Trend Bender: BB Creams Tuesday 12 June, 2012

A look behind the wild beauty phenomenon, BB creams, plus three beauty balms that will have you buzzing: Smashbox Camera Ready BB Cream SPF 35, Estée Lauder Daywear Anti-Oxidant Beauty Benefit Cream SPF 35 and Clinique Age Defense BB Cream SPF 30.

This is a time where I’m going to admit, shamefully, that I blinked and missed a trend in its stateside infancy.

The story goes like this: In early 2011, I was pulling together a feature about tinted moisturizers, and MAC Cosmetics submitted Prep + Prime BB Beauty Balm SPF 35 for possible inclusion. I did my testing and liked it well enough, though when it comes to my own makeup, I’m more a full-coverage kind of gal. My notes: “It’s thicker than a tinted moisturizer, but not as opaque as a foundation.” After my test drive, I didn’t think much more about it. MAC’s BB Balm didn’t make the cut due to space issues in the story (an occurrence that happens all too often). But this isn’t really the point of my blabbering. The point is: At that very moment, I wasn’t clued in to the “beauty balm” craze over in Asia; I just thought MAC had cleverly come up with a name for their tinted moisturizer. MAC is, after all, very clever.

Six months later, the term “BB cream” started flooding my email inbox. And that’s when I realized: Well, well, well—that MAC product was in a different class of beauty product; it wasn’t a tinted moisturizer after all. And then I thought: You need to educate yourself on this beauty balm/BB cream buzz because it’s going to be another type of “BB”: big business. And it is: According to the NPD Group (via WWD), since BB creams’ stateside introduction, these little do-it-all tubes have generated nearly $9 million (from March 2011 to March 2012). In essence: We like our beauty balms in the U.S.

 Smashbox Camera Ready BB Cream SPF 35

(Visit for Smashbox Camera Ready BB Cream SPF 35.)

What is BB cream, blemish balms and beauty balms? Mix moisturizer, primer, foundation, SPF and skin-loving ingredients (think: anti-agers, zit-busters, skin-brighteners, etc.) together into one bottle, and you have yourself a BB cream (also known as “blemish balm” and “beauty balm”). The idea for this multi-tasking makeup chimera isn’t exactly new: German dermatologist Dr. Christine Schrammek-Drusio whipped up the formula off of which BB creams were born—in 1968! This derm worked with patients post-cosmetic laser when their skin was raw and susceptible to infection, and she sought to create makeup that would not only help lightly mask flaws during the recovery stage, but also soothe and heal the skin.

 Estee Lauder Daywear Anti-Oxidant Beauty Benefit Cream SPF 35

(Visit for Estée Lauder Daywear Anti-Oxidant Beauty Benefit Cream SPF 35.)

BB cream completely blew up in popularity thanks to a Korean actress citing it as the secret to her flawless skin, and from South Korea the word spread like wildfire to Japan, China, South East Asia, Europe and then—finally—America. Is there a difference between the BB creams lining retail shelves in America and those over in Asia? In a word: yes. Asian women prefer more coverage and fairer skin tones, leading their BB creams to have a more opaque finish that has a cool undertone. Re-formulating this do-it-all product for Americans equals creating sheerer finishes that allow natural skin to remain visible while also adding warmth and radiance.

Clinique Age Defense BB Cream Broad Spectrum SPF

(Visit for Clinique Age Defense BB Cream SPF 30.)

As for the “healing,” high-performance side to these beauty balms, many beloved skincare ingredients make their way into the formulas. High up on the list: vitamin C (to brighten), hyaluronic acid (to hydrate), vitamin E (to protect) and caffeine (to soothe). And though you certainly could use these magic balms as your only makeup and skincare item, the jury’s still out on whether they give you all the benefits you’d get through a healthy skincare routine.

Who is BB cream best for? Not to be trite, but this is lazy beauty at its finest, so those who are a little slack with their skin care or who really want to condense their skin care and makeup into one step will find BB creams a godsend. But, laziness aside, women with a need for speed due to their own multi-tasking (career, mom, wife, all-around-superhero) will find BB creams to be the perfect addition to their makeup bag. And if you’re still on the fence about trying on a beauty balm for size, this NPD finding may sway you: 77% of BB cream purchasers noted that they are extremely or very satisfied with the product. Satisfaction almost certainly guaranteed? That’s BB—big business—indeed.

Does the idea of a BB cream appeal to you?

Karie L. Frost Signature


Related Posts

Pretty P.O.V.: Dior Hydra Life BB Créme SPF 30-PA
Pretty P.O.V.: Dior Hydra Life BB Créme SPF 30-PA
MAKEUP(minded), SKIN(saited)
Event Space: The Makeup Show NYC 2012
Event Space: The Makeup Show NYC 2012
MAKEUP(minded), NAIL(tipped), SKIN(saited)


  • I am always suspicious of “new products categories” and question do we really need it, but BB creams have blown me away. I haven’t tried Estee Lauder’s, but have tried Clinique, Smashbox, Stila, Boscia, and Dior and each brand has done a good job with creating diverse positive results. Great article. I am not surprised at all by the revenue BB cream has generated! Great article!

  • Quinn says:

    But which one is the best??? I’m super lazy with foundation and have been using Laura Mercier tinted moisturizer but am looking for something with a bit more coverage. I like the fact that BB cream has spf and is easy to apply. All the other stuff is just icing on the cake. Any suggestions??

  • admin says:

    The reality is: You’re not going to get a ton of coverage with BB creams; they’re great at masking flaws/evening skin tone by way of “diffusing” light and are akin to the coverage you would get with a tinted moisturizer (like you’re wearing—you ARE wearing one of the best out there)—but, the main difference for BB creams is that they pack in various skin care ingredients, long-wear hydration, SPF and, in some cases, feel like a primer (velvety to the touch, and leave skin feeling silky with a creaseless finish).

    I favor Smashbox because it has that velvety feeling; I’m a sucker for that. Of the BB creams I’ve tested, it has more coverage than most, and lasts for a long time. Plus, it comes in five shades, which is great for customizing to your individual skin tone.

    Clinique has decent coverage, but feels slightly heavier than most BB creams I’ve tried. It’s in 3 shades.

    Estee Lauder – coverage is SHEER. Very sheer. So, I’m guessing: Probably not what you’re looking for. (Gives a nice, dewy glow, though. Can act as a primer for you.)

    Like I said: I am a more full-coverage kind of gal, so for me, BB creams serve as a great primer for my foundation – and the fact that they take care of SPF and hydration as well is good news to me!

    Good luck finding one that you like. You can always start off with Garnier’s BB cream, which is less of a wallet-suck – it feels like silk but can wear a little heavier than others. L’Oreal has one as well that I have only rubbed into the back of my hand; it seemed to assimilate to my skin tone and leave a nice, even matte finish, but I haven’t tried it on my face.

    Wow…long answer. Hope some of this helps! 🙂 karie

  • Robin says:

    Wow, amazing weblog layout! How lengthy have you ever been running a blog for?
    you made blogging look easy. The full look of your site is magnificent, let
    alone the content!

    • admin says:

      Hi Robin! I’ve been blogging for about a year and a half, and I work hard to keep the look as editorial as I can! Thank you for the compliment. 🙂

Trackbacks and Pingbacks

Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *