BB Creams – are synonym to Asia , many thanks to the Korea, the country that launched BB Cream to it’s stardom even though it’s origins traced back all the way to 1967 in Germany. It all started in 1967 when dermatologist Dr. Christine Shrammek created a post-peel treatment called a blemish balm which helps patients who have gone through cosmetic procedures such as peeling, laser skin surgery, etc to soothe, protect and regenerate the skin while covering the redness and imperfections. Part ointment and treatment, part make-up – the BB Cream gave a veil of colour ( available in 4 shades ) that evened up the skin tone, while looking natural.
The Schrammek Blemish Balm didn’t irritate like how a normal cosmetic product would after post cosmetic procedure. Instead it calmed the skin and enhanced it’s natural repair process, protecting it from further sensitivity when exposed to sunlight. It was a workhorse that concealed as it healed yet giving a natural radiant finish. The Schrammek Blemish Balm was only under prescription privately for a few years before it was launched commercially in Korea and Japan in 1985 where Dr Schrammek was invited to Korea and Japan where she presented the Blemish Balm to the public aside from her other products.
Famous South Korean actresses than began using the Blemish Balms for beauty purposes as cosmetic procedures are as common as the residents of Paris taking the metro daily in South Korea. It was then, the ‘magical properties’ of BB Cream was spread to a wide mass market and cashing in on it were local Korean cosmetic companies who decided to cash in this uprising beauty trend. The BB Cream was then marketed as this magical product that protects, regenerates, hydrates, covers and boom! – the craze hit the whole South Of Korea.
Every Korean company was fighting to produce the ‘most-in-one’ in BB Creams. From 4-in one to 11-in-one : that was how BB Creams were first marketed. It was no more about healing acne or redness – it was now a makeup product that does everything in one. It was known as the ‘secret of Korean actresses’ – and of course everyone wants to have good skin like them. As you know in Asia, skincare is a big thing – skincare sells better than makeup ( which is the exact opposite in the Western beauty market ) – as Asians believe that having good skin is better than putting on layers of makeup to fool others into believing you have good skin. Therefore, the huge success of BB Cream was also because it was marketed more of a ‘skincare’ product than a ‘makeup’ product – therefore it was easier to penetrate the Asian market.
Not forgetting the popularity of korean dramas and koream music ( K-pop ) in Asia, the popularity of BB Creams propagated throughout Asia with the help of Korean actresses and singers in which actreess Song Hye Kyo who was at the height of her popularity at that time with drama Autumn In My Heart and Full House was one of the first few celebrities that revealed her daily usage of BB Creams.
I will try to go through the different aspects in the evolution of the BB Cream , concentrating on the Korean market, since it was the one that hyped up, re-branded and re-introduced it to the world.
The packaging of BB Creams back then were very simple, very much like the packaging of the original Dr Schrammek BB Cream to give it an authentic feel. The earlier Korean companies that produced BB Creams back then were companies such as BRTC, Hanskin ( the only company that has more than 50 types of BB Creams ), AHC, Missha, Dr Jart, Skin79– which have gone on to be multi-million cosmetic companies today. The packaging was a simple tube with a screw cap.
These days, you can find BB Creams almost in any sorts of packaging – pumps, airless pumps, palettes etc thanks to the genius packaging of Korean companies.
I’ve also seen the evolution on BB Cream applications which is included with the packaging such as rollers, vibration machines, puffs, etc.
Let’s not forget that there are also BB Creams that are packaged just for Men. I would say that BB Creams are actually a unisex item, but you know how egoistic men can be sometimes especially when it comes to make-up products. They will feel manlier using them if you label it as a ‘Men’s BB Cream’ and will be willing to pay more just to have the ‘MEN’ word on the packaging. You need to know that despite being such a small country, South Korea accounts for 18% of the global sales in Men’s skincare. That is how much the Korean males make the extra effort to have flawless skin, therefore the increasing number of men’s BB Cream over the years. Even Western brand, LAB SERIES, will be producing their very own MEN’S BB Cream.
Photos : Lab Series BB Tinted Moisturizer for Men, Laneige Homme BB Cream, Hera Homme BB Cream, Skin79 Homme BB Cream
Texture wise we have also seen a huge difference in comparison to the original and older Korean BB Creams. The Original BB Cream and the older Korean BB Creams such as BRTC, A.H.C , Dr Schrammek had this balmy creamy texture ( which was why it was called a Blemish BALM instead of Blemish Cream ) because it was part ointment, and part makeup. Later on, Korean companies wanted to make BB Creams a little lighter textured so that it doesn’t provide the heavy feeling. Therefore, companies like Skin79 and Dr Jart differentiated themselves by creating BB Creams that were a little more diluted. The trend now is to create the lightest textured BB Creams – as they feel bare on the skin, comfortable, refreshing, spreads and blends easily into the skin and doesn’t feel like it gives any burden to the skin.
Japanese Brands usually produce BB Creams which are lighter and more fluid in nature, while Korean companies are still producing both types. Brands like Hadalabo, Senka, Lancome has BB Creams which are very light in texture and the newly upgraded Lancome BB Complete claims to be the lightest BB Cream in the world and is lighter than a feather! My personal preference : I still prefer my BB Creams to be balmy. How do you like yours?
The photo above is to compare the evolution of the texture of the ol
d BB Creams and the newer generations. As you can see the old Dr Schrammek and the AHC has very very concentrated balm-like texture which are very thick. Looking at the newly released Dr Schrammek BB Fluid – you can see the evolution of the BB Cream : from something that was prescribed once as a treatment – to what it is now today – a convenient pseudo-skincare makeup product that combines everything together. Even Dr Schrammek has acknowledged this fact and created a more fluid version of her famous BB Cream that was released last year. Some BB Creams such as the History Of Whoo Seol Whitening BB, Evangelist BB Cream even provides a powdery-finish after applying the BB Creams so you don’t even have to top up with your powder after that ( photo below ).
Next up, we have the unconventional BB Creams, which i really classify them as the new generation BB Creams. They do not come in a fluid form, but now, also in a compact form. Check out our article on the ‘New Generation Of BB Creams’ These BB Creams are usually creamier and more hydrating than the normal Bb Creams.
Photo : Laneige Snow BB Essence Balm, IOPE Skin Complete BB
Recently, in the form of a BB Essence Pact – Amore Pacific has released an emulsion type of BB in a form of a pact which is very lightweight like cushion, breathable, high spf, hydrating, and cools down the skin temperature too! Amore Pacific released it under their three different companies : firstly with their brand IOPE, then Laneige and recently in their premium brand HERA too! ( Read our article on these cushion BBs : here (HERA), and here (Laneige & IOPE)
Let’s not forget about the BB Mousse too. The Shu Eumura UV Under Base BB Mousse was an instant hit for the brand – selling out worldwide – limited editions and upgrades soon followed. Too attack the lower end market, Maybelline, Etude House and O’slee also released their version of the BB Mousse. BB Mousse gives you a very sheer coverage, feels light and hydrating and acts more like a make-up base with SPF benefits.
Photos : Shu Eumura UV Under Base BB Mousse , Maybelline BB Pure Mineral Mousse, the O’slee Skin Meal Soybean Milk Whitening BB Cream and the Etude House BB Magic Fresh Cool Mousse.
Another unconventional BB Creams are the ‘Swirl BB Creams’. What are these Swirl BB Creams? Basically they are BB Creams twirled together with either a hydrating cream, whitening cream, antiaging cream or sun cream. These creams are then mixed with their tinted counterparts to give you the benefits of skincare and makeup and makes it less drying than just the tinted part of it. These ‘Swirl BB Creams’ comes in two forms : one in the normal tube/pump bottle, and one in the form of a pact.
Photos : Re:Nk White Radiance Sun BB Balm, Hera UV Mist Balm, Mamonde Total Solution Perfect Bb Balm
Photos : MISSHA-Signature Wrinkle Filler BB Cream,IOPE Super Vital Extra Moist BB, CathyCat Essence Sun BB
The BB Cream we know nowadays no longer conforms to a blemish treatment product. In fact any makeup product with beneficial ingredients for the skin can be called a BB. Therefore we not only have it in cream forms, but now we also have BB Pacts and BB Powders.
Photos : ETUDE HOUSE PRECIOUS MINERAL BB COMPACT, Skin79 Skin Protect BB Pact, Ettusais BB Powder
Shade wise – we’ve gone a long way too. From the greyish undertones most of the ‘old-school’ Korean BB Creams have , we now have a wide array of shades which do not give that greyish or greyish-pinkish undertone that most of the old BB Creams had. The original Schrammek BB Cream in Shade 2 ( Classic Shade ) has the same greyish ashy finish which i think was the reason why the first generation of BB Creams had the same greyish ash undertones. However, unlike how the old Korean BB Creams only had 1 shade ( or rarely 2 shades ), the original Dr Schrammek had 4 shades to choose from ( Check out the shade of LIGHT on the photos above ).
Thank god we now have more choices – BB Creams now comes in all sorts of tones ( yellow, orange, neutral, pink )– i like those that are usually brighter in colour. Look at the comparison of the shades of the ‘older generation BB creams’ and the ‘newer generation BB creams’. Another one worth mentioning is the Giorgio Armani BB Cream which has a tone that I’ve seen in a very small number of BB Creams ( like the OHUI White Extreme BB Cream ) which has a sort of pinkish-greyish-whitish undertone ( review coming soon! ). Very unique indeed.
While Asian BB Cream adjusts to your skin colour, they can’t be worn by everyone because it might be either too dark, or too white making you look like a ghost. However recently, two western brands – Embryolisse and Dr Brandt has claimed that their BB Creams can be used by everyone be it if you are White, Asian, or African. One BB Cream for all ? Have you tried this out yourself? What do you think of this BB Creams?
Another new type of trend in BB Creams recently is the BB Makeup Base. What are these? They are basically makeup bases which contains micro-coated pigments. They’re basically the love child of a Makeup base and a BB Cream. They come in makeup base colours ( white, yellow, green, purple etc ) and when rubbed, they become slightly tinted. Read it more in detail on our article : here
Photos : Mizon OHMU Multi Capsule Changing BB Cream,
Lioele Dollish Veil Vita BB Cream
In terns of ingredients – there also has been quite an evolution. The original Blemish Balms were packed with ingredients that were more for skin healing and soothing such as Panthenol, Shea Butter, Licorice Extract, Allantoin, Bisabolol, Geraniol, Citronellol which you can see on almost every list of the ‘old generation’ Korean BB Creams.
As BB Creams transformed from being a treatment product to a beauty skincare product by the Korean companies, their ingredient list had to change to. Korean companies had to adjust the BB Cream to be suited to their local needs – and there’s nothing as important as whitening in Asian skincare. Therefore you would see ingredients such as Arbutin, patented Whitening ingredients in the Asian BB Creams.
As Bb Creams evolved – so did their BB Creams. They needed to be the next high-tech skincare makeup products , and that means high tech anti aging ingredients. They also needed to be this 11-in-one product ( whitening, hydrating, anti aging, soothing, bla bla bla ) therefore more and more ingredients had to be added so that the companies are able to add more claims to the BB Creams. These days, you will definitely see lots of anti-aging or anti-wrinkle ingredients such as peptides, Chinese herbs, human growth factor (EGF) , stemcells , plant stem cells, hyaluronic acid, adenosine, gemstones, crystals, pearls, collagen, flower extracts, snail extracts, bee venom… and the list goes on and on and on. Generally the Korean BB Creams are packed with lots of these extracts : whether they add to the value-for-money or whether they increase the chances of your skin being sensitive to something – that is for you to decide.
We have also seen a trend of organic BB Creams just like in Skincare. BB Creams are known for containing potential irritants such as loads of silicones, fragrances, talc, parabens etc. There has definitely been a shift for a ‘green ingredient list’ where more and more Asian & Korean BB Creams are paraben free, alcohol free but because BB Creams are part make-up, the use of silicones is a must just like in all foundations. Silicones helps to eliminate the white turbidity in BB Creams, they also help make the coloured pigments spread evenly on the skin, makes the BB Cream long lasting and gives it a conditioning effect. Skincare wise, silicones protect the skin by forming an occlusive film that prevents water loss. Low viscocity silicones prevent emulsions from soaping, and forms a breatheable film on the skin that protects and conditions. Not only that, it helps to fill up the imperfections in skin ( big pores, ice pick acne scars) and creates a smooth surface. Therefore, asking a BB Cream to be siliconee free, is like asking a sunscreen to be zinc oxide and titanium dioxide free. Another trend is for BB Creams to use mineral pigments.
This is probably one of the most evident evolution in BB Creams. The older BB Creams and original BB Creams had very little UVB UVA protection ( less than SPF 10 ), but the Korean and Asian BB Creams that we get today are easily above SPF40. A year back, it was hard to find BB Creams that were above SPF 40, but today, most of the Korean BB Creams are labelled SPF50+ ( they are not allowed to label it above 50, therefore the 50+ ).
The Western BB Creams are now where we were 2 years back. Other than the Western BB Creams that are launched exclusively in Asia such as the Lancome, the western BB Creams are still only at around SPF25!
Another major problem of the ‘old generation’ of BB Cream is it’s oxidation. These BB Cream oxidizes just only a few hours and becomes 1-3 shades darker than their BB Creams ( which is why it was advised to get a BB Cream that is 1 shade lighter as it will oxidize ), but this has completely changed today. Long gone is this oxidation problem, and most of the newer BB Creams do not have this problem anymore.
Pseudo BB Creams
There are a few items that are very much like BB Creams, but are not exactly named as a BB. Recently, there have been a new hybrid of BB Creams called the Sun Base BB / Tinted Sunscreens. They are basically BB Creams which have very high SPF and usually acts to brighten your skin tone like a makeup base. Coverage can vary – some are sheer and slightly tinted just to act as a make-up base, while others can give you full coverage. They are usually marketed under a few names – Sun Base, Sun BB, or just known as tinted sunscreens. These products are extremely tricky because you’d never know that they are tinted. I first came across this product when i bought the Re:Nk Cell Luminous Sunblock and when i wanted to apply it, a tinted cream came out of the tube which seemed very much like a BB Cream. I then noticed this trend in a few other recent new products too!
Photo : Liz K Color Veil UV Protection, Re:Nk Cell Luminous Real White Sun Block, OHUI Smart Cover Sunblock
Photo : Su:m37 Sun Away Multi Effect Sun Block, CathyCat Chal Cream Cover Sunblock, Allvit Sun Base Cream
There is another item that deserves a special mention here. It is in no way a BB Cream because it is not tinted at all. It is the Chosungah Raw Dayshu Cream. This product is marketed as an all in one : makeup base, moisturizer, anti aging cream, sunblock, BB Cream ( Yes, the ‘BB Cream’ part is officially mentioned in the product description ). Although this ‘BB Cream’ isn’t tinted, once applied on the skin, it evens up the skin tone, cover flaws, brightens up your skin instantly, does a good job in brightening the dark eye circles too– it is actually rather amazing for something that isn’t even tinted at all ! This product is also so versatile : you can use it as a highlighter, you can use it as a BB Gadget / Enhancer ( Read below regarding this ) and mix it with your BB Creams to give you that glow.
BB Cream Gadgets
Now, the success of BB Creams has also created a new market – which i like to call them the BB Cream Gadgets / Enhancers. So what are these gadgets? They’re basically cosmetic products that are made to enhance the BB Creams to make it brighter, radiant, dewy, more hydrating – well choose a BB Gadget according to your need! Most of them are usually mixed with BB Creams in a 1 (gadget ) : 3 (BB) ratio, but you can adjust them to your needs.
Another gadget that i recommend to mix with your BB Creams are highlighters. Just mix any of your highlighters with your BB Creams to give you that extra radiant punch. BB Cream too dry ? Add a drop of facial oil to your BB Cream.
Like i mentioned above, the Chosungah Raw Dayshu Cream also can act as a BB Cream enhancer. Once mixed with your BB Cream ( recommended in a 1 ( BB ) : 3 (Dayshu) ratio, your BB Cream will be more radiant and glowy. There is another product from Chosungah Raw called the Chosungah Tone Up Tint BB Recipe that is used together with Dayshu to give the tinted aspect of it. This product is also explained above under the BB Makeup Base section.
So you mix the Dayshu Cream with a small amount of the Tone Up Tint BB Recipe and this is what you get :
Examples of BB Cream Gadgets :
Photo : Etude House Nymph Aura Volumer, Holika Holika Luminous Silk Starter BB, Tony Moly Luminous Goddess Aura Beam
Not only that, we have also the BB Mists which are actually just make-up mists.
Photo : BB Magic Mist, BRTC Fixing Mist,
Other than these enhancers and mist, BB Cream has also created a market for cleansers. As BB Cream nowadays adhere tightly to the skin, lasts long, and is waterproof- therefore they need cleansers which are stronger.
Photo : Holika Holika Soda Pore Cleansing BB Deep Cleansing Oil, Skin79 BB Cleanser, ElishaCoy BB Cleanser
The popularity of Korean based Chinese medicine skincare ( Sulwhasoo, Whoo ) in Korea is unbeatable. In 2011, 35 % of the Korean population uses Chinese medicinal skincare brands – and Chinese medicine skincare sales constituted a whopping 30% of the entire market ! In Vietnam, History Of Whoo holds 16% of the entire skincare market beating western brands such as Lancome and Estee Lauder. The only cosmetic market that is able to rival Oriental based skincare are BB Creams.
In Japan, the BB Cream market saw a boom and sales of BB Cream increases every year.
Last year, a survey indicated that 70% of Asian women have abandoned their foundations and are turning to BB Creams. That is the reason why we see the increase of Western companies coming out with their form of BB Creams. Now all the major Western cosmetic companies have their own BB Cream : L’Oreal, Dior, Chanel, Estee Lauder, Clinique, Origins, La Roche Posay, and the list goes on. Foundations are now also fighting back – by adding ingredients that benefit the skin and SPF – in order to compete with BB Creams.
Check out the list of Western BB Creams here. The only difference here is that the BB Creams are marketed as Beauty Balms instead of Blemish Balms in order to avoid confusion that these BB Creams are not for pimpled acne post-op skin, but creams that beautify your skin naturally.
Today, many Korean brands such as Dr Jart, Skin79, Missha have expanded overseas due to the success of BB Creams. Dr Jart is now carried by cosmetic-retail giant, Sephora and they have also recently changed their packaging and call their BB Creams Beauty Balms now.
The success of BB Creams worldwide is very much credited to the Koreans. With their smart marketing, smart technology, smart innovation & smart packaging – they have managed to transform a simple treatment product – into something that now every women not only in Asia, but worldwide wants in their makeup bags.
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