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What is BB Cream? An Ultimate Guide

By Carly Cochrane - 10 months ago | Updated
bb cream on beauty blender

The ‘no makeup’ makeup trend stormed the awards shows once again this year – in case you missed it, Alicia Keys hosted the 2019 Grammys foundation-free, Jess Glynne removed her makeup live on stage at the Brit's and every red carpet was graced with a barely-there look.

With this in mind, we thought it was only right that we bring you in on the trend and spill the backstage beauty secret that the MUAs, celebs and models seem to be loving.

Enter, BB cream.

This makeup-skin care hybrid is your fast track to a flawless minimal makeup look, but we'll be the first to admit it's an area of beauty that's pretty hard to navigate. So to help you out, we've broken down all the info you need to find your perfect match (plus sorted you with some of the best BB creams on the market).

What is BB cream?

BB is short for ‘beauty balm’ or ‘blemish balm' and is a multitasking makeup product that is packed with skin care benefits, from SPF and shine control to hydration and anti-ageing effects. It usually offers a light coverage that is suitable for all skin types, making it a middle ground between a tinted moisturiser and foundation.

When should I use BB cream?

There's no bad time to wear BB cream. In fact, it's pretty much an all-rounder. It's especially good for the days you want to give your skin a break from heavy-duty foundations as it can be worn alone yet still provides coverage that gives off a 'put-together' vibe.

How to apply BB cream?

Applying a BB cream is just like applying your regular liquid makeup formulas. We prefer to bounce over our skin with a beauty blender in order to achieve a smooth, seamless finish, but using your fingertips or a makeup brush does the job just as well.

Do I need to apply moisturiser before BB cream?

This is a decision that's totally up to you. Applying moisturiser before your BB cream can further boost radiance and eliminate the appearance of dry patches, which is a win-win. If your skin is more on the oily side, a moisturiser beforehand isn't as necessary.

What's the difference between BB and CC creams?

We like to think of CC cream as BB’s sister. Standing for ‘colour correcting’ or 'complexion correcting’, it boasts equal skin care qualities but offers more coverage in order to disguise dark spots and imperfections. You’ll also find that CC creams are less oily and lighter in texture than BB, making them the perfect match for ageing and combination skin.

The Best BB Creams

Garnier Original Medium BB Cream

Garnier Original Medium BB Cream

£4.95
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Skin type: Combination

Coverage: Barely-there

We’re kicking things off with a classic. The original Garnier BB Cream was the first of its kind and still holds its prestigious title today. Lightweight and sheer, it revives tired complexions and leaves you with a warm glow and subtle colour. With SPF built in, it also helps to protect you from the harmful rays of the sun, meaning it truly deserves to be on the list of best BB creams.

La Roche-Posay Effaclar BB Blur Cream

La Roche-Posay Effaclar BB Blur Cream

£12.36
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Skin type: Oily

Coverage: Full

Calling oily-skinned boys and girls, this BB cream is the beauty best friend that caters to all your needs and wants. Specially formulated to blur the appearance of pores and blemishes, you can create a uniformed canvas that stays slick-free throughout the day.

Rimmel BB Cream 9 in 1 Skin Perfecting Super Makeup SPF15

Rimmel BB Cream 9 in 1 Skin Perfecting Super Makeup SPF15

£6.99
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Skin type: Normal

Coverage: Medium

Whether you want to prime, moisturise, conceal, cover, smooth, mattify, brighten or protect, this is the best BB cream for the job. It does it all! Comfortable to wear, this lightweight formula will give you a healthy glow and is a must-have on the days you’re running behind schedule.

NARS Pure Radiant Tinted Moisturiser SPF 30/PA+++

NARS Pure Radiant Tinted Moisturiser SPF 30/PA+++

£26.35
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Skin type: Dry

Coverage: Light

Okay, we know this isn’t necessarily a BB cream but it’s too good to leave out and it’s a cult-favourite amongst beauty buffs. When your skin is in need of a little help, this cream works to renew cells, condition skin and boost radiance, all while giving you a featherweight, natural coverage.

Jane Iredale Glow Time Full Coverage BB Cream SPF25

Jane Iredale Glow Time Full Coverage BB Cream SPF25

£27.95
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Skin type: Mature

Coverage: Full

Wave goodbye to fine lines, wrinkles, uneven skin tone and dark spots, as this BB cream camouflages and brightens it all. 100% vegan and composed with all-natural minerals, Glow Time works around the clock to protect and nourish your complexion, all whilst lacing it with full coverage.

Pixi Beauty Balm

Pixi Beauty Balm

£22.00
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Skin type: Normal

Coverage: Buildable

This Pixi beauty balm is the true definition of having your cake and eating it. Offering excellent skin care and makeup benefits, it provides a medium to full coverage as well as a dose of hydration. Not to mention, a cocktail of hyaluronic acid, antioxidants and camomile extract help to plump and firm skin.

Erborian BB Drops

Erborian BB Drops

£32.00
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Skin type: Dull

Coverage: Natural

K-beauty brand Erborian know a thing or two about skin care-makeup hybrids, and these BB drops are certainly one to add to the list. Simply mix them with your daily moisturiser to smooth skin and achieve a radiant, velvet-like complexion.

Stila One Step Correct

Stila One Step Correct

£22.80
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Skin type: Redness-prone

Coverage: Sheer

This one is verging between both BB and CC but it's a pretty makeup-skin care hybrid that we simply can't forget. Correcting your complexion is made easy with this triple-swirled serum. The innovative formula uses green to minimise the appearance of redness, lavender to combat sallow patches and peach to illuminate, leaving you with a picture-perfect base.


Whether you're popping to the shops, wanting to let your skin take a breather from heavy-duty foundations or need a lighter formula for summer, BB creams are the beauty staple that will satisfy both your makeup and skin care needs. If you're ready to take the plunge and purchase, head over to our BB Cream page. Or if you're still in research mode, why not check out 7 Ways to Protect Your Skin from Pollution?