BB creams are nothing new to the Asian skin care market, but they are new to the United States. Invented in the 50s, picked up by Koreans in the 80s, and brought to us in the last couple of years, it’s hard to believe these wonder creams haven’t been in our makeup bags all along. A BB cream, or as many call it, beauty balm, combines sunscreen, moisturizer, skin smoothing, anti-aging, and foundation into one incredibly simple-to-use product. There are tons of different brands out there, and finding the right formula can seem daunting, so I took a trip to Sephora and Rite Aid to help narrow down your search. Kathryn, at Sephora Arden Fair, filled up samples of every BB cream they had! I tried not one, but NINE BB creams, wore them over several days, tested them in different climates and elevations, and examined texture, longevity, and oiliness. After throwing all of these BB creams at my face over the last few weeks, the one thing they all seem to have in common is helping my skin look better than ever!
Dr. Jart Premium SPF 45 PA +++ was my first adventure into the world of BB creams. The texture is surprising, and has more of a primer feel to it without the silicone texture. It’s almost like a creamy gel. The coverage is light, but can be built to medium in a couple layers. The high level of protection from the sun is a real selling point for a person with fair skin like me. I also enjoyed a cooling sensation as it absorbed into my skin. The sunscreen is invisible in terms of causing that annoying film on the face, which really made me fall in love with this one. I was pretty sad when my sample ran out, and think this one might be the one I purchase in full size. It comes in just one color, which is a downside for those golden goddesses, but would blend into fair to medium skin tones. I absolutely loved this product. I wear SPF 45 daily (Elta MD), and switching to this product would not be a compromise on that level. With a formula best suited for combination or slightly dry skin, it smoothes and protects like a dream. Even after a day in the sun at an elevation of over 6500 feet, my skin remained unburned, fresh, and glowing. Dr. Jart definitely sets the bar high.
Dr. Jart Waterfuse SPF 25 PA+++ boasts being made with 50% water, and contains hyaluronic acid which helps bind that water to the skin. This is great for dehydrated skin as well as irritated, red skin because of it’s soothing botanicals such as aloe. It also comes in just one color, same as it’s anti-aging relative, but had a similar ability to blend even into medium skin tones and build coverage with layering. The lower SPF does not thrill me. I like at least a protection level of 30, but I am also neurotic about protecting my milky-white complexion. If you are using SPF 15, it would be an upgrade for you, which I will definitely cheer for, but I prefer its higher protection cousin. Overall, however, the Dr. Jart line of BB creams really left an impression on me. I will definitely be trying other Dr. Jart products in the future.
Josie Maren Tinted Moisturizer technically isn’t a BB cream, but I grabbed a sample of it anyway. The reason being that with the argan oil present in all of Maren’s product, it contains tons of antioxidants as well as a sunscreen factor (SPF 30). While it doesn’t have the texture of the other BB creams, it does have many of the benefits, and for someone looking for a little more coverage and moisture, it would be a great alternative. The coverage is significantly higher than almost all of the other BB creams, and with the argan oil, it offers a lot of moisture for people lacking oil in their skin. While it was way too heavy for my combination skin, if you have dry skin, and find that many other sunscreens and tinted moisturizers do not give you the moisture you need, you should give this one a shot. It comes in five shades from fair to tan skin tones and has a really lovely, rich texture.
Clinique BB cream boasts SPF 30 and enough coverage to make anyone’s skin looks flawless. It also claims to be the perfect primer. I was pleasantly surprised by the texture, but I think wearing anything over it would be too heavy. It has enough coverage on its own to take the place of a foundation, and with just two layers, has a healthy medium coverage. While it kept me matte all day without drying me, I did feel like it settled into my fine lines a bit. It was really easy to blend that in without rubbing it off, but having to worry about that throughout the day would lead me away from it. This leads me to believe that it would be better suited for drier skin types, or need a good set with powder. This formula comes in 3 different shades, but because of its better coverage, those who have skin that doesn’t fall within their palette may not have as easy of a time blending this brand into their skin.
Smashbox has a very unique texture, and has five shades with the darkest option of any of the other BB creams. This would be a great option for my darker complexioned beauties. When worn under makeup, it claims to enhance the length of wear to eight hours. With its very thick feel, and filmy texture, I am not sure I would want to wear foundation over this unless I was prepping for a photo shoot or doing bridal or special event makeup. Smashbox is typically known for their photo shoot, makeup artist-friendly makeup, so this is of no surprise. It claims to inhibit oil, so if you have oily skin, and battle shine, this claims to help. That filmy texture did go away after a while, and my skin was matte all day.
Too Faced Tinted Beauty Balm SPF 20 has a great texture. It still has all of the same claims as the others, offering oil-free moisturizing, while offering ingredients that protect, prevent, and smooth. What this formula offers that the others don’t is a bit of shimmer that blends really nicely into the skin. When applied, it does not look glittery, but instead offers a glow that I found to be quite flattering. Since I have combination skin with a tendency toward dehydration, a bit of glow does not bother me; however, if you have oily skin, products with shimmer are not going to work well. That shimmer can make the skin look shiny if there is too much oil present. I also wore this out for the day up in Denver and got a bit of a burn. I didn’t spend too much time in direct sunlight, so the SPF 20 was not enough for me. I was in a car most of the time, so this slight burn was a surprise. If you are at elevation, you should definitely wear a higher SPF underneath this, and not use it as your primary sunscreen, especially if you are as white as the moon like myself!
Dior Hydra Life BB Creme SPF 30 was my most disappointing BB cream out of the bunch. While the texture seemed dry, which could be good for my oilier readers, the smell really turned me off. It was very strong and the smell did not wear off. Also, it only comes in one color, which was far too dark for me, so I unfortunately could not wear it on my face out of the house. It does blend nicely, and the texture feels much more like a foundation. While the other formulas had creamy, gel-like textures, this one is runnier and thinner. Despite the thinner texture, it has better coverage than most of the others and created a matte appearance on my skin immediately. For someone with medium skin tone, and without sensitivity to the smell, this would be a great product. While the other brands with only one color are on the lighter side, this one caters to a slightly darker complexion.
Boscia BB Cream SPF 27 PA++ was similar in texture to Dr. Jart at first, but seemed a bit more matte after a little time to absorb. This formula claims to repair the skin as well as offer protection, hydration and soothing properties. Boscia’s BB cream had a orangey tint to it, which did not compliment my pink-based skin tone, but could look nice on someone with more of a tan. This one left a filmy feel on my skin that did not seem to go away over time. It also has a shimmer to it that didn’t blend as well as the Too Faced shimmer. I could see how this might be better for drier skin because of the added shimmer and slight heaviness of the formula. While this formula does not work for me, if you feel like you have dry skin, it might be good for you. Get a sample, and see how you like it.
Garnier Miracle Skin Protector BB Cream, which I picked up at Rite-Aid, really surprised me. The texture rivals Dr. Jart, and the color matched me perfectly. There are only two colors available, so once again, my darker skinned lovelies are going to have to look elsewhere. This one is also very dewy on the skin and takes a while to soak in. After about twenty minutes, the greasy look had gone, and I was left with even skin that felt moisturized and plump. However, Garnier only offers SPF 15, which is outdated. SPF 15 simply isn’t high enough to offer any real protection from the sun, especially when I was day-tripping to Vail. A very short walk outside, and I had a burn on my forehead. Though a minor burn, this tells me that I will have to wear my Elta MD sunscreen under it if I plan on spending any more than twenty minutes in the sun. I also hold the opinion that SPF 30 is about as low a sun protection as anyone should go. However, if you would rather not spend ten to twenty dollars more on a department store brand, the Garnier (with sunscreen underneath) is an absolutely fabulous product.
After a few weeks of testing out these BB creams, I really fell in love. I am not a fan of wearing too much foundation on the skin, so these creams are a fantastic compromise. They blend well, even the skin, and really do seem to improve texture with use. After all is said and done, Dr. Jart’s SPF 45 is the one I will be adding to my makeup bag (along with the Garnier I had to buy for lack of samples). However, while some of these formulas did not work for my skin, they might work for yours. Most of them make the same claims, so pay attention to your skin type, and see which one you like the most. Like I said before, Kathryn at Sephora gave me a generous sample of every BB cream they had, so don’t be afraid to ask for a couple before you commit. There are also others I have yet to try such as Stila, MAC, Prestige, Estee Lauder, etc. I really do encourage my readers to give BB creams a try. I can’t sing their praises enough, even for just the simple reason that it will get you all wearing sunscreen every day!