Sunday, 3 April 2011

What the heck is a BB Cream?

Recently a friend and I were talking, as we often do, about our skin care woes and how to address them. Although our skin types are very different, we both have an issue of sensitive skin that reacts poorly to harsh formulations. She sent me a message shortly after our conversation saying "Have you heard about BB Creams?!". No, I hadn't, but my interest was piqued. She told me that BB Creams were the must-have "it" product in Asia at the moment and that girls with sensitive skin were swearing by them. Interest ultra-piqued!

I did a bit of research and my friend was right that BB Creams are currently sweeping the markets in southeast and eastern Asian countries such as Korea, China, Singapore, Taiwan, and Japan. Short for "Blemish Balm", BB creams were originally developed in Europe for use on clients post-cosmetic surgery. Thus, these products were meant to be extremely soothing, with light coverage for any scars and redness that may follow the procedure. Following their initial stint with European dermatologists, they gained huge popularity in Asia, primarily via Korean celebrities and models who claimed that BB Creams were the secret to their flawless complexions.

Korean Celebrity Endorsement of Skin79 brand BB Cream

Although there are now a myriad of options with varying formulations. Here is what most BB Creams claim to offer:
  • Significant coverage of uneven skin tone and blemishes
  • An ultra-natural, "second skin" finish
  • Lightweight texture that won't clog pores
  • Gentle enough for sensitive skins
  • UVA/UVB sunscreen protection, which works to further protect skin against hyperpigmentation and premature aging

Also, there are specific formulas for targeted skin care concerns such as:
  • Skin brightening or whitening
  • Anti-aging benefits
  • Anti-acne ingredients
  • Redness reduction

Ultimately, BB Creams claim to offer the coverage of a foundation with all of the skin care benefits that most makeup lacks. This sounds somewhat reminiscent of the tinted moisturizers that are everywhere on the North American market, but with an even stronger focus on improving the skin and achieving a lightweight feel and invisible finish.

Here are things to consider if you are considering trying a BB Cream:
  • They offer varying amounts of coverage, from a sheer primer-like finish through to the more opaque finish of a moderate coverage foundation
  • There are formulations targeted at almost every skin type, so make sure you are finding ones that match your specific concerns
  • They are very difficult to find in North American retail locations, but are easily accessible in online shops and on ebay (I know a couple of retail locations in Toronto if you're interested!).
  • Most brands only offer one or two shades. Unfortunately most would not be suitable for very fair or medium-dark skin tones
And of course, because I am on a constant quest for products that will address my skin care dilemmas, I had to go out and purchase a BB Cream for myself...

Skin79 Dream Girls BB Cream. Love the girly packaging!

Last week I wandered into a cosmetics store on Bloor Street in Koreatown after seeing a colourful display of BB Creams in the window. I hadn't done as much research at that point, but I told the salesperson that I was looking for a BB Cream that was ok for acne-prone, sensitive skin. She immediately placed this sparkly box in front of me on the counter. She said that this was the best choice for me: Skin79's Dream Girls Beblesh Balm (because some companies have actually trademarked the term "blemish balm"; $18 CAD). It's formulated for blemish-prone teenaged skin- hence the pink and purple sparkly celestial packaging- but claimed to be suited for combination and sensitive skin types as well. Because the price was not outrageous, and because I trusted her expertise, I quickly purchased the item and brought it home, proud to be a new follower of this burgeoning beauty trend. I have not given it a thorough try-out yet (and thus will write a more comprehensive review later on), but I can say that the Dream Girls formula matches well with my NC20 skin tone and does blend invisibly into my skin. More natural-looking than any tinted moisturizer I've ever tried! It's a promising start, but I will keep you posted!

I hope you've found this quick introduction to BB Creams informative. If you have any more questions about it- like specific brands to try or where to buy them- let me know!


  1. Great article, thanks Jenn. I would never have known about this otherwise. I am very interested in trying this out given my own concerns over the Scandinavian red patches on my skin which is hard to conceal. I'll be in town for CPA in June and would love to know where I can pick some up downtown.

  2. Glad you enjoyed reading it, Fuschia! The retailers that I know of are both in Koreatown, which is on Bloor St. between Bathurst and Christie stations. I'll be at CPA as well... just remind me and I'll be happy to let you know where you can find some BB Creams to try!


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