Cream tease

BB creams are said to brighten skin, moisturise, rehydrate and minimise lines

It’s 7am, the day after the office party/opera benefit/black-tie dinner. You look in the mirror and see – well, any number of potential horrors. But, say beauty companies, these can be quickly remedied by using a beauty balm, or blemish balm, otherwise known as a BB cream. Worth £7m a year in the US alone, BBs claim to offer mind-blowing benefits: skin brightening! Sun protection! Line minimising! Moisturising! Priming! Hydration! Coverage!

“The rise of BB creams has been truly remarkable over the past 18 months and everyone – brands, retailers and consumers – wants to be part of the BB story,” says Vivienne Rudd, head of beauty at Mintel market researchers. “I don’t think I have seen a trend take off so swiftly and comprehensively.” Among the brands she mentions as having joined the sector are Dior, Garnier, Mac, Smashbox, Clinique, Stila, L’Oréal Paris, Giorgio Armani, Origins, Estée Lauder and Bobbi Brown. But what are these alphabetic twins?

The consensus seems to be that BBs are textured, tinted creams. If that sounds suspiciously like tinted moisturiser, or feather-light foundation, you are not the only one to think so. “If the BB identity is not a grey area, it certainly is one big beige blur,” says Newby Hands, editorial director for the beauty retailer and beauty director at large at Harper’s Bazaar UK. “Beauty editors are just as confused as women about what the difference between them is.”

According to Ida Wong, executive director of global skincare product development for Clinique, “A BB gives more coverage and a matte finish, soothes skin and gives a daily dose of anti-oxidants, whereas a tinted moisturiser gives moisture and a dewy, more sheer finish. Foundations are heavier.”

From left: Dior BB cream, Garnier BB cream, Bobbi Brown BB cream

Indeed, BBs could be said to have their own foundation myth. The first one is believed to have been created in 1967 by Dr Christine Schrammek, an East German dermatologist. Having opened a beauty salon specialising in her very strong Green Peel, Schrammek wanted to soothe her clients’ skin post-treatment and so came up with a BB which subsequently made its way to North Korea via communist trade exchanges. The BB then jumped the border to South Korea, moved on to Japan and soon became an Asian beauty staple, making its way back west decades later as South Korean brands, such as Missha and Skin79, began to export their products. Skincare multinationals began to adapt BBs for western skin shades.

“A BB is ideal for dull, tired skin but, more importantly, with a dusting of powder it gets me through the day,” says Louise Hooton, style blogger at “I’ve tried a few, but Garnier offers the best coverage and finish,” she says.

Indeed, says Mintel’s Rudd, “Garnier Miracle BB established what some commentators dismissed as a fad into a mainstay of the market.”

The phenomenon looks set to grow. Imminent arrivals on the market include a BBB (Beauty Balm Body) cream from tanning expert James Read; Olay Total Effects Tone Correcting Moisturiser, transformed into Olay Total Effects CC Tone Correcting UV Moisturiser; Chanel Asia’s CC cream; and even DD creams, launching next year. “This stands for Double Defence and is a heavy-duty foot cream,” explains Rudd. Perfect after a night spent in high heels.


A foolproof Yuletide

Who knows where the festive season might take you – from last-minute party invite to morning-after boardroom meeting – so prudence dictates keeping a few quick fixes in easy reach, just in case, writes Lucy Garside.

For limp locks, Meta Revive Dry Shampoo (£24, Serge Normant) works wonders as a volume and texture spray while reinvigorating the hair and scalp between washes.

Show imperfections no mercy with Conceal (£15.50, Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics): designed for use in the film industry, this hyper-strength concealer covers spots, dark circles and redness, yet is as light as a feather and nourishing to boot.

To refresh foundation, dab on some Laura Mercier Secret Finish (£23.50), which its devotees swear can make make-up look newly applied, and you can tailor the look from matte to dewy.

Add a little bit of colour with Lip2Cheek mineral make-up (£28, RMS beauty), creating a blendable natural flush.

Luminise and highlight with Aura Balm (£33, Belmacz), a delicately scented beauty balm with crushed 24-carat gold and pearl powder, lending a luminous glow to cheekbones, lips and décolletage.

And to plaster over the cracks in your nail varnish? Dose has brought out a range of mini nail varnishes in capsule-inspired packaging (Clever Girl set, £15). (Garnier) (Skin79)

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