB cream that won't slide off your face by 11 AM!  Since I am still oily, but my acne is relatively under control I find BB creams to be the excellent alternative to foundation.  I'm not against foundation, but if I can save time by no having to put on a moisturizer, anti-aging serum, sunscreen, primer, and THEN foundation, well I'm all for that!  Plus many BB creams apply perfectly with your fingertips, so no messing with sponges and brushes to achieve the "perfect" finish.

Some of the more prolific brands for BB Creams are Skin 79, Missha, Etude House, and Skinfood.  I will, over the next several week, show you some BB creams from some of these brands and from some smaller brands.  Most, if not all, will be Asian brands.  (Don't worry. I'll  have a few regular foundations in this series as well!) I purchased all of my BB creams off of ebay from sellers I have worked with in the past.  I found their prices to be fair and shipping reasonable.  

Here are a few of the sellers I have used:
And here are a few on-line retailers I have purchased from with success

So, Are you ready to dive in to the whole Foundation Friday Fabulousness?


  1. And you're going to make us wait until next Friday for a review??!! I can't wait! I only have one BB Cream thus far (Boscia), and can't wait to try some more, so bring it on, lady!

  2. Yay! I am excited to see which ones you are going to review. I have only tried around 8 so far!

  3. So excited for the BB cream reviews! I've been using them (mainly Boscia's) for the past year since I'm an oily skin-girl too, and I find that using the BB cream instead of a bajillion products makes my skin overall less oily through the day. The Garnier one isn't bad, but isn't great for coverage.

    My friend just brought me back a Skinfood BB Cream from her visit to Korea, and I haven't used it yet so I'm really looking forward to your review.

  4. Elvira, I purchased several from They carry a pretty wide range and prices are very reasonable. I got two from Missha that I paid around $14 for each. They have a distribution center in CA and shipping is free at a certain price point. Don't remember exactly how much but it's reasonable. I got my order very fast with no errors. I have used them 3 times now with no problems. Highly recommend. Looking forward to your reviews. I live in AZ so SPF is a big deal for my skin care, base, primer, etc. So far, the Missha has been doing an excellent job but I'm always looking to branch out.

  5. I am SOO excited for these posts! I've been hunting for a good BB Cream for a while!

  6. I am really looking forward to Foundation Fridays!!!

  7. Looking forward to this series!

  8. this is such an exciting series wooooooooooo
    I was wondering whether it would be possible to remove the captcha/word verification setting. Google has made them harder lately and it's really hard work to read them, making commenting difficult. If you are concerned about the spammers, you can turn on the 'comments on approval' setting? I meant this the nicest possible way, I love commenting, and silly captcha/word verification is spoiling the joy I have with commenting. xx

  9. Really looking forward to this series!

  10. Very excited to see what you have to say! I've really been wanting to try a BB cream, but am unsure of what is a good one to try.

  11. So excited for the reviews. And I've been looking for reputable eBay sellers so thanks for that!

  12. I've used the Skin79 Hot Pink and a Maybelline chinese BB cream and I've come to realize that BB creams are just overhyped. I don't find that they have any skincare-like qualities any more than my normal foundations like MUFE F&B do. They only come in one or two usually pretty ashy shades that are supposed to "oxidize" to match your skin.... yeah.... right. Maybe I just tried the wrong ones but I like buying foundation that I can actually find a match with my skintone.

  13. I am looking forward to your reviews :)


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