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.
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!).
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!