It all started in Germany by Dr. Schrammek for her patients who underwent chemical peels and laser resurfacing to soothe the skin and minimize redness. It was called, “Blemish Balm,” now known as “BB Cream.” This little tube caught wind in Asia and from then on, various recreations caused the largest sensation in Asian cosmetic history, especially in Korea. My stewardess girlfriend at Korean Air introduced me to the original Blemish Balm more than a few years ago telling me that flight attendants have been using it as a makeup base to prolong their makeup across time zones.
The original formula felt very water-based as it needed a lot of warmth in the fingertips to spread evenly, and it rendered some getting use to, but after a few applications, I used it religiously as it paired so well with Bare Escentuals mineral makeup or by using it alone just with a setting powder. After a year or so of searching for it in German pharmacies and in specialized cosmetic stores around the world, I fell upon Korean BB Creams during my many travels to Seoul.
At that point in time, I was bombarded with a plethora of different BB Creams from high-end to low-end cosmetic companies marketing their new revelation in makeup. Most of these companies offered UV protection, something that was never introduced in the original Blemish Balm. But what really caused the cult following of BB Creams in Asia was that it was not a thick, pore-blocking foundation as it acted partially as a primer, sunscreen, and tinted moisturizer with the benefits of targeted skin problems such as acne for oily skin, rosacea, and even fine lines and wrinkles for more mature skin and dry skin. The sensation even crossed boundaries within genders as it became part of the skincare regimen with teenage males who were insecure about their hormonal and unpredictable skin.
My favorite BB Cream I encountered was from a fluke of circumstances from my mother’s cosmetic bag. HerHanyul BB Cream made by Amore Pacific (the most luxurious and sought after Asian cosmetic company to hit the counters of Sephora and Neiman Marcus) fit me nicely! The only reason my mother forked it over to me was because it did not match her skin tone. It is actually made for dry/mature skin but the coverage is impeccable alone and balanced my oil-proned/combination skin. I think this product reaped many more benefits than Chanel’s Mat Lumiere Makeup with SPF 15 which I truly believed in, but realized that it sucked the life out of my skin of its essential nutrients.
About less than a year ago, I was intrigued by Clinque’s BB Cream that was first introduced to the US. As a beauty addict gullible of packaging claims, of course I had to try it to see if it met the standards of what I have been using. It failed in many ways. It claims to be an anti-aging solution with its SPF 30 and that it is suitable for all skin types with its oil-free formula, but I could not contest its benefits as advertised. Yes, it might have SPF 30 content, but I could find that in many sunscreens and even moisturizers. The disappointing caveat was that it caked upon application no matter how light or how heavy my hand was. I thought with regular use, my skin would adapt to its claims. It didn’t. It did not fair well as a primer nor tinted moisturizer.
Recently with my travels and frequenting Duty Free shops, I discovered that Estee Lauder and Dior have come up with their own formulations of BB Creams. I wondered about how they would advertise in the US market in magazines and ad campaigns as most Americans have not been exposed to BB Creams, its origination, and let alone, its acronym. With my respect and experience towards these true-to-claim companies, I think they will come up on top in competition. I cannot wait to compare their differences.