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BB Creams: Beauty Balms, Blemish Base or Just Brilliant Beauty?

Sam Dhatt
The ingredients in BB creams

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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.

Multitasking appeal

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.

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BB Cream Active Ingredients

Ingredients that can be integrated into just about any BB cream formulation vary from anti-aging, to skin-protecting and -perfecting agents, depending on the desired benefit. Following is a list of ingredients that have little to no irritation on the skin.


  • Acetyl hexapeptide (wrinkle-smoother)
  • Acetyl tetrapeptide-5 (reduces puffiness under eyes)
  • Beta carotene (vitamin A)
  • Copper amino acids (wrinkle-reducer)
  • Coenzyme Q10 (antioxidant)
  • Edelweiss stem cells (limits collagen degradation)
  • Emblica (botanical high in vitamin C)
  • Gardenia stem cells (collagen-booster)
  • Grape seed extract (antioxidant)
  • Green tea extract (antioxidant and anti-inflammatory)
  • Acetyl dipeptide-1 (reduces fine lines)
  • Lycium barbarum/goji berry fruit extract (immune-booster)
  • Acetyl hexapeptide-30 (wrinkle-relaxer)
  • Palmitoyl pentapeptide-4 (wrinkle-reducer)
  • Resveratrol (antioxidant and antibiotic from red wine)
  • Sea fennel stem cell (stimulates cell regeneration)
  • Sea holly stem cell (free-radical fighter)
  • Tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate vitamin C (antioxidant)
  • Vitamin E (antioxidant)


  • Algae extract
  • Argan oil
  • Sodium hyaluronate
  • Hydrolyzed wheat protein


  • Allantoin
  • Astragalus root extract
  • Boswellin
  • Comfrey
  • Cucumber extract
  • Emblica
  • Licorice extract
  • Phytosterols
  • Saccharomyces lysate extract


  • Bearberry extract/uva ursi
  • Oligopeptide-68
  • Dimethylmethoxy chromanyl palmitate
  • Kojic acid
  • Licorice extract
  • Melanostat
  • Verbascocide/lilac plant stem cell

Acne and oil control

  • Arnica
  • Laminaria saccharina extract (seaweed)
  • Tea tree oil


  • Octyl salicylate
  • Octocrylene
  • Oxybenzone
  • Titanium dioxide
  • Zinc

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