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The new dream creams: Beauty balms multitask for maximum benefits

Beauty balms are the hot item in the beauty industry right now. Linda Miller parses out the best of the BB creams.
BY Linda Miller Published: September 6, 2012

Beauty balms, known more affectionately as BB creams, are the darling of the beauty industry.

Nearly every cosmetics company has added one to its lineup, with promises that a single product can hydrate, protect and prime. And let's not forget the skin-nourishing goodies and antioxidants. That's multitasking at its best.

German dermatologist Dr. Christine Schrammek developed the first “blemish balm” in 1967 for use after peels or other procedures. It was created to soothe and protect skin while offering light coverage. A couple of decades later, beauty balms became all the rage in Asia where women loved the flawless finish.

Now BB cream, reformulated for American women with a special emphasis on treatment, is the “it” product in the U.S. Bobbi Brown just launched one, following MAC, Estee Lauder, Smashbox, Too Faced, Jane Iredale, Clinique, L'Oreal, Garnier, Maybelline, Dr. Jart, Stila, Origins and Boscia.

The benefit to BB cream is that it's a cross between skin care and makeup, said Beth Nicolaisen, lead color consultant at Sephora, Penn Square Mall. “It's the best of both worlds.”

Most promise to moisturize and prime and are armed with a high SPF, but, depending on the cream, many also have ingredients to even out skin tone, lighten dark spots, correct redness and brighten skin. Some control oil and mattify. Others are water resistant. Most offer light coverage, but Jane Iredale's is a full coverage mineral BB cream.

The biggest difference between BB cream and tinted moisturizer is the level of SPF and the lack of primer, skin tone correctors, antioxidants and skin treatment, Nicolaisen said.

Most BB creams are available in at least two shades, but some such as Boscia have chameleon ingredients that adjust to match most skin tones.

“I myself am a huge BB cream fan,” Nicolaisen said, adding that it's perfect for those days when you don't want full-face makeup but you want to look pulled together.

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