De-mystifying BB Creams

Every once in a while, a new beauty product comes along and dominates the beauty market, and we rarely stop and think how this product is any different from the other products we’ve been buying and using quite happily up until now…

Following their success in the Asian market, they have quickly become a buzz word in the European beauty industry, but what is a ‘BB cream’? A ‘BB Cream’ can stand for blemish balm, blemish base or a beauty balm but they all mean the same thing, that is, a cream for application to the face which provides moisture, SPF protection and the sheer coverage of a foundation. The difference between a BB cream and a foundation is that a BB Cream should also include healing properties such as anti-inflammatory serums to make skin look younger.

De-mystifying BB Creams

The history of the BB Cream is a somewhat clouded issue. Most historical accounts concur that a predecessor of the BB Cream was originally formulated in the 60s by dermatologist Dr. Christine Schrammek in Germany. Her principal aim in formulating the cream was to protect her patient’s delicate and wounded skin after surgery, that then is where the protective and restorative function of the BB Cream comes from.

In 1985 the product was introduced to South Korea and Japan and was heavily endorsed by Korean celebrities, the boom in popularity of the BB Cream in the Asian market is due to the lust for a healthy-looking porcelain skin look, but that look is not so popular in other places such as in Europe where where there is a trend towards a multi-tonal complexion. Nevertheless while the product has taken its sweet time in getting over to the UK, is has created an incredible buzz with nearly every single make-up brand having their own version.

The major drawback of the BB Cream for me, and many other women of colour, is that because of the origin of the cream in South Korean and Japanese markets, the focus was on offering a limited number of hues. Some of the creams sold on the Asian market are rumoured to have skin-whitening properties which make them very popular in Asia, but simply do not sit well with the Afro-Caribbean community. Even now, most BB Creams on the market in Europe offer limited hues which oxidise to match the skin tone, which is not as accurate as foundations formulated especially for darker skin tones. Recently IMAN cosmetics tried to fill the hole in the market and offer a range of BB Creams for darker skin tones, with 5 ‘perfect match’ shades.

Although the BB Cream is championed as a “hero product” because it is supposed to replace the need for a seperate face cream, foundation and suncream, therefore making your morning regime much quicker. But if you have to use a face cream underneath, or a foundation on top, or if your skin isn’t getting enough Vitamin D and you really don’t need an SPF cream, the purpose seems to be defeated. BB Creams have certainly had glowing reviews:

“…not only is it an illuminator, moisturiser and protector with SPF15. It also has corrective and balancing qualities. Your one stop shop to flawless, beautiful skin.”

– Lisa Eldridge, No 7 Creative Consultant

“I’ve rarely known a product category to flood the market so suddenly and inspire such wholesale enthusiasm.”

– Sali Hughes, The Guardian

With BB Creams ranging from £4 (Make Up Academy Professional BB Cream) to £60 (Giorgio Armani new Luminessense Bright Revelator Greige BB Fluid) it’s important not to jump on the BB bandwagon, and be sure that it’s right for you.

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