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BB Creams: What the Newest Beauty Craze is All About

What's a BB Cream? How do I use it? Is it a miracle cream? Read this for answers!
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New BB Creams available in Canada

If you haven't already heard some of the buzz on BB creams, you will -- you'll be seeing a lot of them over the next several months.

So, what are BB creams? If you think of this stuff as a miracle cream, you'll be underwhelmed. But if you think of it as a one-step makeup time saver -- great.

BB Creams are simply a mash up of several products you're probably already applying. Based on a formula developed in 1968 by German derm Dr. Christine Schrammek-Drusio to soothe, protect and lightly camouflage patients' skin after cosmetic work, BB creams are multi-taskers that combine skincare ingredients with moisturizer, primer, foundation and SPF. Also referred to as beauty balms or blemish balms, they became wildly popular in Korea when a famous Korean actress credited one for her flawless complexion.

Garnier Skin Renew Miracle Skin Perfector BB Cream_avail in Canada Jan 2012.jpg

Over the last year or so, several BB Creams have popped up in North America. Maybelline New York, MAC and Clinique have aleady launched versions (none of which is available to Canadians right now, sorry). But, released earlier this year in the US and available at Sephora there, Boscia BB Cream will officially hit Canada in January. Garnier debuted their BB Cream in Europe a few months ago; it'll be on Canadian drugstore shelves in January, too, as will Estée Lauder Daywear BB Cream SPF 35. And in February, look for a BB Cream (sans SPF) from Canadian brand Marcelle.

The Western formulas are a bit different from the brands that are popular in Korea -- those tend to be a bit more opaque, with cooler undertones (Monica of reviewed Missha Perfect Cover BB Cream here). In Asia, the beauty ideal is flawless, porcelain skin. In North America, 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. Skincare ingredients vary, but can include hydrating ingredients such as hyaluronic acid, brightening ingredients such as Vitamin C, and antioxidants.

BB creams can be used on their own, or as a base (like primer) for regular foundation. They generally come in one or two shades designed to suit a wide range of skintones. Apply sparingly.

Boscia BB Cream_available in Canada January 2012

I've tried the Boscia and Marcelle versions. And although you don't have to apply moisturizer first, I do -- my skin's thirsty right now.

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.

Skincare ingredients include hydrating types, along with Hydroxyprolisilane, which has healing properties and improves elasticity, and Abyssine, which reduces skin sensitivity and boosts skin repair.  The US version has an SPF of 27; I'm pretty sure the Canadian version has as well, but the brand just can't put it on the package yet. #needaDIN

Marcelle BB Cream_avail in Canada Feb 2012

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.

Of course, it's added a step to my back-of-the-cab routine.

If you're curious about BB cream but aren't sure which one might be for you, click here for tips on how to choose a BB cream.

For more reviews of the MAC, Clinique and Garnier BB Creams, read "Latest BB Creams" by Amy Lawrenson on

Do you already know all about BB creams? Are you planning to try one?


BB Creams that are not available in Canada

The above BB creams aren't available in Canada at the moment, but it's probably only a matter of time. Clinique is confirmed for Canadian release, but the date hasn't yet been set.

In case you were wondering about the ingredients...

Boscia BB Cream ($46, end of JAN 2012 in Canada): Active Ingredients: Abyssine (naturally-derived survival molecule shields and soothes skin), Hydroxyprolisilane (promotes skin elasticity and reduces the appearance of fine lines), Beta-Glucan (provides essential moisture and protects against environmental damage), Titanium Dioxide 6.4% (sunscreen protection). Other ingredients: Water, Cyclopentasiloxane, Glycerin, Sodium PCA, Glycereth-26, Dimethicone, Dipropylene Glycol, Arbutin, Beta-Glucan, PEG/PPG-18/18 Dimethicone, PEG-10 Dimethicone/Vinyl Dimethicone Crosspolymer, Methylsilanol Hydroxyproline Aspartate, Panthenol, Alteromonas Ferment Extract, Phenyl Trimethicone, Acrylates/Dimethicone Coploymer, PEG-10 Dimethicone, Sodium Hyaluronate, Allantoin, Adenosine, Dipotassium Glycyrrhizate, Butylene Glycol, Stearic Acid, Caprylyl Glycol, PEG/PPG-20/15 Dimethicone, Triethoxycaprylylsilane, Alumina, Mica, Citric Acid, Sodium Chloride, Sodium Levulinate, Sodium Anisate, Iron Oxide (C.I. 77499), Iron Oxide (C.I. 77491), Iron Oxide (C.I. 77492).

Garnier Skin Renew Miracle Skin Perfector BB Cream SPF 15 ($19.99, JAN 2012 in Canada): Active Ingredients: Octinoxate 4% Other Ingredients: Water, isononyl isononanoate, isoxadecane, glycerin, alcohol denat, peg-20 methyl glucose sesquistearate, methyl glucose sesquistearate , cetyl palmitate, nylon-12, cyclohexasiloxane, propylene glycol, hydrogenated polyisobutene, stearyl alcohol, magnesium aluminum silicate, phenoxyethanol, fragrance, caprylyl glycol, lithium magnesium sodium silicate, disodium EDTA, linalool, benzyl salicylate, limonene, caffeine, ascorbyl glucoside, benzyl alcohol, geraniol, cellulose acetate butyrate, polyphosphorylcholine glycol acrylate, citral, ammonium polyacryloyldimethyl taurate, polyvinyl alcohol, sodium chloride, butylene glycol, sodium hyaluronate (MAY CONTAIN: Titanium Dioxide, Iron Oxides], FIL B47069/7, G790303

Marcelle BB Cream ($22.95, FEB 2012 in Canada): Aqua/water/eau, cyclopentasiloxane, octyldodecanol, dimethicone, glycerin, dimethicone/vinyl dimethicone crosspolymer, cyclohexasiloxane, isopropyl myristate, bis-peg/ppg-14/14 dimethicone, aluminum starch octenylsuccinate, xylitylglucoside, cetyl peg/ppg-10/1 dimethicone, polyglyceryl-4 isostearate, hexyl laurate, silica, sodium chloride, isododecane, acrylates dimethicone crosspolymer, dimethicone crosspolymer, anhydroxylitol, xylitol, tocopheryl acetate, lauroyl lysine, hydrolyzed hyaluronic acid, triethoxycaprylylsilane, aloe barbadensis leaf juice, camellia oleifera leaf extract, chamomilla recutita (matricaria) flower/leaf extract, disteardimonium hectorite, propylene carbonate, trihydroxystearin, talc, butylene glycol, propylene glycol, diazolidinyl urea, iodopropynyl butylcarbamate, sodium benzoate, potassium sorbate, phenoxyethanol, titanium dioxide, mica, iron oxides

Clinique Age Defense BB Cream SPF 30 [$37 USd, not yet available in Canada]: Active Ingredients: Octinoxate 7.50%, Octisalate 4.00%, Zinc Oxide 3.50%, Oxybenzone 2.50%, Titaniium Dioxide 1.1.0%  Other Ingredients: water, dimethicone, butylene glycol, phenyl trimethicone, pentylene glycol, glyceryl stearate, behenyl alcofol, trioctyldodecyl citrate, polymethylsilsesquioxane, octyldodecyl stearoyl stearate, PEG-40 stearate, polyglyceryl -10 pentastearate, octyldodecyl neopentanoate, Hordeum vulgare (barley extract), extract d'orge, Triticum Vulgare (wheat germm extract), Laminaria saccharina extract, Linoleic Acid, Oryzanol, cholesterol, caffeine, sucrose, glycerin, Polyquaternium-51, lecithin, Sodium stearoyl lactylate, Polyglyceryl-6 Polyricinoleate, Sodium PCA, Isopropyl titanium triisostearate, Trehalose, urea, Tocopheryl Acetate, Sodium Hyaluronate, Ammonium Acryloyldimethyltaurate/VP Copolymer, Xanthan Gum, Glycyrrhetinic acid, stearic acid, Aluminum hydroxide, silica, Pentaerythrityl Tetra-di-t-butyl Hydroxyhydrocinnamate, Disodium EDTA, Chlorphenesin, Sodium Dehydroacetate, Phenoxyethanol, titanium dioxide, iron oxides, mica

MAC Prep + Prime Beauty Balm SPF 35 [$30 USd, not currently available to Canadians]: Active Ingredients: Octinoxate 7.40%, Octisalate 4.00%, Oxybenzone 2.50%, Titanium Dioxide 1.10%, Zinc Oxide 3.50%  Other Ingredients: Water/Aqua/Eau, Dimethicone, Butylene Glycol, Phenyl Trimethicone, Pentylene Glycol, Glyceryl Sterate, Behenyl Alcohol, Trioctyldodecyl Citrate, Polymethylsilsesquioxane, Octyldodecyl Stearoyl Stearate, PEG-40 Stearate, Polyglyceryl-10 Pentastearate, Octyldodecyl Neopentanoate, Tocopheryl Acetate, Caffeine, Glycyrrhetinic Acid, Urea, Sodium Hyluronate, Squalane, Hordeum Vulgare (Barley) Extract,/Extrait D’orge, Triticum Vulgare (Wheat) Germ Extract, Laminaria Saccharina Extract, Glycerin, Lecithin, Polyglyceryl-6 Polyricinoleate, Cholesterol, Trehalose, Sodium PCA, Oryzanol, Ammonium Acryloydimethyltaurate/VP Copolymer, Sucrose, Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate, Xanthan Gum, Polyquaternium-51, Isopropyl Titanium Triisosterate, Silica, Aluminum Stearate, Linoleic Acid, Stearic Acid, Pentaerythrityl Tetra-Di-T-Butyl Hydroxyhydrocinnamate, Disodium EDTA, Phenoxyethanol, Chlorphensin, Sodium Dehydroacetate, Mica, Iron Oxides (CI 77491, CI 77492, CI 77499), Titanium Dioxide (CI 77891) <ILN36505>

Maybelline Pure Minerals BB Cream SPF 27 [not available in Canada]: Aqua/water, cyclopentasiloxane, dimethicone, ethylhexyl methoxycinnamate, glycerin, isotridecyl isononanoate, peg-9 polydimethylsiloxyethyl dimethicone, disteardimonium hecorite dimethicone/polyglycerin-3 crosspolymer, sodium chloride, phenoxyethanol, methylparaben, disodiumstearoyl glutamate, chlorphenesin, disodium EDTA, acrylates copolymer, propylparaben, tocopherol, aluminium hydroxide, ascorbyl palmitate, peg-9 ethylparaben, zinc gluconate, magnesium aspartate, zinc gluconate, magnesium aspartate, isobutylparaben, copper gluconate (+/- MAY CONTAIN, C1 77891 / titanium dioxide, C1 77491, C177499, C1 77492 / iron oxides]. (F.I.L. D34334/1)