It offers the hydrating and protecting effects of a face moisturizer as well as the anti-aging and anti-skin damage benefits of a sunblock, all with a wide color range of foundation makeup that will greatly simplify your morning routine.
Looking for the best BB creams on the market? Our research team has ranked the ten best right here according to their quality.
1. NARS Pure Radiant Tinted Moisturizer
NARS makes an excellent BB cream that comes in 11 different shades for wide skin tone coverage. It’s also got full-powered sun protection with an SPF rating of 30.
No need to fear premature aging and skin damage with this BB cream. Glycerin helps keep moisture at the skin’s surface, and the sunblocking comes entirely from titanium dioxide, which is much better than an oxybenzone-based sunblock.
The titanium dioxide also has the added benefit of brightening up your complexion without too much shine. These all add up to make NARS a superior choice for a daily-use BB cream.
2. MISSHA M Perfect Cover BB Cream
MISSHA M Perfect Cover BB Cream comes in five different shades and offers great sun protection, with an SPF rating of 42.
Thanks to the beeswax, mineral oil, and glycerin, there is plenty of moisturizing power in this BB cream, and users love its ability to moisturize and tint without aggravating sensitive skin.
Many people flock to MISSHA M after being frustrated with other brands–either they don’t control breakouts, or their moisturizing effects are lacking. MISSHA M Perfect Cover BB Cream performs both of these with ease.
3. bareMinerals Complexion Rescue
bareMinerals Complexion Rescue is a great BB cream that has a wide range of skin tone coverage shades available and has excellent sun protection, with an SPF rating of 30.
This sun protection comes purely from titanium dioxide, and that compound will help brighten your skin tone as well. Not only that, but bareMinerals Complexion Rescue has moisturizers derived primarily from coconut to keep your skin hydrated.
Users love how easy it is to accomplish a light, even coverage with this BB cream, which all sums up to make this one of our top picks.
4. Maybelline Dream Pure BB Cream
Maybelline Dream Pure BB Cream is a BB cream that adds in an exfoliating, anti-acne effect thanks to its inclusion of salicylic acid.
This is one of the most effective anti-acne compounds, thanks to the way it encourages dead skin cells to shed more quickly instead of accumulating on the skin and clogging up pores.
The downside of including the salicylic acid is that it’s more likely to aggravate dry or sensitive skin, and it doesn’t have the usual sun blocking protection that you’d expect from a BB cream.
Still, it fulfills a well-needed role for people with oily skin who are prone to breakouts yet still want to simplify their skincare routine with a BB cream.
5. Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturizer
Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturizer scores points for coming in a wide range of shades, and its heavy focus on moisturizing.
There are several different powerful moisturizers in this BB cream that make it a favorite among users with very dry skin.
Its ability to block damage from sunlight is only fair, though, with an SPF rating of 20. It may not last all day, and users with very fair skin might find themselves with a bit of sunburn after a long time outside.
6. Tarte Amazonian Clay BB Tinted Moisturizer
Tarte Amazonian Clay is a high end BB cream that uses a combination of zinc oxide and titanium dioxide to achieve a decent SPF rating of 20 and comes in seven shades that have a fairly good range of skin tones.
The lightest and darkest skin tones might be out of luck, but aside from that, they have good coverage. Users like the texture and the ability of the clay-like compounds to fill in fine lines and wrinkles in the skin.
This is thanks to the kaolin content of the BB cream, which is a type of clay that gives Tarte its trademark texture and wrinkle filling ability.
7. Skin79 BB Super + BeBlemish Balm Gold Label
Skin79 is a complex BB cream that tries to do a lot, with varied success. It has a very solid SPF 30 rating, meaning it will block sunlight very effectively, and it has a wide range of moisturizers that also help rejuvenate and heal skin, like sweet almond oil and a wide range of herbal extracts.
The grandiose design vision might be a bit too much for some people: Skin79 BB Super + Blemish Balm Gold Label gets its name because gold is literally one of the ingredients, and it’s also got caviar extract if that weren’t enough.
Setting aside the issue of whether or not these are more of a marketing stunt than a cosmetic necessity, Skin 79’s BB cream does a fair job at both hydrating skin and protecting it from sun damage.
8. Dr. Jart+ Black Label Detox BB Beauty Balm
The BB cream from Dr. Jart+ Black Label is a great fit–if it fits your skin tone, and if you like the natural, low-coverage look. Dr. Jart+ Black Label Detox Bb Beauty Balm comes in just one tone, so you’ve got to be okay with subtle coverage, or you’ve got to be exceptionally lucky if you want to use a lot of it.
It is good for sensitive skin, but not for oily skin–users find that it has a tendency to slide around if they put any makeup on after using the BB cream.
While all this means that only a narrow slice of people will find this BB cream useful, it’s nevertheless a good option for them.
9. COVERGIRL Smoothers Lightweight BB Cream
COVERGIRL is one of the most popular drug store brands of BB cream, but it’s got some serious shortcomings that knock it down in the rankings.
For starters, the SPF rating is’t very high, at only 15. It’s not likely to provide adequate sun protection, especially for people with fair skin who are prone to getting sunburned. On top of that, its moisturizing properties aren’t particularly strong.
It does an adequate job for most people, but it doesn’t have the same high quality moisturizing oils you’d see in a top-tier product. Still, many people rely on it for their day-to-day BB cream when they don’t have any particular reason to break out their favorite makeup products.
10. NYX Professional Makeup BB Cream
NYX Professional Makeup BB Cream is mostly foundation; it’s a bit short on the hydrating ingredients, and it doesn’t have any sun blocking protection.
Though a BB cream with an SPF rating isn’t always necessary (if you are going out in the evening, for example), not having quality moisturizers and not having a sun blocking ingredient somewhat defeats the purpose of using BB cream instead of just foundation.
On top of that, the shade selection is very limited, so only a small range of people will find that NYX Professional Makeup BB Cream pairs with their skin tone well.
Who should buy BB cream?
BB cream is a fantastic solution for women who hate having to wrangle with multiple different and often incompatible beauty products when getting ready for the day.
After washing your face, you need to apply products with a goal of moisturizing your skin, protecting your skin with sunscreen, and putting down a foundation of tinted makeup.
This can be an incredible hassle, which is made even worse when these products are formulated with different or incompatible ingredients. Too often, the result can be a greasy mess.
With BB cream, you can accomplish all three tasks at once, with a single product that’s easy to use and specifically formulated for harmony among the ingredients—no more white streaks on your face from sunscreen, or greasy streaks of foundation makeup that won’t blend.
Why are each of these steps important? Keeping your face feeling fresh and looking radiant requires a face moisturizer, especially if you are going to be exposed to cold, dry, or hot air. If you’ll be outside, even for a relatively short amount of time, you want some SPF protection on your face.
Why? Exposure to ultraviolet light is the primary cause of skin aging. If you want to stave off the need for wrinkle cream, you want a sunscreen on your face with a solid SPF rating.
If you are already using a retinol cream to restore youth to your skin, using sunscreen is particularly important because retinol has a photosensitizing effect—meaning that it significantly decreases the amount of sunlight it takes to burn your skin. When you can get both moisturizing and sun protection effects in your daily makeup foundation, you have a stellar product.
How we ranked
When rating the best BB creams on the market, we kept all three intended properties of a BB cream in mind: moisturization, sun protection, and makeup foundation.
For moisturizing benefits, we looked for high-quality moisturizers that increase the water retention in your skin, without leaving a greasy or oily residue.
We looked for natural plant oils, as well as compounds like glycerin that help draw water into your skin and protect it from the elements.
For sun-blocking power, we looked at both the SPF rating and the actual chemical compounds used to block the sun. As in our rankings of the best sunscreens on the market, we had a strong preference for titanium or zinc oxide, as these “physical” sunblocks are not chemically absorbed by your body.
Chemical-based sunscreens, particularly those that use oxybenzone, have raised safety concerns regarding the ability of oxybenzone to disrupt hormone function in your body. More practically, physical sunscreen tends to be drier and less greasy, even though you may need to work it into your skin a bit more.
In terms of functionality as a makeup foundation, the most important criteria for the products we ranked was the range of shades available.
The best BB creams were available in many different skin tones (sometimes over ten different shades) and provided a natural, easily-blended finish that mixed well with the moisturizing and sunblocking compounds.
BB creams that did not mix up well or that had a reputation for causing skin aggravation or breakouts got dropped from consideration.
Our final rankings represented a balance the strengths of each product at moisturizing, protecting from sunlight, and acting as a versatile makeup foundation. If you want a product that can fill all three of these needs, you’ll find it in our rankings.
BB cream is a three in one solution. If putting on a separate face moisturizer, makeup foundation, and sunblock lotion every morning is feeling like a bit much for you to manage, you might need a BB cream in your life.
This ingenious cosmetic combines all three into one product that can hydrate your skin, cover up blemishes and imperfections on your face, and protect you from sun damage.
The primary skin care benefits of BB cream revolve around its ability to moisturize your skin and protect it from damage from sunlight. These are what make BB cream an attractive choice over just using foundation makeup by itself.
A face moisturizer plays a pivotal role in any skin care routine. A good BB cream will achieve both of the goals of moisturization, which are the restoration of the skin’s protective lipid layer and the incorporation of more water into the outermost layer of skin.
A scientific article published by dermatologist Marie Loden in the American Journal of Clinical Dermatology states that an ideal moisturizer is one that contains fats that help reinforce the skin’s lipid layer, which is a barrier against water loss (1).
Compounds like mineral oil and beeswax help accomplish this. Not only that; a successful moisturizer should help draw water into the outermost layer of the skin.
By doing so, these compounds, which include glycerin and alpha hydroxy acids, increase the softness and suppleness of the outermost layer of skin (2). When combined with the makeup foundation provided by your BB cream, this helps lead to the smooth and even skin appearance that you want.
The other purpose of BB cream is reducing or eliminating the damage that can occur in your skin when it’s exposed to sunlight.
It’s no secret that damage from the sun’s ultraviolet rays is the primary cause of skin aging. The reasons for this are detailed in a 2000 article published by researchers in Germany in the scientific journal Experimental Gerontology (3).
In it, the researchers detail the precise mechanism by which ultraviolet light leads to aging.
Sunlight generates reactive oxygen species in your skin cells (the same kind of destructive chemicals implicated in other aging-related conditions like heart disease and cancer) and these reactive oxygen species cause damage to the connective tissue that holds your skin together.
This explains why “photoaging”–the scientific term for skin aging that results from sun exposure–causes loose, wrinkly, and discolored skin.
The authors of the paper specifically recommend regular use of broad spectrum sunscreen, as it will drastically reduce the amount of aging your skin experiences. A wrinkle cream could help too.
As for the SPF rating you should aim for in your BB cream, Dr. Steven Wang at the Skin Cancer Foundation recommends using sunscreen with an SPF rating of 30 or above (4).
If you aren’t going to be out in the sun for long stretches of time, you can probably push this down to an SPF rating of 25 or so if you’d like.
Physical sunscreens are preferable to chemical sunscreens in BB cream. When it comes to sunscreen, there are, broadly speaking, two styles of sun protection.
Physical sunscreens use metal oxides like zinc oxide or titanium dioxide that sit on top of your skin and absorb ultraviolet radiation, preventing it from interacting with your skin. A chemical sunscreen uses organic compounds with particular molecular structures that absorb and capture ultraviolet radiation.
Chemical sunscreens became popular several decades ago because they are easy to apply and don’t leave a white tint or hue on your skin like older formulations of physical sunscreen.
However, scientific research has raised some concerns regarding the ability of chemical sunscreen compounds such as oxybenzone. The molecular structure of these compounds is somewhat similar to estrogen, so there are concerns that long-term exposure could affect the function of your reproductive system.
This phenomenon was first noticed in fish and other marine creatures, who seem particularly susceptible to the hormone-disrupting effects of chemical sunscreens (5).
A scientific study published in 2005 in the journal Toxicology In Vitro showed that several chemical sunscreens have some estrogen binding capabilities (6), though the degree to which these binding capabilities are important in actual humans (as opposed to cells in a Petri dish) remains controversial (7).
Nevertheless, non-profit watchdog organizations such as the Environmental Working Group have come out strongly against chemical sunscreens, both because of the theoretical health risks to humans and the known environmental risk to marine creatures (8).
Fortunately, there’s an easy solution that doesn’t require ditching the skin-protecting effects of sunscreen, and that’s using a physical sunscreen that uses zinc oxide or titanium dioxide.
Recent advances in materials engineering means that these physical particles are smaller and don’t add a white cast to your face, which makes them great for BB cream.
As with any moisturizer, makeup foundation, or sunscreen, BB cream shares the same primary side effect–adverse skin reactions.
Simply by virtue of the fact that BB cream has more ingredients than separate single-purpose cosmetics, it’s more likely to cause skin aggravation.
If you get acne breakouts, excessive dryness, or a rash, that’s probably an indication that something in the BB cream you are using is not reacting well with your skin.
It can be very hard to pin down what the specific ingredient is, but one of the more common culprits is a fragrance or perfume.
A major study published in 1996 in the American Journal of Contact Dermatitis by a collaboration of researchers across six countries detailed the rise of perfume and fragrance-related skin irritation in cosmetic products (5).
In it, the authors showed that many of the most common irritants were essential oils of exotic plants like ylang ylang and sandalwood, which are often used in fragrances for cosmetic products, including BB cream.
If you don’t tolerate a BB cream well, check its ingredients to see what plant extracts and oils are present. Then try a different brand that doesn’t have the same type of ingredients.
After washing and drying your face to a damp dry, use a small amount of BB cream and rubbing or brushing the cream into your face.
The biggest mistake people make with BB cream is typically applying too much all at once–it’s meant to be a thin layer, not applied like a thick cream.
Since part of a BB cream (the moisturizing agents, specifically) actually get absorbed into your skin, you should think of BB cream as sitting half on top of and half “inside” your skin, so a light coating is really all it takes to get best results out a good BB cream.
Q: What is BB cream?
A: The “BB” in BB cream stands either for beauty balm or blemish balm, depending on who you ask. BB cream got its start in the Korean cosmetics industry when women were looking for a product that was easy to apply, healthy for their skin, and still provided good coverage for blemishes without being too thick.
The result was BB cream, a foundation-like cream that smooths over blemishes while also providing sunblock and moisturizer.
It’s a three-in-one solution for your morning routine that is great for people who are on the go and don’t want to deal with three completely separate products to moisturize, protect, and beautify their skin.
Q: Is BB cream good for dry skin?
A: Yes, thanks to the moisturizing agents in BB cream, it’s great for dry skin—some traditional makeup foundations can have a drying or irritating effect, which is made worse when you have to use a face wash to take them off.
While you’ll still want a good face wash to remove a BB cream at the end of the day, the presence of a moisturizer in BB cream is a great help when it comes to reducing dryness and skin irritation.
Q: Does BB cream work well as a foundation?
A: BB cream is a good foundation if you want a look that’s quick, efficient, low-key, and laid back.
While BB cream won’t provide the same kind of heavy and evenly-blended look that you’ll get with a dedicated foundation, it’s much easier and faster to apply and much better for your skin thanks to the sun blocking and skin moisturizing benefits that you get in a BB cream.
Both true foundation and BB cream have a place in your makeup arsenal and are best used for slightly different purposes.
Q: What’s the difference between BB cream and CC cream?
A: CC cream is a version of BB cream that is engineered for better coverage, brighter and bolder shades, and more even blemish correction.
You might consider it a more cosmetically “aggressive” version of BB cream, that still includes sunscreen and moisturizing agents. The “CC” stands for “color correct,” which highlights the particular design emphases of CC cream as compared to those of BB cream.
Q: What is BB cream used for?
A: BB cream is used to apply a foundation-like layer of even toned shading to your face, while also garnering the benefits of a moisturizer and sunscreen.
Typically, if you wanted all three of these benefits, you’d need to wash your face, dry it, apply moisturizer, apply sunscreen, and apply foundation. Often, these compounds don’t always play well either. A BB cream wraps these final three steps into just one product.
It’s great if you want an easy to use product that is a little more laid back than a full-on makeup foundation, and it’s a great choice for daily use as well thanks to the sunscreen and moisturizers.
Q: What is the difference between BB cream and foundation?
A: The principle difference between BB cream and “regular” foundation is in the ingredients used: while both BB cream and makeup foundation use makeup ingredients to smooth over blemishes and amplify your skin tone, only BB cream includes powerful moisturizers and sunscreens to heal and protect your skin.
Some products are halfway in between—for example, products marketed as “BB cream” that don’t contain sunscreen—but for the most part, sunscreen and moisturizer are the key differences between BB cream and foundation.
Q: Can you make BB cream?
A: If you apply moisturizer, sunscreen, and foundation separately, you are essentially “making” BB cream on your own, albeit not from scratch.
One of the distinct advantages of BB cream is that the ingredients are formulated to interact harmoniously: if you make your own BB cream (or just mix together different products as part of your normal routine), it’s likely that you’ll get unwanted consequences, like greasiness or a white-ish cast over your face.
Effects like these would be from the compounds in the separate cosmetic products not mixing well together—think trying to mix oil and water. Pretty much everyone will have better luck with a pre-made BB cream with ingredients that are specifically designed to work in unison.
Q: What is the purpose of BB cream?
A: The motivating purpose behind BB cream is to make it easier to take care of and protect your skin even while looking good in makeup.
Instead of having to choose between a great makeup look and sun protection, a BB cream incorporates moisturizers and sunscreen into the same cream that carries the makeup, so you can get a great look without greasiness or white streaks from moisturizers and sunscreen.
As such, it’s great for everyday use, even if it can’t do the same kind of heavy lifting that a true foundation can do.
Q: Is BB cream better than foundation?
A: BB cream and foundation have fundamentally different goals. A true foundation is focused solely on providing the most even and vibrant possible skin tone, with no real attention paid to other concerns like dry skin or sun damage.
A BB cream takes both of these factors into consideration, sacrificing a small amount of foundation strength for major gains when it comes to sun blocking power and skin moisturizing ability.
A BB cream is a great way to combine makeup foundation, skin moisturizer, and sun protection into your daily cosmetic routine.
With one application, you’ve covered up blemishes, moisturized your skin, and protected your face from ultraviolet light. A good BB cream will have an SPF rating of 30 or above if possible (though somewhere in the mid-20s is usually fine too), and will use quality moisturizing oils to lock in water and restore the protective lipid layer to your skin.
It can be tricky to find the right BB cream that accomplishes these tasks adequately and pairs well with your skin tone, but the convenience of three products in one is worth it.
For BodyNutrition‘s #1 BB cream recommendation, click here.