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Why BB Creams Are Better Than Ever

If you shimmy back through the Birchbox archives, you’ll find a circa-2012 story about the BB Creams craze. (Or more specifically: What exactly are BB Creams?) Two years later, our enthusiasm for Korean multitaskers hasn’t waned, and the category has invaded beauty counters around the globe—not to mention taken on new letters of the alphabet. With their ability to mask flaws, control oil, and protect against solar rays, BB creams effectively hooked us on the convenience of one-step skincare. And they’re not done innovating—not by a long shot. Here’s how the latest crop of formulas stacks up.

Dr. Jart+ Water Fuse Beauty Balm SPF 25+

No discussion of BB creams can begin without a hat-tip to Dr. Jart+, the Korean cult brand that started it all. Since sparking the craze a few years ago, the line has added new and improved versions, like their Water Fuse Beauty Balm. Made with a hydrating blend of glacier water, hyaluronic acid, and aloe vera, the creamy formula leaves skin dewy, never dry—so you don’t get the caking or creasing that can come with other formulas.

Smashbox Cosmetics Camera Ready BB Cream SPF 35

While BB Creams are time-saving all-in-ones, we don’t expect them to do the heavy lifting of our usual primers. Or do we? Smashbox Cosmetics is changing the face (literally) of BB Creams with a formula that gives you a camera-ready finish. With buildable coverage, their version keeps oil levels in check while minimizing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles and protecting your skin from the sun.

Marcelle BB Cream Golden Glow

This Chicago-born brand has a rep for concocting high-performance makeup from hypoallergenic ingredients—no small feat. Exclusive to Birchbox, their original BB cream is a customer favorite for its silky, blendable texture and compatibility with even the most sensitive skin. Taking things a big step further, their BB Cream Golden Glow hypoallergenic formula not only evens skin, but adds the kind of radiant finish we usually expect from highlighters, thanks to light-reflecting pigments.

dr. brandt® BB matte with signature SHINERASE™

Where once we relied on a mix of toner, blotting papers, and midday foundation touchups to control oil, now we have a one-step solution: this derm-developed BB cream from Dr. Brandt. It uses an oil-free formula to control sebum levels, so you don’t turn into Little Miss Shinyface when the clock strikes 4 pm. Throw in the SPF 30 protection, and there’s no reason why those with oily skin can’t capitalize on the BB cream craze too.

Benefit Big Easy

Behold, the heir to the BB cream throne. Lightweight and oil-free, this liquid-to-powder formula blends in seamlessly and dries to a matte finish that looks practically airbrushed. Complexion perfector, new best friend, or liquid magic—call it what you will, this cream checks all our boxes, including a broad spectrum SPF 35.

Miracle Skin Transformer Face Spotlight SPF 20

Here’s another product that isn’t labeled a “BB cream,” mostly because it goes above and beyond. Not only does it provide SPF 20 protection, but it’s packed with vitamins and antioxidants that fight the good fight against aging. Light-diffusing minerals soften the look of fine lines, lending skin a subtle shimmer.

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