In today's Wall Street Journal, reporter Elizabeth Holmes dove deep into the rise of BB creams in luxury and mass market retailers. The truth is, beauty fanantics (me) have been chasing these multi-use "miracle" creams for years, ordering them compulsively off Asian e-commerce websites while attempting to decipher what exactly we were applying to skin while feeling a little more than just lost in translation. But fear not -- BB creams have arrived in the U.S. with serious gusto.
The list of benefits tends to be jaw-dropping on the labels for most of these creams, with the life-bettering effects stopping just short of walking on water. Okay, maybe we're exaggerating. But as women who apply a moisturizer, a primer, a foundation, a setting powder, and an SPF every morning ... they may be a small miracle. Overall, a one-step product that can protect, conceal, and correct texture and tone in a singular application. Too good to be true? Perhaps. But perhaps not.
We chatted with New York magazine "best doctor" award winning dermatologist, Dr. Neal Schultz, about what exactly is this BB cream and what should we be looking for when we buy one:
Where did BB creams originate from?
The original BB cream stands for blemish balm, a product in the '60s in Germany. It wasn't very popular until about a couple of years ago, a few Korean actresses started using these BB creams that had brighteners and they loved them. They talked them up and since they were trendsetters the popularity spread through Asia and now here.
How have BB creams we'll find in stores now changed from their original conception?
The original products were just used to treat blemishes but now they're for beauty or facial rejuvenation. Today the BB creams are much more sophisticated than they were when they started and much more complex in a good way. I love combination products because not only are they easier to use, but they don't require women to layer products. And there's the cost savings.
What's the biggest benefit of using a BB cream over a traditional foundation or moisturizer?
I refer to BB creams as combination products on steroids. By having a product that has a moisturizer and all the other actives mixed with your sunscreen, you don't have to worry about which order you put them on. One of the most common mistakes women make is that they put on their sunscreen last, thinking it should be closes to the sun, but it should really be put on first [before your makeup] or you don't get the full SPF protection.
What types of results should a consumer expect when using a BB cream?
Not all BB creams are the same. BB cream is a little bit like saying you want an omelet, but you have to know what you want in your omelet to order it. Read the packaging but not necessarily the ingredients, see what the particular brand says it does.
Any particular skin conditions or types that should avoid a BB cream?
Again, you have to see what's in that BB cream. Clinque's Age Defense BB Cream is SPF 30 broad spectrum with vitamin E, that doesn't do anything for pigmentation but it has oil control so it's good for people with acne. Garnier's Miracle Skin Perfector BB Cream has vitamin C, my favorite antioxidant, which is good for fighting free radicals and brown spots as well as a combination of glycerin and hyaluronic acid. These are very high level moisturizers and would work for someone with dry skin.
Some of our favorite BB creams, from left:
Dior Hydra Life BB Cream, $56 at Sephora.com; Maybelline Dream Fresh BB Cream, $8.99, available June 1 at mass retailers; Dr. Jart+ Premium Beauty Balm, $39 at Sephora.com; Garnier Miracle Skin Perfector BB Cream, $12.99 at Ulta store locations and Ulta.com.