BB Creams: A Review and An Explanation

What I wouldn’t give for skin like that! This biggest global beauty trend this year is the BB cream–BB stands for Blemish Balm.The product was actually developed in Germany for post-laser patients because of it’s soothing and skincare properties. BB Creams became wildly popular when Korean actresses started wearing it in soap operas, it then quickly spread all over Asia.  BB creams are touted as something of a miracle all-in-one product; skincare, base makeup, anti-aging, skin lightening (that’s why so popular in Asian countries), blemish healing and sun protection. Since BB creams are über popular in Asia, it was only a matter of time that they made their way to the US. Consequently, several US brands have released their own versions of BB creams including MAC, Boscia, Clinique and Garnier.

BB creams are designed to be the “little black dress” of tinted moisturizers.  A BB cream is a lightweight foundation, moisturizer, primer, concealer, anti-aging treatment, sunscreen, blemish healer and some have whitening properties.

I tried three different BB creams from two companies; two from Dr. Jart+, one of the first Korean BB creams (if not the only) to make it’s way to Western shores and that can be purchased at Sephora and the Boscia BB cream.

Let’s start with the Dr. Jart+ BB Beauty Balm Premium ($39) shall we?

Some of the great things about this formula:

  • Contains mineral sunscreens to provide broad spectrum protection, with an SPF of 45!
  • Advanced brightening properties which includes Arbutin which is especially good for aging skin
  • A Bio-Peptide complex for anti-aging
  • An ingredient called adenosine, which is suppose to improve elasticity and firm skin–let’s hope so!

The first thing I noticed about the Dr. Jart+ Premium BB cream is that is it much thicker than any tinted moisturizer I’ve tried. This can be good or bad depending on what you are looking for. I personally like the texture–it’s somewhere in between a foundation and a tinted moisutizer thereby giving me a bit more coverage. BB creams are moisturizing enough for my combo skin that I don’t need an additional moisturizer underneath–adjust according to your skin type. There is no shade range as is common with most BB creams(the brand Missha being the exception),–they are suppose to adjust to your skin tone.  The color is a little light for me in the summer months but I mixed it with a tiny drop of my Stila One Step Bronze and viola-a perfect match to my neck and chest!  One the range of skin tones: pale, fair, light, medium, medium-dark, dark–I fall into the fair range so I’m skeptical as to whether this will work for skin beyond the medium range.

This also has a semi-matte finish which is unusal for a BB cream but I happen to like it–some leave my skin looking so shiny I could guide ships into port 🙂 Another advantage to Dr. Jart+ BB Premium is the wear–it’s very long lasting and does not oxizide or fade throughout the day.

If you’re looking for BB cream with a little more coverage and the added benefit of some super duper skincare ingredients with a high SPF–you’ve struck gold. If you don’t want as much coverage or want/need that high of an SPF–keep reading 🙂

Prime Beauty Grade: B+

Dr. Jart Water Fuse Beauty Balm SPF25/PA++($32)  is a seriously moisturizing BB cream thanks to the 50% water formulation. It’s supposed to maintain the skin’s moisture balance and impart a dewy, healthy look to skin. “Like a drink for your skin, once applied, tiny droplets of water appear before being quickly absorbed, generating an instant soothing and cooling effect.” 

I was totally amazed at how this felt on my skin–it truly feels like nothing–light as air or…er…water.  It has a slight cooling effect which feels nice but honestly it did nothing for me….nothing! The coverage was very, very minimal–it didn’t appear that I had anything on my face and it was SO light it left an almost whitish chalky cast. I’m not even sure it would work for the palest of the pale without the same white cast–this is no doubt due to the ingredients in the sunscreen. This BB cream is for those fortunate enough to need no ceverage–in other -words, those of you with perfect skin. It will NOT conceal anything nor hide any flaws. I suppose it could be used as a primer if you have extremely dry skin, however that would defeat the purpose of an all-in-one BB cream! Beauties, this is best left to the 20-somethings or the lucky teens without acne, NOT for us over 40 women.

Prime Beauty Grade: F (for over 40 women)

Boscia BB Cream SPF 27 PA++ ($38).  I have quickly fallen for this Japanese brand, one of the world’s first preservative-free, botanically-based skincare lines. I became infatuated with the Luminizing Black Mask, then went on to the MakeUp-BreakUP Cool Cleansing Oil (review coming) and the Restorative Eye Treatment for Undereye Bags sent me over the edge into…… Gushlandia!!!! Of course I wanted to try the Bosica BB cream after my love affair with the other products!

Definitely the most pigmented of the three BB creams mentioned here, it has a smooth creamy texture that imparts a lovely luminious glow. The self adjusting formula really works with this BB cream and it leaves no whitish pasty cast, just healthy looking skin. The formula is so lightweight and absorbs so well you won’t realize you have anything on your face. Coverage is sheer and not as long lasting as the Dr. Jart+ Premium BB cream.

If you are looking for a sheer, dewy and radiant glow with good sun protection, Boscia BB cream may be the choice for you!   Prime Beauty Grade: B+

Dr. Jart Premium, Dr. Jart Water Fuse, Boscia BB Cream

Boscia BB Cream

For more information about BB creams see Musings of a Muse post What’s the Difference Between Tinted Moisturizers and BB Creams? and Questions and Answers on BB Creams.

Also-What is a BB Cream and Why Are Asian Women Crazy About It?

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  1. Great post! I myself am still trying to figure out what all BB creams do, and trying to find the best one for my skintone before I make the plunge. I really like your tip of adding the Stila one step bronze to darken the color. I definitely like all of the properties of BB creams EXCEPT that they lighten your complexion!

  2. I was reading a Philippino beauty blog and found out that Maybelline makes a BB Cream but sells it only in Asia. Why???? I want to try it!

    • It will be in the UK next month so we will probably be getting it soon–Garnier will have one too!

      • That’s what I want to hear! lol I’m on a budget, so would like to try drugstore bb creams. I also think that many drugstore brands have stepped up their game and can compete with many of the higher end products.

  3. I just received the Boscia from Sephora today. I have and love Missha M BB Cream (reviewed it) but of course I can’t stop at one! I hope this doesn’t have a fragrance so I can love the Boscia too.

  4. I love the comparison you’ve done. I think I’ll recommend this to my mom, she’s lately expressed an interest.. but is so not ‘into makeup’. Thanks for the resource!

    I’ve been curious about BB creams for years. I like the all in one concept, but there is definitely a gap for medium-dark+ skin tones.

    I suppose that is because of the potential lightening properties?

    • Tamara, if you saw my earlier comment about the Maybelline bb cream, the girl on that blog said she is NC35, so it sounds like Maybelline’s has shades that work for us darker skinned women. I thought it was strange that they usually only have light shades too, especially because of the skin lighteners, why would someone who is fair skinned want to be lighter? You would think it would be the dark skinned girls that would be marketed towards. (Which I strongly disagree with, but just knowing how the beauty industry is.)

      • Donna,
        In Asia where BB creams originated, pure white skin is valued–even fair skinned girls try to bleach their skin–no bronzer or tanner for them!

  5. Great review! Thank you for the detailed info. It’s sooo nice to have women our age doing reviews!!!

  6. It’s funny that I had never heard of BB Creams until a few weeks ago, and now I’m reading about them everywhere! I guess I will have to try one soon.