13 BB Creams to Use on Days When You Just Can't Deal With Foundation

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Nothing against foundation makeup, but there's a time, place (heck, even a mood) for it. If you're just not feeling up for full coverage or just prefer a quicker option in a pinch, a BB cream is the way to go.

BB creams—short for beauty or blemish balms—are a hybrid between foundation and skincare. They’re typically sheerer than foundations and blur the look of pores, wrinkles and any other stuff you may want to hide while letting your skin peek through. Since BB creams are just as much skincare as they are makeup, they treat with the same ingredients you can find in your lotions and serums. Some have anti-agers like antioxidants and retinol. Others have hyaluronic acid for a plumping effect. And they all protect with broad-spectrum SPF. What’s more: There’s a formula for every skin type and budget—it just depends on what you’re looking for.

Below, discover our top picks of the best BB creams on the market.

Best Overall: Maybelline New York Dream BB Fresh Cream

Smooth on a pea-size drop of this and…what pores? You’ll soon forget why you even needed it in the first place. The water-based formula is made of 70% water, so it has a gel-like texture that leaves skin feeling fresh all day (hence the name). The texture is creamy enough to blur minor imperfections but sheer enough so you won’t look like you have any makeup on. It comes in five skin-adjusting shades, and the SPF 30 is a nice bonus.

Best Budget: e.l.f. Cosmetics BB Cream SPF 20

E.l.f. Cosmetics BB Cream SPF 20

This vegan BB cream, with soothing cucumber, aloe and vitamin E, is easy on the skin and wallet. All seven shades even out your complexion in a way that makes your skin look perfect and lets you build up coverage without creasing or caking. It has broad-spectrum SPF 20 and holds up pretty well throughout the day. And let's not forget the affordable price, which makes it a shockingly good deal.

Best Drugstore: Burt's Bees BB Cream

It’s easy to see why this is drugstore favorite is one of the most popular formulas out there: It’s oil-free, lightweight, 98.9% natural, rich in antioxidants, and affordable. The coverage is fairly sheer and has this magic ability to veil pores and dark circles. And no matter how much you layer on, it won’t look or feel like you have makeup on. The downside? There are only three shades to choose from.

Best for Dry Skin: MISSHA M Perfect Cover BB Cream SPF 42 PA+++

Key Ingredients

Ceramides are a part of a complex family of fats or lipids called a sphingolipid. They work to restore the skin barrier and lock in moisture.

This rich, water-based formula is brimming with hyaluronic acid and ceramides, so dry thirsty skin will drink this right up. Available in seven shades, the medium-to-full coverage formula hydrates like a true moisturizer, plumping lines and wrinkles instantly. We love how it blurs everything in sight and makes our skin look naturally dewy. And apparently, we’re not the only ones who swear by it. According to the brand, they've sold over 50 million tubes globally, which comes out to roughly 12,000 per day. And the SPF 42 is no joke.

Best for Acne Prone Skin: La Roche-Posay Effaclar BB Blur

This oil-free, non-comedogenic BB cream from derm-favorite La Roche-Posay helps you look your best no matter what you’re dealing with, whether it’s a pimple or dark marks left behind. The shade-adapting pigments blur the look of pores, blemishes and post-acne marks while oil-absorbing silica keeps your T-Zone in check. The mousse-like texture dries down to a satiny-matte finish, creating a nice, even canvas for the rest of your makeup.

Best for Sensitive Skin: Jane Iredale Glow Time Full Coverage Mineral BB Cream SPF 25/17

Jane Iredale Glow Time Full Coverage Mineral BB Cream

Key Ingredients

Aloe vera is a naturally derived ingredient known for its soothing and moisturizing properties. The aloe plant's inner gel mucilage (the part that's used in skin care products) is made up of 99.5% water.

Prone to redness or flareups? This gentle mineral-based formula coddles sensitive skin with soothing aloe vera, antioxidant-rich green tea, and skin-softening honey. It’s pretty pigmented for a BB cream and does an excellent job hiding blotchiness and dullness without looking too thick or mask-like. We like that it comes in nine shades and has broad-spectrum SPF 25 in it.

Best for Combination Skin: Garnier SkinActive 5-in-1 Miracle Perfector BB Cream Oil-Free

Oily in some places, dry in others? This stuff will keep your T-zone and cheeks happy. The oil-free, non-comedogenic formula has a special oil-absorbing mineral powder called perlite to control shine, while fruit antioxidants and SPF 15 keep the rest of your face soft and protected. Our only complaint? It comes in only two shades: Light/Medium and Medium/Deep.

Best for Oily Skin: Tarte Amazonian Clay BB Tinted Moisturizer Broad Spectrum SPF 20

Tarte Amazonian Clay BB Tinted Moisturizer

If you’re oily and prone to the occasional pimple, don’t worry—this vegan BB cream with SPF 20 is oil-free and non-comedogenic, so it won’t cause breakouts. It’s also part of the brand’s bestselling Amazonian Clay Collection, which means it’s laced with oil-absorbing Amazonian clay to cut shine throughout the day. The creamy, buildable formula has a soft matte finish and does a great job smoothing over large pores around the nose. Also nice: It comes in seven shades.

Best With SPF: Dr. Jart+ Premium BB Beauty Balm SPF 45

Dr. Jart+ Premium BB Beauty Balm SPF 45

If there’s anything the K-beauty craze has taught us, it’s that Koreans are serious about skincare and sun protection. This fan-favorite from Dr. Jart+ not only hydrates, brightens and tightens with a powerful anti-aging complex but also protects with a whopping SPF 45. It blurs imperfections like a soft-focus lens and feels weightless considering how thick and creamy it is. It works on most skin types and comes in three shades.

Best for Mature Skin: Neutrogena Healthy Skin Anti-Aging Perfector

This doesn’t just cover fine lines, wrinkles and dark spots—it helps treat them over time. So what’s in the secret sauce? Anti-aging retinol. That means the more you use it, the smoother and more even your skin will appear. The lightweight formula with SPF 20 has a natural, skin-like finish, so it’s great for those who don’t like the feel of a heavy foundation but want some coverage. Even better? It comes in six shades, from Ivory/Fair to Medium/Deep, so you’re sure to find a good match.

Best Splurge: Smashbox Camera Ready BB Cream SPF 35

Smashbox Camera Ready BB Cream

Key Ingredients

Hyaluronic acid is a naturally occurring polysaccharide found in the human body. It acts as a cushioning and lubrication agent for our joints, nerves, hair, skin, and eyes. When used in skincare, it acts as a moisture binder, which means that it will attach itself to the water in the cells (while also attracting and holding water from the air) making them plump.

This stuff may be pricier than the rest, but we’re all for a good splurge if it means nailing the perfect selfie. Available in six shades, Smashbox Camera Ready BB Cream airbrushes pores and imperfections like an Instagram filter IRL and doubles as a primer, helping makeup glide on and last longer.

Since it’s a BB cream, you know it doesn’t just make you look better, but it’s good for your skin too. Besides SPF 35, there are anti-aging peptides, squalene and hyaluronic acid that all work together to firm, plump and smooth. The creamy, buildable formula may take a little effort to blend in, but honestly you’ll forget it’s there once it sinks in.

Best Shade Range: BareMinerals Complexion Rescue Hydrating Gel Cream

BareMinerals Complexion Rescue Tinted Hydrating Gel Cream

BB creams typically come in two or three shades, but this one was formulated with a range of skin tones in mind. With 20 shades from Opal to Mahogany, there’s truly something for everyone. What’s more, the gel-cream hybrid with SPF 30 is packed with hydrating squalene, marine botanicals, and mineral electrolytes, and feels fresh and cooling on contact. It goes on rather sheer and is easy to blend, so you can apply it without a mirror.

Best for Deep Shades: Iman Cosmetics BB Crème

Made with women of color in mind, this BB Crème melts into deep skin tones without leaving a ghostly flash back. Users say that it glides on smoothly and is a natural enhancer to uneven complexions. It's also paraben free and formulated with grape seed, aloe, and Vitamins A, E & C, so you can feel good about applying it to your skin.

According to our Diversity Pledge, 15% of products in our newly-published market roundups will feature Black-owned and/or Black-founded brands. At the time of publishing, we were not able to find enough BB creams from Black-owned and/or Black-founded businesses to meet this percentage. If you know of one we should consider, please email us at contact@byrdie.com and we will evaluate the product ASAP. 

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