Mother Earth Living

What Is A BB Cream?

If you consider yourself a beauty buff, or even just pay attention to some of the ongoing beauty trends, you’ve no doubt heard of BB cream. It seems that nearly every beauty company is chomping at the bit to get one of these bad boys on the market. But what the heck is a BB cream? What does it do, why should you care, and what should you look for if you decide to buy one?

A good BB cream will even out skin tone without clogging pores or drying out skin, but it shouldn’t completely replace your other beauty products.

What is a BB Cream?

BB cream, or “blemish balm,” has actually been around since the 1960s, but has just now made its way to the U.S. market. This beauty wonder is supposedly a moisturizer, primer, foundation, setting powder and sunscreen all in one bottle. Essentially, a BB cream is simply a tinted moisturizer marketed as a “miracle cream.”

Every BB cream is different—some provide excellent coverage, while others are better suited for their moisturizing or sun-shielding benefits. In my opinion, a good BB cream evens out skin tone and provides full coverage.

If you’re all about low-key beauty, you might want to buy a BB cream for its multitasking personality. While it shouldn’t entirely take the place of your morning application of moisturizer or sunscreen, it wouldn’t be the end of the world to occasionally skip these steps in lieu of a multifunctional BB cream.

What should I look for in a BB cream?

This is where things get tricky. Most every BB cream that has recently hit the market claims to be the best, promising an all-in-one product enriched with powerful antioxidants and ingredients from nature. They also claim to combat issues such as acne or aging. Unfortunately, many of the active ingredients that make such claims possible include harsh chemicals such as parabens, a preservative that has been linked to reproductive disorders with moderate to high hazard risk, according to the Environmental Working Group (EWG).

Don’t go out and buy a BB cream because it promises to defend against aging or packs the most SPF punch. Instead, shop for a BB cream that provides full coverage for your unique skin tone without harmful parabens. The benefit of a BB cream opposed to a basic foundation is that it will even out skin tone without clogging pores, drying out skin or feeling like your makeup is caked-on. But a BB cream shouldn’t completely replace your other beauty products. You should still apply your moisturizer and sunscreen in the morning, and you may still need to cover up troublesome spots with a thicker concealer.

If you decide to hunt for a BB cream, read the list of ingredients before buying it. Because most of the popular creams are enriched with ingredients that you may not want to put on your face, such as parabens, search for safer options.  

I have only tried a couple BB creams myself, so I will point you to a couple positive online BB cream reviews; these two natural BB cream products are free of parabens and have a low hazard risk in the EWG’s Skin Deep Cosmetics Database, although the Suntegrity product contains dimethicone, a controversial silicone-based polymer with low-moderate hazard risk, according to the EWG.

Suntegrity’s “5 In 1” Natural Moisturizing Face Sunscreen

Marie Veronique Organics’ Moisturizing Face Screen

To Sum Up

THE PROS: BB creams typically provide better coverage than your basic foundation; they won’t leave your skin feeling dry thanks to their moisturizing qualities; and they will provide some sun coverage (which is better than none!).

THE CONS: While they may provide excellent coverage, they might not be the all-in-one beauty secret you were hoping for (keep using your morning moisturizer and sunscreen for healthy skin); some of the most popular creams contain harmful ingredients like parabens; and most of them are rather expensive.

I hope this helps you understand BB creams a little bit more. Although by the time I’ve published this you’ll have no doubt heard about the next beauty craze: CC creams. (Yes. That’s a thing. I swear I’m not making this up.)

Have you experimented with BB creams? What have you learned? Leave me a comment below!

Gina DeBacker is the assistant editor at
Mother Earth Living. She loves that part of her job entails testing beauty products enriched with natural ingredients.

  • Published on Jun 13, 2013
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