In our quest to achieve flawless-looking skin, we’ve been stampeding through department stores and drugstores since cosmetics pioneer Max Factor launched the first Pan-Cake complexion-perfecting makeup in 1938. Since then, we’ve spackled our way through one-hue-fits-all greasepaint, worn the mandatory ultra-thick ’70s foundation and powdered our skin to a Kate Moss matte finish, circa 1990. Now, time-strapped and unwilling to deal with fussy brushes and sponges, we’re tapping into the latest skincare rage: minimalist-chic blemish (or beauty) balm (BB) and colour-corrector (CC) creams.
“Women don’t need to buy multiple products when they can get the same benefits with just one cream,” says Anna Prilutsky, the senior director of research and development for Johnson & Johnson consumer companies.
Applied with your fingertips, these lightweight BBs and CCs are easy to use and are giving traditional foundations some major competition. Here’s why: If you need a little help in the coverage department (and aren’t a fan of foundations), one of these high-tech formulas might be the answer. Both work to hydrate and to minimize the appearance of blemishes and discoloration for a more even complexion. But BB and CC creams also contain a potent cocktail of beneficial ingredients that can include an anti-aging serum; a broad spectrum sunscreen; a tone evener for redness, dark spots and blemishes; an anti-inflammatory; an antioxidant; and a makeup primer. In short, they promise to do the job of serum, primer, moisturizer and foundation — a big job for a small package.
BB = Blemish Balm
The original BB cream was formulated in the 1960s by German dermatologist Dr. Christine Schrammek to help protect patients’ skin after surgery. It worked, and with surprising side benefits: lightening and brightening. These results caught on in the ’80s in Korea, and word spread to Japan, China and Southeast Asia. “Porcelain skin is extremely popular in most Asian countries,” says Toronto-based makeup artist Sheri Stroh, “so blemish balms were created to help lighten age spots, discoloration and acne scars—essentially treating the skin while providing coverage.” A few decades later, North American skincare giants took notice, sent their scientists into the
labs and started Mixmastering their own formulations.
After tweaking BBs’ original ingredients, Garnier introduced the first tube in North America in 2012, and the Canadian brand Marcelle swiftly launched its version a few weeks later. The balms were an instant hit, thanks to their sheer consistency, frequent inclusion of an SPF and a promise to rejuvenate the skin and treat the signs of premature aging. “Additionally, they help to balance the skin and provide oil and shine control,” says Ida Wong, the executive director of global product development and treatment for Clinique.
Soon, every beauty bigwig jumped on the BB bandwagon, brandishing its own hybrid. And as the skincare trend grew, so did an emerging interest for a similar lightweight product with enhanced coverage, anti-aging ingredients, SPF protection and multi-tonal benefits. The CC cream was born.
CC = Complexion Corrector
Fresh from the cosmetics labs, CC creams are best described as BBs’ more mature sister, ideal at blurring the signs of aging, thanks to a colour-correcting technology that reflects light off your face. “Dull, ashy skin appears brighter, sallowness transforms into a peachy glow and redness is neutralized,” says Wong. Overall, skin looks more uniform in tone. CCs are slightly thicker in formulation to provide
better coverage than BB creams. They should also contain higher broad spectrum SPFs and active ingredients to diminish the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles and skin pigment issues.
Beyond these obvious beauty benefits, the biggest reason for the current hype is the unequivocal fact that integrating a BB or CC cream into your morning routine adds simplicity to your lifestyle. After all, “women just don’t want complicated, intimidating makeup anymore,” says Stroh.