BB Creams: What are they?

Dr Katherine Armour, Consultant Dermatologist to L’Oréal Paris, explains the ins and outs of BB Creams. 

What does BB stand for?  

BB refers to a “beauty balm” or “blemish balm.”

What are BB creams?  

B creams are really “make-up meets skincare.”  They provide a light degree of skin coverage whilst also containing sun protection, moisturising and “active ingredients.”  BB creams aim to replace moisturisers, sun-blocks, serums, primers and foundation.  The active ingredients differ between products.  Some aim to assist with blemishes in acne-prone skin, whilst others focus more on anti-ageing.   The products targeting blemishes will have soothing, anti-inflammatory ingredients, whilst those foraying into anti-ageing will contain agents such as Vitamin C.  Some ingredients such as Nicotinamide are efficient in both anti-blemish and anti-ageing capacities.

The more elegant BB creams really are all-in-one preparations combining both make-up and skincare expertise and impart a luminous appearance to the skin. 

How are they different to foundation? 

BB creams aim to impart a glowing, natural look to the skin, and so provide less coverage than many foundations. 

BB creams also differ to foundations in their multi-tasking.  Whilst many foundations may contain sun protection factors, they do not tend to provide excellent hydration and active ingredients as BB creams do. 

How are they different to tinted moisturiser? 

Again, BB creams are real multi-taskers, whereas tinted moisturisers have more limited actions. 

Tinted moisturisers can be considered as a moisturiser with pigment.  Just like any other moisturiser, their main role is to hydrate the skin. However, their pigment components also help to even out skin tone.  The coverage of a tinted moisturiser tends to be less than a BB cream. 

BB creams tend to be more durable on the skin as they oxidise less readily than tinted moisturisers.  They also commonly contain soothing and/or anti-aging ingredients, which don’t tend to be found in tinted moisturisers.  Like BB creams, tinted moisturisers often contain a sun protection factor. 

Overall, the main difference between BB creams and tinted moisturisers are that BB creams are more multifunctional and tend to last longer once applied to the skin. 

How can I pick the right BB cream for my skin tone? 

Most BB creams have a “light” and “medium” formulation, while others will also have a “dark” skin formulation.  Some BB creams contain pigments that can adapt to your individual skin colour, helping to provide a more natural, but even appearance to the skin.

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