If you haven’t used BB creams yet, you’re in for a real treat. First off, these tinted moisturizers are different than foundation in that they’re a bit more lightweight—but they still build like a foundation. A little cream goes a long way in terms of helping you look completely put together on a busy day, giving you near-perfect complexion. Plus, they can even last through the summer heat.
Oh, and we didn’t even mention the best part: BB creams have plenty of skincare benefits. Depending on the product, BB creams contain anti-aging components (including peptides and antioxidants, such as vitamins A, E, and C), hyaluronic acid and glycerin, which moisturize your face, ingredients like licorice and arbutin that help even out skin tone, and silicone-based ingredients, such as dimethicone, that help smooth the skin.
But these moisturizer/foundation/SPF hybrids, with their laundry lists of features, can also be incredibly confusing. Do they work for every skin tone? What’s the best BB cream for oily skin? We tested a full lineup to bring you the very best BB creams.
BB Creams: The Facts You Didn’t Know
It’s not easily definable: Unfortunately, the term “BB cream” is pretty nebulous and encompasses a wide range of products. BB creams originated in Germany and exploded in Korea, where they were first used by laser treatment patients to ease post-procedure redness. But now that beauty consumers have embraced BBs, new formulas span a range of shades, textures and skincare benefits.
Not one shade fits all: Despite what some packages claim, we found a wide range of colors, and they don’t all work with every skin tone. You may need to test a few formulas before you find a match.
BBs are best applied with a brush: Just like any complexion makeup, the key to making these tinted balms work is to blend, blend and blend some more. A foundation brush (or a sponge like the Beauty Blender) does the job better than fingers.
Layering brings the best results: Though some BB creams aim to replace your entire arsenal of face products, that’s not always realistic. If your skin is extra-dry, you’ll want to prep with moisturizer so your BBs pigment doesn’t stick to dry spots. Also, since most BBs have light to medium coverage, you’ll probably still need concealer for under-eye circles, blemishes, and other discolorations.
Which BB Cream is Right For You?
Click through the gallery; we’re breaking it down.
The Ultimate Guide to BB Cream | @stylecaster
A version of this article was originally published in May 2016.
Best for combination skin: It Cosmetics Your Skin But Better™ CC+™ Cream with SPF 50+
This anti-aging CC+ cream has it all: hydrolyzed collagen, peptides, niacin, hyaluronic acid, antioxidants and vitamins, leaving you with flawless-looking coverage.
$15 (travel size) at It Cosmetics
Best for dry skin: Tarte Amazonian Clay BB Tinted Moisturizer Broad Spectrum SPF 20
This oil-free, vegan tinted moisturizer has an Amazonian clay-powered formula that includes chamomile and antioxidants that comforts your skin and nourishes your complexion.
About $59 on Amazon
Most lightweight: Olay Total Effects CC Cream Tone Correcting Face Moisturizer with SPF 15
Olay calls this product a CC cream, the “color correction”-focused sequel to BBs, but the idea is the same. The swirled, dual-phase formula is ultra-light, so it might not replace your foundation. It does give skin a subtle, luminous glow with sheer coverage, and the neutral-toned fair-to-light shade was a favorite among our pale-skinned testers who found other BBs too dark.
About $19.90 on Amazon
Best for sensitive skin: Dr. Jart+ Premium Beauty Balm SPF 45
This cream comes in one universal shade and acts as a moisturizer, sunscreen, and treatment serum. This product's great for sensitive skin.
Available around $31.85 on Amazon
Best for dark skin (and medium and light): Maybelline Dream Fresh BB 8-in-1 Beauty Balm Skin Perfector
This sheer fluid has a smooth texture that makes blending easy, and the line features one of the darkest BB creams of any we tried. The Deep shade has a warm, caramel tint that helps counteract gray or sallow tones on darker complexions. And with five shades spanning the color range, light to medium skin tones will find a match, too.
Available on Amazon for under $10
Smoothest texture: Garnier 5-in-1 Miracle Skin Perfector BB Cream Anti-Aging (Light/Medium)
The first drugstore BB to launch in the U.S., Garnier’s version has enough coverage to stand in for foundation, and its slightly peachy tone makes skin look sun-kissed. But the biggest draw is its silky-smooth texture that blends flawlessly and blurs away pores.
$12.99 at Garnier
Best for full coverage: Dior Hydra Life BB Creme SPF 30
Dior’s BB cream was the most pigmented of any we sampled and the closest stand-in for full coverage foundation. Medium skin tones seeking to add warmth to their complexions will do the best with this one.
$60 at Dior
Best matte finish: Bobbi Brown BB Cream SPF 35
As far as our tester was concerned, this BB cream was just right—not too thick, not too sheer, and with a refined finish that wasn't overly dewy.
$46 at Bobbi Brown
Best for oily skin: L’Oréal Paris Studio Secrets Magic Skin Beautifier BB Cream
This BB cream is colorless until you blend it into skin, causing its pigment beads to burst (this is fun to watch!). If you have oily skin and can get past the beads’ initial grainy texture, you'll love the way this primer-like balm gives a smooth, matte finish.
$10.95 at L’Oréal Paris