I am asked about BB (and now CC) creams a lot so I have created a fictional character, Eoz, with whom I will conduct an informative and snappy lesson on their uses, meaning, benefits and dining preferences:
Eoz: First of all, you have such great hair. Tell me, are BB creams worth it?
Zoe: Thanks, Eoz. That's kind of you to say. Regarding BB creams, yes, they're pretty great. User friendly and time saving. However, some are taking the piss a bit in my opinion, generally the more numerous and varied a products claims are, the less better it achieves any of its multiple components, so touting 10 benefits isn't neccessarily a great thing.
Eoz: What does the BB even stand for?
Me: Originally, in Asia ("Korea") where they first found their fame, BB stood for Blemish Balm, because they had skin-clearing capabilities, or were gentle enough to use post-procedure (laser, peels etc... I would use a very gentle, very pure mineral foundation personally.) Now BB generally stands for Beauty Balm.
Eoz: Aren't they basically doing what tinted moisturisers have always done?
Zoe: Terrific question and outstanding detective work, Eoz. Yes is the answer, which as a dedicated tinty moisturiser fan, delights me, because suddenly the whole category has been reinvigorated.
Tinted moisturisers (should any still exist, having narrowly avoided being mildly adjusted and re-labelled as BB) give you a bit of hydration, a bit of sunscreen and some tint. A nice, simple multi-tasker that was great for days when you don't need a lot of makeup.
BB basically creams do the same as this, but on a couple of cans of Red Bull and with high-achievers syndrome in the shape of Extra Bonus Benefits (depending on which you buy) like illuminating skin-tone perfectors, antioxidants, shine reduction, anti-aging and skin smoothing ingredients, primer, or pigmentation fading ingredients designed to even your skin tone over time. (I would not rely on your BB for fading pigmentation. That's an exceptionally tricky task and one better left to a targeted brightening products like my favourite, Ultraceuticals Even Skintone Serum, or Dr Plunkett's SuperFade, or Clinique Even Better Clinical Dark Spot Corrector, used on clean skin at night under night cream.) I think of them as new generation tinted moisturisers, basically. Just with better marketing.
Eoz: How do I use BB cream?
Zoe: With terrific ease; they are designed to simplify your routine. So instead of layering your day cream, sunscreen, primer, foundation, you can get it all in one wee tube. By all means use them as your one-step do-it-all on clean skin, although - lecture coming - I personally don't believe the SPF in BB creams to be enough for our Aussie sun, especially when you use about 1/3 of the amount you need for that SPF factor to be working, so please use your regular daily moisturiser with SPF first, then your BB cream. The exception to this rule could possibly be a SPF 50+ BB cream, because the strength of the SPF means you can use even that pea amount and still get adequate protection.
They are often used under your foundation as a skin-perfecting base/primer and can act as a great mixer: I blend mine with moisturiser when my skin is dry, and with my foundation when I want more coverage, and I dab some onto my face late in the day for a hit of hydration. Please note despite their many charms, they can not be used as a sleeping bag.
Eoz: And now I hear about CC creams? Does this stand for Creme Caramel?
Zoe: No, you gorgeous dunce. It stands for colour or complexion correcting. CCs are for those with less... perfect skin than the average BB user. They're designed to act as a colour correction product, something that generally takes a slew of green, yellow or pink based concealers and creams, followed by skin perfectors, and that's all before the makeup is applied. They also claim to help with long-term skin tone correction, although I'm a bit suss on their efficacy in that area. Try a CC if you have redness, sallowness, or dark spots and find your BB cream is too sheer and ineffective, or you are still relying on your old colour correction techniques. CCs tend to be more lightweight, offer more coverage and spend less time on Facebook than BB creams.
Eoz: Which BB cream do you use?
Zoe: I like the L'Oreal Paris Nude Magique BB cream. So much so I bought a new tube to replace my old one here in the US, and look! It's different! I like the fresh, healthy glow it gives, the smoothing feel and the coverage level, which is strong enough to even out my skin tone, and lightly conceal my pigmentation, but still looks as though I may not be wearing any makeup. I find it nicely hydrating, too. I like the self-adjusting formula, which means that when I apply the product, it comes out creamy and purple then blends onto my skin in a lovely, flawless, skin-matching way. I don't know how exactly self-adjust makeup works, think it's to do with my body heat and the micro-particles being released on contact to correct tone and give coverage, but it's awesome, and one of the reasons Estee Lauder's DayWear Sheer Tint Release remains one of my faves, too.
Old Aussie tube Vs new US tube. Samesies.
I also love the new Kiehl’s Actively Correcting & Beautifying BB Cream SPF 30, (although it is actually SPF 50 the cosmetics regulator in Australia, NICNAS, hasn't yet adopted the new Australia Standard which allows the SPF 50 claim, and as BB creams are classed as cosmetic, not sunscreen, they remain limited to an SPF 30 claim) because it's lightweight, luminous, gives a lovely, fresh look to the skin, is buildable if you want more concealing, is hydrating, has antioxidants (Vit C - also good for fighting pigmentation) and as with the Nude Magique, you need only use the teeny, tiniest amount for your whole face. Also the tube is adorable. And it made it to my Amazing Face App must-haves. And it's mineral oil and paraben free. And it sings lullabies at night.
Eoz: Thank you, that's been very informative. Guess I'll CC you around.
Zoe: BB good now.