I have to hand it to BB creams. They have proved to have way more staying power than a passing fad. When these multitasking imports from Asia were followed by CC creams and even DD creams (which must stand for desperate), I thought the whole category would implode. But the combination of tinted sun protection with anti-aging actives has proved to be a boon for paring down summer beauty regimens. With BB creams here to stay, it was high time for me to discover some of the best out there and add to my perennial favorite, Prana Reflect BB Creme SPF 45.
A new trend that I am noting is that some new formulations don’t have a traditional SPF at all, but use the sun protecting power of antioxidants. I’ve added a few of these to my selections for testing, as well as the more traditional type of BB creams.
Selected for testing
ClarityRx It’s Becoming Concealing Moisturizer ($52 in the shop)
When recently chatting with the team at ClarityRX, their new BB cream came up. They claim that this anti-aging concealing moisturizer blends with every complexion. Mine is fair and, in places, ruddy. This multitasker is nothing short of miraculous. It comes out of the pump looking grayish-white (like you would expect of a mineral sunscreen). Applied in a light layer, it appeared to be completely transparent, and then after about a minute, my face had this honey, sun-kissed hue. That’s because the formula releases special encapsulated pigments that adapt to your natural skin color. Peptides and antioxidants provide protection from UV. My full review will be coming up next Monday, and you’ll see then just how impressed I am.
Josh Rosebrook Nutrient Day Cream with SPF 30 Tinted ($95)
In the past, we had Josh Rosebook’s nothing-short-of-natural products in the Truth In Aging shop. Since then, he has come out with a BB cream with 12 percent non-nano micronized zinc oxide. Earth minerals that adjust their color provide the tine and there are plenty of botanical oils and extracts, including — irresistibly — catnip.
INIKA Certified Organic BB Cream ($45)
This Australian organic makeup brand has a nice-looking BB cream that comes in several tints to cover most skin tones. The antioxidant mix (there’s no actual SPF) includes prickly pear, pomegranate and argan oil in a base of aloe vera water. It seems like it would be a wonderfully refreshing formula with the coverage of actual makeup.
COOLA Rōsilliance™ Organic BB+ Cream SPF 30 ($52)
COOLA seems to have undergone a transformation since I last looked at the brand. I remember when a COOLA sunscreen was reviewed by one of our community members a few years back, and it had enough nasty chemicals to qualify as toxic waste. It has definitely cleaned up its act with Rosilliance BB cream. I’m not keen on aluminum hydroxide as the first ingredient, and it should also be noted that trisodium ethylenediamine is a potential irritant. However, the good outweighs the bad with rice bran, marine extracts and leaf cell extracts.
Although I found many popular BB Creams — including IT Cosmetics’ contribution to the category — intriguing, they ultimately went into the rejects. I’ve also noted a few other that I decided to pass on.
IT Cosmetics Your Skin But Better CC+ Cream with SPF 50+ ($38)
IT is determined to stand out in a crowded market with CC+ Cream that starts off with snail secretion. There’s too much silicone for my taste and, like COOLA, there’s aluminum hydroxide. However, there’s niacinamide, oxygen-bringing perflurodecalin and plenty of plant extracts. An odd inclusion is pentafluoropropane, a skin refrigerant used for muscle pain.
Dr. Brandt Skincare Flexitone™ BB cream ($39)
This actually looks awful. It boasts a “plant-based oxidative shield,” which does seem to equate with anything on the ingredients list apart from a couple of plant extracts. Otherwise, it has all the chemical sunscreen ingredients known to man.
Erborian BB Cream ($39)
Hailing from Korea, Erborian is perceived leading the K-beauty BB charge. Its BBC cream isn’t the worst, but it is definitely mediocre. I don’t like the mix of chemical and mineral sunscreens, or the high quantity of silicone, and definitely not the talc. That being said, there are some good extracts including ginseng, yam and kigelia fruit.
DHC BB Cream Foundation Broad Spectrum SPF 20 ($45)
Japanese brand, DHC, has managed to cause a flurry of excitement that is, in my opinion, unwarranted. This BB cream is dismal. Synthetic emollients, silicones (10 of them!), aluminum and talc all send this to the bottom of the pile. Olive oil, oat and cork oak cannot save it.