BB Cream: Your Makeup Kit In One Tube

Most of Asia is skincare-obsessed. And not like we are here in America, with the heavy foundations, spray-on applicators, orange tans and powders.

While Asia has its own skincare hang-ups—whitening serums, anyone?—the emphasis is still on healthy, bright, clear skin . . . to the point that even traditional foundations have quickly exited the scene.

The new trend? BB Cream.

Short for Blemish Balm, BB Cream is almost your entire makeup bag in one shiny tube: It’s foundation, concealer and moisturizer—with SPF and acne meds, to boot. Many also boast anti-aging qualities.

The product was first used by post-laser-surgery patients in Germany to help protect and regenerate skin while at the same time providing coverage for blemishes, scars and redness. But it wasn’t until after Korean celebrities started using the product that BB Cream really took off. The media caught on, cosmetics companies beckoned, and a craze was born.

BB Cream is lightweight, not stifling or thick like traditional foundations, and it won’t feel like it’s going to slide off your face on hot days. Plus, if you can believe it, BB Cream is even a “healthy” addition to your skincare regimen.

After washing your face and patting on some toner, all you do is treat your BB Cream like you would any daytime moisturizer. Just blend in until it all seems to fade away. The end result is a very natural, dewy, glowing look—no spatula-applied makeup here! It’s a foundation for even those who don’t like wearing foundation. More important, think of all that time you’ll save having to apply only one product.

Sound pretty ideal?

Most versions of BB Cream are readily available for purchase on and eBay, allowing for us Americans to test it out. Some of the more popular brands include Missha ($24), Hanskin ($39) and Skin79 ($16).

The trend has Asian cosmetics markets under such a stranglehold right now that every makeup brand out there makes its own version of BB Cream, including some American and European labels such as MAC and Maybelline. The only real bummer? BB Cream is supposed to act as a universal cream—but currently only for light skin tones. No varying shades of BB Cream, no color with which to match your skin.

A stripped-down Stateside equivalent would be tinted moisturizer—just be sure to purchase one with sun protection, like Laura Mercier’s popular one with SPF 20 ($42).


This column appeared in print as “BB-ing There.”


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