Testing out BB cream from a plastic dropper

When it comes to giving your face a bit of extra coverage, there are so many different options out there.

From BB creams to CC creams to DD creams, what actually is the difference between each one, and what will they do for your skin?

What is a BB Cream?

The BB in BB cream actually stands for beauty balm, or blemish balm, and are the perfect crossover between skin care and makeup.


Well, to begin with, they provide just a light amount of coverage, but more than what a tinted moisturizer would give you.

They also usually contain light-reflecting, skin-illuminating ingredients, giving you a brighter and more vibrant complexion.

However, they are also usually packed with several other ingredients to benefit your skin, such as SPF protection, hydrating ingredients and antioxidants. In fact, SPF protection is pretty much a must when it comes to BB creams, so don’t bother purchasing one unless it contains this.

Can’t decide whether a BB cream is right for you?

Well, if you are looking for something that will protect your skin from the sun, while also giving your skin a slight tint to even out your complexion, then a BB cream will be beneficial.

Since BB creams are usually oil-based, they are also better suited to dry and sensitive skin types.

What is a CC Cream?

CC cream stands for color correcting, or complexion correcting, cream, and will usually feature quite advanced formulas.

Even though they provide more coverage and color than a BB cream, they are actually lighter in texture, meaning that they are quickly absorbed by your skin. Their texture is also slightly fluffier, almost as though they have been whipped.

While BB creams were designed to act like a lightweight foundation with added skin care benefits, CC creams were created to target specific skin issues, such as redness, dark spots and sallowness.

Just like BB creams, CC creams also contain SPF and antioxidants, making them great for your skin too.

Why you should you go for a CC cream instead of a BB cream?

If you have oily, acne-prone skin. BB creams are oil-based, meaning that they can often trigger breakouts. On the other hand, CC creams are water-based, making them perfectly suited to oily skin types.

If you are dealing with redness, dark spots or dullness, then a CC cream will also work well for you, as they are designed to target issues such as these.

What is a DD Cream?

While BB creams and CC creams have been around for quite a few years now, DD creams are a slightly newer addition to the skin care market.

The DD in DD cream stands for dynamic do-all, or double duty, because a DD cream essentially combines various benefits from both BB creams and CC creams.

They are also heavily focused on anti-aging, and you will rarely find a DD cream without a high SPF.

What about their coverage?

It is light in texture and easily blends, making it quite similar to that of a CC cream.

You are probably thinking…

If a DD cream will give me the benefits of both a BB cream and a CC cream, then wouldn’t this one be the obvious choice?

Well, this is a tricky one…

For starters, there are not actually that many DD creams on the market yet, with only a few brands offering up this product.

Another problem is the fact that different DD creams will combine a different range of benefits from BB and CC creams, so the way in which they work will differ hugely from brand to brand.

However, there are also DD creams available for the body, which could make this quite a convenient product.

How to Use BB, CC and DD Creams

Since these creams can often be used instead of a foundation, it is common for people to think that BB, CC and DD creams require a brush in order to be applied.

However, the best way to apply these creams is with your fingertips. Simply squeeze a small amount of cream onto your fingertips and gently massage and tap this into your skin. These creams are easy to blend, and are so lightweight, meaning that it will not take long for your skin to absorb them and give you that natural-looking finish.

Of course, if you are still not happy with the texture of the cream on your face, you can still use a brush to gently buff your skin after applying the cream.

These creams are designed to be buildable, meaning that you only need to use a small amount to start. Then, if you feel as though you could do with some extra coverage, touch your skin up to build up the product.

One more thing to remember…

BB, CC and DD creams are designed to be used on clean skin.

Tempted to skip the cleansing and apply the cream directly on to your face?

It will still work, but its effect will definitely not be as good as it could have been. It will be much harder for you to obtain a smooth texture and even skin tone, and it will take much longer for the cream to be absorbed by your skin. In fact, parts of your skin may not absorb much of the cream at all, due to clogged pores and skin cell build-ups, so you will likely find the cream much harder to properly blend.

Testing Out BB, CC and DD Creams

Before purchasing a new makeup or skin care product, especially one that is designed to provide your skin with some color, it is always best to test the product first, and this applies to BB, CC and DD creams too.

Testing out different creams on the back of hand

When it comes to these creams, not only is a patch test important so that you can make sure that your skin does not react in any way to any of the ingredients within the cream, but you also need to be able to match the cream’s color with the color of your skin.

What’s the best way to do this?

Well, while a quick patch test on the inside of your arm is fine for testing for sensitivities, the color of your arm will not necessarily match the color of your face, or even the color of your neck. To really be able to test the product, try to obtain a small sample size of it. Many stores now sell sample packs that contain a number of different products, making it easy for you to properly test out a variety of BB, CC and DD creams.

Once at home, apply a small amount of the cream to your skin and then check out how it looks in a few different types of lighting:

  • Natural light outside
  • Bright lights from the bathroom
  • Dimmed lights

What are you actually looking for?

You want your cream to give you a light amount of coverage while still looking completely natural. If the color does not sit quite right on your skin, or you are not keen on the texture of the product, move on to the next, because in order for these creams to really be effective, you need to be using the right one for your skin.

Using BB, CC and DD Creams as a Primer

For some, the beauty of a BB, CC or DD cream is that it can be used as a replacement for their foundation, meaning that they do not need to bother with much makeup.

However, for others, the highlight of these creams is that they can be used as an alternative to a primer.

In fact, many would say that these creams are actually better than primers, because not only do they provide skin-nourishing benefits, as well as a base onto which your makeup can grip, but they also give your skin a tint of extra color. This makes them a great base for your foundation if you are looking to really build up some color.

Wondering if you can use a primer alongside a BB, CC or DD cream?

You can, but this would be completely unnecessary. The creams are multi-functional products, and pretty much do everything that a primer does, plus a little extra. Applying a primer as well would not make any difference to your skin.

The Importance of a Moisturizer

While many BB, CC and DD creams provide moisture and hydration to the skin, these creams should never replace your moisturizer.


Because while they may contain moisturizing ingredients, they do not contain enough of these.

A moisturizer is also thicker, meaning that it can form a protective layer over the surface of your skin. This not only helps with retaining moisture by preventing evaporation, but also protects the skin from the environment. BB, CC or DD creams may be slightly moisturizing, but they will not provide you with the same vital protection that a moisturizer will.

Don’t believe this?

Take a look at the ingredient labels on your favorite BB, CC and DD creams, and compare these to the ingredients contained in your moisturizer. You will likely find many similarities, whether this may be hyaluronic acid, ceramides, chamomile or collagen, but you will also likely notice them far higher up in the list in your moisturizer, because it contains them in much higher concentrations.

Wondering which to apply first – a moisturizer or a BB, CC or DD cream?

The answer is your moisturizer. The BB, CC and DD creams should replace the primer step in your skin care routine, and you should always fully prepare your skin before priming. This means cleansing, exfoliating, applying serums and moisturizing. After this, your skin will be ready to reap all of the benefits that your BB, CC or DD cream will bring.

SPF Protection

The majority of BB, CC and DD creams out there will be formulated with SPF, and this is one of the reasons as to why these creams are so appealing.

However, in order to achieve the SPF figure stated on the label, you need to apply quite a generous amount of the cream onto your skin. Since many people are only seeking a light amount of coverage from these creams, they do not usually apply enough to provide their skin with the SPF promised on the packaging.

For this reason, unless you are applying a liberal amount of BB, CC or DD cream to your skin, and it has an SPF of at least 30, make sure that you always wear sunscreen in addition to your BB, CC or DD cream.

Don’t like the white cast left behind on your skin when you apply a sunscreen?

This all comes down to the type of sunscreen you choose…

There are two main sunscreen types out there; physical and chemical. Physical sunscreens contain minerals that deflect and scatter the sun’s UV rays away, while chemical sunscreens absorb UV rays and convert them into heat, before emitting them from the body.

Illustration of UV rays deflected by chemical and physical sunscreen

Due to the way in which they are formulated, physical sunscreens are known for being thicker, and leaving behind that tell-tale white cast.

Check the ingredients on your sunscreen. If it has been formulated with zinc oxide or titanium dioxide, then chances are that it is a physical sunscreen, and you may be better off with a chemical sunscreen.

Of course, this is not to say that physical sunscreens are bad, because each type has its pros and cons, depending on how you use them.

When you think about the many different things that they can do, it is no surprise that BB, CC, and now even DD, creams have been gaining in popularity.

Not only do they provide everything from hydration to anti-aging benefits to protection from the sun, but they also give the skin a light amount of coverage, meaning that you can often do away with using a foundation altogether.

These are such multi-functional and versatile skin care products, making them a must-have in your skin care and makeup arsenal.