Over the past five years, BB creams have become a staple in any American beauty girl’s arsenal, but Korean women have been using the stuff for decades. In fact, Alicia Yoon, founder of Korean e-boutique Peach & Lily, says BB cream is the one product that represents the very essence of Korean beauty.
At its core, BB cream (aka beauty balm or blemish balm) is an all-in-one product that combines moisturizer and sunscreen with anti-aging and brightening benefits, plus the coverage of face makeup. “Korean women popularized the BB cream as an alternative to foundation because they were looking for a product that would provide coverage while having a variety of skin-benefitting properties,” explains Charlotte Cho, founder of online Korean beauty shop Soko Glam.
Koreans highly prioritize their skincare routines and are well-informed about how to care for skin and keep it healthy, which means Korean companies have to work harder to please consumers. With such an informed market, an inferior product just wouldn't make it.
Today, it seems like every American beauty brand has a BB Cream, but they’re not all up to Korean women’s standards. That’s why, with the help of Yoon and Cho, we put together this list of BB creams real women in Korea use and love:
This was one of the first-ever BB creams to come out in Korea, and it has remained wildly popular ever since. “It blends naturally and creates a flawless finish with medium coverage,” says Cho. Plus, you gotta love that high SPF. Cho recommends this product for those with beige and golden skin tones.
We Byrdie editors are obsessed with this luxurious half-French, half-Korean skincare brand, and as it turns out, so are women in Korea. The secret to this BB cream is that it’s infused with ginseng, which Cho calls “a star Korean skincare ingredient.” The finish is “velvety and loved by oily to combination skin types,” Cho adds. (Intrigued? Find out more about the anti-aging benefits of ginseng.)
Makeup that effectively fights acne? According to Yoon, that’s exactly what this pick does. The miracle-working formula is anti-inflammatory and antibacterial, meaning it works to soothe skin and prevent acne from the source. “All the while, it keeps skin totally flawless and glowing,” says Yoon. “It’s a celebrity favorite in Korea.”
Plump, hydrated, “bouncy” skin is the beauty standard in Korea, and Yoon says this product’s unique formulation helps you achieve just that: “The 80 percent mint water instantly hydrates and cools, and marine jelly creates that perfect ‘skin bounce’ that’s a part of the K-beauty look,” she says.
Cho says this popular pick has Korean beauty cult status. Korean girls love the product’s multitasking formula, which offers brightening and anti-aging properties, in addition to SPF 25. Cho recommends the product for light to medium-light skin tones.
Wacky as it may sound, snail extract is a massively popular ingredient in Korean skincare, and this multifunctional BB cream is packed with it. “It helps to heal blemishes while covering blemishes, too!” says Yoon. The product also hydrates and tightens the skin. “It’s easy to see why this BB cream is a crowd-pleaser among skin-savvy Korean women,” Yoon adds. “Men use it, too!”
The gentle, luxurious texture of this BB cream conforms to your skin, provides great coverage, gives a flawless-looking complexion, and treats wrinkles.
Fascinated by all things Korean beauty? Don’t miss this fascinating story about the cultural backstory of the Korean beauty industry.