What on Earth is a BB Cream?

Posted on by Anouschka in Skin Care

Most of you have probably heard of BB cream by now, but might not be sure what this cream is or does. The list of benefits mentioned on the labels make BB creams sound like little miracle workers from hydrating to brightening, to covering and protecting. So let’s find out.


What is a BB cream?

BB cream stands for “Beauty Balm” or “Blemish Balm”. As an all-in-one facial cosmetic product, it is promoted as a replacement for serum, moisturizer, primer, foundation, and sunblock. Pretty awesome – right?!


What does it do?

It will give you a good base for makeup like a primer, even out complexion like a tinted moisturiser, cover minor imperfections and redness like a concealer, hydrate your skin like your day cream, brighten and perk-up a dull complexion and some will even protect with SPF. Some also promise healing, soothing and anti-ageing properties.  SOURCE


Where and when did BB cream originate from?

BB Creams began in Asia several years ago as a cosmetic cult phenomenon and a one-step skin care miracle. They’ve moved their way to the United States over the past few years. Originally formulated by German dermatologist Dr. Christine Schrammek in the 1950’s, this skin care multi-tasker was designed to protect, heal, and conceal the skin after laser procedures and surgery. SOURCE


 How BB creams have changed

The Western formulas are a bit different from the brands that are popular in Korea — those tend to be a bit more opaque, with cooler undertones (Monica of BeautyParler.ca reviewed Missha Perfect Cover BB Cream here). In Asia, the beauty ideal is flawless, porcelain skin. In North America, we like glowing-with-health skin, so our BB creams are more sheer, designed to give the complexion a radiant finish. They’re somewhere between tinted moisturizer and medium-coverage foundation. Skincare ingredients vary, but can include hydrating ingredients such as hyaluronic acid, brightening ingredients such as Vitamin C, and antioxidants.

BB creams can be used on their own, or as a base (like primer) for regular foundation. They generally come in one or two shades designed to suit a wide range of skintones. Apply sparingly. SOURCE


How to choose the right one for you?

Treat it like skincare and find one for your skin type. Do you have dry skin? Oily skin? Problem skin? Do you have ageing concerns? Or do you just want a healthy glow? Check you like the smell (it is often perfumed) and make sure it blends into your skin well. Try before you buy and see how it feels on your skin for the day – in the same way as you would try a foundation on your skin before buying.


Any particular skin conditions or types that should avoid a BB cream?

You have to see what’s in that BB cream. Clinque’s Age Defense BB Cream is SPF 30 broad spectrum with vitamin E, that doesn’t do anything for pigmentation but it has oil control so it’s good for people with acne. Garnier’s Miracle Skin Perfector BB Cream has vitamin C, my favorite antioxidant, which is good for fighting free radicals and brown spots as well as a combination of glycerin and hyaluronic acid. These are very high level moisturizers and would work for someone with dry skin.SOURCE


How do you use it?

The magic of the BB Cream means you can wear it alone without foundation and you should get a light, natural finish coverage to give you a health glow and cover uneven skin tone. Use it when you don’t fancy wearing full foundation or if you want to brighten and perk-up your skin between work and a night out.


What it doesn’t do

It won’t cover like a foundation so if you suffer from spots you might need to go over problem areas with a concealer. There are also limited shades on offer – generally light, medium or dark. Watch out for pinky undertones too which will not suit darker skins.” 




I previously wrote an article on how, in addition to using SPF, it is also important to apply an antioxidant serum underneath your sunscreen. Although it is recommended that you apply the antioxidant serum before applying your sunscreen, many BB creams seem to include an antioxidant and some are even using titanium dioxide for SPF rather than chemical sunscreens. And even though this alone can start a whole new debate as to which sunscreens are safer to use (read more here), I like that the BB creams are incorporating most of these elements into one product.


I am definitely going to be on the look-out for some BB creams here in South Africa – have you tried one yet?


BB Creams available in SA:


Dr Brandt Flexitone BB Cream SPF 30 – R395

Dr Brandt


Garnier Miracle Skin BB Cream SPF15 – R80 –  launching in Clicks stores nationwide soon



Smashbox Camera Ready BB Cream SPF 35 – R390



Bobbi Brown BB Cream SPF35 – +R450

Bobbi Brown


Clinique Age Defence BB Cream SPF30 -R496 – Buy Online with FREE Shipping HERE



Eborian BB Creme SPF 25 – R339.95



Estee Lauder CyberWhite Brilliant Cells BB Creme SPF 35  – R568 (30ml) Buy Online with FREE Shipping HERE

Estee Lauder




About Anouschka

Anouschka is a full time mom and part time Spa addict and pamper fanatic. After taking a 'mommy break' from working in the advertising industry, she started managing facebook fanpages for businesses and fell in love with social media. She divides her time writing for PamperMeNow!, managing the ‘ILoveBeingPampered’ fanpage, and running after her two young boys, with a little bit of Spa action in between.

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