BB Cream FAQ

All you ever wanted to know about BB Cream and then some

Beauty Korean

NOTE: Our Preferred Merchant is YesStyle Asia. They have reasonable prices, good customer service, and ship worldwide at reasonable rates. Free shipping is often available once purchase thresholds are met. We also like COSME-DE

What is BB Cream?

BB cream, also known as blemish balm, is a multifunctional cream meant to cover imperfections while also doing one or more of the following, treat various skin conditions, provide sun protection, nourish the skin, prime for makeup, or act as a replacement for foundation. BB creams originated in South Korea and most brands hail from that country, with a few BB cream brand located in other Asian countries. BB creams are wildly popular in Asia, but are not well known in the United States and parts of Europe.

Is Blemish Balm different than BB Cream?

No. The terms are both used to describe a multi-functional BB cream.

Why do so many BC Creams come in only one tint shade? What if it doesn’t match my skin tone?

Most BB creams are lightly tinted and have only one shade. A few have multiple shades. Although at first blush, this seems to be of concern, it is important to note that these creams tend to absorb and generally oxidize to match skin tone and have a sheer cover that ends up blending with most fair to medium/light skin tones. Although advertised as covering blemishes, most bb creams don’t really do so through heavy tint. Instead they use a sheer tint that blends well and/or provide illuminators to blur imperfections and providing a nice base for concealer or foundation. With that said, some heavier cover BB creams are more tinted, at which point getting a closer match becomes more important. Also, darker skin tones will have more problems trying to wear BB cream alone. If the brand specifically says that it is makeup replacement, and you don’t want to wear foundation or powder over the cream, take the shade into closer consideration. Otherwise, we recommend applying a light tinted foundation or light mineral powder over your Bb cream (BB cream is a terrific based for mineral makeup). This assures that you have the perfect shade of makeup on your face and also that it will look its absolute best because BB cream is fabulous makeup primer!

One notable exception to the above: BB creams advertised a peach pore creams often are thicker and leave a light cover on the skin. This is especially true of Etude House Peach, which we don’t really even characterize as a blemish balm. They cover imperfections wonderfully, but almost always must have foundation and powder applied over them to avoid a pasty look.

I have a dark skin tone. Is there a BB Cream for me?

Because BB creams were developed in Asia, they tend to be made for fairer skin tones. Those with medium and darker skin tones may be troubled by the light tint of most BB creams. For the most part, the darker you are, the more you should be concerned since, for you, unless you plan to apply both foundation and powder, you will look pasty. Avoid products advertised as also replacing foundation and use the cream as a foundation base. Avoid peach pore products, which tend to leave a thicker light tint on the skin. For those with medium skin, look at Skinfood BB cream because it comes in two shades. Ultimately though, there really is a market for BB creams to be developed for men and women of color.  Our hope is that as they become increasingly popular, companies will step up and add additional shades.

Note, if you are familiar with MAC shades, we have seen reports that bb creams will generally work up to MAC 35, which isn’t really all that dark.

Can BB cream replace Foundation?

A few can if you have a fairly light skin tone and the product is advertised as also being a foundation replacement. Or, if you like a sheer tint, BB cream may be all that your need.  Otherwise, if you like medium or full coverage most BB creams don’t cover to that level, but provide an excellent primer for foundation or powder base.

How do I use BB cream?

Use BB cream on clean, dry skin. If you use serums, apply those first. A little goes a long way with BB cream. Dot it on lightly and blend it in well. The cream will look tinted on your skin until blended in, at which point it usually absorbs and oxides in such a way that it will match well with most fair to light medium skin tones. Apply light foundation or powder over the cream if desired.

Are there other products recommended for use with BB cream?

Missha M makes a primer for use under BB cream. It can be a nice addition when using a thicker BB cream that acts as a foundation replacement. Otherwise it really isn’t necessary. If you enjoy Asian cosmetics, take a look at the extensive catalog of Japanese and Korean cosmetics at the YesStyle Beauty Page, our favorite source for Korean and Japanese makeup and fashion.

When should I use a BB Pact?

BB cream Compacts tend to be thicker versions of BB cream. They are pressed in a compact and applied with a sponge. Because of this, they also often tint more than the standard creams. If you have anything other than light or fair skin, you probably should choose a cream over a pact. However, for those with light skin, the compacts often do provide a particularly nice finish.

Will a BB Cream or Blemish Balm cure my acne?

Interestingly, not all bb cream “blemish balms” treat acne. This is because the word blemish does not necessary equate to acne. Instead, the creams are meant to help cover imperfections in general. Many also include whitening or anti-aging ingredients to treat “blemishes” or the non-acne kind as well. Not many actually have acne treatment ingredients in them. However, all is not lost. There are a fair number of BB creams that are good for oily and acne prone skin , but you may want to keep using standard acne treatments, such as salicylic acid in conjunction with them.

What BB brands are best for oily skin?

Many BB creams are better suited for normal to dry skin. If you have oily skin be sure to pick a BB cream that is formulated for that skin type.   Missha M has BB creams that are particularly good for oily skin, as does Dr. Jart.

How do Whitening BB Creams work?

The most common whitening agent found in whitening BB creams is arbutin.  Some also use Licorice Root or other extracts. Unlike in the US, hydroquinone is banned in Asian countries, and in most of Europe as well. Arbutin is one of the next best skin lighteners available and it is a common ingredient in Asian products. It is fairly effective as a skin brightener, although if you are looking for serious melasma treatment, you will want to try using a variety of treatment actives because studies show that using more than one is the most effective in lightening brown spots. So, mixing things up is good. Our suggestion for people with skin discoloration is to use a treatment serum with ingredients other than arbutin under an arbutin BB cream. In the evening, use yet another treatment serum or cream or make sure that your single one has a good variety of treatment ingredients. Note that the BB cream will provide an excellent base for applying makeup to further cover areas of discoloration. Our reviewer who has melasma swears by a combination of the following:

Hanskin Super Magic BB cream (contains licorice), Skin79 super BB cream (contains arbutin), or Missha M BB cream when oily (contains arbutin and is better suited for oily skin)

MAKE UP FOR EVER HD Invisible Cover Foundation

MAKE UP FOR EVER Duo Mat Powder Foundation over particularly discolored areas.


PCA Skin Pigment Gel (pHaze 13)
(Hydroquinone version) or
PCA Skin Pigment Gel HQ Free (pHaze 13)
(Hydroquinone free)

Derma Doctor Poetry in Lotion full strength retinol cream.

See our Whitening BB Cream Page (TBA) for more.

How do anti-aging and anti-wrinkle BB Creams work?

One of the most common features in a bb cream is the addition of various wrinkle treatments and skin nutrition ingredients.  Adenosine is a very popular skin firming ingredient that has some success in making the skin appear firmer and treating fine lines and wrinkles. Other popular ingredients are natural extracts that have treatment properties or are antioxidants. Brand can differ wildly on what they choose, but many will be fairly unique to customers outside of Asia since the choice companies make between Asia and North America tend to be quite different.  So far, we are impressed with quite a few BB cream and every brand carries something aimed at anti-aging.

Can Men wear BB Cream?

Absolutely! In fact, several brands make a BB cream just for men. For example, take a look at Laneige Homme and Dr. Jart For Men.

How Much Does BB  Cream Cost?

BB cream usually retails anywhere between $15 and $55. The average cost tend to be between $20 and $35. Products with extra anti-aging ingredients tend to run more toward the high end, while the base products will be cheaper.

Where can I buy BB cream, especially in the United States?

finding a BB cream in a physical store in the United States, Australia, and parts of Europe is rather difficult. The brands are sold widely in Asia, but simply are not well known in other locations. If your city ahs a China Town, you “might” be able to locate a few brands in stores there. The Missha brand has a few stores in the New York City area.

The easier way to buy BB cream is online. Here at BB Cream Beauty, we provide links to trusted stores that we have made test purchases from. Simply shop our pages and click any buy it button to be directed to one of our affiliate stores. Our favorite is YesStyle, which specialized in Asian fashion and beauty products. They provide top notch customer service, have an easy to use website, and carry many unique an interesting items, not just in terms of BB cream, but in makeup, fashion, and accessories. Our other favorite is COSME-DE, which ships items from Hong-Kong. They too provide great service and often have great prices. Finally, we occasionally provide links to products on Amazon. However, many Amazon.com items are sold through untested third party sellers that we have no experience with. Because they are affiliated with Amazon, we have some trust in them, but we have chosen to link to out tested sources first whenever possible.

I saw BB cream for sale on Ebay. Is it fresh. Can it be trusted?

There is no guarantee. Sometimes cosmetic and skin care products sold by ebay sellers or by small online stores are discontinued products bought in bulk. Those may or may not still be fresh. Our testers have personally bought BB cream on ebay in the past with no problems, but we are also aware of several instances of people getting stale cosmetic products on ebay. As with any ebay transaction, check the seller’s feedback and ask questions! However, buying bb cream on ebay is no longer necessary for many brands now that several trusted online sellers carry the most popular items.

Click Below to Buy BB Cream at YesStyle

Beauty Korean