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.
These dream creams make it easy to get out the door in flash.
“Most of the customers have really liked BB creams,” she said. “I hardly ever see one returned.”
But seldom is one cream all things to all women. Beauty routines need individual attention. Women with dry skin may find they still need a moisturizer, even though BB creams tout hydration as one of the benefits. Additional sunscreen may be necessary, depending on the day's activities and the product's SPF factor. Light coverage can get a boost from an application of powder.
While BB creams are new to most American women, many companies have all-in-one products that offer similar results and benefits.
“Beauty balm has become the new buzzword, I think, for things that are already in place,” said Alex Mendez-Kelley, owner of The MakeUp Bar. Products by Nars, for example, inject skin benefiting ingredients in makeup but without the BB label. Makeup artists tend to gravitate toward these types of products because they're effective and easy to use, she said. Convenience coupled with results makes these creams especially appealing for women to use at home, too.
Prices range from about $8 to almost $50. A little product goes a long way and most have a good feel to them, Mendez-Kelley said.
With so many choices, where do you start when it comes to finding a beauty balm? Ask sales people, makeup artists and dermatologists for their advice. Read online reviews and take away information pertinent to your needs and wants.