BB CC ABC WHAT?! Drugstore BB creams: a review

For this comparison of BB and CC creams I’m sticking with what is available at local drugstore or large retailer like Walmart or Target and/or Ulta locations. There are tons of amazing BB creams online and reviews of THOSE will come at a later date, but for now, we’ll stick with widely available US brands.

A selection of the creams I tested, from right to left: Rimmel, Aveeno, Maybelline, Cover Girl, Physicians Formula, and Hard Candy

A selection of the creams I tested, from right to left: Rimmel, Aveeno, Maybelline, Cover Girl, Physicians Formula, and Hard Candy. Not puctured; Revlon, Supergoop, Toofaced

Now, for those still curious about the BB/CC thing: BB stands for Beauty Balm (usually. there are some other names kicking around). They originated in Europe and for years have been incredibly popular in Korea, in fact, arguably some of the best BB creams are from Korea and can easily be imported/purchased online. They were developed and used for laser treatment patients to ease post-procedure redness and protect the skin. It is, simply stated, your all in one facial product. A moisturizer, spf, and tinted for color correction. CC stands for Correction Cream / Creme.

What I am looking for: At least Medium coverage, SPF, applies easy and smooth, and affordability. I will be spending a month in Maui and then a week in the northwest and I want to make my beauty routine as minimal as possible. I am open to using a concealer along with my cream but ideally would like not to have to.

How I tested them: I applied the creams on a CLEAN, BARE face- no moisturizer, SPF or primer underneath because the whole goal is to find a product that already contains those steps. Some of them you will read I wasn’t able to even wear more than a few minutes, but most I gave a full day of testing- application as soon as I woke up and wore through the whole day. I live in Utah where it is dry, hot, and sunny. My skin is normal, tends to be dry in the winter but quite balanced at the moment. My problem areas are acne scarring and redness on my cheeks and along my jawline, and under-eye darkness.

I was in no way compensated for my reviews, and I paid full retail price for all products, aside from the handful of samples I received as gift with purchases or in my birchbox.

SO, here we go, in no particular order…

(Sorry no “test” Photo of this one, since I gave it away! But the bottle looks like this)

Revlon Photo Ready BB Cream
SPF: 30
Shades: 3 – Light, Light/Medium, and Medium
$8.99 at or Target stores

I bought this on a whim as I had a Revlon coupon and I was curious about BB creams. First of all, I am very pale… but the light left me looking almost ashy. I found this incredibly strange, because on another very pale friend it looked too dark and slightly orange. Color issues aside, I absolutely hated the way this BB cream felt on my skin. It felt like an oil slick. This could be due to the SPF, but it was simply too greasy for my skin, and I am not an oily person.
The application was even, but simply so greasy I felt like washing my face immediately, so… I did. I could not stand to wear this even a few minutes. I am not a fan of powders so I didn’t even bother trying to minimize the grease with a powder. The coverage was also very light, and the shine made imperfections stand out. I might recommend this for someone with dry skin, who didn’t mind layering a powder. My friend Jenny has tried it and it works for her skin, and she has truly, really beautiful skin- so it might work well for people who already have nice skin and just want a little coverage.

Rimmel London BB Cream - 9 in 1 skin perfecting super makeup

Rimmel London BB Cream – 9 in 1 skin perfecting super makeup in Light

Rimmel London BB Cream 
SPF 25
Shades: Light, Medium, Medium/Dark
$6.99 at Ulta, and anywhere Rimmel is sold

Rimmel is hit or miss for me, but the price inspired me to pick this BB up and give it a shot. From “BB Cream with SPF 25 is skin perfecting super makeup, developed specifically for women who prefer not wear foundation. Better than a moisturizer, better than a foundation. Creates the perfect 9-part regimen in one easy step: Primes, Moisturizes, Minimizes Pores, Conceals, Covers, Smoothes, Mattifies, Brightens and helps Protect. You have to live it to believe it! It’s foundation reinvented! Dermatologist tested.” Well, The Rimmel cream was OK. OK is kinda where my review ends. It didnt have fantastic coverage, it blended well though. Its texture didnt wow me, it was a little thick but with less color payoff. Considering all the other great options out there, this was basically a throw-away.

Aveeno Clear Complexion BB Cream in Fair to Light

Aveeno Clear Complexion BB Cream in Fair to Light

Aveeno Clear Complexion BB Cream
SPF 30
Shades: Fair to Light Only
$14.99-$16.99 Walgreen’s and Target

As a fan of Aveeno Products, I had to give this one a try. I use Aveeno positively radiant moisturizer already, so I was interested in seeing how this product worked with, or in place of, that moisturizer during the day. This BB cream comes in a pump bottle, slightly smaller version in fact of the moisturizer I use. It is a 2.5 bottle – the largest of all of the formulas I tested.
Slight smell, alcohol – but goes away as soon as it is rubbed in. Blends beautifully…. but it is SO sheer, and it did not layer well. I suspected it would make a nice base for the rest of my regular makeup routine, and it did. But the point of this was to find something that I could use in place of that routine. I like this balm under my normal makeup, and I will keep it for that use- but on its own its simply not enough. This would be perfect for people like my friends with already lovely skin, or people like my mom who do not wear makeup regularly but might like some slight color correction and SPF. Sidenote: I got some in my eye and it BURNS, like sunscreen does. Be careful.

Physicians Formula BB cream

Physicians Formula BB cream in Light/Medium

 Physicians Formula Super BB All-In-1 Beauty Balm Cream
SPF 30
Shades: Light and Medium
$14.99 at Ulta

Physicians Formula products tend to do really well on my skin, so I gave this BB a shot in my recent Ulta order. The Description from “Ultra-blendable and lightweight cream effortlessly glides on, instantly re-texturizing skin and delivering a smooth, flawless finish with SPF 30 protection.” This BB also can be paired with a concealer made to provide extra coverage for those of us who need it, and they also have a powder but I have not tested the concealer or powder yet. This cream looked far too dark to me at first, but quickly adapted to my skin-tone once applied. I first applied with a brush, but I wasn’t satisfied with the finish so I switched over to blending with my fingertips and voila- the results I was looking for. This is a Medium coverage and I was very happy with the feel of the product. No smell, no sliminess, no streaks. Probably too much coverage for someone that wants a sheer finish, but perfect for me!  I would still need a touch of concealer for a perfect flawless face but at the beach I don’t need to be perfect, just comfortable. I will be taking this BB cream with me on vacation and keeping it around from now on! It rivals “higher-end” products, in my opinion.

Covergirl CG Smoothers BB cream in Fair to Light

Covergirl CG Smoothers BB cream in Fair to Light

CoverGirl Smoothers BB Cream
SPF 15
Shades: Fair to Light, Light to Medium, Medium to Dark
$6.24 Walmart 

I’m perplexed by this. A few reviews state this is a re-naming of a CG smoothers product that’s been on the market for a few years already, and there are some people who are big fans. Do not include me in that group. It felt more like a gel, cooling, nice feel on the face- but the color was streaky unless blended for quite some time and once blended it looked like I was wearing nothing at all, and not in a good way… it was invisible. No color correction, no coverage. I wouldn’t really recommend this to anyone- but those who are faithful to it are glad its still around, and was simply re-branded.

Maybelline Dream Fresh BB 8- in - one Beauty Balm skin perfecter in "Light Sheer tint"

Maybelline Dream Fresh BB 8- in – one Beauty Balm skin perfecter in “Light Sheer tint”

Maybelline Dream Fresh BB Cream
SPF 30
Shades: Light, Light Medium, Medium, Medium Deep, Deep
$6.44 at Walmart

I am a fan of Maybelline Dream Mousse foundations so I had high hopes for this BB. Application was smooth, I tested it with both my fingers and a foundation brush. The color adjusted nicely, but the coverage was maybe 2.5 out of 5. It covered redness well but not scarring and did nothing for my skin texture, in fact the shine almost accentuated uneven skin texture. I could see this being a wonderful BB for someone who has nice skin but struggles with redness or discoloration, and also nice for someone who doesnt mind layering concealer and perhaps a powder.
I tested to see how well it layered, and it layers fine- however it began to look cakey and thick after a few hours. The color did not change or skew orange, which I appreciated. A little shiny. I will keep it, but wont be using this unless I’m in a pinch and need something fast.

Hard Candy CC Correction Creme in light

Hard Candy CC Correction Creme in light

Hard Candy CC Correction Creme
SPF 15
Shades: Fair, Light, Medium, Dark
$8.00 at Walmart

This was a whim buy, considering my love for Hard Candy Glamoflauge Concealer, and Tiki Bronzer, I thought “Why not!” and at only $8.00 for 1.5oz, its the second largest bottle in the bunch. My first impression was that it smells SO strongly of sunscreen it felt like that was what I was applying, and I am sad to say it started to tingle/burn a little – something I am very familiar with, with SPF. I have to be very careful with what I use… the good news is, it stopped almost immediately. The color is perhaps a touch too dark but that is OK, my skin will darken slightly with the summer and my intent is to use these creams through the summer. The coverage is medium and with a touch of concealer I could be very happy with this, however two hours later: WHAT A MESS! I was chopping onions and had a few tears slide down my cheek. The minute water hit the product it separated on my face. It looked like a mess, it was not pretty. I can only imagine what sweat, swimming, or heat might do to it. Sidenote: I got some in my eye and it BURNS, like sunscreen does. Be careful. I will keep this in my kit but I don’t think I’ll be using it regularly.

Bonus, Higher End BB’s, all available at

Supergoop CC cream in Light to Medium

Supergoop CC cream in Light to Medium

Supergoop Daily Correct CC Cream
SPF 35
Shades: Light/Medium and Medium/Dark
$32.00 at Ulta

*sigh* I really loved the feel of this CC cream. I actually got a sample in my birchbox which was enough for 4-5 wears, and I really tried to give it a go, but unfortunately it didn’t work for me. Why, in a bit.
From “Supergoop! CC Creams even out skin tones, shrink the appearance of pores and leave the skin with a radiant look while providing complete broad spectrum sun and environmental protection. “It feels like you’re not wearing makeup, but you correct unevenness of the complexion with every application and to boot, your skin is completely protected!” Holly Thaggard; Founder/CEO.”
Well, It really does smooth on wonderfully, blend wonderfully, concealed well enough that with just a few spots of concealer I would feel comfortable wearing it anywhere- but unfortunately, this CC cream is simply too dark for me. If there was a “light” instead of a Light/Medium, I’m sure it would be my favorite CC or BB yet.

bb creams 005

Too Faced Cosmetics Tinted Beauty Balm
SPF 20
Shades: Vanilla Glow, Cream Glow, Nude Glow, Beach Glow
$34.00 at Ulta

I got this one as a sample in my Ulta order, and I was so excited to try it. I love Too Faced cosmetics but rarely purchase them simply due to expense. This BB is wonderful. Creamy, smooth, highly blendable, works with any application whether finger, sponge, or brush, and no smell. The SPF is lower, so that is something to consider. They sent me “Nude Glow” which was too dark for me, it made me look like I had a natural tan, but a tan none-the-less and the rest of me is pale as snow, so that obviously wont work. I may splurge on a full size bottle soon, in Vanilla glow. I can always add bronzer if needed, but TOO dark is impossible to recover from.

bb creams 006

Exuviance Cover Blend Multi Function Concealer –
SPF 15
Shades: Light, Beige, Sand, Mahogony
$22.00 at Ulta

Not a BB. Not a CC. Just a wonderful concealer from a respected skincare company. This sample came along with my Ulta order- so I got out my blending brush and gave it a whirl with the Physicians Formula BB. WOW. Just wow. Its amazing coverage, creamy, blended seamlessly into my BB, and feels light as air on my face- not heavy or sticky like some heavy duty concealers can be. I am truly impressed and will be ordering this product full size as soon as I can.

To wrap it up, for me the clear winner in drugstore brands was Physicians Formula. I will wear this regularly this summer, although often with concealer, and the price $14.99 is for a 1.2fl ounce bottle that’s quite generous. I love Supergoop and would use it, if it was light enough for my skintone, but unfortunately even the lightest color is not. Too Faced also impressed me, but didn’t outperform the Physicians Formula in my opinion, so why spend the extra $20? 

If you are looking for sheer: 
Aveeno, Maybelline.

If you are looking for coverage:
Supergoop, Physicians Formula, Too Faced, Hard Candy (blend well and avoid water)

If you are very dry: 
Revlon might work for you, Covergirl could work as well.

Thanks for reading!!


10 responses to “BB CC ABC WHAT?! Drugstore BB creams: a review

  1. Thank you for the ‘otc’ review! I am looking for super light coverage and plan on trying the Aveeno brand. I hate wasting money (and time), so this blog was wonderful! Thank you!

  2. Just a suggestion (/wish lol) you should try Loreals BB cream. I have it and I think it’s cakey. I don’t wear makeup often so maybe I’m applying it too heavily. Your input would help.

  3. Probably the best review of bb/ cc creams I’ve read so far, and I’ve been reading a ton of them lately. Truly helpful! Thank you!

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