Dan Thompson: Beauty Busted


BB Creams: BUSTED!

The Latest Cosmetic Craze: Hype or Reality?

To all the regular readers of Beauty: BUSTED! I am sorry I have been absent for a little while. My travel schedule has been punishing. I am glad to be back, though. And with so many great new things to share with you.

This week: BB Creams.

I was asked by a reader:

“What’s the big deal about BB creams? Are they everything they are touted to be?”


The truth is yes and no.

BB (Beauty Balm) Creams are not new. They have been popular in Asia for about 40 years. With the ever-increasing demand for multi-purpose, multi-benefit products the North American market has gone crazy for these products recently.


So what exactly is a BB Cream?

Despite the hype around these products they are little more than tinted moisturizers with some sunscreen added.

From a formulation perspective there really is no difference between a BB Cream and an all purpose tinted moisturizer. Of course the cosmetics industry would have you think there are all these amazing additional skincare benefits to these make up like products but that is just marketing. Already the next generation of BB Creams is arriving, called CC Creams, and these are just similar formulas with different product attributes highlighted. There is really no difference between a BB or CC Cream (except for coverage levels).


So why all the hype?

Originally developed for the Asian market these products were called Blemish Balms and later changed to Beauty Balms — but the versions sold in Asia are very different than those sold in North America. Asian BB Creams have very high concentrations of titanium dioxide and are quite thick, in texture, because the intended purpose was to cover a blemish. However, a blemish, in Asia, refers to skin discolouration and these products were designed to create a lightening effect on the skin and leave a full coverage, opaque whiteness on the skin.  Of course this would never work in the North American Market.

So Blemish (Beauty) Balms were rebranded and reformulated for the North America market, to be lighter in colour and texture, and today have little difference from their precursor products: tinted moisturizers.

Now don’t get me wrong — I think BB Creams are great. They are quick and easy to use, they are very convenient, and they do offer multiple benefits to the skin.  They just aren’t the magic bullet they are hyped up to be.  You would get the same benefits from using a good foundation and sunscreen.

Truth is if you already have a foundation and sunscreen you love this new category of products is not at all required for great coverage or skin treatment. If you are looking for a product that travels well, is easy to use, and offers protection and coverage then BB Creams are a great choice.