Christine Park

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

An all-in-one Miracle Cream? Sign me up!

Apparently I am not privy to my overseas sisters' beauty secrets. I just heard about "BB (blemish balm) Creams" which have long been "the secret of Korean actresses." Hmph! I KNEW they weren't born with that flawless porcelain skin!

Obviously I was intrigued by the idea of its "multi-tasking" all-in-one properties — moisturizer, primer, foundation, and sunblock all in one? If I can get that in a $30 bottle, I'm thinking about all the money I can save. No wonder the cream became a hit in Asia, especially in South Korea, where BB creams make up 13% of the cosmetics market. Most of these Asian versions aren't available in the U.S., but Missha BB Cream (a Korean Brand) is apparently great and they sell it online.

The American market is catching on. The Western formulas are a bit different from the brands that are popular in Korea — which tend to be a bit more opaque, with cooler undertones for that matte porcelain look. In the States, we like glowing-with-health skin, so our BB creams are more sheer, designed to give the complexion a radiant finish. They’re somewhere between tinted moisturizer and medium-coverage foundation.

I have yet to try any (I did just place an order for the Missha, as I am Asian), so I searched around for reviews of different products for your reading pleasure, if you're thinking of giving BB creams a try.

These reviews are from

Boscia BB Cream ($46, Sephora): This one looks to titanium dioxide for SPF rather than chemical sunscreens, and contains skincare ingredients to moisturize, condition and protect skin against free radicals. It’s quite sheer, but just a tad too dark for me. Yes, at first I applied a bit too generously — a wee pea-size amount is about right. But it’s still too dark. Apparently another shade is in the works, but it’ll be a while before it comes out.

Marcelle BB Cream ($22.95, drugstores): This one does not have SPF. The company says their customer doesn’t put UV protection at the top of their ingredient list for foundation, so Marcelle skipped the sunscreen components so they could get the cream into stores quickly. But they’re definitely working on an SPF version with chemical sunscreens. That aside, the texture is creamy and easy to blend — probably something to do with all dimethicone in the formula, which also contains hyaluronic acid, glycerin, aloe and chamomile. This BB cream comes in two shades, Light to Medium (perfect for me) and Medium to Dark. As well, although sheer, it has decent coverage that evens out my skin without looking like makeup. (I put it on over a moisturizer with SPF.) I don’t buy the skin-improvement claims these things make — I look to my skincare regimen for that. But this Marcelle BB cream, with a bit of concealer where necessary and blot powder on top, helps my skin look and feel pretty good all day.

Smashbox Camera Ready BB Cream SPF 35 ($50, Sephora now) also delivers a semi-sheer finish in a creamy texture. It comes in four shades, Fair, Light, Medium and Dark. The Medium shade is best for me, but it was sold out so I tried Light — and was surprised. The formula is just sheer enough that it worked. But I still needed a teensy dab of concealer for shadows, and definitely over stupid hormonal blemishes.

My go-to since I got a sample to try is Estée Lauder Daywear BB Multi-Perfecting Beauty Benefit Cream SPF 35 ($45, department stores, February 2012), which comes in two shades. I like the finish so much better than when I use just concealer and blot powder on my oily skin; tinted moisturizer never really did it for me either. Now firmly part of my routine, the Light matches my skin, the creamy texture blends easily and blurs imperfections, and the finish lasts for hours. I add concealer under my eyes, around the base of my nose and over damnstupidhormonal blemishes, and top with a barely-there layer of MAC Blot Powder in Medium/Dark.

If you want super-sheer and a warm-glow boost, try Garnier Skin Renew Miracle Skin Perfector BB Cream SPF 15 ($19.99, drugstores, February 2012). Very much like tinted moisturizer, comes in two golden-tone shades, Light/Medium and Medium/Dark. You’ll need concealer to boost coverage over dark circles and any redness around the base of the nose.

These reviews are from

Clinique Age Defense BB Cream ($37, Macys): Clinique imported its wildly popular BB cream to the U.S., adding two new shades to the lineup, all featuring a host of skin-healthy ingredients. It wears more like a really fantastic moisturizer than a heavy foundation.

"I honestly haven’t used tinted moisturizer since high school, so this was basically a first for me. Back then, I was a regular fake-baker, so I could wear just tinted moisturizer on my face and nothing else (oh, to be young!). Nowadays, I don’t wear much face makeup — I just brush on some mineral powder.

I was definitely skeptical of using the cream at first because it’s much heavier than what I’m used to wearing, and I was worried about distributing it evenly. I ended up mixing it with my oil-free moisturizer, and it went on super-easy. I was pleasantly surprised by how it felt on – I don’t think I could wear it every day, but it made me feel much less “flawed,” if you will. The tint helped cover everything better (especially my giant pores – thanks Mom), and I probably could have gotten away with wearing just the BB cream combined with my moisturizer, and nothing else."

Dr. Jart+ Premium Beauty Balm SPF 45 PA+++ ($39, Sephora): One of the original balms to launch in the U.S., this prestige cream is already a hit in Asia and has been spotted gracing the faces of models backstage at Fashion Week. It has a slightly thicker, more balm-like consistency than the other creams we tried, but has tons of moisture and skin-healthy ingredients packed into its formula.

"Usually I wear Yes To Carrots moisturizer every day… and that's it. I'm a no-makeup kind of girl (with the obvious exception of bright lipstick) and I've never used a tinted moisturizer before. My skin is really dry, so I was skeptical that this would give me the hydration I needed, and doubly skeptical after seeing how dark the product when I first opened it. However, my fears of coming into the office looking like an Oompa Loompa were totally unfounded. The product went on very smoothly and needed very little blending — it seemed to absorb instantly.
As for the tint, it didn't look like I had anything on at all, which was perfect for me because I love my pale skin and was irrationally afraid that the cream would make me look too tan. I did notice that it evened out my skin tone and reduced redness in my cheeks, while still keeping my overall complexion just the way I like it. But, the biggest and best change I noticed was that my skin felt velvety soft all throughout the day, and it felt more hydrated than it has ever been before."

Result: "Honestly, there is nothing I disliked about this cream and, although I'm a bit attached to my Yes To moisturizer for being a natural product, I will definitely continue to use Dr. Jart+ regularly because of how it corrected my complexion and hydrated my skin like nothing else has, all without making me feel covered up. In fact, the first thing I did when I came into the office was tell our beauty editor that she'd have to pry it out of my cold, dead hands if she wanted it back. Suffice it to say, I liked this product so much I am willing to go super-cheesy and say this PA+++ gets an A+++ in my book."

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