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BB Cream: What Is It?

Is a Solution for:
Dry Skin, Oily Skin
July 19, 2010 Reviewed by Marta 8 Comments
Your beauty vocabulary may need to be expanded if BB creams are set to become your new best buddies. Never heard of them? Well, I suspect you soon will as they are all the rage in those beauty superpowers, South Korea and Japan. It is said that all Japanese women, whether teenage or mature, use at least one BB cream and every drugstore has a BB corner.

BB  stands for blemish balm and the source of their appeal is that they are the ultimate multitaskers, standing in as moisturizer, foundation, under-makeup primer, concealer and sunscreen. Originally, BB creams were first developed to protect sensitized skin after cosmetic surgeries like peeling or laser treatments, while providing coverage to conceal the bruising or reddish skin tones. They claim to treat various skin troubles like blemishes, roughness, discolorations, brown spots, open-pores while concealing imperfections.

In a very short time, BB creams have established a whole new category in the Japanese beauty industry: "All-In-One" cosmetics.

One of the first to have made it to the US, Dr Ci:labo BB Perfect Cream ($38), describes itself as "beauty serum, makeup base for brightening, makeup foundation, and concealer. With EGF (skin rejuvenator) and the effect of Crystal Veil Powder, dark spots, wrinkles, fine lines and dullness can be immediately covered with just one application of the cream, creating a natural radiant look for your skin."

I am particularly enamored of the fact that the Japanese boom was triggered by the TV appearance of a popular transvestite and makeup artist called IKKO. Her personal favorite is MISSHA M Perfect Cover BB Cream. Although MISSHA’s ingredients include the skin brightener arbutin and a good handful of botanicals plus collagen, it doesn’t on the face of it look worthy of cult status. However, reviewers tend to rave – particularly those that haven’t before found a foundation to love.

Ingredients in MISSHA

Water (Aqua), Cyclopentasiloxane, Dimethicone/Vinyl Dimethicone Crosspolymer, Cetyl PEF/PPG-10/1 Dimethicone, Ethylhexyl Methoxycinnamate, Zinc Oxide, Dimethicone, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Butylene Glycol, PEG-10 Dimethicone, Arbutin, Magnesium Aluminium Silicate, Stearalkonium Hectorite, Hydrolysed Collagen, Rosa Rubiginosa Seed Oil, Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil, Squalane, Caviar Extract, Adenosine, Algae Extract, Macadamia Ternifolia Seed Oil, Fagus Sylvatica Bud Extract, Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Leaf Extract, Sodium Hyaluronate, Ceramide 3, Chamomila Recutita (Matricaria) Flower Extract, Fragrance (Parfum), Triethanolamine, Methylparaben, Propylparaben, Hydroxyisohexyl 3-Cyclohexene Carboxaldehyde, Butylphenyl Methylpropional, Benzyl Salicylate, Hydroxycitronellal, Alpha-Isomethyl Ionone, Hexyl Cinnamal, Linalool, Citronellol. MAY CONTAIN [+/-; Titanium Dioxide (CI 77891), Iron Oxides (CI 77491, CI 77492, CI 77499)
  • December 29, 2010

    by Frckls

    I'm a don't-want-no-hassle kind of girl but still want to maintain my appearance. I thought BB Cream is one sweet idea, but I always hesitate looking at the ingredients list. My family has some histories on cancer (lung and breast) and I wan to make sure any product I slather on my skin is safe enough.

    You might want to check this blog

  • August 5, 2010

    by Michelle

    ok, so far, I really like BB cream! It's nice and light like mineral make-up, but in a creamy foundation form. After hearing great reviews on the net and on youtube, I decided to check out a Korean beauty store. The clerk there provided me with a load of samples for the Laneige range (including the multi-purpose cleanser, the essence and the cream for dry and combo skin types, day and night eye cream, and the popular water sleeping pack and strawberry yogurt peel). I bought the sleeping water pack and the Mamonde BB cream (I have yet to find an online review about this brand of BB cream), but so far I like it! No wonder Laneige is so popular, I like EVERYTHING that I received in the sample. The cleanser seems to work great, and the essence and cream and water pack are so moisturizing. I'm not sure what's in their products, but my acne is clearing up and my face just seems healthier. Everything seems light, fresh and absorbent. The BB cream glides on smoothly, blends in nicely (I mean, it looks like your own skin as if you're not wearing make-up; like the Korean "natural" look), and doesn't seem to melt as I get more oily during the day. I seem to be less oily using it compared to the Estee Lauder maximum cover foundation I use. It was great at first, but after a few uses, it seemed to NOT be so water-proof and started mixing w/ my facial oils and made my face look a bit like the paint was starting to drip off the canvas. =/

    oh, and I must mention the awesome Strawberry yogurt peel. I'm not sure if it's actually taking off the dead skin cells (you can literally feel and touch it rub off--it's a visible effect), or if it's just the product coming off. But the result is great! My pores are VISIBLY smaller/less visble and my skin is smooth. I do feel as though I scrubbed off dead skin and a new layer of skin surfaced after the use of this product. =D Just thought I'd share. And I've only used these products during this week.

  • August 1, 2010

    by Michelle

    I'd like to make a request for review of Laneige products, and also a product called Cure, which is purportedly Japan's top selling product, with a record breaking 1 bottle sold every 20 seconds. Thank you!

  • July 29, 2010

    by Michelle

    Thanks for the review Marta! I've also heard of various BB creams including the MISSHA one you posted, along w/ a BRTC and L'egere brand, which has been a favorite to many reviews that I've come across. Are there any ingredients that you would warn us to take heed of or look out for in these creams? I'm just looking for something w/ coverage that still gives a natural look rather than a cakey or powdery one. All the Korean celebrities look like they're not even wearing makeup, but their skin is so white and bright.

  • July 21, 2010

    by Suely

    I mean "soon to be bride daughter ) and actually a smile face in the end...(yes, I am busy typing and watching my toddler eating, in order to avoid his big dinner mess) LOL

  • July 21, 2010

    by Suely

    As a mother of a 25 soo bride to be (Sep 18th) and a 3 yr old toddler boy needless to say i am always super busy. Find a good all in one product seems a dream come true. Cant wait to try it. Thanks Marta for keeping us all updated with the latest (and well informed of its ingredients :)...)

  • July 21, 2010

    by Pam

    Hi Marta,

    It's funny that you mention BB creams because I recently learned about them through various Asian makeup gurus on YouTube and was on a mission to find one that suits my skin. I ventured out to my nearby Korean Super Market with skin care store at one corner and received samples of two brands for combination skin - Cellabel and Gowoonsesang (Dr. G). Most BB creams only come in one or two shades that match lighter skin tones. Even though the tint doesn't match all skin tones perfectly, it's supposed to blend in with the skin tone after settling/oxidizing or brighten the skin tone.

    Cellabel was too light of a shade for me, and I ended up purhasing Gowoonsesang (Dr. G) Brightening Balm SPF 30 for about $50. After using my own SFP 15 moisturizer, I apply the BB cream only in areas that need help, i.e. undereye circles, redness around the nose, and random blemish marks, and then set with a translucent powder. I don't wear makeup on a daily basis so this type of problem-treating works well. To my surprise, this BB cream works better than my concealer due to it's texture - creamy with slip and enough coverage without being sticky or cakey. I used to like Benefit's Erase Paste as a brightening cover-up for my undereye circles, but it's on the sticky side and sometimes shows up in my creases throughout the course of the day. The Gowoonsesang BB cream does the job well without revealing itself.


  • July 19, 2010

    by Jaysie

    Marta - In my never ending search for a pressed powder with a high SPF, I just recently read about BRTC BB Pressed Powder SPF 40 (Korea), but I was unable to find an ingredient list other than it contains titanium + zinc and some botanicals.

    It's spooky how frequently I come across something new (at least to me) and then discover you've already been there, done that. TIA is always ahead of the curve!

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