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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 Foundation with 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 Perfect Cover BB Cream SPF 42 PA+++
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 Sensitive Skin: Jane Iredale Glow Time Full Coverage Mineral BB Cream SPF 25/17
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
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
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
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 Tinted Hydrating Gel Cream SPF 30
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 flashback. 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.
Known for their hybrid formula that’s somewhere between foundation and skincare, lighter coverage, and blurring properties, BB creams are the perfect option for those days (we all have them!) when you want to wear makeup but don't want to put in the effort. Maybelline New York Dream BB Fresh Cream is our favorite as it truly keeps skin feeling fresh all day with minimal product usage—only a pea-sized amount will completely blur imperfections. While it’s a splurge, Smashbox Camera Ready BB Cream SPF 35 will definitely help you nail the perfect selfie with its airbrushed effect that looks like an IRL Instagram filter. Can’t find the perfect shade? bareMinerals Complexion Rescue Tinted Hydrating Gel Cream SPF 30 is your best bet with its twenty different shades and incredibly smooth gel-cream hybrid formula.
What to Look For in a BB Cream
When looking for your perfect BB match, think about what your desired outcome is, explains Professional Makeup Artist Megs Cahill. She says, Do you want sun protection, hydration, shine control, etc.?” “Some things to look for in BB creams based on your wants/needs: skincare benefits, priming abilities, SPF, shine control, free of potentially harmful ingredients (parabens, sulfates, GMOs, etc.), coverage level, consistency, and wear time.”
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.”
If you want a flawless look but don’t want a heavy base, use a BB cream to even out the skin, protect and hydrate and then take your concealer of choice and spot to conceal. “This will only add more coverage where needed and your natural skin and freckles will show through.” She says a lot of pro artists do this for photography to get the perfect no-makeup look that’ll look super natural on camera.
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?
The application depends on the desired look of the BB cream and product, explains Cahill. “To get the most coverage, use a brush (I personally recommend a dense kabuki brush for a smooth, “fullest” coverage application).” She says, “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.” She further explains, “you can always use your fingertips as well—if you’re comfortable touching your face—and blend in circular motions so there is no trace of fingermarks or streaking.”
What is the difference between BB and CC cream?
BB creams and CC creams seem similar, but they are aimed to achieve two different things, says Cahill. She says, “a BB cream is a beauty balm hybrid between skincare, primer, foundation, and/or SPF. The goal with a BB cream is usually to lightly even out skin tone, treat, and protect.” Cahill further explains, “a CC cream or color/complexion corrector is aimed to correct uneven skin tone and add coverage while protecting your skin. CC creams can correct redness, dull skin, smooth out fine lines, and/or conceal imperfections on the skin.” CC creams, explains Cahill, are usually a bit thicker in consistency compared to BB creams as well due to the amp up of coverage in a CC cream.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org and we will evaluate the product ASAP.