• BB Cream; Hot or Not?

BB Cream; Hot or Not?

The year of the BB cream In the land of cosmetics, 2012 was the year of the BB cream, and I expect that we will see more of the BB cream in 2013. But what actually is a BB cream? And does it work? It is about time we delved a little more into it…

The BB cream, also known as  beauty balm or blemish balm cream, isn’t new. In fact it has been around for decades, and you may have used such a product when you were younger. Remember soft tint by Ponds, this tinted moisturiser is no longer sold but it was an authentic BB cream. It is traditionally thought that the first BB cream was brought onto the market in 1967 by a German Doctor, but it didn’t really become a great success in Europe. They saw more potential in Asia; as everyone knows a smooth pale skin is the beauty ideal there and thanks to promotions by a number of famous actresses the BB cream was extremely popular  in the 80’s. Only in recent years has the trend spilled over to America and Europe.

So what is it?
A BB cream is a Moisturizer, sun product and foundation all in 1. The “perfect” BB cream with its colour pigments, makes the skin lovely and smooth and many BB creams also contain reflective particles. These give the skin even more radiance. The SPF prevents pigmentation spots and skin ageing and the active ingredients ensure that the skin stays healthy. Sounds perfect doesn’t it? And practical, as you’re ready in no time….

Hot or not?
You probably know what’s coming; I am not such a BB cream enthusiast. The product is really best suited to those people who are “too lazy” when it comes to skincare, and I am convinced that by carefully choosing individual products, you will achieve a more attractive result. There are a number of reasons for this.

• In many instances, when SPF filters are added, they have an impact on the active ingredients in a moisturiser. A product can still hydrate well but certain ingredients are unable to penetrate deep enough into the skin in order to do their work.
• BB creams are associated with having a “whitening” effect, but it is not a protected name so every manufacturer can call its ointment a BB cream. Sometimes they contain ingredients which can make surface pigmentation lighter, but in all honesty that is rather the exception than the rule! After looking at many ingredients lists of BB creams I can now justifiably say that they almost never can do that. With a bit of luck there may be substances such as arbutin or liquorice root added (such substances can somewhat reduce certain types of surface pigmentation) but the concentrations in the products that I looked at were all too low to be able to actually do anything.
• A BB cream is not a real sun protection cream either. In order to achieve the protection displayed on the packaging you would need to apply such a thick layer that your face will look as though it has been sealed with polyfiller. During a presentation given by Leslie Baumann of the University of Miami, she told me that you would need to apply around seven times as much foundation in order to achieve the protection factor displayed on packaging.
• What’s more the BB cream usually comes in just 2 or 3 shades. This means that you have a limited choice and you need a bit of luck for the colour to match your skin. In general, the European BB creams aren’t very thick so a colour difference will be less noticeable. That is okay if your complexion is quite even, but not enough if you need to camouflage imperfections.

Even so, there are people for whom the BB cream is the answer. If you are short of time in the mornings, have problem free skin and you banish the sun protection from the house straight after your holiday, then have a look at my blog in January. I am trying out BB creams with suitable ingredients at the moment and will share my experiences with you in the New Year. If you can’t wait until then, for your own BB cream you can mix your favourite cream with your own coverage foundation or with ready-made pigment colours. Easy does it…

Although we aren’t in for a White Christmas, I wish you all Happy and radiant days!

Regards Jetske.

(Dr. Jetske Ultee – Research Physician Cosmetic Dermatology)

You can also read:
Different Types of Pigmentation‘,
An Ageing Skin through Pigmentation‘,
About the ingredient ‘Hydroquinone’,
Angel Dusting‘ (minimal concentrations),
Dehydrated Skin‘ (and hydrating substances)’,
and ‘SPF in Your Make-Up. Is It Enough?