BB Cream Phenomenon… Are They Right For You?

So I’ve been following the hype with regard to the new BB creams & I’ve tried out a few of them so far and quite frankly, there is only 1 product I would recommend. First I’ll explain what they’re all about and why they have caught like fire in the beauty industry at the moment.

BB Creams, also known as “Blemish Balm” or “Beauty Balm” more predominantly in North America, were an invention of the 1970s by a German dermatologist to aid in the recovery of skin after skin peels and facial laser treatments. They began gaining popularity in Asia, particularly with Korean actresses who confessed BBs as their beauty secret and they then became the ‘must have’ beauty accessory everyone was clamoring after. Now in Asia, the qualities of BBs are different then the way they are generally developed for the North American market. The purpose is that BBs are a combination product that help to hydrate/protect (sunscreen)/ anti-age/perfect discolourations/add luminosity or a radiant glow/prime skin/control oil/and more…. but in Asia they are also used to whiten the skin and often contain skin whitening/bleaching and lightening ingredients. In North American formulations, not so much.

There are a few brands that have already launched in Canada and a few more still coming, and so far, I have tried the most popular brands, all of which have a few downfalls for me, particularly as a woman of colour. Please keep this “woman of colour” tidbit in mind when reading my reviews.

On the Canucks BB Cream: Marcelle brand…
With the Marcelle brand, there are 2 shades: light to medium and medium to dark. Both shades had yellow undertones with a slight grey cast. I applied the medium to dark (in which case, I am a medium with slight peach and red undertones) it was much too light and gave what makeup artists dreadingly call “whiteface”. The coverage was moderate, which made it more beneficial as an all in one product, but it did not provide coverage that could replace your traditional foundation. I also felt it was not highly moisturizing and would recommend it for normal skin only and would suggest using a regular moisturizer prior to this if you have dry skin or using an oil free powder on top of this if you have oily skin. This one also does not contain sunscreen (yet, but they say they’re working on a version with SPF) but it does contain Titanium dioxide and Mica, which for me, are both no-nos to any pros who want to use this as a base on a photoshoot due to possible bounce-back/whiteface. Costs about $23 in Shoppers Drug Mart stores or order it online. If you are quite fair and not using it in any kind of photography or film, then this could be an option for replacing your tinted moisturizer or light coverage foundation.

On the Big Drugstore Contender: Garnier Miracle Skin Perfector BB Cream…

There are 2 shades here also, light to medium and medium to dark. I swatched both shades and the light/medium had peachy undertones while the medium/dark looked like… no better way to put it… mud. I wasn’t impressed with the swatches. Needless to say, I tried out my shade (medium/dark) and I looked a bit grey. Not cool. This also was very thick in consistency meanwhile, very sheer with coverage and pigment quality is very low. This works like a tinted moisturizer but I must say, it is not made for oily skin at all. It really acted like a mask on my face and I looked oilier than usual in less than 2 hours, which is quite a feat for me seeing that I have combination skin with only slight oiliness to the T-zone only. I must also add, that although it acts like a tinted moisturizer, it didn’t moisturize my dry areas very well (like my chin or around the mouth) nor did it provide me with the equivalent coverage of other tinted moisturizers on the market. It’s under $20 at drugstores and for that price, I think you’re better off simply adding a few drops of your favourite foundation to your daily high-SPF moisturizer and calling it a day. And again, SPF 15 makes this a no-go for me on any pro set or in studio.

On the Professional Grade BB Cream: Smashbox Camera Ready BB Cream…

Smashbox is the only company who has remembered that women come in all different colours of the rainbow and for this, I applaud them. Their line of BBs comes in 5 different shades: fair, light, light/medium, medium, and dark. When I went to Sephora to give these a go, they were all gone and I had to swatch them in store. The sales girl was also kind enough to give me a sample pot of the 3 darkest shades so I could try each one at home and come back to purchase seeing as they had no product to purchase that day anyhow. The result… the medium shade was perfect for my skin tone. It didn’t give me any weird undertones and was a very smooth product to apply. The coverage was about medium, so a bit more coverage than what a tinted moisturizer would do and with a light application of my Smashbox Halo powder (also in medium) I felt I had sufficient day time coverage without a heavily made-up look. This product actually acted quite well as a base for my regular foundation (Nars sheer glow is my regular guy) and gave me beyond perfect coverage when layering my foundation on top. It also didn’t add any extra oil to my skin but would not be suitable for a person with dry skin unless they were to use their regular (heavy) moisturizer underneath it. And kudos to Smashbox, their formulation contains an SPF of 35 while containing Titanium dioxide of only 1%. This is the only product I can recommend to women of colour and to pro makeup artists wanting to use a BB cream in a pro environment as a base or for light coverage. I *finally* didn’t get a grey tone or any whiteface reaction. AND I would also like to say that I really appreciate that my concealor, BB cream and powder from Smashbox all fell consistently in the “medium” category because for a regular (non-pro makeup artist) consumer, this would make for major shopping ease and much less confusion with colour matching. However…. I can’t really recommend this product due to, not performance, but price. I really enjoyed the product, however it’s much too expensive at $50 a pop here in Canada. Now if you’re someone who needs full coverage, an additional moisturizer (for dry skin) and a different specialty primer (to cover redness, or to mattify oiliness, etc) then this product is only going to add to your morning routine while putting a $50 dent in your makeup budget every month or 2. Not worth the fuss or muss. BUT, if you have great skin, don’t need much coverage, and do not have dry skin, I highly recommend it for you as a replacement product for your primer, foundation and sunscreen. If it truly replaces a few of your bathroom cabinet items, then by all means this is your guy and would be well worth it, even at $50.

Have you tried any BB Creams? What did you think? Let me know!


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