Yesterday in Walgreens, I was chatting with the girls that work at the beauty counter, and one of them asked me, “What exactly are BB creams supposed to do?” That’s a damn good question.
I’m sure most of us remember a few years ago when all these “alphabet” creams hit the Western beauty market. Needless to say, it was an explosion. The commercials were tantalizing: “five beautifying effects!”, some even claiming up to 7 effects. But do they contain the right ingredients to actually do what they claim? Not really. The Western BB creams sold by drugstore and high end brands aren’t much more than tinted moisturizers. Compared to their Asian counterparts, they pretty much fall flat.
While the Western BB creams do usually contain SPF, they don’t generally contain the blemish fighting ingredients that the Asian ones do. Asian BB creams are meant to replace serum, moisturizer, primer, foundation, and sunscreen. The Asian creams also usually contain hyaluronic acid and vitamin C, an ingredient proven to reduce dark spots. And hyaluronic acid is a humectant, drawing and trapping moisture in the skin, so it makes perfect sense that these creams could replace a serum and moisturizer. With the possible exception of the Garnier BB cream, none of the Western BB creams I have ever seen contain these ingredients. I think the Garnier cream may contain some vitamin C or other blemish-reducing ingredients, but it’s still far from my favorite (it’s very thick, and the original is very greasy; I don’t find that it feels light at all.).
Now, this is not to say that you shouldn’t use Western BB creams, or you should only buy Asian ones. Most people wear far less sunscreen than they should, and it is not in all foundations, so BB creams do offer some effective sun coverage without extra steps, i.e. moisturizer/sunscreen and then layering on foundation. They are also much lighter than most foundations, which, in my book, is a plus. I may be a makeup artist, but I generally hate the feeling of primer and foundation on my skin. And before the era of alphabet creams, finding a nice tinted moisturizer (at the drugstore, especially) was not always an easy task.
So let’s cut through the bullshit and get down to the verdict:
Should you buy Western BB creams? Yes. They provide some sun protection, and they are generally good products. Just don’t expect miracles.
Should you buy Asian BB creams? If you’re looking for a true all in one product that will actually make some sort of impact on the appearance of your skin, then you should go for it. You will have to order it online, unless you plan on jetting to Asia soon. Some good brands to check out are Etude House, Dr. Jart, BRTC, Lioele, Missha, and Nature Republic. Please note that I have not tried these brands myself, I have simply heard good things.
Honestly, as with all makeup products, it really comes down to preference. If you like the Maybelline Dream Fresh BB cream, wear it! There’s nothing wrong with the Western BB creams. As long as you’re not expecting huge improvements in the over-all look of your skin, they’ll do what you want them to do.
For more information on the history and differences in BB creams, please visit: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BB_cream