The Best BB Creams When You Can’t Deal With Foundation

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Byrdie / Sabrina Jiang

While foundation will always have its place in our makeup bag, we just can’t go past the light, easy coverage that a BB cream affords. BB creams—short for beauty or blemish balms—are a hybrid between foundation and skincare. The idea is that they’re easy to apply and even out the skin tone while simultaneously improving its appearance.

“BB creams are usually like a skin tint that provides fresh, healthy-looking coverage without the heaviness of a traditional foundation,” explains makeup artist and beauty expert Michael Brown. “They’re great if you want quick, fuss-free coverage that’s also going to benefit the health of your complexion,” he adds.

Meet the Expert

  • Michael Brown is one of Australia’s leading celebrity makeup artists with 20-years of experience. Michael has also held Australian ambassador roles for global brands including St Tropez, Marc Jacobs, Moroccanoil, Ardell Lashes, and Olay.
  • Megs Cahill is a retired professional makeup artist and founder of Get Stoned and Megmad(s).

But of course, not all formulas are created equal, so we’ve done the research and curated a list of the very best for all skin types, budgets, and concerns. All that’s left to do is find your favorite! 

Keep scrolling to discover the best BB creams for luminous skin.

Best Overall: IT Cosmetics Your Skin But Better CC+ Cream with SPF 50+

4.9
IT Cosmetics Your Skin But Better CC+ Cream with SPF 50+

Courtesy of Amazon

What We Like
  • Great coverage

  • Added SPF

  • Good shade range

What We Don’t Like
  • Not ideal for very oily skin

While we do acknowledge that this is a CC Cream, it’s unmatched when it comes to natural-looking coverage, finish, and luminosity. The creamy formula is pigmented, so it does a great job of concealing redness, breakouts, and scarring. One small pump is all you need for a glowing but believable base. 

“This is a staple for me,” adds Brown. “It does an amazing job evening out the skin without feeling or looking heavy.”

Size: 1.08 ounces | Shades: 12 | Byrdie Clean: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes

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

elf cosmetics bb cream

Courtesy of elf cosmetics

What We Like
  • Affordable

  • Hydrating

What We Don't Like
  • Limited shade range

This vegan formula contains cucumber, aloe vera, and vitamin E, not to mention SPF 20, all for less than the price of an iced coffee. The coverage is decent for a BB cream, and we’d call out the finish as natural (not too shiny or matte). The shade range isn’t amazing—just three warm-toned colors—but if you can find a match, it’s a hard deal to pass up. 

Size: 0.96 ounces | Shades: 3 | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Best Drugstore: Maybelline New York Dream Fresh BB Cream

4.9
Maybelline Dream Fresh BB Cream Makeup
What We Like
  • Light gel texture

  • Affordable

  • Contains SPF

What We Don't Like
  • Limited shade range

Light and impossibly fresh, this water-based formula glides over the skin, leaving it smooth, even, and radiant. The coverage is minimal, but it does work well to soften the look of blemishes and refine the look of pores. The self-adjusting shades mean you’ll be able to use it year-round or when you have self-tan on, too. 

Size: 1 ounces | Shades: 5 | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes

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

Missha M Perfect Cover BB Cream

Walmart

What We Like
  • Hydrating

  • Contains SPF

  • Plumps wrinkles and fine lines

What We Don't Like
  • Contains fragrance

  • Limited shade range

Packed with hyaluronic acid, jojoba oil, and ceramides, Missha’s BB Cream is a top choice for those with dry or dehydrated skin. It provides ample coverage and a dewy finish, softening the look of lines, wrinkles, and uneven tone. The addition of SPF 42 is a nice touch, as well. 

Size: 1.69 ounces | Shades: 4 | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: No

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

Garnier SkinActive BB Cream Anti-Aging Face Moisturizer
What We Like
  • Affordable

  • Balances combination skin

What We Don't Like
  • Limited shade range

Garnier was one of the original drugstore BB creams, and its oil-free iteration is one of our top picks for combination skin types. The non-comedogenic formula has an oil-absorbing mineral powder called perlite to control shine, while antioxidants and SPF 15 keep the rest of your face protected. Our only complaint is the limited shade range—two just isn’t enough to cater for all skin tones. 

Size: 2.5 ounces  | Shades: 2 | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Best With SPF: Dr. Jart+ Premium BB Beauty Balm SPF 40

Dr. Jart+ Premium BB Beauty Balm SPF 45

Sephora

What We Like
  • Great coverage

  • Contains SPF

What We Don't Like
  • Limited shade range

The modern concept of BB cream originated in Korea, so it makes sense that the Dr. Jart+ version is up there as one of our favorites. The formula is thicker than most but smoothes over the skin, leaving it even, plump, and nourished. It’s also bolstered with SPF for additional sun protection during the day. 

Size: 1.35 ounces | Shades: 3 | Byrdie Clean: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Best for Oily Skin: bareMinerals Complexion Rescue Tinted Hydrating Gel Cream SPF 30

4.9
bare minerals complexion rescue

Nordstrom

What We Like
  • Great for acne-prone skin

  • Natural finish

What We Don't Like
  • Pricey

This top-rated skin tint is infused with plant-based squalane, hyaluronic acid, and mineral sunscreen, giving it plenty of nourishing properties without congesting the skin. The lightweight gel feels light and cooling, providing sheer coverage that blurs blemishes without concealing natural texture. It also grabs bonus points for the vast shade range. 

Size: 1.18 ounces | Shades: 20 | Byrdie Clean: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Best for Light Skin: Laura Mercier Natural Tinted Moisturizer

Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturizer Natural Skin Perfector Broad Spectrum SPF 30
What We Like
  • Natural finish

  • Wears well

What We Don’t Like
  • Pricey

While not technically a BB cream, Brown swears by Laura Mercier’s Tinted Moisturizer and has carried it in his professional kit for years. “It has a light, blendable texture that evens out skin tone without caking.” It’s also infused with macadamia and kukui nut oils for nourishment, while silica-treatment pigments ensure a dewy, radiant finish.

Size: 1.7 ounces | Shades: 20 | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Best for Dark Skin: Fenty Beauty Eaze Drop Blurring Skin Tint

Fenty Beauty by Rihanna Eaze Drop Blurring Skin Tint

Sephora

What We Like
  • Long-lasting

  • Blurring effect

What We Don’t Like
  • Can be drying

“I love all Fenty Beauty complexion products, and this tint is no different. It’s light and buildable, but unlike so many other dewy base products, it’s long-wearing and relatively transfer-proof,” shares Brown. Available in 25 shades, it’s also one of the few products that cater to all skin tones. 

Size: 1.07 ounces | Shades: 25 | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Best Splurge: Chatecaille Just Skin Tinted Moisturizer

Just Skin Tinted Moisturizer SPF 15 CHANTECAILLE

Nordstrom

What We Like
  • Sheer finish

  • Antioxidant benefits

What We Don’t Like
  • Pricey

While expensive, this tinted moisturizer from Chantecaille comes with a stack of skincare benefits, plus a lightweight tint to boot. The formula contains edelweiss, honeysuckle, and green tea. The addition of sodium hyaluronate helps with hydration levels. The finish is sheer but noticeable (think more even tone, reduced redness, and refined pores). 

Size: 1.7 ounces | Shades: 8 | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Best for Dehydrated Skin: L'Oréal Skin Paradise Water-Infused Tinted Moisturizer

4.3
L'Oréal Skin Paradise Water-Infused Tinted Moisturizer

Amazon

What We Like
  • Hydrating

  • Affordable

  • Oil-free

What We Don’t Like
  • Limited shade range

Like a tall drink of water for parched skin, this skin tint from L'Oréal is supremely hydrating without feeling heavy. Made on a base of water, aloe, and the humectant glycerin, it plumps fine lines and improves luminosity while subtly concealing uneven tone and texture. It comes with some sun protection, too. 

Size: 1.0 ounces | Shades: 13 | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Best for Medium Skin: Erborian BB Cream Clair Tinted Cream with Ginseng

Erborian BB Crème

Sephora

What We Like
  • Lovely texture

  • Great coverage

  • Matte finish

What We Don’t Like
  • Limited shade range

It’s not easy to find a mattifying skin tint that doesn’t feel heavy, but Erborian’s BB Cream strikes the ideal balance. Rich in plant ingredients like wild yam, ginseng, and licorice extract, it’s a nourishing formula with great longevity. Try it if you like a polished finish or find you’re prone to midday shine.

Size: 1.5 ounces | Shades: 3 | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Final Verdict

Known for their hybrid formula that’s somewhere between foundation and skincare—think lighter coverage and blurring properties—BB creams are the best option for those days (we all have them!) when you want to wear makeup but don't want to put in the effort. IT Cosmetics CC Cream is our favorite as it delivers coverage that’s natural and fresh (without any caking). 

For congested or oily skin, bareMinerals Complexion Rescue Tinted Hydrating Gel Cream SPF 30 is unmatched, while the L'Oréal Skin Paradise Water-Infused Tinted Moisturizer boasts a dewy finish with a drugstore price tag to boot.

What to Look for in a BB Cream

Desired Outcome

"When looking for your ideal BB cream match, think about what your desired outcome is," explains Megs Cahill, Professional Makeup Artist. She says, "Do you want sun protection, hydration, or shine control? Some things to look for in BB creams based on your wants/needs [include] skincare benefits, priming abilities, SPF, shine control, free of potentially harmful ingredients (parabens, sulfates, GMOs, etc.), coverage level, consistency, and wear time.”

Consistency

When testing the product, Cahill recommends opting for something lighter weight and non-greasy. “We want this to blend into the skin, not sit on top of it.” She further explains, for oily skin especially to avoid anything containing oil. “The good thing about BB creams is that they are a thinner consistency and coverage, so shades are more likely to match multiple skin tones.” 

FAQ
  • What is BB cream used for?

    “BB Cream is used as a foundation hybrid to even out the skin tone while adding skincare and SPF benefits,” says Cahill. “You can use a BB cream as a base for the next steps in your routine or as your complete one-step skincare, primer, foundation, routine."

  • How do you apply BB cream?

    “To get the most coverage, use a brush. I recommend a dense kabuki brush for a smooth, “fullest” coverage application,” says Cahill. She further explains, “to get the naturally radiant look, use a damp sponge as this will help the dew come through the product and even out sheer of the product a tad to give a more natural look.”

  • What is the difference between BB and CC cream?

    Cahill says a BB cream is a beauty balm hybrid between skincare, primer, foundation, and/or SPF, whose goal is to lightly even out skin tone, treat, and protect. In contrast, a CC cream or color/complexion corrector is designed to correct uneven skin tone and add coverage while protecting your skin.

Why Trust Byrdie

Byrdie contributor Emily Algar has always subscribed to the idea of no-makeup makeup and loves the lightweight coverage a BB cream affords. She’s tried a bunch throughout her beauty writing career and has also called on a few experts in the field to curate the best.

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