They brighten skin like a lightener, even tone like a lightweight foundation, treat blemishes like a spot treatment, hydrate like a moisturizer and protect against UV like a sunscreen. BB creams—short for blemish base, beblesh balm (in Korea) or now known most commonly as beauty balm—are the hottest rage to hit beauty in years. Generating approximately $9 million in U.S. department stores and Sephora for the past year, according to the Wall Street Journal, this trend has been building momentum in the United States and shows no signs of letting up any time soon.
The concept originated in Germany in the 1960s when dermatologist Christine Schrammek, founder of Dr. med Christine Schrammek Kosmetik GmbH, sought a post-procedure product that would protect and soothe her patients’ skin following laser procedures, peels and surgery. In the 1980s, the idea spread to Japan and South Korea, where young television soap stars revealed the secret to their coveted camera-ready porcelain white complexions, making BB creams first a national—and now a global—commodity.
Coined by one U.K. journalist as the “Swiss army knife of the beauty industry,” BB creams continue to be popular due to their all-in-one, multitasking appeal. BB creams are available in any number of combinations, from 3-in-1 moisturizer, sunscreen and foundation to 10-in-1 creams with anti-aging and skin-perfecting agents included.