These are the facts you need to know about BB creams and why you should have them in your makeup bag instead of foundation.

Bonus points if you already know what the “BB” in BB cream stands for–if not, don’t worry, we’ll get to that in a second. BB creams are a fairly recent phenomenon on our shores (they’ve been big in Asia for awhile). Remember a few years back when there was a sudden influx of them popping up on every makeup counter? They’re still so new that “BB cream” isn’t in the dictionary yet. (I find this slightly unfair because “selfie” and “dubstep” made it in.)

The “BB” stands for “blemish balm” or “beauty balm,” and according to WebMDit is a skincare-makeup hybrid. Its multi-purpose formula replaces the need to have individual products. BB creams combine moisturizer, primer, SPF protection, and a bit of foundation coverage into one miracle product. There are formulas that specifically target anti-aging and zits. Is this where the term “hero product” came from?

BB creams are generally tinted to match your skin tone. They come in a few different shades usually light, medium, and dark. Because of their sheer formula, you don’t have to worry about getting exactly the right shade, unlike foundation.

Who Is It For

Anyone who wants to streamline their morning routine and buy one product instead of six. So that would be everyone.

If you suffer from acne and wrinkles, there are specific formulas to target your skincare concerns. (See below for recommendations.)

If you’re looking for the full coverage of a foundation, you may find a BB cream’s coverage too light. BB creams have sheer coverage, similar to a tinted foundation, so if you like a perfectly matte and powdered face, don’t toss your foundation. Or try setting your BB cream with powder.

Why You Should Use It

Uh, hello, spending $15 on one product instead of $150 on five. Plus you can hit the snooze button for another 10 minutes because you’ve chopped your beauty regimen by more than half.


BB creams are applied in the morning after you wash your face and use your toner. (Remember we discussed how beneficial toners are last time.)

You apply your BB cream all over your face, the same way you would use a regular moisturizer. Because of their sheer color, there’s no need to use a brush or sponge, unlike with foundation.


  • 1. Maybelline Dream Pure BB Cream: This BB cream is perfect for those of us prone to the occasional pimple. It contains 2% salicylic acid and it’s oil-free, so it won’t clog pores.
  • 2. Smashbox Camera Ready BB Cream SPF 35: In addition to containing a good dose of SPF protection, this BB cream comes in 10 different shades–enough to rival a foundation’s.
  • 3. Garnier Skin Renew Miracle Skin Perfector Anti-Aging BB Cream: The mouthful of a name explains what this multi-purpose product does. It evens out your skin tone while reducing wrinkles over time. It also contains SPF 15, to keep you protected from the sun’s harmful rays.

(Photo: Richard M Lee/Shutterstock)

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