BB cream vs foundation

BB cream…CC cream… the foundation…oh my! When it comes to perfecting your complexion, choosing between BB cream and foundation can be confusing: you know they’re both designed to make your skin look better, but that’s when the plot thickens. Finding the right makeup coverage for your face is a deeply personal quest, with options ranging from dry skin to combination to oily and numerous opportunities for darker complexions. To help you choose, we spoke to makeup artists about understanding the differences between BB cream–which can be used as a primer, a moisturizer, instead of foundation, or in addition to it–once and for all.

So what’s the difference between BB cream and foundation, anyway?

For “beauty balm,” BB creams are lighter than foundation and designed for max coverage. “BB cream offers sheer coverage. The foundation is better if you’re trying to cover blemishes or imperfections,” celebrity makeup artist Scott Patric of Project Runway and Say Yes to the Dress explains. If you have highly discolored skin that needs a lot of help or prefer a more airbrushed look, the foundation might be a better choice.

Okay, but what about CC cream? How does that differ?

You’re not alone if you need clarification about the difference between BB and CC cream. “CC cream is BB cream’s a more mature friend,” explains Patric. “It has more coverage and is a great color corrector for more sallow skin.” Often, CC creams will also include sunscreen.

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Can BB cream replace the foundation, or do you need both?

If you prefer BB cream to the foundation–or vice versa–it’s OK to stick with your favorite choice. However, since different products provide varying levels of coverage–generally, the foundation will cover better, especially for fancy events or photos where you want to look flawless–it’s good to have options. “Ideally, you should have BB cream and foundation in your beauty box,” Patric says.

Is BB cream a primer or foundation?

Consider BB cream as an all-in-one multitasker, whereas foundation is designed to even skin tone and provide coverage. “BB cream is coverage, care, and protection rolled into one,” says Patric. Think of it as a tinted moisturizer on steroids.

But is BB cream terrible for your skin?

BB cream is not sour for your skin, but it usually provides significant skincare benefits: think of anti-aging ingredients like antioxidants, anti-redness ingredients, or blemish busters. Patric agrees: “Along with its coverage, it has more skincare in its formula than foundation. Foundations are catching up but are not loaded with the same helpful minerals in BB cream.”

Can you still wear foundation if you have oily or acne-prone skin?

Absolutely–there’s a foundation for everybody! (Bonus: foundation comes in many shades than BB cream, providing ample options.) Patric recommends foundations designed with your oilier skin type in mind. “Choose a formulation designed specifically for oily or acne-prone skin, and it will keep coverage in place.”

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