Editors' Picks: The Best BB Creams
"Beauty balms" are currently the darlings of the beauty world. But which BB creams are worth trying? Read on
The craze started in Asia, and at least a dozen brands have launched a BB cream in the States over the last year -- with many more to come. BB stands for "Beauty Balm" or "Blemish Balm" depending on the formula, and they're basically tinted moisturizers with skin care ingredients and SPF built in.
Although everyone from salespeople to journalists is touting them as all-in-one miracle creams, we wouldn't go that far. "It's marketing," says Washington D.C.-based dermatologist Elizabeth Tanzi. "There's nothing magical about a BB cream -- but if you're looking for a new tinted moisturizer, why not try one of these?" So that's exactly how we're categorizing them: tinted moisturizers -- with benefits.
Find out which BB creams are our favorites now.
We tried all of the options to decide on our personal favorites. And along the way, a few Total Beauty editors decided that BB creams aren't for them -- some didn't like the texture, which is similar to primer, and others weren't thrilled with the coverage. (They're sticking with their full-on foundations.) The rest of us, however, chose our top picks -- and our reasons have nothing to do with the hype.
SEE NEXT PAGE: Garnier Skin Renew BB Cream Miracle Skin Perfector, $12.99
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Garnier Skin Renew BB Cream Miracle Skin Perfector, $12.99Star Quality: Price
"I was extremely skeptical to try BB creams -- they seemed too good to be true, and I didn't believe anything could top my tinted moisturizer. (I'm dedicated to Jane Iredale Dream Tint SPF15 Tinted Moisturizer, $36, which gives me the perfect amount of sheer coverage, contains sunscreen, and is pretty much the only makeup that doesn't make me break out.) But I did find a favorite, and it's the only one of the bunch that's available at the drugstore -- for about $25 less than the rest. It hasn't replaced my tinted moisturizer, but it's the perfect option if I want a little more coverage, and -- miraculously -- doesn't make me break out even if I wear it for 18 hours straight." -- Dawn Davis, NYC Beauty Editor
Too Faced Beauty Balm Multi-Benefit Skin Care Makeup, $32Star Quality: Dewiness
"This gives me a nice dewy glow and works well both alone and under makeup. On the weekends (or when I'm on vacation) I wear it alone for just a bit of coverage and sun protection, but for everyday I apply makeup on top of it. My mother–in-law recently commented that my skin had a beautiful glow -- after a 5-hour plane ride no less! -- and all I was wearing was this beauty balm." -- Sarah Carrillo, Senior Editor
Dr. Jart+ Premium Beauty Balm SPF 45 PA+++, $39Star Quality: Hydration
"I apply a pump or two of this shimmery liquid to my face and it evens out my skin tone, gives me a youthful glow, and protects me from the sun. I cannot say enough good things about it -- I love it!" -- Audrey Fine, Special Projects Editor
Estee Lauder Daywear Anti-Oxidant Beauty Benefit Creme SPF 35, $38Star Quality: Antioxidants
"I was excited to try this one because of the high SPF content. I'm fair and burn in mere minutes. The consistency is a little thick, but I found that if I mix it with my regular moisturizer, it glides on perfectly. It keeps me feeling protected and helps perfect my complexion. Total win-win." -- Meghan Rabbitt, Executive Editor
Boscia BB Cream SPF 27 PA ++, $38Star Quality: Natural color
"This one is sheer but gives great coverage, and the color is warmer and more fleshy than some of the others. I've stopped using tinted moisturizer and now I exclusively wear BB cream." -- Paola Gonzalez Marra, Graphic Designer
Stila Stay All Day 10-in-1 HD Beauty Balm, $38Star Quality: Light Reflection
"If you're going to have your picture taken, this is the one to try. It contains ingredients to diffuse light and hide wrinkles and pores. While most of the others have a dewy finish, this one is more matte -- I can skip powder entirely." -- Dawn Davis, NYC Beauty Editor
Clinique Age Defense BB Cream SPF 30, $37Star Quality: Sheerness
"The sunscreen in some BB creams can make them look yellow or chalky depending on your skin tone. This one blends really beautifully on just about everyone -- even though it's only available in three shades -- because it's more translucent than most. If you're looking for less coverage, this one is perfect. I'll use it instead of a primer under my regular foundation if I want more coverage." -- Sharon Yi, Associate Editor
Smashbox Camera Ready BB Cream SPF 35, $39Star Quality: Fragrance-free
"Smashbox is best-known for its primers, so we weren't surprised when they came out with a BB cream -- it seemed like a natural progression. Their version is fragrance-free (unlike most of the others), so it's ideal if you're allergic or sensitive to fragrances. It feels fantastic going on and looks great even at the end of a long, hot day." -- Alexis Finc, Associate Editor of Total Beauty's sister site, BeautyRiot.com