BB cream stands for blemish balm, blemish base, beblesh balm (apparently because of a trademark in Korea on the word “blemish”), and in Western markets, beauty balm. It is a cosmetic item sold mainly in East and Southeast Asia, although larger beauty brands are increasingly introducing BB creams to Western markets.
BB cream is promoted as an all-in-one facial cosmetic product to replace serum, moisturizer, primer, foundation and sunblock. It can be worn alone as a tinted moisturizer, over serum and moisturizer as a regular foundation, and under powder, depending on the desired amount of coverage.
What became BB cream was originally formulated in the 1960s in Germany by dermatologist Dr. Christine Schrammek to protect her patients’ skin after surgery. Introduced to South Korea and Japan in 1985 – where healthy-looking, porcelain skin is heavily prized – the cream was hailed as “the secret of Korean actresses,” and was heavily endorsed by Korean celebrities
BB creams come in a variety of different formulation. Because Korean companies focused initially on the Korean and East Asian markets, they are offered in a limited number of hues. Instead of offering multiple shades for different skin tones, most formulas are designed to oxidize to match the user’s skin tone. The skin-whitening properties of the cream, as sold in the Asian market, are an important element in its popularity.
The cream is promoted as a multi-tasker, an all-in-one treatment, but women mostly use it as an alternative to foundation, especially Western foundations that tend to be too heavy for their taste. The coverage is often mineral-based, and is intended to both cover and treat blemishes such as acne, sun spots and age spots. It also has anti-wrinkle, anti-inflammatory and soothing effects.
Western cosmetics companies began to launch BB creams in the Western market in 2012, though some of these creams have been criticized for lacking the skin-caring functions that BB creams normally have, and for being no more than tinted moisturizer. Early arrivals included Bosic, Clinique, Body shop, Revlon, Estee Lauder, Maybeline, Garnier, Dior, and many more more. Men also use these creams as concealers as it most natural.