• BB Creams: Hip or Hype?

    Annet KingIf you are anything like me, then the much-hyped marketing term “BB Cream” makes you want to roll your eyes just a bit, which of course you’d never do in front of a client! For those of us who have been at this party for a while, we’ve weathered all kinds of promotional puff over the years – from stretch mark creams that supposedly erase wrinkles, to gadgets that zap hairs and pimples to the latest crop of glued on everything from lashes to nail art to tooth gems! But we can’t ignore the popularity of the BB Cream, which according to a report by The NPD Group, has amounted to over $9 million dollars in sales in U.S. department stores in the past year. And with a new BB cream being introduced every second in the professional, prestige and mass channels, the trend isn’t dying down any time soon.

    So what’s the history? The BB stands for Blemish Balm, Blemish Base, Beauty Balm or Beblesh Balm. The concept originated from Christine Schrammek, a Polish-born, early pioneer of skin care training and products in Germany who developed the cream for patients to use after receiving her peel. It was designed to provide light coverage and to protect and soothe the skin. So how does a German cream become an overnight sensation with Korean celebrities? It may have begun with the popularity of the peel among Asian women who wanted to quite literally peel away their hyperpigmentation and lighten their skin. The original Blemish Balm was then retailed for the client to use at home. Korean celebrities were quick to share their enthusiasm, and product endorsement ensued, igniting a craze in Korea marketed as “the secret of Korean actresses.” They now comprise 13% of the Korean cosmetic market. Faster than a Kardshian marriage, the trend spread from Korea to Japan, China, South East Asia and has since made its way to Europe and the U.S.

    So what makes them so special? In a nutshell, they help to save time, as they are truly just a multi-purpose cream much like a tinted moisturizer with SPF. They are essentially a cream that provides skin benefits or treatment, coverage and UV protection. They come in a variety of different formulations and levels of quality, so make sure you check that ingredient list before recommending one packed with artificial colors and Mineral Oil to an acne-prone client. Some claim to have skin brightening properties, while some say they’ll fight acne or wrinkles. Others can be used like a primer under foundation, or they can replace foundation. Some recently introduced creams claim to function as a primer, foundation, moisturizer, SPF, and pore-minimizer all in one!

    As with any trend, it’s important to thoroughly investigate and research a product or treatment before jumping onto the beauty band wagon. Ensure you educate your clients on the facts, and as this truly is just a marketing term, the next time you are recommending that Sheer Tint SPF20 hydrating moisturizer, feel free to say it’s just like a BB Cream!


    • Jessica Allison Says:

      I wonder if you happened to have tried any BB creams before writing this? Though, without regulations on the term, you are correct about it being a marketing term, in fact, there are major differences between BB creams and tinted moisturizers. US brands are using the term to essentially re-market their sheet tints, but that doesn’t mean that’s what BB creams are meant to be.

      The most notable difference is that Asian BB creams have unique formulas that have much higher coverage than tinted moisturizers, yet the hydrating silicone bases keep them looking natural. Asian BBs also typically have soothing, anti-aging and brightening ingredients in the mix. In most US versions I’ve seen, you’re lucky to have a few token anti-oxidants added.

      I have been a professional makeup artist (and skin care consultant) for over 15 years, and have tried foundations & tinted moisturizers across virtually all mass and prestige market brands. I can only say with the greatest of emphasis that if you’re at all
      curious about BB creams, try one of the original Asian brands (Missha Perfect Cover is my personal favorite). I was pleasantly surprised how *unlike* tinted moisturizers they were, and you may be too :)

      August 31, 2012 at 5:47 pm
    • Briana Says:

      Do you mean shear tint spf 20? Or skin perfecting primer spf 30? Wouldn’t both be considered a BB cream? And isn’t the spf 20 tint being discontinued?

      September 1, 2012 at 2:42 am
    • donah Says:

      I work in the beauty industry and have access to many different bb creams they r not all created equal. A good bb cannot be compared to a tinted moisturizer. Having the opportunity to test and apply different brands i will tell u that many of them do indeed make the skin look even and flawless. Some eve help diminish the appearance of fine lines, mimimize redness and give a radiance to the skin. I myself use one daily and love what it has done for my skin. Some do offer more coverage and depending on ur skin can replace a foundation. Use must test them out and find one that is best for u. Stila, boscia and too faced r my favorites so far. Smashbox is offers a higer spf than the others and more hydration.

      September 5, 2012 at 12:03 pm
    • Annet King Says:

      Jessica, I have tried several BB Creams myself and am mostly frustrated with the misuse in the marketing of the creams. As you’ve noted, many U.S. companies cross market them for their sheer tints, which I find to be misleading! I’ve come across several Asian BB Creams that have artificial colors and some other questionable ingredients, however I’ll be sure to look into what you’ve suggested. Thank you for that!

      And Donah, thank you for your suggestions as well!

      Briana, Dermalogica does not consider any of their products to be BB Creams, however many could argue that SkinPerfect Primer SPF30 is one. Again, it gets lost in the marketing terminology.

      The former Sheer Tint SPF15 was reformulated, as was Treatment Foundation. Here is information about the new formulations:

      September 21, 2012 at 12:02 am

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