I came a little late on the BB cream scene, but I have stuck to it for probably a good eight months now. I’ve forgone my usual foundation wearing days and have come to appreciate a much lighter coverage on my skin thanks to BB creams. What Pretty doesn’t want to look natural but just a better version of natural? Well, with BB creams you can achieve the no-makeup-makeup-look, while doing good things to your skin.
In short, the BB in BB cream stands for Beauty Balm or Blemish Balm. I believe BB creams started out in Asia and have made a big hit in the Western world for the past year, I’d say. Most BB creams are marketed as a makeup and skincare product — an “all-in-one skin solution” of sorts. Many claim to do primarily the following things: brighten, prime, hydrate, protect, provide light to medium coverage and even out skin tone. Some are equipped with SPFs and some are not. The formulations are much lighter in weight than foundations — almost feeling like a “second skin”.
But you all probably know all this already, unless you’ve been living under a rock!
Over the last eight months or so, I’ve tried and tested a few BB creams — keep in mind that there are a gazillion BB creams out there on the market, both drugstore and high-end. I have tried out only five, but with the ones I’ve tried, I’ve found a few hits and misses. All the ones I have tried are drugstore brands readily available and range in price from $3 U.S. to $20 Cdn.
The five I’ve tried are here:
From L-R: Annabelle BB cream with SPF 15 in Medium/Dark; L’oreal Magic Skin Beautifier BB cream in 814 Medium; e.l.f. Tinted Moisturizer with SPF 20; The Body Shop All-In-One BB cream in 03 Deep; and Revlon Photoready BB cream with SPF 30.
As you can see, there’s quite a large range in selection as far as those containing SPF and not; and the level of SPF in the products as well. The daytime moisturizer that I typically wear everyday has SPF, so I’m not too fussed over picking a BB cream with sun protection, however, I do prefer products with SPF for that added protection. With BB creams, personally, my main concern is evening out my skin tone and finding the perfect (or close to) colour match to my skin — which all of these do, however there are some that I prefer over the others in terms of texture, coverage, colour and consistency.
Let’s start with the misses:
The Body Shop BB cream and Revlon Photoready BB cream
The Body Shop BB cream in 03 Deep and the Photoready BB cream in Medium are misses for me, but not completely.
The Body Shop BB cream is advertised as a “colour-adapting tinted cream” meaning that it comes out white and and when you rub it into your skin, it changes to your skin colour. The consistency of this product is a bit liquidy, but not so much that it would run down your face when you dot it on to apply. The Body Shop BB cream is an OK colour match for me — I am yellow-undertoned and this one runs a little bit on the pinky/orange-undertone side, but depending on the amount I can use and how well I blend it in I can actually get away with it. This leaves my skin looking very very dewy, not greasy. A good thing when I want to go for that look, but with my combination skin, I find the dewiness somehow accentuates the T-zone, where I am most oily. The texture of this is very smooth and blends well. Although this does not have and SPF and it leaves a dewy finish, I can see myself using this during the summer months for the colour – as I get more of a tan, I can see this matching my skin-tone better for the summer season. A light dusting of setting powder would keep the “shine” at bay with this one. It has a slight smell, one I can’t describe, but not offensive and doesn’t linger on the skin.
This retails at the Body Shop for $20 and comes in 4 colours: 00 for the lightest skin tone all the way to 03 for the deepest. I found this runs pretty fair in the colour range, so although I am a medium skin tone, the 03 deep shade is perfect for me.
The next miss for me is the Revlon Photoready BB cream with SPF 30 in 030 Medium. I was excited for this one because of the high amount of SPF in the product and the fact that it’s marketed as being a “photoready” makeup (i.e. face will look great with this on when taking pictures). This one pretty much smells like a sunscreen, no surprise with the high amount of SPF, which I don’t mind but… when I put this on my face, it left a definite sunscreen-y effect — whitecast, verging on grey. Not a good look, in person or in photos! Also, like with most traditional sunscreen, this BB cream felt sticky on my skin, not completely feeling like it ever really “set” into my face. The colour match is good, but I think because of the amount of SPF in it, the shade was overcome by the sunscreen. I will probably give this another go during the summer months for the sun protection alone, but I almost already know that I won’t like it (I just hate to let things go to waste!). Out of all the BB creams I mention here today, the Revlon Photoready is the last one that I would reach for.
I picked this up at Shoppers Drug Mart on sale for $11.99 (I believe regular price is around $20). There are 4 shades: light, light/medium, medium, and deep.
The next two “Semi-Hits” are the Annabelle BB cream with SPF 15 in medium/dark and the e.l.f. Tinted Moisturizer with SPF 20 in Beige:
Annabelle BB cream with SPF 15 in Medium/Dark and e.l.f. Tinted Moisturizer with SPF 20 in Beige
The Annabelle BB cream is one that I reach for very often. Firstly, the colour match to my skin tone is PERFECT — yellow-undertoned. This one out of all the products here provides the most coverage — one application (about a domed dime size) provides me with enough coverage to even out my skin tone and a light to medium coverage. I have tried applying more and I can build this up to a medium to full coverage, without it feeling or looking too heavy on my skin. Very very impressive. The SPF 15 is the perfect amount, in my mind, to not have that whitecast/sunscreeny finish on the face. This has a slight smell, one of sunscreen but not as strong as the Revlon. It’s formulation is creamy but not too thick. I’m actually almost done this tube and it’s definitely one that I will consider repurchasing. This is one I can use all year round.
I picked this up at Shoppers Drug Mart on sale for $11.99 (I believe it retails at Shoppers for around $16-$19 regular price). It comes in two shades: light/medium and medium/dark.
The next product that is a semi-hit for me is not marketed as a BB cream (although e.l.f. has recently created one and I’ve put in an order for it already, hooray! Watch for a review on that too!) is the e.l.f. Tinted Moisturizer with SPF 20 in shade Beige. I’ve decide to consider this as part of my BB cream collection simply because BB creams are touted as “glorified tinted moisturizers” — meaning, tinted moisturizers have very similar coverage properties but without all the extras, like priming and brightening, that most BB creams claim to provide.
The e.l.f. Tinted Moisturizer is a great staying at home, not going out or just going out to the grocery store makeup, when I don’t want to put on a full face of makeup but still want my skin to look even-toned and have that “my skin but better” look. With a high SPF of 20 I was a bit afraid of getting that ghostly effect on my skin, but this does not do that whatsoever. It’s also equipped with aloe, cucumber and vitamins A, C, and E — not certain on how much of these ingredients are in this tinted moisturizer, but always a good thing. The formulation of this is light and creamy – the coverage with this is definitely light (the lightest of all the products here) and I’d say buildable, but I usually don’t because I find that the coverage with one application is enough for those casual days that I usually use this one for. The colour match with this one for me runs a bit on the tan side, which is perfect for the summer months when I get a bit darker, but also good for the cooler months because it gives me a bit of a wash of healthy colour. This is one I can use all year round.
The e.l.f. Tinted Moisturizer retails for $3 U.S. Yup, three bucks Pretties — an awesome steal of a deal!. I actually purchased two more tubes of this on the e.l.f. website a few days ago at 50% off! I have purchased MANY products from e.l.f. cosmetics online — they have awesome makeup and prices are outstanding: $1 to $8. AND, they frequently have promotions, so when they do, I take advantage and stock up on my favourites and try new things! The e.l.f. Tinted Moisturizer comes in 8 shades: ivory, porcelain, nude, beige, sand, almond, mocha and espresso.
And the number one most definite HIT for me is… L’oreal Magic Skin Beautifier BB cream in shade 814 Medium!:
My holy grail of drugstore BB creams: L’oreal Magic Skin Beautifier in Medium. I love this stuff!
The L’oreal BB cream is by far my most favourite BB cream out of all that I’ve tried. The tube you see in the photo above? That’s my second one! This product just hits all the right points in my book: colour match, decent light to medium coverage, matte finish (great for my T-zone), non-offensive smell, blendable, and feels and looks great on my skin. The only downside to this is that it doesn’t contain any SPF, but like I said, I’m not too fussed about that. The pros definitely outweigh the con.
The L’oreal BB cream is formulated the same way as The Body Shop BB cream, in that it comes out white and “self-adjusts” to your skin tone:
L’oreal BB cream: what it looks like out of the tube and partially blended. You can see it transforming from white to a medium shade to match my skin tone
And this is what it looks like swatched when fully blended:
L’oreal BB cream: fully transformed!
On my own face, the colour “transforms” pretty much perfectly to my skintone. I don’t really know how this concept works, but whatever – it WORKS for me! This leaves more of a matte finish to my face, which I actually prefer, but it doesn’t make my face look “flat” if you know what I mean. I usually don’t set with a powder after applying the L’oreal (I do with the other ones) because the finish is more than enough to keep shine away for a good few hours. The formulation of this is very similar to The Body Shop BB cream – liquidy, but not too wet. Again, about a domed-dime size amount of this is more than enough to cover my face. This evens out any redness and unevenness in my skintone, blends easily, hydrates and feels like nothing on my skin. I reach for this one almost on a daily basis — definitely my go-to product to provide the perfect base for the rest of my makeup!
I bought this on sale from Shoppers Drug Mart for $12.99 (I believe it retails for around $20). It comes in four shades: fair, light, medium and deep.
So, all in all, I am a BIG fan of BB creams. There are still so many brands I’d like to try – from drugstore to high-end. But for now, I’ve found a few that work well for me and bonus that they are reasonably priced and easy to access.
I rate the BB creams as follows (click HERE to see my Rating System to find out what these crazy things mean!):
The Body Shop All-In-One BB cream: a SHOULDER SHRUG
Revlon Photoready BB cream: a THUMBS DOWN
Annabelle BB cream: a HIGH-FIVE
e.l.f. Tinted Moisturizer: a HIGH-FIVE
L’oreal Magic Skin Beautifier BB cream: a STANDING OVATION
I hope you found this helpful! Have you tried any of these? If so, how do you like them? Are there any that you recommend? I’d be soooo happy to get your suggestions on some BB creams that you’ve tried and love!
I know there are CC (and DD??) creams out on the market now making it’s way onto many of our dressing tables… I have yet to jump on the CC/DD bandwagon! But for now, I’ll stick with what works.. but if you have any recommendations on an intro CC cream that you’ve tried that you think I might enjoy, please let me know!
Thanks for tuning in Pretties!!