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What is a BB cream?


BB cream has been around for quite a while now, and a lot of people are more familiar with it, especially since it started to move its way into the American market. I first learned of it last year and did all this research already (I’m too thorough for my own good), but since I’m planning on doing some BB cream reviews soon, I figured I’d better have this up beforehand just in case.

BB cream stands for blemish balm cream. It was originally a dermatologist-prescribed ointment intended for laser skin surgery patients. Formulated in Germany with soothing, healing, and skin-regenerative properties, South Korean actresses soon picked them up for use and the Korean market saw a great potential, modifying it to be an all-around beauty product.

A few of the Asian brand BB creams shown here: Missha, Skin79, L’egere, Hanskin, Skinfood. Available in select Canadian Asian stores and via online shopping and international shipping.

And so the BB cream craze began, spreading from Korea all around Asia. In recent years, they have been made available online to be shipped to the US, and now to Canada as well. I have seen some Asian brand BB creams available at Pacific Mall, one of the largest Asian malls in North America. Even more recently, American and Canadian brands have been jumping onto the BB cream bandwagon as well, with higher-end brands like MAC, Clinique, and Smashbox releasing BB creams as well as drugstore brands such as Garnier, Maybelline, and Marcelle (Canadian brand, set for release this month) making some, too.

New North American brand BB creams available in Canada: Boscia, Garnier, Smashbox, Marcelle, Estee Lauder.

North American brand BB creams currently available in the US. Clinique release confirmed in Canada.

A BB cream can act as any or all of the following, depending on its formulation and brand:

  • moisturizer
  • SPF sun protection
  • foundation
  • concealer
  • acne treatment
  • oil control
  • anti-aging treatment
  • wrinkle repair
  • antioxidant source
  • whitening treatment

Seems like the ultimate one-stop makeup and skincare product, huh? BB cream will allow you to skip many steps in your regular routine: moisturizer, sunscreen, primer, foundation, concealer… a time-saver and money-saver.

Just from reading about the different brands and lines of BB cream, I feel that Asian brand BB creams at least promise more of the above than do the American brands (whether or not they deliver is another issue). I am also more willing to try Asian brand BB creams because 1) reputable Asian brands are not as expensive as American high-end brands; 2) a lot of Asian drugstore brand makeup and skincare perform much better than American drugstore brands; and 3) Asian BB creams have just established a better base – more reliable customer satisfaction as well as providing a large range of products for different skin types per brand.

For example, look at all the different formulations that Skin79 offers:

One major pitfall of BB creams is that each formulation only comes in one shade – and usually not a flattering one for most skin types. Supposedly, BB creams should adjust to your skin colour after at most 30 minutes of oxidation, but no amount of oxidation is going to make BB cream look natural on darker skin types. The BB creams I have tried usually do give a slight white cast to my face – especially the ones with SPF. And my skin is pretty pale for an Asian person. I have also read lots (LOTS) of reviews about how BB cream gives a greyish or white cast. Usually, it would not be noticeable with blush and bronzer, or a light dusting of foundation or powder.

I suspect that the SPF is what causes the white cast (it is supposed to block sunlight, after all – it makes sense for it to reflect light). You will definitely look like a ghost with flash photography. You may be able to dust powder or foundation over it to avoid it, but I haven’t tried it myself. It’s actually odd that these colours don’t work well with Asian skin tone, considering it was originally formulated in Asia.

Missha’s Perfect Cover is the only BB cream I know of that is offered in different shades. So far, from lightest to darkest, they have #13 milky beige, #21 light beige, #23 natural beige, #27 honey beige, and #31 golden beige.

With all the brands out there, it’s difficult to know where to start and which would be the best if you only want to try at most a few brands. The best BB cream brands according to a South Korean university survey are BRTC, Missha, Skin79, and Dr. Jart. Personally, the brands I come across most often with good reviews are indeed Missha, Skin79, Skinfood, BRTC, and Hanskin.

So far, I own Skin 79, Etude House, BRTC, Hanskin, and Missha BB creams. I have yet to use the Hanskin and Missha. Each BB cream I have tried has a different texture, consistency, smell, and colour. I have a sample of Boscia’s BB cream (available at Sephora since summer of 2011), but have not yet felt an inclination to try it out.

Websites I have ordered BB cream from:

Websites I have not personally ordered BB cream from but have seen recommended by others online:

Pacific Mall had Skin79, Missha, and Skinfood BB creams in summer 2011. Not sure if there are more by now – stock comes and goes at PMall.

It’s not too late to jump onto the BB cream bandwagon – in fact, there are so many out there it’s probably the best time! Just make sure you find one you like that works for you.

Happy shopping!

(Sources:;;;; and whatever else I remember from my long research last year)

(Image Source:;


Author: pearlessence

She who loves shopping, baking, gaming, and all things Disney! All on a student's meager budget :)

27 thoughts on “What is a BB cream?

  1. This is a fantastic review, I didn’t know anything at all about this product until now. Thanks for posting! Not sure I will try it right away given that I have a lot of skin products “in stock” that I’m currently happy with. But when it comes time to start replenishing some, I will definitely be considering a BB cream.

    • I had the hardest time trying to find out about it last year, and was looking for something that would be informative enough. They were always snippets of info all over the place – finally took this chance to put it all together!

      Glad it helped, you should definitely try it out! Let me know if/when you do 🙂

  2. This is so thorough! Perfect for someone like me who has little-to-no experience with BB Creams. Thanks for sharing!

    • You’re welcome! Hope you do end up trying some, and let me know how it goes for you 🙂

      • Will do! I just bought Garnier’s BB Cream since I couldn’t decipher between the Asian brands (the ladies at the beauty shops weren’t too much help either 😦 unfortunately)

      • Where were you doing your shopping? I definitely spent days, if not weeks, on the Internet reading up about them before even venturing out to see if I could find any in stores. And then another slew of days before I decided to make purchases online. It was a long process.

        I’d love to know how the Garnier BB cream works out – is it in stores already?

  3. Firstly, brilliant post – very helpful and informative! I might just try out one or two of those 🙂
    Secondly, I’ve nominated you for the Versatile Blogger Award! 😀 x

  4. Pingback: Skin79 VIP Gold Collection Super Plus BB Cream Review | pearlessence

  5. I actually have a blogpost asking why there are no bb creams in India. 😛 Nice post. What would you recommend for extremely sensitive acne prone skin (allergic to salicylic acid and most sunblocks)

  6. Pingback: COSME-DE.COM mini haul and review | pearlessence

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