Spending a bit of time in Japan last year I became really intrigued with the phenomenon of BB Creams in the Asian beauty market. What was the point of them? Were they a foundation or a Primer? How much coverage did they give? BB Creams are relatively new to the western beauty market and the BB Creams that are available here on the mainstream market aren't really BB Creams. So I went on to explore all things BB the following are my findings, I am hoping this will be a beauty version of Myth Busters. (my Dads favorite show!)
So what the heck is a BB Cream?
BB stands for 'Blemish Balm', it is a cream with multiple beneficial properties for your skin including High SPF protection against UVA and UVB's, Moisturizer and Hydrating serums, Sebrum Control (absorbs sweat), Vitamins A,C,E, Collagen - Each brand differs in the benefits they offer. It also has a light coverage or tint to give the skin a healthy glow. Many of the Korean brands do contain skin lightening/whitening chemicals in them. Skin lightening/whitening is a popular cultural point of difference in Asian skin care and makeup, I am not aware of its benefits I think it is purely a cultural aesthetic which is desirable.
In western beauty it is usually a moisturizer which contains all skin benefiting properties and then make up is applied on top such as a foundation which is purely for coverage. BB Creams are just an extra step of adding more 'health' benefits to the skin while evening out skin tone with the slight tint. The consistency is very different to a tinted moisturizer because BB Creams do have a high amount of silicone which is what fills in your pores and give you that 'Puri Kura' glow.
I really REALLY like BB Creams, the reason I wear a BB Cream is that living in such a warm and humid climate during the day your pores will open and wearing foundation/concealer without a base such as a BB Cream your pores will absorb the makeup congesting them. The western alternative to a BB Cream is a primer, primers are a seal or barrier which make up sits on top of, they don't contain any benefits like SPF or moisturizing qualities. So the BB Cream for me acts as a protective beneficial base for my makeup and you can never have enough SPF. Personally I wouldn't use it instead of a foundation because it doesn't give enough coverage and also the high SPF's are really light reflective often leaving your skin looking slightly white cast.
My prefered BB Cream of choice (and believe me I have tried ALOT!) is the
Dr. Jart+ Water Fuse Beauty Balm SPF 25 PA++ (Korean) - $42.00
Why this out of the hundreds of other BB Creams? It is 50% water - not just regular water but 'Advanced Water Bead Technology'- FANCY. It's super dooper hydrating and leaves your skin looking hydrated and dewy, it is very light and feels like you have nothing on your skin at all. It works really well if you are using a sheer foundation on top like Chanel Vitalumiere Aqua, Nars Sheer Glow or Estée Lauders invisible skin. However if you like a matte heavier coverage foundation then the Dr.Jart+ Gold Label Premium BB Cream would be better suited.
(Ok so you cant see much difference in these but my skin is more even and I do slap about 3 more layers on after the BB Cream anyway.)
Western interpretations of a BB Cream such as the Garnier Miracle Skin perfector $14.45 and Maybelline Dream Fresh BB Cream $13.60 are in my opinion not BB Creams at all, they are tinted moisturizers with SPF. They do not have the skin benefits of traditional Korean style BB Creams, and definitely do not help your make up stay on. They are good if you are looking for a light coverage tinted moisturizer with SPF. Loreal Nude Magique BB Cream $13.60 is a better option but it is still not a BB Cream this is a tinted primer packed with silicone, it leaves your skin super fake soft and creepy.
The Western style BB's selling points are that they smooth skin tone and blur imperfections, where as the Korean BB's are more about the beneficial qualities and the secondary function is to even out skin tone. You only need to look at the ingredients of both BB's to see the difference is vast.
Estée Lauder have a new BB Cream coming out soon which is very comparable to the Korean styles and I am very excited to try it!