BB creams are the latest trend to hit the beauty industry. A craze in Asia for the past twenty years (Korea Herald editors refer to it as “the secret of Korean actresses”), Western beauty companies are now marketing the product to U.S. consumers as the one stop solution for all of your skin needs. Advertised as a moisturizer, primer, foundation, and sunblock in one, is it possible that BB creams can do it all…and do it all well? Or are marketers laying it on thick? Beauty expert Lois Joy Johnson weighs in.
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What exactly are BB creams?
Beauty Balms or Blemish Balms are really just super tinted moisturizers. Some have a little bit more coverage than others, some come in one universal shade, others come in a light, medium, dark palette and some target aging skin with brighteners. Most actually work well as makeup primers to tint, hydrate, and add ‘slip,’ which makes liquid and cream foundations easier to apply and blend. Some give skin a dewy look, others give skin a matte look. Some are super-sheer, others have a little more coverage. Some have a higher level of sunscreen–if you’re over fifty, and you have sun damage, the ones with SPF are the most beneficial.
Who do BB creams work best for?
I think they’re a good option if you like a lightweight, non-made up look and feel, if you have nearly perfect skin due to amazing genes or careful lifelong sun protection, or if you use a self-tanner. A faux tan blurs skin discoloration, so you won’t need more than a tinted moisturizing cream for a boost. If your skin is naturally darker, and more even in tone (you don’t have a lot of discoloration) BB creams would probably make you pretty happy.
You mentioned that some BB creams contain brighteners for aging skin–can they also help other skin issues, like wrinkles, redness or under-eye circles?
Some so-called BB creams help these issues, and some of them don’t. BB creams are really not any more miraculous than a lot of stuff that’s already out there, but I do think that several are suitable for mature skin. (Click slideshow below to see Lois’ BB cream recommendations.)
Where did BB creams originate?
The original BB creams were prescribed by dermatologists and plastic surgeons, primarily in Asia, and were designed to treat and soothe skin post laser surgery. These new, so-called BB creams riff on the original, but each one has it’s own combination of ingredients.
Are there certain ingredients that these creams have to be labeled “BB creams?”
You don’t need some seal of approval. You can slap the BB cream label on anything you want. It’s just a term, meaning Beauty or Blemish Balm. There’s no secret to it. Think of it the same way you see diversity in lipstick textures and ingredients.
So if someone over fifty came to you and asked if you recommend they use a BB cream, what would you say?
By the time you reach 50, your face is dealing with pigmentation issues–brown spots, dark circles, broken capillaries, rosacea, loss of pigment, as well as sagging, loss of firmness, lines and wrinkles, and dryness. There is no one product that is going to solve everything. Most women over fifty are looking for long-term treatment and performance, as well as short-term instant visible improvement. I think, overall, that BB creams are a good option to play with but are certainly not a miracle. It’s smart marketing!
Lois Joy Johnson is a leading expert on style and beauty and the author of Great Hair After 50: A Vibrant Nation Guide and The Makeup Wakeup, a critically acclaimed guide to looking fabulous at any age. She’s the former Beauty and Fashion Director of MORE magazine. Her new book, The Wardrobe Wakeup will be available in December 2012.