BB Cream

Woman applying BB CreamBB creams have been greeted with wild enthusiasm since they first started entering the Western marketplace in 2011. What was initially a trickle has now become a flood, as major cosmetic companies quickly jump on the bandwagon and produce their own BB products. But what exactly is BB cream and what are the benefits and side effects of it?

What is BB Cream?

The BB abbreviation variously stands for blemish balm, beauty balm or blemish base, depending what you are reading. It may sound like a cure for acne but actually BB cream offers to do far more than that. It is basically a smart cosmetic; it is a cosmetic that multitasks. For us in the West, it is a new and innovative concept, in that it is a cosmetic that takes a holistic approach to facial care. The cream encompasses a variety of products you might use on your face as part of your beauty regime such as a moisturizer, facial serum, primer, foundation and even sunblock. Theoretically, you can purchase one BB cream and throw out everything else that’s in your make-up bag.

History of BB Cream

BB cream was originally produced by a German surgeon named Dr Christine Schrammek in the late 1960s. She was a dermatologist specializing in skin peels and laser surgery. She formulated the cream for use by her patients who suffered skin-redness and over-sensitive skin after surgery, particularly if they went out in the sun.

It was rapidly picked up for use in Eastern Asia because of the skin whitening properties in BB cream. It is most popular in Japan and South Korea where a fresh, dewy and pale complexion is highly prized by women of all ages.

Uses of BB Cream

It is widely supposed that because BB cream is mineral based, it can actually treat blemishes (hence the name it has been given) such as acne. Most BB creams also claim to work effectively to conceal signs of aging.

Some BB creams claim to have anti-wrinkle properties. These contain Vitamin E and additives that actively work to hydrate your skin such as Marula oil, which contains fatty acids, antioxidants and minerals that help with anti-aging and skin hydration.

The soothing effects of BB cream are usually due to additives such as Vitamins C and E and hyaluronic acid.

The Benefits of BB Cream

BB Cream SelectionThe main benefit of using BB cream is that you are only employing one convenient product to do a number of jobs. If you’re a busy mother or professional, it will save a huge amount of time in the morning. It is multi-functioning, which is a dream come true for many modern women who increasingly expect their lives to be quick and easy. You have to be aware of course, that there are many BB creams on the market and they all have different formulations. Some of the BB creams oxidize to a shade that works with the color tones of your skin. Others offer you a range of shades to choose from, to match against your skin tone.

Some beauty editors have noted that BB cream makes a great base for other make-up products such as primers and foundations. The fact that BB cream is tinted means that it will even out your skin tone and cover redness or any other minor imperfections you have on your skin. It will hydrate and brighten your skin which is particularly useful for mature women or those that spend most of their time in an office and therefore have a tendency to dull or pale skin. A sun protection factor is mostly included in all versions of BB cream and this helps to protect against UVA and UVB rays.

Possible Side Effects of BB Creams

It is important to check the ingredients of your BB cream very carefully. In order to get the much prized ‘whitening effect’ that some Asian versions of the cream contain, Hydroquinone is used. This is a chemical that is banned in Europe. Hydroquinone is a form of cortisone which, in sufficient doses, has been proven to cause cancers in animals. In the West more manufacturers tend to use Arbutin but this can react with the skin to produce tiny doses of Hydroquinone. In the USA meanwhile, it is legal to use Hydroquinone as long as it is less than 2% of the content of the cream.

Skin whiteners do not bleach the skin as is commonly thought. They actually work by preventing the production of melanin which is a UV protector. This means that Arbutin stops us getting a tan, but it also prevents skin pigmentation which is not always a good thing.

Another chemical to watch out for in BB creams is hyaluronic acid which is usually found in your eyes and joints. This acid is extracted from the combs of roosters or is created in a lab using bacteria. Hyaluronic acid is used for arthritis patients, in eye operations, and as a lip-filler. It can be used to treat skin conditions, heal wounds, skin ulcers and burns, but there is no scientific evidence that it prevents aging.

Another side effect includes causing the appearance on an oily skin when excessive amounts are applied.

BB Cream Reviews

Women’s magazines and websites are awash with positive reviews for BB creams but it is worth looking at the views of experts. One of the major criticisms is that there are not enough color choices and only a limited number of shades on offer, while some of the original Asian BB creams leave a chalk residue on pale Western skin.

The color effect of BB creams can sometimes be too flat. In this case you will have to use other makeup to add more color or highlights to your skin, which means that your BB cream is not always the all-in-one dream cream you expected to be. That makes it less convenient. Quite a few make-up experts acknowledge that as you cannot build up BB cream to increase color as you do with a foundation, you need to use foundation as well.

Another criticism is that BB creams are no use on dry skin because there is not enough moisturizer contained within the cream, which can leave naturally dry skin looking flaky. On the other hand, a few people have claimed that BB cream caused their skin to be shiny and oily skin when applied.


BB creams are currently bang on trend and are being picked up by a host of big names in the cosmetics industry. They come with a variable price tag and with a wide variety of additives. Some are scented, which you may or may not like and some are tested on animals or derived in part from animals, which you may or may not approve of. It is a matter of personal taste and preference which BB cream you choose to use and you’ll probably need to utilize trial and error in order to find the perfect BB cream for your needs. Try before you buy, and read your ingredients list carefully.