The lowdown on BB Cream

BB KINGS: Which one is right for you?
BB KINGS: Which one is right for you?

With a hiss and a roar, it's taken over the beauty industry. They're the words being uttered by beauty editors, beauty reviewers, makeup artists and celebrities all over the world: BB Cream.

You've likely heard whispers of this "miracle product" already, but what on earth is it? And is it worth all the fuss and hype?

BB Cream - it stands for blemish balm, although it is now most often known as beauty balm - was first created by a German surgeon who designed a post-peel and laser surgery balm for his clients to help with inflamed redness and sun protection.  For his clients that couldn't yet wear makeup but still wanted a light coverage, BB Cream was perfect.

The product was picked up by the Koreans, leaders in the beauty industry, and became a favourite with their celebrities. It was the dream product for the Asian market, where the ideal skin is fair and flawless.


I asked Kai Vinson, director of artistry for Bobbi Brown, about the BB Cream hype.

"It's basically a hybrid tinted moisturiser, except it has more coverage, more skincare benefits, anti-ageing benefits, it's lightweight and easy to use and also has high sunscreen protection," he said.

Not to mention it also gives you the dewy-fresh skin look that's so trendy right now.

"It's the latest beauty hype. It used to be mineral foundations, and now it's all about BB Cream. Which is good, because BB Cream actually makes your skin look amazing."

BB Cream has now flooded the Asian market, and is swiftly taking over Europe as the go-to skin miracle of choice.

Not that it's really a miracle. It's just common sense, combining four products - foundation, moisturiser, anti-ageing cream and sunscreen - into one.


I tried it, and for someone like me who wants the coverage but despises heavy makeup, it was perfect.

A good replacement for a light foundation, it also saves a huge amount of faffing in the morning.

Instead of applying my serum, moisturiser with sunscreen and then foundation, I just used the one product.

While some of you may be content to wear it on its own, I did find I needed concealer as well for a little extra masking in my "hazard" zones (around the nose and under the eyes). 

One of the most common points that users make is that when first applied it seems to make the skin look a bit grey.

Just give it a couple of minutes to soak in (rubbing it in gently with fingers helps) and you'll find it'll settle into the skin and look lovely.

I'm not the only one who liked it - Vinson swears by it, and now lists it as one of his top five must-have beauty products.

"Women are always looking for that great product that's simple to use. It's so easy and so good for your skin" he says.


Top tips:

Firstly, decide what you want out of your BB Cream. Some have anti-ageing benefits, some long-lasting hydration, some work on acne and blemishes, and many Asian brands offer lightening benefits (skin whitening). What makes a good Asian BB Cream is different to what makes a good Caucasian BB Cream, as Caucasians don't often want the whitening benefits. Read the packet to see what each cream does.

Find the right shade.While some BB Creams claim to be "neutral" in tone and will adjust to your skin shade, they can't possibly match everyone. Most brands only offer one shade, but your best bet is to go for brands that offer multiple shades and find your perfect one. Wearing the wrong shade (most often too light) will leave your skin looking ashen. 

You can add more coverage. Many women are now using BB Cream as a base primer, and then building over top of it with their normal foundation or tinted moisturiser. If you do need more coverage then this is completely fine. "It can be worn on its own or you can build more coverage by layering it, or by adding on your own foundation," Vinson says.

Sort your skin. If you have dry skin, then apply BB Cream after your moisturiser for extra hydration. If your skin is oily, then BB Cream is all you'll need.

Apply it carefully. While most of the how-to videos online show users haphazardly smearing their BB Cream all over their face, I recommend a more careful approach. Products like this tend to require a bit of work to get them settled into your skin, so either use your fingertips to dab the product in (the warmth from your fingers will help ease the colour into your skin) or use a foundation brush.


Garnier Miracle Skin Protector (Daily all-in-one BB Cream), $17.50. Garnier's version of BB Cream is pretty simple and straightforward. It hydrates for 24 hours, evens skin tone with its pigment, gives skin a healthy glow and has a sunscreen of SPF 15. The most affordable of all BB Creams, it's available through supermarkets and department stores.

Clinique Age Defence BB Cream SPF 30, $50. While this product has no anti-ageing benefits as such, the sunscreen in it is obviously an age preventative, and the high dose of vitamin E provides antioxidants. It works well on both oily and dry skin, as it hydrates without feeling greasy. Laminaria Saccharina Extract, derived from seaweed, helps reduce the excess production of oil. Available in two shades, pink and golden. Available from April 23.

Estee Lauder Daywear Anti-oxidant BB Crème SPF 35, $83. High in anti-oxidants, controls oil, and has light reflecting pearls that make for a luminescent finish. Like Clinique's product, it doesn't have active anti-ageing properties but it does protect from further ageing. Comes in two shades. Available from March 26.

M.A.C Prep + Prime BB Beauty Balm SPF 35. Oil control with a smooth and flawless finish. This product has had rave reviews for its ability to last all day without budging, and for its added primer. At present only available overseas, but can be bought online.

Bobbi Brown BB Cream SPF 35, $75. Reduces discolouration and dark spots, and works to reduce redness. Features Argireline, a natural peptide to boost natural collagen production, minimising the appearance of lines and wrinkles. High in antioxidants, long-lasting moisture, and keeps oil and shine at bay. Currently comes in three shades, with two more available from July.

Smashbox BB Cream SPF 35, $55. Controls oil, primes to give a smooth canvas, offers 24-hour hydration. Has anti-ageing peptides to decrease the appearance of fine lines over time. Available April 1.