All About BB Creams + DIY BB Cream

   BB creams are the new "it" beauty product, claiming to be the ultimate all-in-one product. If you have been curious about them or want to try them out, you´ll like this post. If someone asked me to explain a BB cream, I´d say it is a primer + moisturiser + sunscreen + foundation. Many BB creams are advertised as 6-in-one, 9-in-one or everything-in-one, but then I could probably name at least five different things a regular moisturiser can do.

   I like to divide BB creams into three categories: east-Asian (Korean or Japanese), western, and certified natural. East Asian BB creams are the reason BB creams got popular. They adapt themselves to the skin tone, cover everything yet look natural, give a smooth and dewy look, plus they moisturise and protect from the sun.
   Most western products are a pale imitation of them, many such as the ones from Garnier and Maybelline have little in common with traditional BB creams from Korea and Japan.
  Several natural brands have brought out BB creams that don´t contain the problematic ingredients that conventional BB creams have. I´ll explain this more at the end of the post.

What a BB cream does:

Priming and smoothing

   Most BB creams conceal pores and visually minimise fine lines and scars just like a good primer. This effect is temporary and purely visual (the lines and scars are not really minimised). The ingredient that does this is silicones, which are a double-edged sword. They do make the skin look (and feel) very smooth, however they can also block pores and build-up on the skin. If you do use silicones on your face, be sure to be diligent with cleansing (oil cleansing works really well with more stubborn silicones).

Moisturising and anti-ageing

   BB creams usually contain a couple of moisturising and anti-ageing ingredients. What these are and how much of them is in the B cream very much depends on the particular product. If you check ingredient labels it can be anything from plant oils to cheap glycerine. If you are serious about preventing aging, I'd suggest not relying too much on a BB cream but chose a good serum instead.

Sunscreen: sun protection

    Some, but not all, BB creams contain sunscreen. The SPF of most BB crems isn't that high, and comes from chemical sunscreen ingredients that are problematic. For one, they are hormone-disruptive. Another problem is that they can be unstable and break up under sunlight, releasing free radicals. They also need to be re-applied, unlike mineral (physical) sunscreen. In my personal opinion if you will be outdoors you need a higher SPF anyway, one that doesn't break up under the sun. And if you spend the day indoors it doesn't make sense to slather your face in potentially toxic chemical sunscreen.

Foundation: Concealing and Whitening

   BB creams range from "basically a tinted moisturiser" to "heavy-duty covers everything". Most BB creams adapt to the skin colour, yet retain a tone of their own. When it comes to BB creams you don´t have to match them exactly to your skin tone. Often a tone that is yellowish can calm down a pinkish complexion, and a pinkish tone can make a yellowish skin healthier.
   East Asian BB creams optically lighten the skin tone and are rarely matt. They also tend to have a very pink tone, although yellowish ones are becoming more popular.
   BB creams from Korea and Japan give a much better coverage than most non-asian ones (whether conventional or organic).

Problematic ingredients

     Apart from chemical sunscreen and silicones which I have mentioned, many BB creams contain perfume, parabens and PEGs. The most recent Öko Test rated most conventional (non-asian) BB creams badly, including ones from Garnier, Lancome, L'Oreal and Olaz.
   A problem with Asian BB creams is that they might contain Arbutin, a carcinogenic substance that is forbidden in European cosmetics. So check the ingredient lists carefully before buying. Also, many east-asian BB creams (especially the ones meant for mature skin) contain collagen from sea-animals, which can cause allergies in many people.
   BB creams from certified natural brands are a good alternative for those who want to avoid them (and hey, they are greener and not tested on animals!). All of these are "western", so far as I know there aren't any really natural BB creams from Japanese or Korean brands. If there are, do let me know!

BB creams worth trying:

   The most recommended BB creams from east Asia are from Missha (lots of shades), Skin79, SkinFood,  Lioele. Those with very pale skin that don´t need too much coverage might like Flebeaute White Crystal. When buying BB creams online, be wary of fakes. Your best bet is buying directly from the online shop of the producer, or an offical distributor. A good source is Gmarket.
   There are a couple of non-Asian BB creams that are good too (I've heard good things about the one from Smashbox). When reading reviews online, check if the reviewer has used a traditional BB cream as a comparision.
   And finally a couple of recommendations for those who prefer certified natural BB creams: The Alva Sensitiv is probably the best certified natural BB cream available. Good coverage, has a pinkish tone and gives a natural, moisturised, glowy look. Another nice one is from Melvita, which provides decent coverage and a lightly matt finish, and a neutral tone; but a low SPF. The BB cream from Lavera is more like a tinted moisturiser and doesn't offer much coverage. The colour is quite dark, but looks much lighter when applied on the skin.

CC, DD and ZZ Creams

   CC creams are already out on the market, CC is supposed to stand for Colour Correction and is meant to correct discolourations and fine lines. This is a bit of a marketing thing, since most CC creams aren't that different from BB creams. The next thing coming up is apparently DD creams (Disguise and Diminish) that can conceal heavier discolourations. If this trend keeps up, we will have EE and FF creams on the market soon (what do you think they will stand for? I'm guessing Erase Errors and and Flawless Face).

DIY BB cream

   By mixing a couple of common cosmetics you can create your own DIY BB cream. This method comes from Azjatycki Cukier. She lives in east Asia and has tested out a lot of traditional BB creams, and says that her DIY version is just as good!

   The advantage of a DIY BB cream is that you can control what goes into it and create something tailored to your needs. it is also a great way to use up too-white sunscreen!

What you need:
+ primer (makeup base) of your choice
+ mineral sunscreen (you can use one that is normally too white for you)
+ light moisturiser of your choice (cream, gel, serum, whatever your skin likes best)
+ foundation (can be a bit darker than your usual skin tone because the other ingredients will lighten it)
+ cream highlighter (if you like the lightly shimmery effect of B creams).

   I could also imagine adding a dash of coloured concealer (for example green if you have broken capillaries) could work. Now just mix everything together and test it on your face! You might have to play around with the proportions for a bit till you get an effect you like.

   Personally I prefer mineral foundation since it is really easy to blend and is really nice to my skin, but I might change my mind if a natural brand comes up with a really good (and affordable) BB cream. What about you? Do you use BB creams or do you prefer traditional foundation? Any BB creams that you can recommend?

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