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Tube of Confusion

We're still not sure what they do exactly, but we love BB creams anyway.

BB creams are the new all-in-one makeup.
Ed Olen

Usually, beauty products are easy enough to understand. Mascara, blush, foundation – pretty basic concepts. But every now and then, we come across an item that makes us feel something akin to when man first discovered tools, or fire – awed but confused. (A particularly challenging 15 minutes with a two-in-one lip balm left us more frustrated than anything else, but we’ll leave that one for another day.)

The big beauty trend hitting the west from Asia – BB creams – elicited another of those states of beauty awe/confusion recently. Short for beauty balm or blemish balm, these miracles in a tube are said to house a number of benefits to the wearer, including anything from SPF to tinted moisturizer and anti-aging properties. Impressive, but beauty multitaskers are not new, so how are BB creams different? And with more of these efficient little beauty miracle workers popping up in the area, pinning down exactly what they do can become a tedious endeavor. So we asked some experts.

“It is an all-in-one silky tinted lotion that leaves the skin looking smooth and glowing, but not overdone, while simultaneously treating/preventing blemishes while having SPF for sun protection,” says Carina Lindgren, owner, makeup artist and esthetician at Flawless Faces Makeup & Skincare Lounge in Costa Mesa. “This virtually eliminates the need for foundation and concealer and looks more natural and lightweight.”

The common elements in BB creams are primer, moisturizer, SPF, concealer, blemish treatment, and sometimes even anti-aging benefits, according to Lindgren.

Seems simple enough, and Erin Dominguez, marketing assistant at Planet Beauty, comments along the same lines. “They offer anti-acne ingredients, usually contain SPF protection, help to smooth out skin tone, moisturize, reduce fine lines and wrinkles, add luminosity, and prevent future damage.”

But then, Erik Soto, Sephora PRO Artist at South Coast Plaza, informs us: “Unlike other products that are able to provide both color and skin care benefits, BB creams are the only five-in-one product. They are like super-charged tinted moisturizers that rejuvenate, brighten, protect, and even out the skin, too.”

Which would be fine except for the fact that there are at least two BB creams sitting on our beauty station that clearly say 10-in-1, not to mention a three-in-one somewhere in there and some that don’t even say how much they do.

So is it 10-in-1, five-in-one, all-in-one, or what? After sampling a few, we decided it really doesn’t matter. What matters is that the BB cream, blemish balm or whatever you want to call it, works. And we think it does.

“BB cream is a little bit of magic in a tube,” says MAC Senior Artist Chantel Miller. “When I am feeling really good about how my skin is looking, I often will use MAC Prep+Prime BB Beauty Balm SPF 35 solo to illuminate and brighten without having to wear much product. This type of product is also amazing as a subtle highlight on the cheekbone and center of the nose as a finished glow on top of your foundation and powder.”

Looking for a BB cream? Take your pick.
Dr. Jart+ Water Fuse Beauty Balm ($32) and Premium Beauty Balm ($39) help hide uneven skin tone and include sunscreen, while Water Fuse adds an extra boost of moisture to skin. Available at Sephora South Coast Plaza.
::  sephora.com
Estée Lauder DayWear BB Anti-Oxidant Beauty Benefit Creme SPF 35 ($38) is jam-packed with antioxidants, evens skin tone with sheer coverage and hydrates skin while inhibiting shine. Available at Estée Lauder counters.
::  esteelauder.com
Stila Stay All Day 10-in-1 HD Beauty Balm ($38) helps reduce pore size, control oil levels, hide skin imperfections, reduce wrinkle depth, and the list goes on. Available at Ulta Beauty.
::  stilacosmetics.com
Lab Series Skincare for Men BB Tinted Moisturizer SPF 35 ($38.50) – another 10-in-1 – offers hydration, brightening, shine control, anti-wrinkle benefits, firming/toning, redness reduction, and more. Available at Bloomingdale’s South Coast Plaza.
::  labseries. com
MAC Prep+Prime BB Beauty Balm SPF 35 ($30) re-texturizes, primes, hydrates, illuminates, and protects from UVA/UVB rays. Available at MAC counters.
::  maccosmetics.com
Too Faced Tinted Beauty Balm ($32) includes anti-aging benefits, primer, oil-free hydration, SPF, and is soothing for all skin types. Available at Planet Beauty Newport Beach (Jamboree Road).
::   toofaced.com
Boscia BB Cream SPF 27 PA++ ($38) helps diminish fine lines and uneven skin tone; comes in a self-adjusting, universal shade; promotes healthy cell renewal; firms; hydrates; and is oil- and preservative-free. Available at Sephora.
::  sephora.com

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