BB creams are the Jessica Chastain of the beauty world: one day you’ve never heard of them and the next, they’re all over the red carpet.
Or the cosmetics counter. But this quiet achiever has been around for almost 50 years (we’re talking about the BBs now, not Chastain).
Developed by German facialist Christine Schrammek in 1967, the original “Blemish Balm” was designed for use after facial peels and laser treatments. It contained zinc to calm and protect the sensitised skin, while a light tint nixed any redness.
5 TOP BB CREAMS
One of the first BBs to launch in Australia, this SPF 15 all-rounder hydrates for up to 24 hours and contains vitamin C for extra glow.
This sheer tinted formula covers any blemishes and – bonus – the SPF keeps your skin protected.
Has a similar zinc base to the original BB cream, giving it hydrating and anti-bacterial properties. Bonus: it’s certified organic by the European certifying body NATRUE.
Contains tiny coloured pigments that magically adapt to any skin shade, evening out the tone.
It provides a light lick of colour, while it visibly firms and lifts the complexion.
For more than 40 years the BB languished in the useful-but-little-known category. Then, according to beauty folklore, it was picked up by Korean make-up artists who used it on famous clients and word spread.
But don’t let the “blemish” in the name fool you: it refers not just to acne and spots but almost any skin imperfection. From adding radiance to reducing irritation and lifting and firming, there’s one to suit every beauty need. They’re kinda like the MacGyver of skincare, really.
Three experts rate the BB-cream phenomenon
THE DERMATOLOGY EXPERT “The main advantage of using a BB cream is that you only have to apply one product, rather than a few different ones. If you’re trying to simplify your routine, this is a nice solution.
They vary a lot in terms of their formulations but are basically a moisturiser, sunscreen and foundation in one. Having said that, some tinted moisturisers do all this, too.” - Women's Health beauty expert, Dr Elizabeth Dawes-Higgs
THE FACIALIST “BB cream is the perfect all-round moisturiser to finish off a facial treatment. It protects, calms and soothes, and evens out skin tones – giving a subtle, healthy glow. It may contain ingredients like zinc, designed to calm skin that’s been stimulated in a facial treatment, while titanium dioxide provides protection from UVA and UVB rays.” - Sue Dann, national sales and training manager for OmniDermTHE MAKE-UP ARTIST “They’re time-saving and make sense: why can’t make-up and skincare be the same thing? BB cream is best applied with fingers, to warm up the product and ensure it blends. If the coverage is enough, you may not need extra foundation, but for a more formal occasion you can use a foundation with a heavier coverage over the top.” - Amy Morgan, head of the make-up department at the Australasian College, Sydney