grace kelly - edited

The best BB creams: Reviews from real women

What is BB cream?

BB cream is a relatively new product that emerged in the mainstream beauty market in 2011. BB most commonly stands for blemish balm or beauty balm, and it's typically used as an alternative to foundations and concealers. Often marketed as an all-in-one product, many BB creams are said to replace moisturiser, serum, sunscreen, primer and foundation.

BB creams are supposed to be much lighter and less harsh on the skin than traditional makeup products. They are supposed to treat skin blemishes such as acne and sunspots. The formulation is also usually mineral-based and may come with anti-inflammatory properties.

Essentially, BB cream is a lighter-coverage foundation that is designed to be good for your skin.

Now that BB cream has been on the market for a few years, almost every beauty brand has its own version. Many brands have even branched out into CC creams and DD creams (more information on this below).

So, with every brand making its own BB cream, which one should we be using? Just like we did in the best mascaras article, we asked around to find out.

The best BB creams

Author's picks:

I have two favourites and they are both fantastic products.

I love MAC Cosmetics Lightful C Tinted Cream SPF 30 with Radiance Booster and Philosophy No Reason to Hide Instant Skin-Tone Perfecting Moisturizer. Both these products are a little more expensive than your average BB cream, but I believe they're worth the money.

lightful c cream - edited

MAC Lightful C Tinted Cream

Available at David Jones

The MAC cream is very light but still offers a reasonable amount of coverage, plus it has built-in SPF 30. Why do I love this product so much? It instantly delivers on the promise of making your skin more radiant. It adds a dewy-ness and a glow to your skin that I've never been able to replicate with any other product.

The product also claims to improve the natural appearance of skin over time. Unfortunately, I haven't been using it long enough to see whether or not it delivers on that front. But I do notice that the product never clogs my skin the way foundations do.

philosophy no reason to hide - edited

Philosophy Skin-Tone Perfecting Moisturizer

Available at David Jones

I love the Philosophy cream because it's a bit thicker than a regular BB cream. It's still a light-coverage product, but you can build it up. Because it's thick and almost stiff, it doesn't budge once it's on.

This is the product I wear if I know I have a long and busy day. I accidentally had water splashed all over my face last week when I was wearing this product and I can tell you that after I patted off the water, the product was unmoved on my face. It's just magic.

Plus, it still has the sheer appearance of BB cream. I hate heavy foundations. I like it when a few of my natural freckles come through the makeup.

The favourite:

Garnier Miracle Skin Perfector BB Cream

Available at Priceline

"Garnier's Oil-free BB gives a light, even coverage and a pretty summery glow, and it's super-reasonable at just $15!"

- Lauren

"I've only ever tried a couple, but my favourite was Garnier Miracle skin. It's not too heavy, and I think it was one of the first released in Europe, so it's been going for a while."

- Sarah

"I've tried them all and Garnier is the best I've tried. BB Cream Classic Miracle Skin Perfector. It's the cheapest too."

- Genevieve

Other top BB creams:

l'oreal nude magique - edited

L'Oreal Nude Magique BB cream

Available from

"I use the L'Oreal BB cream. It blends in easily to your skin tone, covers redness, doesn't look blotchy or powdery and has an SPF."

- Mina

"I've used L’Oreal, which is great. It's good for everyday wear."

- Liz

mac pre and prime beauty balm - edited

MAC Cosmetics Prep + Prime BB Beauty Balm

Available at David Jones

"It makes me look tanned, blurs the skin and is also a primer."

- Bianca M

models prefer cc - edited

Models Prefer CC Unbelievable Colour Correcting Cream

Available at Priceline

"So easy. Never had to worry about blending or whether it would stay all day. Always got compliments on my skin when I wore it... but they stopped making it."

- Jaselle

Smashbox bb - editednars tinted moisturiser - edited

Smashbox Camera Ready BB cream and NARS Tinted Moisturizer

Smashbox available at Mecca Maxima

NARS available at StrawberryNET

"Smashbox is a perfect all-rounder and has amazing coverage for a BB. I also love the NARS tinted moisturizer. It's amazing. Radiant and creamy but lightweight and non-comedogenic."

- Steph A

invisible zinc daywear - edited

Invisible Zinc tinted moisturiser

Available at Priceline

"The colour is subtle but really makes my skin glow. It hydrates too. And it doesn't congest my skin either, unlike other sunscreen-based products."

- Rae

sunsense tint - edited

Sunsense Daily Face Invisible Tint Lotion

Priceline Secure

"I have to say Sunsense tinted moisturiser gave me incredible results. It actually reduces my sun spots, and it's ridiculously low in price."

- Marie

Stila cc cream - edited

Stila CC cream

Available at Mecca Maxima

"Stila CC cream is amazing!!!"

- Emily G

maybelline bb - edited

Maybelline Dream Fresh BB cream

Available at Target

"I highly recommend! Mix it with your everyday foundation and apply with a sponge by tapping it across your skin. Finish off with powder for a matte finish because sometimes the SPF does shine."- Shirley

BB cream vs foundation

Many people ask what the difference is between BB cream and foundation. The key difference is their purpose.

In essence, foundation is a product that aims to give the best overall look and finish to the skin. Foundations make the skin look even and flawless. Whereas, the aim of BB cream is to provide a light coverage (certainly not a flawless one) while treating and moisturising the skin.

Traditionally, foundations have a heavier oil base while BB creams have a mineral base. But with so many products on the market now, and so many variations of those products, sometimes there is not much difference between a foundation and a BB cream. Many foundations are now oil-free and have a mineral formulation.

Should I use BB cream or foundation?

The product you choose will depend on what results you want. If you prefer heavy and flawless coverage, you will be better off with foundation. If you prefer lightweight, sheer coverage, you'll probably prefer BB cream. That said, there are lots of sheer foundations and lots of decent-coverage BB creams available if you have a specific preference.

You will also need to consider what kind of skin you have and what result you want. If you have oily skin, a matte foundation will generally be better for you.

Many BB creams are very rich in moisture, which can leave your already oily skin looking rather shiny. But there are lots of oil-free formulations as well if you definitely prefer a BB cream.

Alternatively, if you have dry or combination skin, a BB cream might provide you with much-needed hydration. Foundations probably won't sit as well on dry skin unless you opt for one with a dewy finish.

If you have specific skin concerns, like acne, scarring, sun spots, hyper-pigmentation and other conditions of this nature, an oil-free BB cream with an SPF will be better for you than a foundation. If you do have a dermatological condition, make sure you speak to a doctor before making a decision on which product to use.

Can you mix BB cream with foundation or powder?

Although this is not the intended purpose of BB cream, you can certainly mix a BB cream with other makeup products.

BB cream can be mixed with foundation or concealer to change the colour or to provide more coverage. It's also OK to put setting or anti-shine powder on top of BB cream.

However, it is not a good idea to put a powder foundation over the top of BB cream. Powder foundations and liquid BB creams have different formulations and can look very cakey when used together. If you need extra coverage, just add another layer of BB cream.

BB cream vs CC cream vs DD cream vs tinted moisturiser

CC creams, DD creams and tinted moisturisers, while marketed as different products, have extremely similar formulations to BB cream and therefore generally fall under the BB cream umbrella. All of these products have a focus on treating and improving the appearance of the skin rather than simply covering it like a foundation would.

That said, there are a few subtle differences. CC stands for colour-correcting and focuses on evening out skin tone and correcting redness or a sallow skin tone. Standing for Daily Defense or Dynamic Do-All, DD creams are marketed as a BB cream, CC cream and anti-ageing product in one. It's supposed to offer nourishment, colour correction, sun protection and anti-ageing benefits all in the one product. Although, as mentioned above, the formulation and ingredients in DD cream are very similar to those in regular BB creams.

Tinted moisturisers are the original BB cream. Tinted moisturisers have been around for a long time and were always the alternative for women who didn't like to wear heavy foundations.

The subtle difference between tinted moisturiser and BB cream is that tinted moisturiser is often just simply moisturiser. BB creams boasts a number of other skin-improving and protecting properties.

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Mia Steiber

Mia Steiber is the Editor of the Shopping section at finder. She has a serious shopping habit and an addiction to gold jewellery. Her talents include tracking down one-off or almost sold out pieces and knowing the sizing charts for just about every brand.

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