Making their way across the ocean from Asia, where they gained a fanatical following, BB creams (otherwise known as beauty balms) are all the buzz right now in the States, where beauty aficionados are eager to give them a whirl. But what exactly do they do?
How about, everything?
Most BB creams combine the powers of at least five products currently in your makeup bag. These all-in-one creams moisturize, prime, tone, control oil and add a protective layer of SPF. Their mattifying components and ability to make fine lines nearly disappear also mean BB creams can double as your foundation—much like a tinted moisturizer, but with more bells and whistles. Yet they're designed to be sheer and go on as light as a feather, so you hardly know they're there. You could almost call them the fairy godmother of makeup.
BB creams originated in Germany when dermatologists there created the formula as a way to hide scars, acne and other blemishes. Soon, they reached an almost cult-like standing in Asia before coming the U.S., where they're quickly becoming a must-have for those who want the look of flawless, glowing skin (even if that's not exactly how you wake up in the morning).
You'll find BB creams by Smashbox, Too Faced, Stila, Garnier and Boscia at ULTA now—right in time to ward off shiny skin due to that lovely glisten we get from the warmer temps. Smashbox's Camera Ready 5-in-1 Beauty Balm even comes with a sun-squelching SPF 35, plus a primer that vows to help your makeup stay put. It also touts a formula that evens out skin tone and hides imperfections while keeping shine far, far away but still giving you that glow. Remember, glow = good. Shine = bad.
Professional makeup artist Cammy Kelly often preps people before they're in front of a photographer, so she can appreciate the light-diffusing properties of Stila's All Day 10-in-1 Beauty Balm. "It adheres to the skin, but doesn't look cakey. Especially for summer, I think this will be a great product to have."
Some have questioned whether the balms are a one-sized-fits-all approach. The idea is yes, they are designed to be as such. But in reality, you'll probably have to experiment with the different brands to see which shade most closely matches your skin.