For the nerds, here’s some history:
According to Wikipedia, in ancient Germany (1950s) a German dermatologist named Dr. Christine Schrammek first created the formula which was used to treat skin after surgery and lasers (I picture this differently than reality does I’m sure), but the idea was to cover and treat wounds while they healed. In the 1980s South Korea and Japan were introduced to this cream and it went viral, now basically everyone in Asian cinema is glowing like wow from it and making us all jealous.
You should also know that “BB” is not a brand name. It is usually said to mean “Blemish Balm” (but this word is trademarked in South Korea) so “Beblash Balm” is substituted. Here in the west, people generally just decide that BB means “Beauty Balm” and that’s what they go with.
Why should I care? I’m about to tl;dr you.
BB creams are a product that we who live in the USA (and other places) don’t even have anything to compare it to. I mean, this is actually a step in skincare we don’t have. BB creams have light to medium coverage like foundations do, but they also typically include ingredients to treat blemishes, aging, and uneven skin color; they often include whitening agents (these do not dye or bleach your face), moisturizers, and majestically, SPF. This Swiss army knife of makeup/skincare is a heck of a product, and we’re just now learning about it here in the west where it is trending hardcore.
The best things about a BB:
- They’re great if you’re super lazy/busy/wake up late and don’t have time for fifty thousand layers of makeup but you don’t want to walk out of the house looking like honey badger.
- These are awesome if you have naturally pretty great skin but want to have a little added something, like cover your freckles or add a tad bit of moisture. They feel very light, so they’re also great if you really hate makeup.
- Daily SPF. Most BB’s have generous SPFs. Most of mine are 25-50 SPF. Folks, I know you hear this as much as you get nagged about flossing, but really: wear a sunscreen. If you succeed in protecting your skin from damage you’ll look a decade younger (if that’s what you’re into).
- Many are formulated to deal with acne and oily skin, or at the very least not make blemishes worse. They also covers acne (and scars) nicely, and make an excellent base for fifty thousand layers of makeup (if that’s what you’re into).
- This is a great product for men, as it does not look like you’re wearing makeup. In South Korea there are BB cream brands that are made especially for men.
- IT DOES EVERYTHING.
The bad news about BBs:
- They suck, suck, suck, suck, suck, for black and tan people. Most BBs come from South Korea and Japan where homogeneity makes it really simple for a company to release LITERALLY ONE COLOR of a skin cream that is supposed to match your skin. I think if they grow in popularity this could change, but I’m not holding my breath because I still see very little color variety in mainstream cosmetics.
- While some western companies have started to make BBs they drastically alter the formulas for some reason, and they end up being more like tinted moisturizers and do not have the Swiss army effect (i.e. they can’t really compare with the quality of the Asian brands). Usually they also lack SPFs of any reasonable level.
- Some of these are hard to get in the US because, well, you have to import them. This also can make them more expensive and therefore stupid to buy for some of us on smaller budgets.
- There are fakes. Yep, just like Calvin Klein and Louis Vuitton you have to be very careful. Indeed, you don’t know what inferior/scary/horror ingredients go into a fake cosmetic and no way am I suggesting you do that at all. Thankfully, many popular brands also have some pretty sophisticated packaging to deter fakes, and you can easily avoid them if you buy from reputable sellers (i.e. not that guy on eBay who has 1 feedback yet somehow has 800 “Bradn New 100% Genuine Skin79” for sale).
- Most of the brands now release English on their packaging (the outside packaging usually, not the product itself), but this is not something you should expect. I for one am pretty horrible at Korean, and even still I don’t suffer from this problem. I honestly think most people won’t really have a huge issue with this because the ingredients list for major brands are always available online.
I have never even heard of a BB before, so how do I wear it? Is it like foundation?
There are some techniques to applying a BB cream that are a little different from how to apply a foundation (no one uses a sponge). The video above uses one of the exact methods I do, specifically when I really want to cover my acne scars. She dots it on to different regions, mushes it all in and blends it about, and then she gets more and directly dabs it onto the problem areas like you would a concealer. Like me, she also applies it around the eyes, because it covers darkness and redness but also moisturizes delicate eye skin.
Another popular method is to “pat it in”. This is a typical technique for applying skincare for many people in the world, though I usually do not see western people doing this. You take a small amount of the product and get it onto your hands, then gently press your hands into your face skin. You keep doing this until you get your whole face, and until it’s all blended nicely.
Now that you’ve given me the facts, tell me what you actually think of this stuff.
Overall, this is one of my biggest beauty secrets. I always pack my BB Cream with me when I go somewhere for an overnight, especially if I’m packing light and only want to deal with like one product. It makes my skin look really great, and I look alive and healthy for basically no effort. My actual skin has improved from using it, and I would not believe that a product like this exists, works this well, and no one I knows has ever heard of it–except that I have tried it myself.
I do have some favorites which I plan to cover in reviews, but if you’re looking to just try something there are many popular brands: Missha, Skin79, Lioele, SkinFood, Etude House, and a ton more. BB is a big deal and freaking everyone makes one today.
Missha is still giving away a free full-size “Perfect Cover BB Cream” and this is a popular brand that comes in more than one color option (for the freebie you don’t choose the color). You have to pay shipping from South Korea (I think it’s like $10). And though this particular one isn’t my favorite, it is one I really like if you want to try a BB cream, but I encourage you to try many if you can because selecting a BB is a very personal choice, and every BB is different. Drastically in some cases.