Sunday, 2 October 2011

What the heck is a BB Cream?!?

BB creams are popping up in Aussie shops lately and in magazines and on TV. I recently did a mini review of the first BB cream to come into the mainstream, chemist/drugstore beauty scene, the Garnier Miracle Skin Perfector. (BTW, has anyone seen the ridiculous ad for this product? Why do cosmetic ads have to be so lame?)

But what even is a BB Cream? Is it a moisturiser, a foundation, a tinted moisturiser, a primer? Do you put it on under makeup, or use it as your foundation? Where has it come from? Questions abound...

Being a researcher by trade, I thought I'd hunt down some answers for you all!

What does the BB stand for?
BB stands for Blemish Balm, Blemish Base or Beblesh Balm.

Who invented BB cream and why?
BB creams were created by a German dermatologist and allergologist, Dr med. Christine Schrammek- Drusio, for patients who had undergone cosmetic surgery - think cosmetic peels, laser resurfacing and microdermabrasion.

Dr Schrammek worked in a skin clinic and surgery for years and developed a passion for skin care products. Her philosophy behind her product development is "Dermatology meets Cosmetics".

No doubt this clever lady is rolling in some sweet, sweet coin following the invention of this product...

What are BB creams used for - what are the meant to do?

Initially BB creams were used to protect, soothe and refine the super sensitive skin of patients who had undergone cosmetic surgery skin treatments. It also provided light coverage for post laser scarring, acne and any other assortment of blemishes.

Nowadays BB creams come in a variety of formulations and with an assortment of purported properties. Stated benefits include skin whitening or brightening properties, anti wrinkle, anti acne, sun protection, nourishment and moisture for you skin without being greasy, anti imflamatory, calming, coverage of blemishes, lightening of scarring, evens out skin tone, pore minimisation, healing properties that encourage skin regeneration and long lasting with a natural finish.  In short, while foundation really does nothing to your skin but conceal and cover, BB creams are meant to be working miracles for your skin while you have it on. An absolute wonder product, fo shiz!

That's great. But what am I meant to do with it?
BB creams can be used in a variety of ways, depending on user perference: as a tinted mosturiser, as a replacement for foundation, or as a primer. They are recommended for all skin types especially sensitive and acne prone skin.

Why is everyone raving about BB creams now?
To be honest, Australia is totes behind the proverbial 8-ball. BB creams gained prominence via those glowing skinned Korean beauties. The story goes that Korean actresses who had undergone laser treatments started using the product post treatment, then continued using the creams for beauty purposes.

Cosmetic companies caught wind and realised there was moolah to be made if BB creams were available to a winder audience. Originally, BB creams sold for around $100 a tube. NOT price friendly for the every day lassie. Companies like Hanskin Co Ltd, a Seoul based cosmetics company went out on a limb, sourced the German ingredients, made their own version and reduced the price to around $20 a bottle.        
In 2006 actress Yoon Son-Ha went public with her love of BB creams on a Japanese home shopping advert. Korean dramas (and hence their associated celebs) are hugely popular and the craze went wild. BB creams are still a number 1 beauty product in Korea. Following this the trend spread from Japan and Korea to South East Asia and now to Europe, the US and finally Australia.

What are some brands I can try?
The majority of manufacturers are still Asian based, meaning that BB creams can be hard to find in local stores in Aus. Garnier has recently released their 'drug-store' version, the Miracle Skin Perfector, for about $14, which is receiving mixed reviews.

The best place to find other brands is on Ebay or Amazon or finding Korean based online shops that ship internationally. They start at about $10 for a 20ml tube, and at about $13-20 for a 50ml tube, depending on whether you get 'free' postage. 

Brands to look for include Skin79 (the famed hot pink bottle is hugely popular and reviewed lots on youtube); Etude; Missha; Hanskin; L'Egere; Lioele; Arezia; Natina; Dr Jurt; Skinfood; BRTC; Banilaco; and Laneige.  

I suggest googling for reviews of individual products and checking out youtube. The lovely Jen at the blog has a great youtube video full of reviews and swatches of a large range of BB creams.

The one thing to note is that most brands of BB creams only have one to three shades, usually a variety of light to medium shades. Even the BB cream produced by Schrammek Kosmetic only comes in three shades. I think people with really light skin will be ok finding something that matches, but those with dark skin tones will be more limited.              

I hope this has been a helpful post, I've learned quite a bit researching :) If you have tried any of the brands listed or have bought them from particular ebay sellers or websites, share your thoughts in the comments below!

References and further information

*Note that the approximate prices I've listed are in Aussie dollars.


  1. i've always wondered what BB stands for, this was soo helpful!! xx

  2. I have the Missha BB cream and I love it. The Garnier BB cream hasn't come to the states.

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