Bloody Brilliant BB Creams: The Lowdown

Here’s what they are, what they do, and my collection!
Publish date:
February 15, 2013
makeup, bb creams

2011 was an eventful year. We had the Royal Wedding, Bin Laden was found and killed, Wino passed away, and BB Creams finally hit the UK! If you’re into beauty and cosmetics, you’ll know this was massive.

If you’re still thinking ‘What the hell is a BB Cream?’ firstly where have you been? Secondly, they’re a revolutionary Beauty Balm (sometimes also known as blemish balm, blemish base) which is petty much like a souped-up tinted moisturiser. There I said it, they are fancy tinted moisturisers.

BB Creams are the Swiss Army Knife of the cosmetics world, as in one fabulous tube, they accomplish so much. They not only moisturise, provide coverage, even out skin tone, (some give superb coverage, others sheer – more on this later), they have SPF and some contain antioxidants and loads more gubbins. They’re a multi-functioning tube of delight, providing that is, you get the right one for you.

I used to be a die hard fan of Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturiser. I rarely use foundation, I’d just smooth the tinted moisturiser on, a dusting of powder and I was good to go. It gave my skin what it needed: SPF and just enough coverage.

But then BB Creams came along – my first was the Garnier BB, which was also the original to launch in the UK. I loved it. Super sheer (some might say too sheer) and opaque, so perfect for summer. Here began my BB obsession. At last count, I have 8 different tubes which quite frankly is ridiculous, 'cause I’ve only got one face.

But here’s a rundown on which is good for what.

Firstly, I’ve been using this new Nivea Express Hydration Primer which I’ll use before anything else on my face. I know BB Creams are moisturising, and meant to provide all the skin quenching you need, but some of them sink in so much better having used this first. It’s a super lightweight gel that’s absorbed in seconds.

Garnier BB Cream Miracle Skin Protector £7.49, boots.comThe first of the BB creams, this one’s perfect for newbies and those whose skin needs just a little help. It’s got a lower SPF of just 15, which hardcore beauty junkies might feel is too low, but it’s super moisturising so there's no need for primer. It’ll leave you with a dewy finish, so if you prefer a matte look, you’ll need a dusting of powder.

I don’t recommend it if you’ve got greasy skin – they do a special oil-free version for the oily amongst us. It also doesn’t have the best staying power. I felt kind of nude in the face by the afternoon.

Garnier BB Cream Miracle Skin Protector Oil Free £7.49, boots.comNow this one has a slightly higher SPF of 20 and a richer, thicker formula. It’s also got a richer coverage, but by no means mean full coverage. This is probably much more suited to my greasy t-zone, but it still doesn’t stop my shiny nose breaking out, but then I’m not sure anything will.

MAC Prep + Prime BB Cream SPF35 £22, selfridges.comRight: massively superficial moment coming up. This tube and the box it comes in are simply beautiful. It’s like looking at the galaxy through a super powered telescope, all midnight blue with shimmery twinkles and sparkly. Totally. Suckered. In.

Now, the potion inside. When creams contain a superior amount of SPF, as this one does at SPF35, it can sometimes make the formulation a little unstable. Not so. I found this BB light to medium on coverage, and I used a fair amount, and it blended away my splotchy red morning skin well. What I particularly noticed was that by the afternoon, my skin still looked great and not over oily so it’s got good staying power.

Bobbi Brown BB Cream SPF35 £28,, possibly the holy grail of BB creams, would you expect anything less from Bobbi Brown? Of course not. If I must complain about one thing, it’s the lid of the tube. Too fiddly and small! Ok, pathetic gripe done, this has the most luxurious velvety texture, it’s like smoothing on petals. You can also layer this on and build up the colour. If you’ve got the cash, splash it here.

Philosophy Be Your Best BB Cream, £22.50, debenhams.comI’m a big fan of this brand, and was excited to try this BB. I love the tube as you can pump out the cream rather than squeeze it out. It’s got an SPF30, and is definitely on the heavier formulation side, meaning it offers superior coverage. If I’m going out for the evening, this is my BB of choice.

So if you like a full foundation looking skin, this one’s for you. I’ve been using the medium shade which to be honest for my olive skin is probably too dark, but for days I feel my skin really needs help, I’ll always opt for this BB. It covers everything.

Smashbox Camera Ready BB Cream SPF35 £27, is defo one of my favourites. I’ve probably used this BB the most, and find the coverage perfect, but I absolutely have to prime and moisturise before using it, otherwise it doesn’t sink in as I’d like. You have to sample the colours as when they emerge from the tube, they appear so much darker than when they’re actually on your skin.

Once smoothed in, this BB has a chameleon-like power and it just turns into your skin colour, as if Paul Daniels has waved a wand (not that wand! Dirty!) over your face. It offers perfect medium coverage (ok, I’m saying that word a lot now, forgive me) and is an absolute delight.

Clinique Age Defense BB Cream SPF30 £25, like the Philosophy BB, if you’re looking for more than just a sheer tint on your face, this Clinique BB is well worth a look. Definitely for those looking for medium to full coverage, this slightly heavy, but really good BB can eliminate the need for foundation in one beautiful sweep. I defo recommend a little primer or moisturiser before using this to help it sink in. Thumbs up though.

L’Oreal Paris Youth Code Luminize BB Cream £10, superdrug.comMuch like the Garnier BB, this is sheer and lightweight and has an SPF15. Definitely best for summer or if you just need a really fine veil of cover for your skin. Perfect to lose your BB virginity to, this is a great starting point for BB’s.

Am I yet to try the best BB in the World which you know about? Please share, even if it’s to tell me my obsession with these creams is just ridiculous.

Follow Dani on Twitter @danigraph.