I'll admit that I've avoided the bb cream craze for months. It just sort of seemed like an eye-roll. "Magic" cream? This has to be marketing, right? And I clearly do not need another product or step in my lazy beauty routine. But then I complimented two different people on their makeup and they both all but whispered, "bb cream!" So then I knew I had to try it.
So many brands have come out with a bb cream product in the last six months, I did some research into which ones were best. By "research" I mean I did ten minutes of googling. Surprisingly, the one that kept coming up with good reviews was available at the drugstore: L'Oreal Magic Skin Beautifier.
BB Cream stands for "blemish balm" or "beauty balm" and comes from Asia. Now, all the formulas are different, but most of the time it's touted as an all-in-one cream that functions as moisturizer, primer, serum, and foundation in one. Basically it's a cream with vitamins in it, so it's supposed to be good for your skin but also makes for light coverage. Many brands claim that it's the key to a flawless face.
I bought the L'Oreal BB cream and wasn't sure what to do when it came out of the tube white and grainy. But it goes on smooth and when it warms it blends right in to the skin. I had to admit that it had an airbrushed feel to it. But then I was curious how it held up against my beloved NARS tinted moisturizer. NARS tinted moisturizer is what I choose to wear often for daytime. It's light, with a great consistency, so I don't feel too made up, but I don't feel bare-faced, either.
Since they're serving pretty much the same function for me, I decided to pit them against one another.
This is me bare-faced in the morning. Can you believe I'm posting this on the internet? Yeah, neither can I. The only alteration I did to this picture was bump up the exposure a little bit. Otherwise...this is me.
I applied L'Oreal BB Cream in Light to one side, and NARS tinted moisturizer in Finland to the other side. Right away I could see that the BB cream was orange-y-er. The tinted moisturizer blended in a lot more naturally. Whether this is from the bigger color selection with the tinted moisturizer (versus light, medium or dark of the bb cream), I'm not sure.
Both sides felt light and blended easily. I did notice a slight smell to the bb cream that I hadn't noticed before.
I went ahead and applied the rest of my normal face makeup, including concealer, powder blush, eye shadow cream, mascara, and NARS matte velvet lipstick. (You can see most of my favorite beauty products here.)
I can still see that the bb cream side is darker, but I wonder if the warm tones are more flattering than my normal pasty white color.
Four hours later, I checked in. I had worked at my computer, done preschool pickup, and had lunch. The lipstick hadn't survived my meal, but both sides of my face still looked pretty decent. Both had caked just slightly around the eye area, but I have dry skin and I'm not sure any formula of anything wouldn't do that.
Seven hours later, I had re-applied my lipstick but hadn't touched anything else. Both the bb cream and the tinted moisturizer had held up really well. By this point, the color difference seemed less noticable to me, but my skin tone was still even on both sides.
The verdict: A Tie.
I know that's not a super exciting answer. But as I thought when I had been wearing them separately, they do pretty much the same thing. Do the vitamins in the bb cream make any difference? Not that I could see. Maybe over time they would. The finishes were really pretty similar, which may just be these two particular brands and would (as far as I could tell) be true for every matchup between bb creams and tinted moisturizes. (The Laura Mercier tinted moisturizer, for example, isn't as matte as the NARS.)
If you wanted a more "made up" look, both the brands I used would work well as a bottom layer under the foundation of your choice. But for me, for my daily routine, they both work. My personal preference is going to end up being the NARS because I think the color is better on me. But the price point is pretty different, so that could be a determining factor, too.
What do you think? Have you tried BB creams yet?