Get a K-pop Complexion: Audrey’s Guide to BB Cream

When Audrey first wrote about BB creams in 2008, it was the latest thing in Korea. The oddly named “blemish balm” originated in Germany as a post-treatment cream for laser surgery patients and was later co-opted by Korean women to create the ssaeng-uhl (bare-faced look) coveted by the nation’s most beautiful actresses. (Even Korean men have taken to wearing BB cream.) Considered a staple in every Korean woman’s beauty regimen, BB cream is now sweeping the U.S., but thankfully for us, the newest iterations have a greater range of shades, coverage and textures.

When Harvard Business School grad Grace Choi first tried BB cream, she liked the finish but had trouble finding a formula that matched her skin tone, especially for different seasons. “I’m more yellow during the winter and more olive/brown during the summer,” says the 29-year-old Korean American. “Asian BB brands offer a very limited number of shades which do not suit the vast majority of diverse American women,” she adds. But she also found that many BB creams currently in the U.S. market didn’t give the same coverage and finish that the Asian BB creams were famous for. So Choi put her medical science background to use and formulated her own brand of BB cream. With 10 different shades, seven work for Asian skin: the Yellow line finishes more golden, while the Olive line has a more brown/tan undertone.

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BB CREAM TIPS:

* Apply like you would a sunscreen. Put a dime size dollop on your fingers and spread evenly on face. The cream will sink in and adjust to your skintone.

* Apply with fingers, says Choi. “It’s much easier to control and spread than with a brush or sponge.”

* The right shade is important with BB cream. Use one that’s too light and it can look masky. Can’t find the exact shade or right texture in a BB cream? Because BB creams provide buildable coverage, you can mix and match for the perfect formulation. I like mixing a lighter textured cream in a more golden shade with a thicker one in a paler shade, like Estée Lauder with 3Lab, before blending on my face.

Here, we review the best BB creams out there (even one for men!).

Sheer Coverage

Sulwhasoo Snowise Brightening BB Base

Maybelline Dream Fresh BB Skin Perfector (great for young skin, BB novices)

DermaE Evenly Radiant BB Creme

Dr. Jart+ Water Fuse BB Beauty Balm

Dr. Lewinn by Kinerase Instant Perfecting BB Cream

Vichy ProEven Mineral BB Cream

Estée Lauder Day Wear BB Anti-Oxidant Beauty Benefit Creme

AmorePacific Moisture Bound Tinted Treatment Moisturizer 

Urban Decay Naked Skin Beauty Balm

AmorePacific Color Control Cushion Compact

 

Sheer to Medium Coverage

Etude House Precious Mineral BB Cream Bright Fit

Amarté Natural Finish BB Cream (an editor favorite!)

Shiseido Perfect Hydrating BB Cream (another editor favorite)

Cailyn Precious Blend BB Cream (broad range of 6 shades)

Garnier BB Cream Miracle Skin Perfector 

Christina Choi Cosmetics BB Cream (great shades for medium Asian to dark skin tones)

DHC BB Cream Foundation

Comodynes Urban Cosmetics BB Color (darker shades available)

 

Medium to Full Coverage

Grace Choi Porcelain Skin BB Cream (the widest range of shades, especially for Asian skin, in either matte or dewy formulations)

Dr. Jart Black Label Detox BB Beauty Balm 

Dr. Jart+ Renewalist BB Beauty Balm

3Lab Perfect BB Cream (super anti-aging skincare ingredients)

Jane Iredale Glow Time Full Coverage Mineral BB Cream (tons of shades available)

Too Faced Air-Buffed BB Creme (an editor favorite!)

 

FOR MEN! (Yes, we haven’t forgotten you!)

Miracle Skin Transformer MEN SPF20

Tried any of the BB creams on this list? Tell us what you think!

Want us to test a BB cream for you? Let us know!

Get a K-pop Complexion: Shiseido Perfect Hydrating BB Cream

Shiseido Perfect Hydrating BB Cream

Coverage: Sheer to Medium

Shades: 2 (Medium, Dark)

Price: $33

Benefits: SPF 35, rose apple leaf extract and thiotaurine to protect skin from harmful environmental aggressors, oil-free, Skin Cancer Foundation recommended.

Review: The texture is great — super silky but still rich. The finish is smooth and perfectly glowy, not shiny — some powder on the T-zone and we’re good to go. The Medium is a great color for Asian skin tones, if a little bit dark for a light-medium skin tone. It’s actually quite nice for summer to impart some color. The only downside is the small size (we want more!), but it’s still an editor favorite.

Read more BB cream reviews here.

Get a K-pop Complexion: 3Lab Perfect BB Cream

3Lab Perfect BB Cream 

Coverage: Medium to Full

Shades: 3 (#01 Light, #02 Medium, #03 Dark)

Benefits: SPF 40 broad spectrum coverage, signature bio-engineered growth hormone and apple stem cell technology to regenerate cells and delay aging, a proprietary blend featuring a biomimetic peptide to inhibit melanin synthesis, pea protein to activate skin stem cells, ascorbyl glucoside stimulates collagen synthesis and inhibits melanin synthesis, Vitamin E, an herbal extract to soothe skin.

Price: $95

Review: This has a pretty rich consistency and goes on a bit thick, but it melts into skin fairly quickly and provides pretty good coverage. The 02 is on the light side, but the color does adjust well to light-medium Asian skin tones. The finish is very nice, not too shiny at all — you can practically apply and go. The accompanying mini roller is a fun little accessory.

Check out all our BB cream reviews here.

Get a K-pop Complexion: Christina Choi Cosmetics BB Cream

Christina Choi Cosmetics BB Cream

Coverage: Medium

Shades: 3 (Light, Medium, Medium Deep)

Price: $40

Benefits: SPF 30, Vitamin E, goji berry extract, peptides, natural extracts to help promote cell health, paraben free, cruelty free, made in USA.

Review: Created by a former M.A.C and Bare Escentuals makeup artist, this BB cream is clearly made with a more diverse clientele in mind. The Light shade is a bit golden and perfect for light to medium Asian skin tones. The thick consistency goes on nicely and melts into skin fast. The only downside is the scent — our sample smelled a bit musty.

Read more BB cream reviews at Audrey’s ultimate BB cream guide here.

Get a K-pop Complexion: AmorePacific Moisture Bound Tinted Treatment Moisturizer

AmorePacific Moisture Bound Tinted Treatment Moisturizer

Coverage: Sheer

Shades: 1

Price: $70

Benefits: SPF 15, Aqua Sponge Complex stimulates hyaloronic acid and collagen production for moisture retention, ginger promotes microcirculation for a radiant complexion, antioxidant-rich green tea and bamboo sap, oil-free, paraben-free, 8-hour time release.

Review: This has a much lighter feel and texture than your average BB cream, and the color is on the golden-pink side. It feels very moisturizing and it sinks in fast like a moisturizer.

Read more reviews here.

Get a K-pop Complexion: DHC BB Cream Foundation

DHC BB CREAM FOUNDATION 

Coverage: Sheer to Medium

Shades: 2 (01 Natural Ochre, 02 Natural Ochre)

Price: $45

Benefits: A mineral sunscreen with SPF 20 UVA/UVB protection, antioxidant olive oil, Vitamin E, germanium to revitalize skin and fight visible signs of aging, oak kernel and cork oak extracts that “lift” the skin.

Review: This BB cream has a moderately creamy texture that nonetheless sinks in fast. The 01 Natural Ochre seemed to disappear on the skin, without much coverage or evening of skin tone, probably because it is on the light side, though it is more yellow/beige-based than olive or pink. The 02 Natural Ochre was better, though still too light for darker skin tones. The finish tends to be shiny, and if you’re looking for a bit more than sheer coverage, but less than medium coverage, this may be for you.

Read more BB cream reviews here

Get a K-pop Complexion: Estée Lauder Daywear Anti-Oxidant Beauty Benefit Creme

Estée Lauder Daywear Anti-Oxidant Beauty Benefit Creme 

Coverage: Sheer to Medium

Shades: 2 (01 Light, 02 Medium)

Benefits: SPF 35, super anti-oxidant complex, oil-free

Price: $38

Review: A nice, creamy consistency that goes on relatively sheer, given the texture. The Medium is tad dark for light-medium Asian skin tones, but not too much so — it’s sort of like a bronzer, but more sheer and perfect for summer. I find mixing this shade with a lighter tone BB cream gives me a nice, believable golden (not tan) glow. The cream goes on well and sinks in well. The finish is not too shiny; it’s practically wear-and-go — not too much powder on T-zone needed.

Read more reviews at Audrey‘s ultimate BB cream guide — click here!

Get a K-pop Complexion: Vichy ProEven Mineral BB Cream

VICHY PROEVEN MINERAL BB CREAM

Coverage: Sheer

Shades: 2 (Light, Medium)

Price: $32.50

Benefits: Made with their signature Vichy Thermal Spa Water, SPF 20, high purity mineral pigments, antioxidant vitamins C and E, hyaluronic acid hydrates for 24 hours, paraben free, fragrance free, allergy tested, won’t clog pores. Their clinical tests show after 4 weeks, skin texture is more refined, complexion is unified.

Review: A nice, light texture that oddly enough takes a while to sink in. This BB cream give you a nice sheen, but the Light is definitely too light/pink for Asian skin if you’re going for a natural look. The Medium has more olive in it and is more appropriate for Asian skin. 

Read more BB cream reviews here.

Get a K-pop Complexion: Amarté Natural Finish BB Cream

Amarté Natural Finish BB Cream

Coverage: Medium

Shades: 2 (Light Tint, Natural Tint)

Price: $49

Benefits: Broad-spectrum SPF 36, sheer and fine pigments resist rubbing off on clothing, argan and macadamia oils, caviar extract, shea butter, aloe to soothe, special airless pump to prevent contamination. They also claim you can sleep with this on, due to its natural pigments in a state-of-the-art protective moisturizing base that will not block pores.

Review: A light, creamy texture that goes on smoothly and sinks in quite well. It blends easily and imparts a nice healthy glow, not overly shiny (a bit of powder is all you need). The Light Tint is fairly light, but more yellow-based than pink. The Natural Tint is more golden in hue and evens skin tone nicely — not masky at all. One of our favorites.

Still undecided? Check out the rest of our BB cream reviews here.

Get a K-pop Complexion: Sulwhasoo Snowise Brightening BB Base

Sulwhasoo Snowise Brightening BB Base

Coverage: Sheer

Shades: 2 (No. 1 Blooming Beige, No. 2 Natural Beige)

Price: $60

Benefits: SPF 50, converts UV rays into visible pink rays

Review: A nice, creamy texture that goes on sheerer than the texture would suggest. Shade No. 1 is perhaps a bit too light for light-medium Asian skin tones, but rather than masky or pinkish, the effect is more brightening. A shiny finish, so use a bit of powder. Shade No. 2 is almost indistinguishable from Shade No. 1 in terms of color. Good for those looking for sheer coverage, but hardcore skin treatment benefits.

Read more BB cream reviews here.