Firstly, I am not primarily a beauty blogger…but I’m going to waffle on about a beauty-related subject anyway. So there.
What is a BB cream?
BB stands for Blemish Balm. It’s akin to a tinted moisturizer but with a catchier name and more ‘benefits’.
The BB origins:
They are generally thought to have originated and gained momentum in the Korean market, but a lot of BB product blurbs claim the concept was perfected in Germany. I remember reading on an ebay listing that apparently BB creams were designed as a method of both covering and aiding in the healing process after cosmetic surgery. That could be an urban legend. Pinch of salt needed. The majority of UK media claim that it’s a “Korean actresses’ secret”. Whatever that means.
BB creams saturate the Korean skincare market and they gained a lot of ground in other Asian markets before reaching the UK last year.
I always remember it being weird that brands like Dior would make their own BB creams for the Korean market. Is it just a branding exercise to capitilise on a buzzword or is there actually a product difference from say a regular foundation?
I forgot to add ‘walk your dog’ and ‘do your laundry’.
Due to all these extra properties, BB creams give you the impression that they are kinder or more beneficial to use on your skin than typical foundations.
BB creams I’ve bought into:
My first BB cream was from eBay. It could have been a fake as I’ve seen countless listed on aliexpress, a great site to search for items you suspect might be fakes.
I’d read loads of reviews and decided on buying Missha’s Perfect Cover BB cream in no.21 as it seemed the most popular online. I wore that cream everyday for at least the span of a year. Now, that cream might be for some people…but it made me look like a ghost. It was thicker than a foundation, white and ashy in tone and made me look practically corpse like. Blending just wasn’t happening.
So I moved onto Skinfood’s Aloe BB Cream, another well reviewed product online. I wore this one for around a year. The major problem I had with this one is that it was really oily, a better skin match but super greasy. After a visit to Korea, I finally settled on Etude House’s relatively new BB cream. It suits my skin tone, it’s semi-sheer, easy to blend, gives you a dewy finish etc.
The problem with BB creams:
This is my major problem with BB creams, we don’t all have the same skin. It’s hard to match your skin tone to a product you buy over the Internet and even more so if the target market that the product is dermatologically developed for is of a different nationality to yourself.
A lot of brands only carry one or two shades of cream, which is pretty limiting and also more than a bit depressing if you aren’t the holder of one of two generic numbers of beige.
The other big problem is that a bunch of products labelled “BB” tends to give you the idea that they’re all more or less the same formulation or from the same base. Or that they generally do the same thing. A BB cream that gives you dewy skin is not going to be the same as a BB cream that is matte. So in that sense, BB is just a big umbrella to name a bunch of different products with a nice buzzword that signifies an “all-in-one” multi-tasking product.
Leading on from that a lot of the time it doesn’t seem there’s a major difference between a foundation and a BB cream, especially with the really high coverage ones like Missha.
Thoughts about BB creams in the UK:
In the UK Garnier led the way with it’s BB Miracle Skin Perfector. It’s sort of marketed as a super-charged tinted moisturiser, the fact that there isn’t a lot of range in products between foundation and skincare aimed at the youth bracket means there is plenty of ground to be gained. Estee Lauder have gotten in on the act as well. On a personal note though, I think the Garnier BB cream is pretty terrible, it doesn’t work for me at all.
The big difference between the Korean and UK market is I think that they’re focused on different things. In Korea it seemed that everything was much more focused on skincare,as opposed to makeup in the UK. You literally go into any high street cosmetic store in Korea and there are face masks, serums, emulsions, massage creams, fluids, eye creams…..an overwhelming amount of skincare. There is a link to a great blog post about asian cosmetics at the bottom of this post.
The SPF in the UK creams are generally lower or non-existent. The Garnier one is SPF15, most Korean BB creams that I’ve encountered are in the 20-30+ range.
One final thought….
The packaging is lame. Garnier meet Etude House.
If you are interested in reading a bit more about BB creams, check out these very informative links:
The beginners guide to Asian cosmetics – hope-inablog.com
UK BB cream comparison swatches – britishbeautyblogger
Korean BB cream top picks – about.com