Back in the day (well, back in 2012) when I was working inside Allure’s fashion closet, I discovered an interesting, creamy skin product while rummaging around the free table: BB cream, or crème, if ya fancy.
I had no idea what it was or what it meant. BB cream, you say? What on earth do these Bs mean, because I know they’re not referring to breast size. Without any answers like Sway, I snagged what looked like regular tinted moisturizer with plans to figure the rest out later.
After work that day, I met with friends for drinks. We'd all left our Midwestern and Southern homes to work in New York City, so we were seeing each other regularly to keep each other sane. Regarding the treasure I brought with me, I asked my friend, who is a genius when it comes to beauty, if she'd heard of or used BB cream.
“They don’t make that for black people,” she responded. “Or at least not in my shade.” The shade was real (pun intended)! And since she is a few shades darker than I am, and I had just discovered a product I knew nothing about, I was appalled to hear such news. Especially in the year 2012, which was when BB creams officially starting booming in the US. Crazy, I know.
Once I got home, I decided to do a little research on my new product and learned that the Bs stood for “beauty balm,” or blemish balm. Something I could dig since I’ve been dealing with acne since the age of 13. I was sold on the thought of having something to hide any blemish and the scar it left behind.
But further research showed that my friend was kinda right: There were very few brands making BB cream at the time -- and even fewer making it in shades for women of color. The one I happened to grab was Maybelline’s Dream Fresh in Medium/Deep, and discovered that it was the second-to-last shade! Meaning there was only one shade darker than that, and we can all see that there are many women who are browner that I am. Such blasphemy!
Well, two years later, brands got the memo, and decided to start creating BB--and CC creams, the BB’s slightly more opaque cousin--for women of many colors. Let’s be clear: All these brands do not make options for EVERY shade of brown, but each brand has options for a specific shade of brown.
Get it, got it? Go!
Maybelline Dream Fresh was the first and only BB cream I’d used, and for the low price of $8, it was well worth it. It hydrated my skin and gave me a healthy glow. Since I have a few acne scars that are deeper than the ocean, it did not necessarily cover my blemishes, but now they’re delivering a new version cream (out in June), Dream Pure, that has 2% salicylic acid to help treat acne and hopefully solve all my woes.
Number of shades/darkest shade: 5/Deep
Garnier Skin Renew is described as a "miracle skin protector" and includes SPF 20. As many of you BB cream users are aware, BB cream is moisturizing. (I mean, duh, it is a tinted moisturizer.) But if you’ve stayed away from trying a BB for that reason alone, you’ll be pleased to know that this one is also good for those with combination to oily skin.
Number of shades/darkest shade: 2/Medium-Dark
Another great thing about BB cream is that it does a lot of things at once: moisturizes that skin, hides those blemishes, and even helps prevent premature signs of aging with UVA/UVB protection. And that’s what this Clinique Age Defense BB Cream is known for.
Number of shades/darkest shade: 4/4 (It's a dark brown.)
Not only does Bobbi Brown BB Cream have an SPF of 35, it helps brighten dull skin and eliminates the look of wrinkles. But it also comes in nine shades. Yes nine, with three targeting women of color.Number of shades/darkest shade: 9/Rich
When it comes to CC cream, things are slightly different, as you are no longer trying to hide those blemishes, but correct their scars. Olay Total Effects Tone Correcting CC Cream evens skin tone, smooths the texture of the skin and helps get rid of age spots.
Number of shades/darkest shade: 3/Medium-to-Deep
Arbonne Intelligence CC Cream promises 10 benefits in one! Test it out and use it as a primer, blemish coverer, complexion controller and protector to name a few.
Number of shades/darkest shade: 4/Dark
Black Up Multi-Action CC Cream is paraben-, oil- and fragrance-free, AND is made especially for women of color. Whoop, whoop. It helps even skin tone, minimize the appearance of pores, and has a lightweight finish. The only downside, which is actually not so bad, is that it does not have any SPF (some SPFs leave a white finish on black skin). So load up on that sunscreen, or all your hard work of treating those blemish scars will go out the window!
Number of shades/darkest shade: 5/5 (Again, think of a dark, deep brown.)
I’m currently using Smashbox Camera Ready CC Cream.
It's SPF 30 and promises to do some serious dark-spot correcting. I’ve only been using it for two weeks, so I haven’t really noticed much change in my dark spots, but we’ll see what happens once my tube runs out. I decided to try this because one of my good friends convinced me that it’s the best product ever created, so I have high hopes for this thing! I'll report back.
Number of shades/darkest shade: 8/Dark
So! What are your go-to BBs and/or CCs? Do you find that there's a shade for you out there?