To BB or not to BB

Last updated 13:56 08/11/2012

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Makeup & Skincare

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I'm a bit late to the BB movement - but not as late as the major cosmetic companies which are only now releasing their versions, 50 years after the first BB cream was manufactured in Germany.

The original BB - or ''blemish balm'' - was a white zinc oxide and talc ointment used as a wound healer. Today the first ''B'' has been quietly renamed ''beauty'' and the balm has evolved into the ultimate multi-tasking complexion fix-it. BB creams provide tinted, natural-looking and highly protective coverage and require zero application skills or fuss. We love them. We wonder how we could not have cottoned on to them before. But be aware: a ''BB'' by name may in fact be a ''TM'' - and a ''TM'' is similar but not quite right. A friend without benefits.

''TM'' is of course tinted moisturiser and such is the rush to jump on the BB bandwagon that some cosmetic companies seem to be putting forward their existing tinted moisturisers as ''their BB''. Theirs are not good enough, ladies. A true BB cream must offer much more than hydration in a bit of flesh colour.

A real BB cream alleviates blemishes and redness, helps combat acne and relieves skin rashes. It offers some sun protection (but not officially in Australia where SPF is tightly regulated) and has anti-bacterial, hydrating and anti-ageing benefits. It replaces normal foundation that does none of these things. ''It sounds like the skin care equivalent of a magic pill,'' says Sue Dann, distributor of Alex Organics, which made the original BB cream and now sells two versions. ''If you're looking for a simple skin care solution, BB cream does double-duty beauty - it helps repair imperfections and gives you light, natural coverage to even out skin tone at the same time."

BB creams can be used on sensitive and rosacea-prone skin and are recommended for recently resurfaced skin. They do not generally offer the luminosity of a traditional foundation but as an everyday makeup they are fabulous. They are super quick to use and so seamless you don't need to look into a mirror to blend. They can even be dotted on sun-damaged decolletages in a way that doesn't work with normal foundations. But not all BB creams are created equal. Remember, some are not proper BBs.

Alex Organics Pure BB Cream ($79.80) still has the original zinc base and leaves skin looking healthy and nourished. The very new Lancome UV Expert BB Complete ($52) offers the only-just-allowed-here SPF50 protection but is lightweight and creamy. It gives a natural finish while softening pesky lines and blemishes. Skeyndor's new BB Cream Age Defence SPF15 ($59) delivers both a healthy glow and a matte finish. It's one of the lightest. Jane Iredale Glow Time Full Coverage Mineral BB Cream ($72) has a calming, naturally based formula with SPF25. Also recommended is Natio Pure Mineral Skin Perfecting Cream ($14.95), described by Natio makeup artist Jenna Higginson as ''a one-stop shop for flawless skin'' and available in three shades. Others joining the BB movement in the past month or two include Palmer's Eventone BB Cream ($9.99), a budget buy in two shades, and Garnier Miracle Skin Perfector BB Cream ($13.95) - you've seen the ads.

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