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Best BB cream: For a sheer and natural coverage that looks like your skin

Jade Vincent Philippa Pearne
9 Sep 2019
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Use a BB cream and combine a moisturiser, sun cream and foundation into one

The days of heavy, cakey, mask-like makeup are gone. Nowadays, women want a natural look – and you can get it with a BB cream, which can stand for either “beauty balm” or “blemish balm”. Simply put, it’s a tinted base that gives a sheer to medium coverage with UV protection, dialled-up hydration and (most importantly) skin-healing and soothing benefits. You get all the elements of a serum, moisturiser, primer, foundation and sun cream in one product, without the need for lots of different steps in your morning regime. In short, a BB cream allows you to have it all.

The only problem is that with so many brands now offering their own BB creams, it’s hard to know which ones are the most effective, long-lasting or beneficial. Read on to find out which ones top our best list for your most beautiful skin yet.

How to buy the best BB cream for you

What is BB cream?

If you like a sheer finish, and like to avoid using foundation brushes and detailed application techniques, a BB cream is the perfect solution: it’s designed to just apply and go, while keeping you hydrated and protected. For those who prefer a thicker finish and take pleasure in a prolonged application process, a foundation would be the better option.

That said, even if you prefer foundation, BB cream can be a great alternative during the summer when you generally need less coverage thanks to a naturally deeper skin tone from the warm weather.

What’s the difference between a BB cream, a CC cream and a tinted moisturiser?

A BB cream contains optical diffusers which help to blur the skin, cover up blemishes and add a touch of radiance. It’s basically a diluted foundation with added skin benefits. A CC (“colour-correcting”) cream has the same skincare properties as a BB cream but more pigment, so it’s usually heavier in texture and leaves a more matte finish. A tinted moisturiser is the lightest option of the three, focusing mainly on replacing your day cream, with a bonus hint of pigment.

How much should I spend?

A BB cream can replace multiple day products, so it’s all right to splash out a little – you’ll still be saving money overall. There’s no need to spend more than £40, though; most high-street products are working hard to match the benefits and finishes of luxury branded makeup, so it’s not hard to find a great BB cream for £20 or under.

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The best BB creams you can buy

1. Bobbi Brown BB Crème SPF 30: Best BB cream for dry skin

Price: £35 | Buy now from John Lewis & Partners


This cream feels super lightweight and luxurious on application, yet still manages to inject some serious moisture into the skin. That's all thanks to its nourishing emollient-rich formula which boosts hydration in the skin; we found it also helped to blur fine lines. The tint is beautifully sheer and leaves a healthy sheen, covering all the right bits whilst still allowing your natural skin to shine through and not look too 'overdone'. Bobbi Brown's stick foundation is an established icon in the makeup world; if you like that but want to try something lighter and fresher, you’ll love this. There are nine shades to choose from, ranging from Extra Light to Rich Dark, and a high SPF 50 which makes this beauty balm a great carry-on companion for trips abroad.

Buy now from John Lewis & Partners


2. NYX Professionals Bare With Me Tinted Skin Veil BB Cream: Best budget BB cream

Price: £10 | Buy now from Boots


This lightweight, matte formula is an impressive little multitasker. There’s no denying that the NYX Bare With Me BB cream smoothes, mattifies, brightens and conceals blemishes as soon as it goes on – and it doesn’t feel heavy or cakey on application either. On top of that, it claims to hydrate the skin for up to eight hours thanks to its soothing formula enriched with aloe vera and cucumber extract. After application, the breathable BB cream creates a comfortable and long-lasting base for your bronzer or blusher and it also helps to minimise the appearance of pores. Overall, the NYX Professionals BB cream does an incredible job for a tenner. There are twelve wearable shades to choose from, which is surprising for a drugstore skin tint and it can be applied with your fingers or a brush.

Buy now from Boots


3. La Roche Posay Hydreane BB Cream SPF 20: Best BB cream for oily and acne-prone skin

Price: £16 | Buy now from Feel Unique


It’s always reassuring to see a skincare brand on a cosmetic product; it lets you know that your complexion is in the hands of specialists. This respected French manufacturer prides itself on providing skin-friendly products that don’t cost the earth, and its BB cream is paraben-free, 100% hypoallergenic and non-comedogenic, which means that even sensitive skins can use it without the usual concern of flare-ups. It’s available in two shades, but the tint is very light, so it’s not ideal if you’re looking for something heavier than a sheer finish. It is buildable, though, and its gentle formula means you need not worry about applying too much moisture if you do add more layers.

4. Erborian BB Crème Au Ginseng SPF 20: Best BB cream for combination skin

Price: £36 | Buy now from Space NK


Combination skin requires more attention than most since it needs a face base that can hydrate dry areas without making the T-zone look greasy; thankfully, Erborian's BB Crème Au Ginseng is up to the task. Combining the hydrating properties of a moisturiser with a skin-smoothing BB cream, the tint's ginseng-enriched formula does a great job at evening out the skin tone and concealing blemishes while hydrating dry areas; it won't cling to flaky patches and it feels surprisingly weightless on the skin, just like a moisturising cream. Overall, the Erborian BB Crème Au Ginseng is the first in our list to give a luminous-matte finish that looks just like skin. 

Buy now from Space NK


5. Yves Saint Laurent All-in-One BB Crème Skintone Perfector SPF 25: Best luxury BB cream

Price: £41 | Buy now from Boots


While most BB creams leave a light coverage, this one has a slightly denser texture, ideal for those who want to go that little bit further with blurring out blemishes and getting an even finish. Don’t worry, though – it’s not heavy or cakey. It’s best applied with your fingers, as a brush tends to soak up too much of the product before it has even made contact with your skin, but it feels super smooth and silky as you massage it into the contours of your face, and leaves a really fresh, dewy sheen. Most importantly, it doesn’t sit and fester all day; it sinks in beautifully and creates a perfect natural finish. Our only gripe is that it comes in just two shades – we’d love to have more options.

Buy now from Boots


6. Shiseido WetForce Sports BB Cream SPF 50: Best BB cream with high sun protection

Price: £32 | Buy now from Space NK


Experts generally advise against wearing makeup during exercise, as sweat can block your pores and cause potential breakouts. However, this clever BB cream has been made with Shiseido’s water-resistant “WetForce” formula, which fends off perspiration and other forms of moisture – so if you want to maintain an even, blemish-free finish in the gym, it’s perfect. The tint quality isn’t compromised either, and it goes on easily without feeling stiff or uncomfortable. What’s more, it provides super-high protection from UV rays, making it a great choice for those playing outdoor sports or just wanting to look great while basking in the sunshine. Don’t be put off if you haven’t heard of this brand before; some of the lesser known names are the most hardworking.

Buy now from Space NK


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