Welcome to our first guest blog featuring fashion expert and blogger Kirsty McLaren
As a fellow lover of make-up and beauty products, Kirsty has delved into the world of BB Creams to help us understand what they are, what they do and which ones will work for you. Enjoy!
Shopping for a new foundation or makeup base can, in my experience, feel like a never-ending quest littered with disappointments - and a bloody expensive one at that! We’ve all been there, trawling through the beauty hall of our local department store, overwhelmed by the range and abundance, blindly swatching a myriad of colours and textures on the back of our hands, bombarded by ludicrous claims that each product, better than the next, will transform and airbrush our complexion. It’s exhausting!
The problem is variety - there’s just too many different types, shades and variations of makeup bases to choose from. Add to this frustrating mix a new-fangled type of makeup and skincare hybrid and you’ve just complicated the process tenfold, right? Well, not necessarily. Welcome to the world of BB creams…
The first thing to remember is that BB creams are not technically foundations. Though they may offer some of the benefits of a foundation, they are a vastly more complicated beast.
The ‘BB’ bit stands for Blemish Blam, which misleadingly sounds like a spot treatment but is really just a perfect example of how meanings can easily get lost in translation. BB creams actually originated in Germany as a soothing treatment to be used after harsh procedures to the face, such as surgery, microdermabrasion or a chemical peel. Designed to offer all the recommended skincare benefits to patients (the ‘Balm’ part), they also provided coverage and SPF to help mask and repair the harsh after-effects on the skin (the ‘Blemish’ part).
Although we’re just beginning to cotton on to the BB revolution over here, they’ve been popular in Asia for decades and several of the best ones on the market are still manufactured in Japan and South Korea. Asian ladies like them for their skincare benefits and because many of the traditional BB creams come with a slightly ashy, beige undertone and can be quite light in colour. Once smoothed onto the skin, they are also incredibly natural and airbrushed looking. But more on that in a minute…
Aren't they a bit like a tinted moisturiser
Well, yes, you’re right in a way. In my experience though, they tend to offer way more coverage than a tinted moisturiser, rivalling foundations but surpassing them on texture and longevity. This is due to the built-in primer effect which ensures they stay pretty much perfect from day till night. I’m talking mainly about the Asian ones here, European BB creams can tend to lean slightly more towards the tinted moisturiser consistency – I’m looking at you L’Oreal and Garnier!
Recently I tested out the Clinique Age Resist BB Cream and because it felt quite creamy and dewy, I asked the sales assistant if I could forgo a moisturiser. He looked at me horrified. “No! Absolutely not!” I was surprised by his reaction because although not a standard tinted moisturiser, you should be able to get away without one because of the anti-oxidant, anti-ageing, moisturising properties and dewy finish typical of most BB creams. It all depends on your skin type, really…
So what ones are right for me?
Like I said, it depends on your skin type and concerns. If you have good, normal to dry skin, mostly all of the newer European BB creams would be perfect for you. If you have pale, blemish-prone skin which leans towards oily, then the more typical Asian BB creams would work well. Brands like Skin 79, Missha and Lioele have some great ones.
Don’t be concerned if you see the word “whitening” on the product – again I think this is a translation issue. Usually it just means it contains a high SPF (something I believe every BB cream should have, especially if you’re going to be cutting out other stages of your skincare routine when wearing one) and that it evens out your complexion. They can have a slight grey cast at first but oxidise quickly on the skin to your match your skin – 9 times out of 10!
The key is good research. Always look up the claims of the BB cream your considering and do a quick Google search for some reviews online. If you’re going for a European brand, always try and get colour-matched and ask for a tester the same way you would with a foundation.
Why I love them
Generally, I prefer a BB cream to a foundation. Why? Simplicity. They work best when applied with fingers and you can normally skip either a moisturiser or targeted SPF when wearing one.
Every one I’ve tried has looked unbelievably natural on the skin. Like my own skin but better – the dream! Where foundations can often look cakey, sink into pores and leave streaks, because BB creams straddle the gap between makeup and skincare they can be easily worked right into the skin and left to be absorbed so that imperfections are blurred and concealed rather than just covered up.
You can buy specific ones according to skin type and concern, rather than just colour, and the majority of Asian BB creams are more than light enough for my very pale complexion.
Wht they aren't for everyone
More often than not, BB creams leave a dewy finish to the skin. In my experience it’s rare to find one which will smooth on truly matte, so if you have very oily skin you will need to powder, or you may want to stay away altogether. It’s also rare to find oil-free versions so keep this in mind.
The limited shade range in most BB creams could be a concern if you’re olive-skinned or dark (or very pale and looking for a European one). Brands like Lioele and Skin 79 normally make just one shade to suit everyone, but this is because of the oxidisation I mentioned before. Still, if you’re anything over a MAC NW 30/35 you might struggle.
Finally, they can sometimes feel a bit heavy on the skin, and some have a strong ‘skincare’ or ‘cosmetic’ scent that can be off-putting if you’re not used to it.
Check the ingredients too. A few of the Asian brand ones contain things like mineral oil and parabens. While these tend to strike fear into the hearts of any beauty buff, if you have normal skin that isn’t particularly sensitive it might not be a concern for you.
From the high street:
- Garnier B.B. Cream Miracle Skin Perfector, £7.49
- 17 BB Blemish Balm, All in One Magic Makeup, £4.99
- Clinique Age Defence BB Cream SPF30, £23
- MAC Prep + Prime BB Beauty Balm SPF35, £21
- No 7 Beautiful Skin BB Cream, £15
- Origins ‘A Perfect World’ BB Cream with White Tea - £27
- Lioele Beyond the Solution – slightly darker than others, dewy finish, no SPF
- Lioele Triple the Solution – dewy finish, thick consistency, SPF, anti-ageing
- Skin 79 Intense Classic Balm – long-wearing, oil/blemish control and high SPF. No scent
- Missha Perfect Cover BB cream – more like a tinted moisturiser, comes in a range of colours, high SPF and anti-wrinkle properties.