I’m not into wearing foundation, but I always wear a moisturizer with SPF and I love products that do a little extra. Why not get some added benefit for a product I’m already using every day, amiright? BB creams (AKA Blemish Balms, AKA Beauty Balms) promise to be a slightly more nourishing version of tinted moisturizer, with a sheer coverage that falls somewhere between tinted moisturizer and full foundation.
I hate the feel of MAKEUP makeup on my face. The color cosmetics I wear tend not to feel like much, but foundation feels suffocating to me. Until now, the only thing I could stand has been Bare Minerals, but I don’t really trust it to provide sun protection, so I generally have to double up on sunblock + powder. BB Cream seemed like a godsend.
So what do I think now that I’ve tried a few? I think they can be great, but you really have to shop around. They vary WILDLY, but that’s good because everyone needs something different. Here are my thoughts on the four I’ve tried so far:
I really like this one. It’s got the highest SPF of any I’ve tried and it feels pretty light. I can still kind of feel it just a little, but it provides a pretty natural finish and the color matches my skintone really well. Unfortunately, it only comes in one shade, so keep that in mind. It also takes a little practice to use effectively- it needs to be shaken the first few times you use it because it can settle in storage and then it will look weirdly grey and ashy. Clearly I made the mistake of not shaking it the first time and really freaked myself out. You also have to be careful not to use too much, because you can easily layer it up into foundation territory (unless that’s what you’re going for), but it is nice that the coverage is buildable and versatile. I tend to use one and a half pumps.
By the way, I’m not photoshopping any of these other than to adjust the lighting. I retouch most of my images (just a little, not to blatantly lie), but I thought it was important to really include all of the skin imperfections here to give a more accurate representation.
Next up, Smashbox Camera Ready BB Cream Broad Spectrum SPF 35 in Light ($39)
This one has very high coverage, it’s super thick and super opaque. It felt way too heavy and makeup-y, but it might have been better if I’d applied less. It’s just really thick in general, so who knows? A good one to go for if you wear normal foundation, though. If I were a foundation girl, I think I would definitely prefer this to a normal liquid. I thought the color matched really well, and it comes in a really nice range of shades. It has a nice, semi-matte finish, too.
Then comes the token drugstore brand. L’Oreal Studio Secrets Magic Skin Beautifier B.B. Cream in Light ($10.99)
I often like these “find your shade” makeups that supposedly adjust to your skintone (Almay’s is pretty decent and is actually one of my favorite liquid foundations), but this one apparently adjusted to someone else’s face. I probably should have tried it in Fair and not Light because OMG ORANGE. Mismatching shade aside, the coverage is pretty sheer. If I’m going to bother wearing a tinted product, I want a little more coverage than this because my skin is a little blotchy and I have intense dark circles. If your skin is close to perfect, this would be a really nice product. It isn’t ideal for me, though.
Finally, we have Too Faced Tinted Beauty Balm SPF 20 in Vanilla Glow ($34)
This is another one I got in the wrong color. I’m not sure if Snow Glow is a new color or if I somehow missed it when I bought this, but I probably would have been better off with that shade. This product feels great, though. The one I got is just barely too dark on me, but again, I think that’s my fault. It has pretty light coverage and dries weightlessly. I switch between this and the Dr. Jart BB depending on what kind of blotchiness I’m dealing with. I prefer this one on days where I’ve had a good night’s sleep because it feels a little cleaner, just at the expense of some opacity. Makes sense.