Saturday, January 19, 2013

What the Heck is a BB (or CC) Cream?

The "BB" in BB Cream stands for "beauty, blemish or beblesh," which is a term used in Korea. You've probably seen ads for BB creams or seen the displays in the stores. Perhaps you've even bought a BB cream or gotten a sample and wondered what the difference is between it, a tinted moisturizer and a foundation. Well, the answer is, "it depends."

What eventually became "BB Cream" was actually introduced in Germany in the 1960s by a dermatologist, who was looking for a substance to protect her patients' skin after they had had surgery. Then in 1985, it was brought into the Asian markets (Korea and Japan mostly) where women value beautiful, light colored skin.

Initially, the Asian creams were all about whitening the skin tone. They typically are sold with very little variety in tone, apply as a grey colored cream and rely on the oxidation capabilities of the creams to match the wearer's complexion. These creams usually act not only as a light foundation, but also as a sunscreen, primer, moisturizer as well as treatment, often containing anti ageing and brightening ingredients such as hyaluronic acid and vitamin C. 

In the Western markets (North America and Europe), BB creams generally do not have the "whitening" ingredients that the Asian creams do and often are available in a larger number of shades. In many cases, they do "adjust," via oxidation, to the wearer's skin tone and some brands have a larger color selection (Bobbi Brown's BB Cream, for example). They can be used in place of foundation or under foundation as more of a primer. Having only been available to this market for about a year, many of the Western BB creams are more favorably compared to tinted moisturizers than their Asian counterparts. You will often hear the distinction between the two as the Asian creams are the "real thing" and the Western creams are "impostors." 

I have a tried a number of Asian and Western BB Creams (I'll do a few reviews soon) and I like the properties of both. Even on my light skin, some of the Asian brands can look ashy while some of the Western creams can perform more like tinted moisturizers than the Asian offerings. Depending on what you're looking for, you can be happy with offerings from both markets. The good news is, regardless of your budget, you will be able to find good, quality brands in the department store as well as the drugstore.

To make things even more interesting, we're now seeing "CC Creams" make their debut! CC Creams (stands for "color correction" or "complete correction") are, apparently, BB Creams with added beneficial skin ingredients, higher sun protection and more color options for darker skin tones. I haven't tried any of these new creams yet but I'm sure I will as more become available.

Have you tried any BB or CC creams? What do you think of them?