Your Guide to BB Creams

ALTHOUGH THEY'VE BEEN POPULAR in Asia for quite some time, BB creams have recently taken the U.S. by storm. BB (short for beauty balm or blemish balm) creams are a fabulous combination of moisturizer, primer, sunscreen, and foundation. Developed in Germany in the 1950s as a post-laser treatment cream, beauty balms today range from a makeup alternative to a skin-care alternative. Think of your BB cream as a super-charged tinted moisturizer that protects and nourishes your skin while providing sheer coverage for dark spots and blemishes. BB creams can do everything from soothe and moisturize and provide light coverage. Check out our top three BB creams.

1. Garnier Skin Renew Miracle Skin Perfector Beauty Balm, $13

Those who hate when their tinted moisturizer feels thick or greasy on skin (who doesn’t?) will love the light, creamy texture of this beauty balm. We appreciate how it gives our skin a dewy glow without appearing too “shimmery” or greasy. The sheer tint helps camouflage discoloration and blotchiness and glides evenly on skin. When you need a little extra coverage, this beauty balm works wonderfully as a primer under your regular foundation. Infused with vitamin C+ mineral pigments, this BB balm is ideal for those with combination skin to dry skin.

Tip: If your skin is on the oilier side, apply a sheer mineral powder after applying to your BB cream or blot with a blotting paper.

2. L’Oréal Youth Code BB Cream Illuminator SPF 15, $13

This BB cream is incredibly easy to apply—just use your fingers to blend into skin. We consider this BB cream to be between tinted moisturizer and foundation—ideal for those who want coverage without wearing a full-coverage foundation. The nongreasy texture looks gorgeous on skin once applied, and the formula is infused with skin-brightening ingredients like vitamin B3 and vitamin CG. We were particularly impressed with this cream’s ability to moisturize our typically dry skin for an entire day of use.

Tip: The bismuth oxychloride found in L’Oréal’s Youth Code BB cream promotes skin lightening, so everyday use could lead to imperfections diminishing over time.

3. Maybelline Dream Fresh 8-1 Beauty Balm Skin Perfector, $9

Of our three favorite BB creams, Maybelline’s 8-1 Beauty Balm has the widest range of shades to choose from (five shades as compared with the usual two or three). This lightweight BB cream leaves skin baby-soft and nourishes without leaving behind greasy residue. It gives skin an overall healthy glow while smoothing out imperfections and minimizing pores. For those who still need extra coverage, this is a fabulous product to use in addition to your regular concealer. But you can skip the foundation.

Tip: One of Glam’s editors has quit using her tried-and-true primer and favors this product instead. For those looking for more coverage, this product is easily buildable, so you can apply more product to your problem areas and it won’t leave skin weighed down or greasy.