BB creams have been around for a while now, and they're still a popular makeup choice because of the lightweight coverage and bonus skincare benefits. I prefer a BB cream or tinted moisturizer over full-on foundation for everyday wear, and I've been wearing my favorite BB cream for 10 years.
BB creams (aka beauty balms) provide coverage and have good-for-the-skin ingredients that can take care of the skin, protect against the sun, and brighten. "A beauty balm should feel light upon touch and spread with a feeling of a balm," explains makeup artist Mia Jones, whose clients include Amal Clooney, Rosario Dawson, and Mariah Carey. "Applied to the high points of the face where the sun touches, it provides a luminous glow and sun protection."
When it comes to shade-matching BB creams, it can be a little bit easier than with foundations. "There's a smaller area for error because one shade in a BB cream matches a large array of skin tones because it sheers out," says Vincent Oquendo, whose clients include Janelle Monáe and Lily Collins. "Most BB creams that are out there will adapt to your skin."
And while the process is a bit simpler, it still helps to keep a few things in mind when choosing a shade, especially with darker, deeper skin tones, as you don't want the product to appear gray or ashy.
For darker skin tones, Oquendo recommends getting two to test and perhaps mix together or use on different parts of the face. "Get one that you think is on the money for your skin tone and one that's warmer," he says. "You can use two colors because there are highs and lows to your skin—that's what makes your skin so gorgeous. It's not all one color. There's the depth and dimension to your skin. So you could easily use the warmer color around your forehead, jawline, and even your cheekbones to make them pop. It's a really subtle way of contouring. A lot of people might find contouring intimidating, but this is a really great way to sort of toe touch into it if it's of interest of you."
Jones says you can also match between the lightest tone of your face and your actual skin tone.
Don't be afraid to play around with products to create something that works for your specific skin tone. For instance, if you get more sun and your skin tone is a bit darker than normal, you don't have to get a completely new foundation to exactly match your coverage. Oquendo recommends mixing your BB cream (if it's sheer enough and on the warmer side) with your existing concealer (which is normally lighter) to even out the tone.
And Jones creates a beauty balm effect by mixing two products together: "Kypris's Pot of Shade ($75), which is a primer and sunscreen, and Chanel's Baume Multi-Use Glow Stick ($45) are incredible. I suggest Golden Light for darker skin tones. I am such a fan of the concept of a beauty balm."
Best BB Creams for Darker Skin Tones
If you're shopping around for options, here are the BB creams makeup artists and editors recommend.
This drugstore pick is hydrating and contains titanium dioxide sunscreen for UV protection. "It's pretty amazing because it doesn't go ashy, and that is the biggest thing to keep in mind. It doesn't matter if it's an opaque ashy or a sheer ashy," Oquendo says.
Clinique makes my favorite BB cream products. This one is specially formulated for oily and acne-prone skin and has a pretty good shade range. It contains light-diffusing particles to brighten skin and leaves a matte finish.
Here's another BB cream formulated for oily skin. It's lightweight and water based and won't clog your pores. The matte finish leaves you with natural-looking skin.
Jane Iredale's BB cream has a wide range of shades. The water resistant product is just packed with nourishing ingredients. Grapefruit extract helps minimize the appearance of pores and wrinkles, fades uneven skin tone, and provides a glowy look. Apple extract exfoliates, sunflower seed moisturizes, and aloe leaf juice calms the skin.
This BB cream is especially made for people with darker skin tones and comes in six different shades. The oil-free product does it all: conceals, primes, smoothes, and controls shine.
While this is technically a CC cream, this product provides full coverage and SPF 50 protection. Oquendo says it's one of his picks. It's also formulated with collagen, peptides, and hyaluronic acid to keep the skin healthy.
Trish McEvoy's BB cream provides medium to full coverage while working to prime, brighten, even, hydrate, and protect skin. It leaves a matte finish.
While this is classified as a tinted moisturizer, Oquendo describes this one as "pretty bomb" and says it has a little more coverage than regular BB creams if you are looking for that. It keeps your skin moisturized for up to 24 hours thanks to macadamia- and kukui-seed oils and tamarind-seed extract.
This is another BB cream–adjacent pick from Oquendo. The foundation is super lightweight, so you still get that comfortable, wearable feeling you love from a BB cream. The liquid formula minimizes pores and wrinkles, illuminates, and keeps your skin hydrated for up to 18 hours.
If you're looking for a clean-beauty option, Lily Lolo's works perfectly. All skin types can use this formula, even those with sensitive and acne-prone skin. It's made with good-for-the-skin ingredients like glycerin and jojoba and sweet almond oils to nourish the skin. Mineral pigments in the formula help to improve skin tone and erase any dark spots or blemishes.
This tinted moisturizer has all the benefits of a BB cream, like hydration and sunscreen protection. It's got ingredients such as olive-derived squalane, mineral electrolytes, and hyaluronic acid.
Yes, this is another product that's not exactly classified as a BB cream, but it has the same lightweight and moisturizing feel that you'd expect. The formula has a water-gel consistency, so it goes on so smoothly. It's infused with hyaluronic acid to keep your skin hydrated for 24 hours.