To B or not to B….

Every now and then we have our clients ask the beauty team for tips and advice regarding skin care, new beauty products or recommendations of the tried and tested brands we all know and love.

With spring knocking on our door (we can’t wait) all the latest trends will soon follow, even our makeup bags and their contents get a makeover. With so many amazing beauty brands and products to choose from we had our beauty team pick some of the best BB creams on the market, along with a little breakdown of what these little beauty creams really do and how they work. We interviewed one of our smiley makeup artists and this is what she had to say….

2012_3_13_PHOTO-a52fc16dde863fd8ff77e650853a68f5-1331644337-58WHAT DOES BB STAND FOR?

BB can either mean “Beauty Balm” or “Blemish Balm”. The two terms have now become synonymous with the product.


BB Creams were developed over 60 years ago in Germany by dermatologist Dr. Christine Schrammek to protect her patients’ skin after surgery. Patients were coming in for lunchtime procedures (laser treatment or chemical peels) but leaving with red inflamed skin as they were unable to put their make up back on post-procedure. It became clear a product was needed that could calm and neutralise the redness yet be gentle enough not to aggravate the newly treated skin. And voila the BB cream was born.

BB creams were then introduced to South Korea and Japan in the mid 1980s where healthy-looking, porcelain skin was highly prized. The cream became particularly popular among Korean actresses and became heavily endorsed by Korean celebrities. BB creams now make up an estimated 13% of the cosmetics market in South Korea. Western cosmetic companies began launching BB creams in 2012 although some of these creams have been criticised for being no more than a tinted cream. More on that in a moment.


A BB cream has 5 key benefits.

To provide moisturise to the skin. In my opinion if you have very dehydrated or dry skin you may still benefit from applying a small amount of your regular moisturiser first, while oily to combination skin may get away with using the BB cream on its own.

To be hypoallergenic. You may see it described as being “non-comedogenic” which means the same thing. This makes them suitable for use on the most sensitive or problematic skin. They are also ideal to use if you are undergoing laser treatments or have reactive skin.

To possess anti-redness properties whereby the application of the cream will neutralise and correct against any redness. This includes redness due to acne, rosacea, chronic flushing or broken capillaries.

To be used as a primer or on its own depending on the level of coverage you wish to achieve. Used on their own they will unify skin tone and provide either a sheer matte or dewy finish (depending on the brand). You may apply a liquid or powder foundation over the top if you want to build the coverage.

To provide sun protection. This can be in the form of either mineral or chemical protection against UVA and UVB rays. Mineral UV filters are mineral pigments or to be a bit technical, micronized metal salts in the form of titanium and zinc oxide that sit on the skin’s surface and reflect UV rays away from the skin. The most popular chemical UVA and UVB filters include benzophenone, avobezone, parsol and cinnamates.


The similarity between BB creams and tinted moisturisers has been noted but BB creams are designed to go one step further with the inclusion of the aforementioned skincare benefits. Not all tinted moisturisers have skincare benefits and their level of coverage generally tends to be higher. Furthermore, BB creams often use transparent pigments that adapt to your skin tone whereas tinted moisturisers come in a variety of different shades.


I find application with fingers works best as the heat generated from fingertips is most effective to work the BB texture into the skin. Alternatively, you can use a dome shaped foundation brush so long as the fibres are synthetic.


In no particular order:


Designed to be worn as a primer, MAC’s Prep + Prime BB Balm works on retexturising skin whilst providing important UVA/UVB SPF 35 coverage. Layered under foundation it evens skin tone and gives your make-up extra lasting power.
MAC Prep + Prime BB Beauty Balm SPF 35; £22.

Christian Dior

Dior’s original Diorsnow BB cream was created for the Asian market, followed by a Hydra Life version for the UK, but their new formulation caters for rosier skin tones. Providing substantial coverage, in keeping with the original Asian BB creams, the three shades feature SPF 10 protection, hydrating properties and a formula which adapts to suit your skin tone. Perfect for English roses.
Diorskin Nude BB Creme SPF 10; £30.

Shu Uemura

London Photography Studio , The Face London, Make up advise

This mousse formulation is as light as air, but provides good coverage, an impressively matte finish and SPF 30 protection. Best of all, it covers blemishes better than most other lightweight formulations.
Shu Uemura BB Under Base Mousse SPF 30; £29.

No 7

With separate formulations for dry, normal and oily skins, No7’s offering has a nutrient-enriched formula to help prevent blemishes, as well as SPF 15 protection and a light, easy-to-apply texture.
No7 Beautiful Skin BB Cream; £12.95.

La Roche Posay


Perfect for sensitive skin, this soothing BB cream includes La Roche Posay’s thermal spring water and focuses on conditioning the skin as much as it does on providing coverage.Non-oily and creamy in texture, it also works well dabbed on as a light concealer.
La Roche Posay Hydreane BB Cream; £15.


Using the famous Korean Red Ginseng that Erborian is renound for, this BB cream transforms your skin with a velvety, ultra-soft, spotless finish. All three formulations contain a highly concentrated association of longevity herbs, used in Asia for many generations. 
Erborian’s break-through high-tech formulation will unifiy your skin tone to conceal all imperfections, leaving your skin wonderfully moisturized, nourished and velvety to touch.
Erborian Crème au Ginseng 45mL, £34

Dr Jart+


BB creams originated in Asia – so Dr. Jart’s coveted Korean formulas caused much excitement when they launched in the UK in June 2012. He offers several different formulas, but we like the Regenerating Beauty Balm, which brightens and hydrates, as well as offering light-to-medium coverage and SPF 30 protection in an easy-to-apply formula.
Dr Jart+ Regenerating Beauty Balm; £21.



Great for fair skins, this lightweight formulation features white lupin to revitalise, ruby crystal to minimise fine lines and slow-release hyaluronic acid microspheres for plumping and resurfacing. Additionally, it has SPF 20 protection and is free of silicone, meaning dirt and bacteria won’t get trapped beneath it.
Omorovicza Complexion Perfector BB SPF 20; £80.

Estée Lauder

Packed with antioxidants and hyaluronic acid, the Estée Lauder offering aims to plump, moisturise and control excess oil, whilst offering sheer but long-lasting coverage and SPF 35 protection. Plus, a little goes a long way.
Estée Lauder Daywear B.B Anti-Oxidant Beauty Benefit Creme; £32.



Aimed at improving skin’s natural hydration, Smashbox’s shine-minimising formula features SPF 35 protection and anti-ageing peptides, and is available in five shades that accomodate most skin tones.
Smashbox Camera Ready BB Cream SPF 35; £27.


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