Beauty tips: BB creams vs. foundations

Over the past couple of years, you’ve likely seen BB creams (beauty balms) move in next to foundation on drugstore shelves. If you’re confused about which product to purchase, we’re here to share some tips on navigating the endless array of bottles and choosing what’s right for you.

Woman shopping for beauty products

Which beauty product
is right for you?

Over the past couple of years, you’ve likely seen BB creams (beauty balms) move in next to foundation on drugstore shelves. If you’re confused about which product to purchase, we’re here to share some tips on navigating the endless array of bottles and choosing what’s right for you.

What is BB cream?

BB cream (or beauty balm) is a multi-tasking skin care product similar to tinted moisturizer (in that it offers some coverage) but that also offers ways to meet a variety of other beauty needs, including brightening and lightening, smoothing, moisturizing and improving skin tone. You can think of BB cream as a one-stop shop for improving your complexion.

Our pick: One of the newest BB creams to hit store shelves (and one we’re already excited about) is AVEENO® Clear Complexion™ BB Cream, which offers a host of skin-boosting benefits. The non-comedogenic, oil-free formula not only moisturizes and offers broad spectrum SPF 30 but also evens and brightens skin while helping to blend away imperfections from breakouts. The oil-free formula won’t clog pores which helps prevent future breakouts. It even helps fade the look of marks from past breakouts.

Aveeno clear complexion BB cream

How does BB cream differ from foundation?

While BB cream does offer some coverage to even skin tone and hide imperfections, the coverage is not as full as what you would get from a foundation. And while some foundations also offer SPF or a way to brighten or even moisturize the skin, the primary focus of a foundation — be it liquid, powder or something in between — is to provide coverage (from light to heavy) to even skin tone and cover up imperfections, such as blemishes and dark spots.

Which one should you use?

Whether you opt for a foundation or a BB cream depends on what your aims are, and most people will benefit from having one of each beauty booster in their makeup bag. If you’re going to be at the office all day and then plan to head out for drinks without a chance to freshen up in between, you might want to opt for a long-wearing foundation. But if you’re spending the afternoon running errands, meeting friends for coffee and otherwise having a casual day, the lighter coverage of a BB cream might suffice. Simply gauge your product choice — foundation or BB cream — by what you’ll be doing, where you’ll be going and how much coverage you want.

Quick tip:

If you’re short on time (especially on busy mornings), a BB cream can be a lifesaver, since it offers so much in one bottle — SPF, some coverage, skin-perfecting ingredients, moisture and more — meaning you only have to swipe some on and go.

More beauty tips

Give your makeup the 50 Shades of Grey treatment
Beyond BB cream: What is CC cream?
Lazy girl’s guide to getting ready in the morning

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