It all started with the BB cream, aka blemish or beauty balms. The very first BB was created by a German dermatologist in the 1950s and later became a cult favorite in Korea. The BB didn't arrive stateside until 2011, but once it did, the category exploded.
Korean brand Dr. Jart+ was the first to bring the BB to the US Market.
Shown: Dr. Jart+ Premium Beauty Balm SPF 45 ($39; sephora.com).
A BB cream is like a souped-up tinted moisturizer. “It evens out skin tone and has a broad-spectrum SPF, but it also has antioxidants and other anti-aging ingredients,” says Debra Jaliman, M.D, a dermatologist in New York City and author of Skin Rules. Most offer slightly more coverage than tinted moisturizers, but less than full-on foundations. And while these creams seem to do it all, Jaliman warns that they shouldn’t replace your anti-aging regimen completely. “They do not contain a high enough concentration of anti-aging ingredients,” she says. Think of them more as anti-aging boosters.
All BBs are not created equal. Ideally, whatever you choose will contain broad-spectrum sunscreen (UVA and UVB protection), free-radical fighting antioxidants such as vitamin C, and active anti-aging ingredients like peptides, Jaliman says. If your tube doesn’t contain SPF (or not enough -- SPF 15 should be the bare minimum), you’ll need to layer with a separate sunscreen. Beyond that, look for skin-type-specific benefits such as mega-moisturizers, radiance-boosting ingredients, and skin smoothers. Click through for our top picks.
The vitamin-C infused Garnier BB Cream Miracle Skin Perfector SPF 15 ($11; target.com) was the first BB to hit US drugstores.
Ingredients such as hyaluronic acid or glycerin are good for boosting skin's moisture content.
Try the Maybelline Dream Fresh BB 8-in-1 Beauty Balm Skin Perfector ($9; ulta.com), which contains glycerin.
"Light-reflecting particles make skin look more luminous," Jaliman says.
Find them in L'Oréal Youth Code BB Cream Illuminator ($17.50; cvs.com).
Silicone or dimethicone will smooth over enlarged pores and fine lines.
Try Tarte BB Tinted Treatment 12-Hour Primer Broad Spectrum SPF Sunscreen ($34; ulta.com).
The CC, or color correcting, cream was born out of the success of the BB. CCs tend to have a lighter texture than BBs (making them more blendable), but they also offer more coverage, Jaliman says. CC creams are ideal for covering up skin tone issues such as redness or dark spots.
Olay Total Effects 7-in-1 Tone Correcting UV Moisturizer with SPF 15 ($24; walgreens.com) was the first CC cream in the US to launch on the mass market.
Like the BB, a CC should contain broad-spectrum sun protection and moisturizers, but also skin-soothers (especially for redness-prone skin) and ingredients that brighten skin instantly, as well as over time, Jaliman says.
Clinique Moisture Surge CC Color Correcting Skin Protector SPF 30 ($35; clinique.com) contains skin-calming aloe.
Peter Thomas Roth CC Cream Broad Spectrum SPF 30 ($48; peterthomasroth.com), contains plant-based arbutin to improve uneven skin tone over time.
Almay Smart Shade CC Cream Complexion Corrector ($9; drugstore.com) contains skin-hydrating glycerin and botanical brighteners including licorice and mulberry extract.