Chances are you’ve heard about or seen BB creams (because they’re EVERYwhere), also known as “the secret to perfect-looking skin Asian women have been using for years.” I mean…let’s give a big thank you to whoever went over to Asia, uncovered this beauty secret those naturally-porcelained-skin ladies (lucky bitches) have been hiding, and brought it back to the US of A where we ACTUALLY NEED IT.

Here’s the DL on BBs. First of all, BB stands for “beauty balm” and these creams are basically an all-in-one for the face–tinted moisturizer, foundation, primer, sunscreen, skin evener-outer. In other words, a miracle product…especially if you’re lazy. Some go on lighter (the tinted moisturizer end of the spectrum), while others are more foundation-y. But all of the good ones truly do even out your skin, hide discoloration (ahem, sun damage), and give you a dewy, airbrushed effect…with a touch of tan! And as someone who has the driest skin of all time, I will say that most BBs are enough of a daytime moisturizer by themselves, at least in the summer (in the winter, I may need to double up, but we’ll see).

So you can wash your face, slap on some BB cream, then move right into your normal beauty routine, sans foundation! I’ve rounded up the best for all budgets and will also mention the ones I’m not crazy about. And let it be known that my favorite (and the one I use) is the cheapest! I mean…is this real life?

1. Garnier Miracle Skin Perfector BB Cream: To call yourself a “miracle skin perfector” is a pretty bold move, but Garnier lives up to its self-proclaimed hype. I bought it the second I saw it in Marie-Claire‘s prestigious Prix d’Excellence Beauty Awards where the jury said, “After applying this second-skin-in-a-tube, you’ll look in the mirror and still see your face–only with a better complexion.” It’s one of the thicker formulas so you can definitely skip the foundation. As for which color to choose (light/medium or medium/deep)–my skin is between fair and dark/tan, and I use medium/deep. It gives me a touch of bronze but doesn’t look unnatural. And at the dirt cheap price point, you can buy both shades and alternate in summer and winter if you need to! $13, available at most drugstores
AWARD: Best bang for your buck/too good to be true
Buy for less on Amazon: Garnier Skin Renew Miracle Skin Perfector B.B. Cream, Medium and Deep, 2.5 Fluid Ounce

2. L’oreal Youth Code BB Cream: I’m liking L’oreal’s new Youth Code line, so was intrigued by this addition. It’s very lightweight, so does the trick if you don’t want the thicker coverage some of the others provide. For example, I’ll wear it to the beach/pool because it makes my skin even and luminous without the “Why is that hooker wearing makeup on the beach?” effect (and it’s SPF 15). Available in light and medium shades. $17, available at most drugstores
AWARD: Lightweight/best for the beach and pool
Buy for less on Amazon: L’Oreal Youth Code BB Cream Illuminator SPF 15, Medium, 2.5 fl oz | L’Oreal Youth Code BB Cream Illuminator SPF 15, Light, 2.5 fl oz

3. Too Faced Beauty Balm: I’m a fan of this BB and love that it comes in FOUR shades so you can find the right match for your mug (nude glow, beach glow, creme glow, and vanilla glow). It’s on the lightweight side, so if you want serious, matte coverage, this may not be for you. I’ve also read complaints from ladies with oily skin, so it’s best if you have normal or dry skin and just want a complexion “enhancer” perfectly matched to your coloring. With an SPF of 20, you get a little somethin’ extra. $32, available at Sephora
AWARD: Skin match perfection
Buy for less on Amazon: Too Faced Tinted Beauty Balm SPF 20 Nude Glow 1.5 oz

4. Clinique Age Defense BB Cream: Well, Clinique nailed it. This one provides fantastic coverage all day long, moisturizes just enough, matches to your skin with three shades (for both pink and golden undertones), and has an SPF of 30. If you’re looking for REALLY heavy coverage and/or have oilier skin, you  may want to dust some powder over it (a foreign concept to me), but it works well alone for most users. $37, available at Sephora and Clinique counters
AWARD: Long-wearing amazingness
Buy for less on Amazon: Clinique Age Defense BB Cream SPF 30 01 | Clinique Age Defense Bb Cream SPF 30 Shade 02 1.4 Oz/40ml | Clinique Age Defense BB Cream SPF 30, size 1.4 oz / 40 ml, shade 03

5. Dior Hydra Life BB Creme: If you’re cool with spending nearly 60 bones on a BB, definitely give Dior’s a whirl. It moisturizes, provides long-lasting, full coverage (sun damage, be gone!), has 30 SPF, and absolutely makes your skin glow and appear flawless. It only comes in one shade, but miraculously blends on almost any face (how do they do it??). However, if you have extremely fair skin, it may be too dark, so try to snag a sample/try it out at the makeup counter before coughing up the big bucks, or opt for DiorSnow BB Creme ($50)–it works well on fair skin and is one of the best on the market for lightening and brightening if that’s your goal (and has a whopping 50 SPF!). $56, available at Sephora and Dior counters
AWARD: BB elite
Buy for less on Amazon: Christian Dior Hydra Life BB Creme Enhancing Moisturizer Spf 30 for Women Creme, 1.7 Ounce

Now for the LOSERS. Kidding (but not really). I asked the sales associate at Sephora which was the best, top-selling BB cream and she shoved Smashbox’s Camera Ready BB Cream in my face while praising it up and down. I couldn’t wait to try it, and when I did…total sad trombone. I wanted to love it, but it barely covered up any of my “imperfections” (read: sun damage). I mean…the way they’re hyping this mediocre product made me wonder if they’re getting kickbacks from Smashbox. Maybe it just wasn’t right for my skin, so please comment below if you use it and love it! The other “non-winner” is Dr. Jart+ Black Label Detox BB because it was so light (colored, not weight) and like, I’m not trying look pasty over here. However, this may be THE ideal BB for very fair skin–it felt smooth and provided great coverage, so Snow White ladies (not to be confused with home-wrecker Kristen Stewart), check this one out.

Did I mention (or hate on) your favorite? Are you inspired to go out and try any of these? At this point, having a BB cream in your makeup bag is pretty much a necessity.

Just face it.


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Join the conversation! 7 Comments

  1. i’ll be checking out the garnier cream tonight! i hate foundation but i’m way past the age of ‘au naturel’ and it’s time to go ahead and face it.

  2. […] blush BEFORE bronzer. That’s right. After your foundation/BB cream/primer/whatever, when you’re about to do bronzer then blush, take it from the wise words of […]

  3. I bought the Garnier cream the other day and love it! My skin feels awesome all day, even in the nasty humidity. Thanks for the rec!

  4. Can’t wait to try the Garnier BB cream! I have never even heard of this stuff but can’t wait to try. Love that there is something that works in the lower price range. Can’t wait to try, thanks for sharing!

  5. WOW….what an in-depth, well-researched article! Kudos to you, Ashley. I will give Garnier a try, as well. I have tried many BB creams, both cheap and expensive and I like Missha Perfect Cover BB Cream SPF 42 PA the best (so far), although it is a bit pricey (it is, however, on sale right now for $29.99–1-22-13). The main things I like about it are it has a high SPF and it comes in a shade light enough for my extremely fair skin. It is fairly creamy, so I would say it’s a med. coverage product. It covers my age spots/freckles SO WELL, which is another plus!! I do use a sheer powder over it because it leaves a dewy finish; too dewy for me, but Missha does have a matte BB cream (Vita BB Cream (Matte) SPF 20/PA++ for $19.99 which I will consider trying as well. Missha has 8 BB creams, I believe, for many skin concerns (ie, mature skin BB cream, sensitive skin BB cream, wrinkle filler BB cream, moisturizing BB cream, BB cream with a sheen, and even a BB cream in a compact {the above info was taken from the Official MISSHA Website}). Oh, and BTW, I am NOT a MISSHA rep. and am in no way affiliated with the company, I just really like the product I have found so much, in fact, that I am eager to try another one of their BB creams.

    Thanks for the research and for reading my input 🙂 — Jen

  6. I too was recommended smashbox at Sephora and it is horrible! I was very disappointed – especially for the price!


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