BB cream, multi tasking skin saver

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In our quest to achieve flawless-looking skin, we’ve been stampeding through department stores and drugstores since cosmetics pioneer Max Factor launched the first Pan-Cake complexion-perfecting makeup in 1938. Since then, we’ve spackled our way through one-hue-fits-all greasepaint, worn the mandatory ultra-thick ’70s foundation and powdered our skin to a Kate Moss matte finish, circa 1990. Now, time-strapped and unwilling to deal with fussy brushes and sponges, we’re tapping into the latest skincare rage: minimalist-chic blemish (or beauty) balm (BB) and colour-corrector (CC) creams.

Applied with your fingertips, these lightweight BBs and CCs are easy to use and are giving traditional foundations some major competition. Here’s why: If you need a little help in the coverage department (and aren’t a fan of foundations), one of these high-tech formulas might be the answer. Both work to hydrate and to minimize the appearance of blemishes and discoloration for a more even complexion. But BB and CC creams also contain a potent cocktail of beneficial ingredients that can include an anti-aging serum; a broad spectrum sunscreen; a tone evener for redness, dark spots and blemishes; an anti-inflammatory; an antioxidant; and a makeup primer. In short, they promise to do the job of serum, primer, moisturizer and foundation — a big job for a small package.

The original BB cream was formulated in the 1960s by German dermatologist Dr. Christine Schrammek to help protect patients’ skin after surgery. It worked, and with surprising side benefits: lightening and brightening. These results caught on in the ’80s in Korea, and word spread to Japan, China and Southeast Asia. “Porcelain skin is extremely popular in most Asian countries,” says Toronto-based makeup artist Sheri Stroh, “so blemish balms were created to help lighten age spots, discoloration and acne scars—essentially treating the skin while providing coverage.” A few decades later, North American skincare giants took notice, sent their scientists into the
labs and started Mixmastering their own formulations.

After tweaking BBs’ original ingredients, Garnier introduced the first tube in North America in 2012, and the Canadian brand Marcelle swiftly launched its version a few weeks later. The balms were an instant hit, thanks to their sheer consistency, frequent inclusion of an SPF and a promise to rejuvenate the skin and treat the signs of premature aging. “Additionally, they help to balance the skin and provide oil and shine control,” says Ida Wong, the executive director of global product development and treatment for Clinique.

Soon, every beauty bigwig jumped on the BB bandwagon, brandishing its own hybrid. And as the skincare trend grew, so did an emerging interest for a similar lightweight product with enhanced coverage, anti-aging ingredients, SPF protection and multi-tonal benefits. The CC cream was born.

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