BB creams are the essence of any make-up bag, but that's only if you get it right. Pick the all-rounders that are tried and tested by Marie Claire.
Sometimes you just have to ask yourself, what on earth did we do before finding the best BB Cream became a thing? Answer: we either went full coverage, bare, or somewhere in the middle with a chalky tinted moisturiser. You know, those ones that made your skin drier than the desert.
BB cream was the starting point for our obsession with all things Asian skincare. Particularly any skin trends and products to come out of South Korea. Fitting, considering flawless, reflective, almost ethereal skin, is the goal there. And with the countless products that make up their daily skincare routine, they easily achieve that level of perfection they’re after.
Known in Asia as a Beauty Balm, or occasionally, a Blemish Balm, the best BB cream is essentially a one-product-does-everything kind of thing. You’ll find super-hydrating ingredients like shea butter or hyaluronic acid, normally a broad spectrum SPF, and other skin loving ingredients like antioxidants. Plus, of course, a touch of pigment to even out your skin tone without looking like you’re wearing a heavy foundation. Consider them a tinted moisturiser, and then some.
In fact, so popular are they, some women have replaced their entire face kit. Serum, moisturiser and SPF included. However, we’ll be keeping our routine exactly ho wit is. After all, a BB cream serves your skin best when it’s incorporated into your routine. Not as a substitute for proper skincare. Korean women use a BB in place of a foundation and that’s really how it should be used.
Although BB Creams found their market in Korea, it was actually formulated the first time round in Germany in the 60s by Dr. Christine Schrammek. She was a dermatologist who needed a product to bridge make-up and skincare for her patients after they had a peel or cosmetic surgery. However, South Korea was the first to adopt the product. And now BB Creams make up 13 percent of their cosmetics market.
So, when did western markets get in on the action? In 2012 and now, the Blemish balms are a part of our everyday arsenal. Most brands offer BB options and in plenty of shades.
But it doesn’t stop there. Spotting a prime marketing opportunity many of the brands overflowing our department store shelves have taken the alphabet theme and run with it. Now you’ll find the best CC cream and DD cream alongside your beloved BB cream. Which has been beneficial, because these days the BB formulas are much better than they were then. So much so, there’s a BB cream to suit every skin type, whether your skin is dry, oily or a combination of both.
Best BB cream for oily skin
Look for ingredients like salicylic acid, which is known for its ability to break down the bond that holds dead skin cells together and traps oil. Also, try BB creams that contain retinol to promote skin cell renewal. And don’t underestimate the power of hyaluronic acid. It’s sounds counterintuitive, aiming for ingredients that hydrate your skin. But, if your skin is hydrated, it won’t try to compensate with oil.
Best BB cream for dry skin
Once again, hyaluronic acid will be your best friend. It’s able to hold 1,000 times its weight in water, making it a great hydrator. Look for humectant ingredients too. They attract from your environment and draw it into your skin.
Now that you’re armed with the knowledge, find your best BB cream in our edit…
This is my absolute favourite BB. There are 8 shades and it easily caters for the very pale and the very dark alike. The name is a bit of a giveaway; the formula is almost water-like and so it effortlessly blends out over skin to give a very sheer amount of coverage that still conceals obvious spots and skin discolouration. I apply a couple of drops to the back of my hands with the pipette and then blend over my skin with a densely-paced foundation brush.
Clinique’s Age Defense BB Cream is one of the best, which not only conceals imperfections and hydrates the skin, but also helps prevent premature ageing thanks to some hard-working UVA/UVB protection all with a lovely dewy finish.
This is the product that spurred the trend for BB here. Its hugely popular in Asia and contains Titanium Dioxide with UV filters and sunscreens, plus a bunch of peptides to firm skin and restore elasticity. Its good stuff.
The Big Easy (brilliant name btw) is available in six blendable shades. It’s best applied with fingertips and goes on liquid but quickly transforms in texture into something more powdery and silky. It imparts a subtle and healthy amount of coverage and because of its mattifying texture it easily eliminates shine and excess oils. If your skin leans towards oily you will love this.
City dwellers, this is the product for you. Sure, it’s technically a CC but there really isn’t a huge difference between that and a BB. A CC typically has some colour correcting pigments – hence the name – so maybe something to counteract sallowness, dark circles or redness. This particular CC effortlessly evens out skin tone, plus it’s super hydrating and has a really high SPF of 50. Winner.
You needn’t spend a fortune on your BB cream, there are plenty of high street offerings that are both excellent and affordable. This Rimmel London BB is one such hem. It hydrates skin for a solid 24-hours plus it contains the antioxidant vitamin C which will defend your skin from UV, pollution, toxins (and) boost radiance. And it’s under £7.
There are only two shades of this BB so you should try before you buy but it is absolutely superb for sensitive types. It contains thermal spring waters so its very gentle and soothing on sensitive skin. If youre prone to redness and irritation this product wont exacerbate that like a lot of make-up. Its totally brilliant for anyone with acne inflamed skin, severe dryness and rosacea. Plus, of course, a high SPF.
Estée Lauder call this an EE cream because it’s designed to brighten (they say enlighten) and even out the skin tone. I (love) it. Its full of anti-oxidants and leaves skin looking super dewy and feeling really hydrated.
Bobbi Brown’s BB Cream SPF35 not only protects instantly, but corrects over time too. Inspired by the BB cream trend – a blend of skincare and make-up – which started in Asia, this formula combines moisturiser, treatment, sun protection and foundation all in one.
Pick which of the 9 shades suits you and brighten, hydrate and smoothes skin with water-attracting molecules, light-reflecting pears and pore-reducing peptides. You won’t want to be without it again…
We have a lot of love for Dior’s BB Crème. While it does all the things you would expect of a BB the skin nourishing benefits are plentiful – it leaves a very subtle rosy healthy flush on the skin, which looks lovely. The rosiness will show on all skin tones but will be a touch more subtle on dark skin.
Another CC but a great and affordable multi-talented product nonetheless. This CC is formulated with three colour correcting pigments so it will address redness, sallow skin and dark spots. If you have left over acne inflammation, or youve been burning the candle at both ends and have the dark circles to prove it, then this is for you. Theres 24-hour hydration and an SPF15 of 15 to boot.
This BB combines the two things we look for most in any kind of skin care or make-up product: a high SPF – to protect skin against UV damage and mega luminosity. Clarins certainly know how to do great skin and the 3D radiance pigments in this BB make skin look almost Photoshopped.
Origins’ first BB cream may glide onto your skin with a light and fresh feel, but don’t let that fool you, this is a seriously hard-working, multi-tasking beauty product. Origins A Perfect World BB features a potent blend of ingredients – think antioxidant silver tip white tea, moisturising trehalose and SPF 15 – that delivers perfecting, protecting and hydrating benefits in one lightweight formula. We love!
Thanks to Mac’s Prep + Prime BB Beauty Balm we can bin our primer, foundation, moisturiser and SPF, because this little beauty does it all.
The light formula glides on with ease and gives such great coverage that it has completely replaced our regular foundation. The balm creamily re-texturises your skin, offers high sun protection with an SPF 35 and adds illuminating optical effects to the skin’s surface for that coveted healthy glow.
Ozmorovicza’s Complexion Perfecting BB Cream is a beauty industry favourite. It acts as a moisturiser, foundation, sun cream, concealer AND anti-ageing cream, creating a flawless look which hydrating the skin.
If you’re deciding between shades, the medium shade suits most skin tone as it is warmer but if you have a porcelain complexion, opt for the lighter shade.
L’Oreal’s Nude Magique BB Cream mimics the texture and glow of flawless nude skin for that natural barely-there look.
An instant hit on the MC beauty desk, this balm also keeps skin hydrated for up to 24 hours and protects against the sun with an in-built SPF 12.
Garnier Miracle Skin Perfector Daily All-in-One BB Cream was the first to launch in the UK and is still top of our shopping list, every time. The beauty giant adapted Asia’s biggest skincare phenomenon and developed its Miracle Skin Perfector Daily All-in-One with European women in mind.
Jam-packed with lipidure, hyaluronic acid, glycerin, SPF 15 and antioxidant Vitamin C, this luxe cream moisturises, protects and brightens all in one easy-peasy application.
The Kiehl’s Actively Correcting And Beautifying BB Cream instantly perfects any uneven skin tones and corrects irregularities over time with daily use. Not only does it look after your skin but it protects it against the signs of ageing with SPF50.
An instant skin perfector, Estee Lauder’s DayWear Anti-Oxidant Beauty Benefit Creme delivers beautiful glowing skin in one simple step.
Available in two skin-perfecting tints to suit a wide range of skin tones, this light-feeling cream can be worn alone or underneath your regular foundation to provide sheer coverage that minimises flaws and maximises your skin’s natural radiance.