Selection of BB creams
|Origins||Christine Schrammek, German dermatologist, in the 1960s; developed further in the 1980s by Korean cosmetics companies|
|Description||All-in-one facial cosmetic product to replace serum, moisturizer, primer, foundation and sunblock|
|Main markets||South Korean and Japanese markets from 1985; Western markets from 2012|
BB cream stands for blemish balm, blemish base, beblesh balm, and in Western markets, beauty balm. It is a cosmetic item sold mainly in East and Southeast Asia, although the majority of larger beauty brands have introduced BB creams to Western markets.
BB cream is promoted as an all-in-one facial cosmetic product to replace serum, moisturizer, primer, foundation and sunblock. It can be worn alone as a tinted moisturizer, over serum and moisturizer as a regular foundation, and under powder, depending on the desired amount of coverage.
What became BB cream was originally formulated in the 1960s in Germany by dermatologist Dr. Christine Schrammek to protect her patients' skin after facial peels and surgery. Introduced to South Korea and Japan in 1985 – where healthy-looking, porcelain skin is heavily prized – the cream was hailed as "the secret of Korean actresses," and was heavily endorsed by Korean celebrities.
BB creams come in a variety of different formulations. Because Korean companies focused initially on the Korean and East Asian markets, they are offered in a limited number of hues. Instead of offering multiple shades for different skin tones, most formulas are designed to oxidize to match the user's skin tone. The skin-whitening properties of the cream, as sold in the Asian market, are an important element in its popularity.
The cream is promoted as a multi-tasker, an all-in-one treatment, but Korean women mostly use it as an alternative to foundation, especially Western foundations that tend to be too heavy for their taste. The coverage is often mineral-based, and is intended to both cover and treat blemishes such as acne, sun spots and age spots. It also has anti-wrinkle, anti-inflammatory and soothing effects. Several contain hyaluronic acid and Vitamin C. The Huffington Post reports that some companies say BB creams have skin-regenerating properties, though one dermatologist – Dr. Jason Rivers of the University of British Columbia's Department of Dermatology and Skin Science – expressed skepticism that a product that is not retinoid-based could do this.
BB creams make up 13 percent of the cosmetics market in South Korea. Some Korean brands also offer BB creams for men. Leading Korean brands include BRTC, Dr. Jart, Etude House, Lioele, Missha, Nature Republic, Enprani, Rachel K, Skin79, SHANGPREE, Skin Food, Sulhwasoo, and The Face Shop.
Western cosmetics companies began to launch BB creams in the Western market in 2012, though some of these creams have been criticized for lacking the skin-caring functions that BB creams normally have, and for being no more than tinted moisturizer. Early arrivals included Boscia, Clinique, Dior, Estée Lauder, Garnier, Marcelle, Maybelline, Omorovicza, Natura Bisse, Revlon and Smashbox. Lab Series makes a BB cream for men. Certain BB creams have been tailored for Western markets: Estée Lauder, for example, has not included the whitening properties in their formulation for North America.
Cruelty-free and vegan BB creams
BB creams advertised as cruelty-free include Smashbox (owned by Estée Lauder), The Body Shop (owned by L'Oreal) and LifeCell. The definition of "cruelty-free" varies. The Body Shop BB cream is certified by the Leaping Bunny Program, which means, according to the certification process, that no new animal testing has been used in any phase of product development by the company, its laboratories, or the suppliers of its ingredients. As of May 2013, Amore Pacific, which has as its subsidiaries Etude House and Laneige, has ended animal testing on all ingredients and cosmetics.
Products certified as cruelty-free may still contain animal products and may not be suitable for vegans. Vegan BB creams include the Superdrug own brand BB cream, BB cream souffles from Haut Cosmetics, 100% Pure Cosmetics, and the Evenly Radiant BB Crème from Dermae.
- Chang, Katie. "Vain Glorious | BB Creams Are Here!", The New York Times, March 29, 2012.
- Chowdary, Asha. "The BB cream is here to stay", The Times of India, February 25, 2012.
- Coleman, Claire. Beauty's all in one: The balm that claims to be a moisturiser, sun block, primer AND foundation, but does it work?, The Daily Mail, June 14, 2011.
- BB Cream: "The Next Big Thing In Beauty?", The Huffington Post, January 24, 2012.
- Latimer, Joanne. "BB cream fans lay it on thick", Maclean's, January 11, 2012.
- For it being introduced to South Korea and Japan in the 1980s, see Maclean's, January 11, 2012.
- "BB Cream Overview". http://www.bubzbeauty.com.
- Woo, Michelle. "Get Skin Like a Korean Soap Opera Star", OC Weekly, April 5, 2012.
- For skin whitening, see Maclean's, January 11, 2012.
- For 13 percent of the South Korean market, see The New York Times, March 29, 2012.
- For men using it, see Bae, Ji-sook. "Men Turn to Aesthetics, Grooming to Become Metrosexual", The Korea Times, March 24, 2010.
- Kim, Grace. "Menswear targets '50s and fabulous'", The Korea Times, April 4, 2012.
- Maclean's, January 11, 2012.
- Also see Thomas, Bobbie. "New beauty: Innovative curlers, mascaras and more", Today, NBC, March 15, 2012.
- "BB Cream becomes BB everything", Cover Media/omg!, March 31, 2012.
- Sirignano, Rita. "Face Forward", Calgary Herald, March 30, 2012.
- The New York Times, March 29, 2012, p. 5.
- Rovan, Rhonda. "Do you need a BB cream?", Best Health, March 2012.
- For Smashbox, see Reddick, Kelsey. "Finding the BB cream that's right for you", Feminspire, July 14, 2012.
- For the Body Shop, see "Animal protection principles", The Body Shop, accessed September 7, 2012.
- "Debunking Myths about Animal Testing", The Coalition for Consumer Information on Cosmetics, accessed September 7, 2012.
- "Superdrug BB Cream", "Superdrug.com", June 26, 2013.
- "Vegan BB cream souffles", Haut Minerals, accessed September 7, 2012.
- BB creams, Dermae, accessed March 26, 2013.
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