Saturday, December 15, 2012

BB/CC Creams Hype vs Ingredients: Do They Actually Work?

BB creams have been a steady trend that's been going strong for the past few years, and the trend has even been exported from Asia to the West. A lot of these BB creams make very outlandish claims that are not always backed up by their ingredients list, so I thought I'd write a post on what exactly BB creams are, as opposed to how they are marketed. Because, you know, you can't always trust the marketing!


Part One: What are BB/CC creams? Why do they have so much hype?

First, what is a BB cream? Why is it getting so much hype? Well, a lot of this is due to the marketing that goes behind these creams. They look like tinted moisturizer or foundation in tubes, but the marketing that accompanies these products is often crazily hyperbolic. Often BB creams promise a myriad of skincare benefits all at once (the most common combination is typically whitening, anti-wrinkle, and UV protection), which leads to the perception that these creams are good for your skin. CC creams also promise similar benefits - they're really just souped up BB creams, if you will.

Some of my non-Asian readers may not be as familiar with BB creams, so let me show you how crazy the hype and advertising can be, by looking at some of these ads. I kid you not, they do promise everything and the kitchen sink:


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Above, your usual "whitening, anti-wrinkle, and UV protection" spiel. Below, a BB cream that promises to "supply moist and nutritional contents to keep smooth skin tone". I'm not too sure if "nutritional" is the right word...I mean, you don't exactly eat BB cream. Sure, what you put on your skin does affect the condition of your skin, but your skin doesn't really absorb nutrients in the same way that your stomach does, so you can't really supply nutrition to your skin this way. In fact, most of the time, the function of the skin is to act as a barrier between the environment and your innards, and keep germs and other nasties out.


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More "triple functional" BB creams, with the usual "whitening, anti-wrinkle, and UV protection" spiel. Many of them, in fact. This one below has some sort of snail extract, which is supposed to have extra skincare benefits. Now I believe you shouldn't knock something til you've tried it, but I can't help thinking that it's just a bit gross. Snails = gross, slimy creatures. Do not want on face!

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And this one below, besides your typical "whitening, anti-wrinkle, and UV protection" sales message, there is also some anti-pimple skincare promise too ("zero trouble").

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Contributing to the hype is the fact that some BB cream brands advertise themselves as having natural or organic ingredients, thus furthering the marketing story. As an example, this one below has "15 natural extracts an nutritious ingredients" for "added skincare benefits". Once again, I'm not sure exactly how BB cream (or any makeup product for that matter) can be nutritious to your skin.

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Of course, now that Western brands have jumped on the bandwagon, they're no different. 8-in-1 skincare benefits? Really? Sheesh.



Part Two: Why write a post on BB creams?

Now that we're all on the same page on BB creams and what they are, the reason why I decided to write this post is because I feel like given the disproportionate amount of beauty claims these creams are making, most of these BB creams don't actually live up to the hype. In fact, some can actually aggravate acne and sensitive skin.

BB creams have quite the cult following here in Asia, so I might end up getting slammed or seeing some snarky comments on Twitter (it's happened before), so let me caveat: I'm not saying ALL BB creams suck, and I'm not saying ALL BB creams will aggravate sensitive skin. Some brands have better formulation than others, and some brands have more restrained marketing than others, so like any other beauty product, you will find those that live up to the hype, and those that just plain suck. But I'm just making the point that 1) BB creams make a LOT of skincare promises for a cosmetic product (seriously, do most foundations or tinted moisturizers make as many skincare claims?); and 2) Not all these claims can be trusted based on the ingredients in these products. I just felt that, as a blogger, I kind of owe it to my readers to at least say something about this, rather than keep silent.

To illustrate my point, we'll take a look at the ingredients for some popular BB creams, and see what conclusions we can draw from the available information back there (back when I was in University working on my MSc paper, this process was called a literature review, LOL). I know many BB cream fanatics can't stand the thought of it being pointed out that maybe that $50 BB cream isn't all it's cracked up to be, so as always, I'm backing up what I say with reference to the ingredients lists.

Part Three: Let's Analyse!

First, let's start off by looking at the ingredients lists of a random sampling of BB cream brands. I've lined up 15 (yes FIF-freaking-TEEN, man) BB creams for us to take a look at. I didn't have any particular bias towards/against any brand, I just picked out ingredients lists that were available online, and whatever was readily available at the drugstore.

Because BB cream ingredients lists are often very, very long, and because ingredients lists are listed in descending amounts (meaning the first ingredient is the largest single ingredient, the second is the next largest component and so on), I will just look at the first 10 ingredients, since they are the ones that make up the bulk of the product anyway. This isn't the most rigorous way to analyze ingredients, of course, but for our not-so-scientific purposes it's good enough. The rest of the ingredients (especially those after the preservatives) tend to be present in small amounts, anyway. In fact, one of my favourite sites, The Beauty Brains (written by cosmetic chemists - love them!), notes that "the first 5 ingredients are the ones that matter the most". There are a few exceptions like colouring pigments and preservatives. But for skincare ingredients, unless you have a prescription product like retinoid (which I've never ever seen in a BB cream), most ingredients, particularly the humectant and botanical ingredients advertised by most BB creams (e.g. jojoba oil, green tea extract, this-and-that-botanical oil/extract), actually need to be present in good amount before they can effect significant change on their skin. So if we're assessing whether there are significant skincare benefits in BB creams, it's a fair rule of thumb to look for said skincare benefits in the first 10 ingredients. If they're not there, then the benefits could be there, but chances are, they're likely minimal.

Ready everyone? Got your seatbelts fastened? Know where the life vests are stored, and know where the emergency exits are? Good - let's roll! It's gonna be a long ride!

1. Face Shop Hydro Splash BB Cream

Let's start with a Face Shop one. Your typical Korean drugstore brand!

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Main ingredients:
Water, Titanium Dioxide (CI 77891), Cyclopentasiloxane, Butylene Glycol, Cyclohexasiloxane, Glycerin, Alcohol Denat, Dimethicone, Talc, etc


The first thing I thought was, my, this has a lot of silicones! Indeed out of the first 10 ingredients on the list, 3 of them (Cyclopentasiloxane, Cyclohexasiloxane, Dimethicone) are silicones. Not all silicones aren't bad for the skin (Dimethicone is alright), but some people are sensitive to silicones, especially the newer, fancier types (Cyclopentasiloxane, Cyclohexasiloxane). Also, other than the glycerin, there isn't really any moisturizing or otherwise skin beneficial ingredient. To be fair, the Face Shop doesn't promise anything other than moisture.

The second thing I thought was, "this reads like the ingredients list of a foundation!" Yep. It is. Wanna see? Here are the ingredients for Lorac's Oil-Free Anti-Aging Foundation:

Active Ingredients: Octinoxate 5%, Titanium Dioxide8.85%.
Other Ingredients: Water, Cyclopentasiloxane, Butylene Glycol, Ethylhexyl Methoxycinnamate, Isononyl Isononanoate, BehenylDimethicone, Titanium Dioxide, Cetyl Peg/Ppg-10/1 Dimethicone, Talc, Disteardimonium Hectorite, Glyceryl Ethylhexanoate/Stearate/Adipate, etc.


There is some similarity in the few ingredients (Water, Cyclopentasiloxane, Butylene Glycol, Titanium Dioxide) which make up most of both of the product. If BB creams were as radically different from foundation/tinted moisturizer/other skin-hating cosmetics as the advertising for BB creams tends to say, then you'd expect that there would be a greater difference between the two, ingredients-wise.

Also let's check out the Boots No 7 Stay Perfect Foundation ingredients:

ACTIVE INGREDIENTS - Octinoxate 5%, Titanium Dioxide 1.6%
INACTIVE INGREDIENTS - Aqua (Water), Cyclopentasiloxane, Talc, Mica, Ethylhexyl stearate, Cyclohexasiloxane, Dimethicone, Silica, Butylene glycol, Cetyl PEG/PPG-10/1 Dimethicone, etc.


Again, some similarities in the main ingredients of both products (Water, Cyclopentasiloxane, Talc, Cyclohexasiloxane, Dimethicone, Butylene glycol). But at least the top few ingredients are not likely to give you break outs or anything like that.

So as you can see, just because a company slaps "BB Cream" in big bold letters on a packaging, it doesn't mean it's super radically different from a non-BB cream product, like a foundation or tinted moisturizer. As we've seen from reading up on the ingredients list, it's really a little bit of a marketing ploy. Clearly they're not dupes, but there are similarities.

Was that fun? We're just getting started! Let's go on to the next one:

2. SHILLS Super Magic 6 in 1 BB Cream

SHILLS is a Taiwanese brand, and tends to put out products that follow trends. Here, it's hopped on to the BB cream bandwagon.

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Main Ingredients:
Water, Beeswax, Dimethicone, Silica, Cyclomethicone, Tocopherol, Titanium Dioxide, Talc, CI 77491, CI 77492, etc.


Once again, this has a lot of silicones (Dimethicone, Silica, Cyclomethicone). Also, beeswax and tocopherol are both ingredients that could be moderately clogging for some people. Looking at the ingredients list, I doubt there is any real skincare benefit from this product - there are some beneficial ingredients (Allantoin, Sodium Hyaluronate) that appear further down the ingredients list, but they're most likely in low concentrations and may not be sufficient to make a difference.

Let's do another one! The next one is the....*drumroll*

3. Hans Skin BB Total Cream

Hans Skin is a very prestigious brand of BB creams hailing from Korea. They usually charge premium prices for their BB creams. This one was a little tricky because I had to google translate this from Korean (the things I do for you guys), and then translate the translation, so yeah, it's a bit of a challenge!

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Main ingredients:
Water, Butylene glycol, Dimethicone, benzoic acid alkyl (C12 - 15), glycerin, lauric acid, isopropyl myristate, PEG/PPG-14/14 Dimethicone, olive oil, sodium chloride etc.


The first thing that stands out to me, is the isopropyl myristate. Isopropyl myristate is a big no-no for me, as it's extremely clogging! On me personally it's the stuff which causes pimples within a week. Anyway, otherwise, this is neither here nor there skincare-wise. Nothing else strikes me as unusual, however I think the "olive oil" translation wasn't too accurate. Probably more of olive oil fatty acid or extract or something (I think the exact phrase was 히알론산 - anyone knows Korean wanna help?).


4. Skin79 Hot Pink BB Cream

Skin79 is a Korean brand that has quite the range of BB creams - they and BB creams are like MAC and eyeshadows, they just have soooo many types. (If you don't believe me, just google.) This one had its ad featured in Part One, and now we'll take a look at its ingredients.


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Main Ingredients:
Water, Titanium Dioxide, Propylene Glycol, Cyclomethicone, Dimethicone, Isopropyl Palmitate, Ethylhexyl Methoxycinnamate, Butylene Glycol, Dicaprylate/Dicaprate, Sweet Almond Oil, etc.


Isopropyl palmitate in my BB cream? Ugh, no thanks. Isopropyl palmitate is used to make the texture of a product nicer, but can be very clogging for those who are sensitive to it. This, and isopropyl myristate, are the two huge no-nos for anything I am buying for myself. Otherwise, it's mostly the same old, same old. Water, UV filters (e.g. Ethylhexyl Methoxycinnamate), solvents (e.g. Propylene Glycol), silicones (e.g. Cyclomethicone, Dimethicone) - you start seeing the ingredients lists looking familiar after awhile. Here there is also sweet almond oil, which is usually harmless and added as a moisturizing ingredient, but may be mildly or moderately clogging for a minority of people. But for most, this would be just fine - it's actually quite popular as a skincare ingredient.

I think we are almost one-third through the ride, so let's keep on and move to the next one:

5. Missha M Perfect Cover BB Cream SPF 42 PA+++

Another one we're doing that has really braggy ads. Missha is also a Korean brand - in Korea it's more of a drugtore brand than anything else, as opposed to say, Hans Skin. Let's take a look at this BB cream and see what it actually does.

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Main ingredients:
Water(Aqua), Cyclomethicone, Ethylhexyl Methoxycinnamate, Zinc Oxide, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Mineral Oil, Phenyl Trimethicone, Talc, Arbutin, Hydrolyzed Collagen, etc.


Once again, the same few ingredients - it starts getting a tad repetitive after awhile. Water, silicones (Cyclomethicone, Phenyl Trimethicone), UV filters (here you also see Zinc Oxide, a physical filter, in addition to the usual Ethylhexyl Methoxycinnamate). There is also mineral oil, which is a little strange, as most BB creams don't really contain mineral oil (this is so they can advertise themselves as "mineral oil free"). Mineral oil isn't actually clogging, although some people (like myself) can still be sensitive to it. Meanwhile, we also see the addition of Arbutin (whitening agent popular in Asian brands), and things like Collagen (doesn't actually penetrate your skin, by the way, so all it does is just sit on top of your skin). If you actually look at the ingredients, the ceramide, chamomile, etc advertised ingredients only appear halfway through the long, long ingredients list. Not exactly honest advertising, but they are there in some amount.

6. Tony Moly Whipping BB Cream

Tony Moly is also a Korean brand, and is a rather upscale brand in Korea, although not so much in the rest of Asia. This is its "Whipping" BB cream, in mousse form, and you apply it with a brush. This is supposed to be some sort of innovation from Tony Moly, but seriously, this looks exactly like the Maybelline Dream Mousse Foundation or whatever it was.

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Noone seems to have put the ingredients list for this online, so yours truly has done so. See how much I love you guys!

tony moly whipping bb cream ingredients

If you zoom in on the first 10 ingredients on the list, you'll see that it's basically just a bunch of silicones, cross-polymers (they probably mixed them up to get just the right texture), and other things like titanium dioxide and mica. Basically, stuff to make the texture of the product nice, and some UV protection. Once again, the actual skin-benefitting stuff doesn't come in til much later in the ingredients list, in lower concentrations.

Just for fun, I found the ingredients for the Maybelline Dream Matte Mousse Foundation on this blog, and I thought I'd compare how the ingredients are:


As you can see, there are some similarities, although one is a foundation, and one is a BB cream. Both are rather silicone-heavy (cyclopentasiloxane, dimethicone, what-have-you). I imagine both would have a similar feel and texture on the skin.

7. Rachel K CC Cream

Rachel K is something of a beauty pageant girl-turned-minor celebrity, and naturally she has her own skincare line that she fronts. If you've seen the ads for her CC cream, you'll know she also uses her beauty queen looks to advertise her own line - she's literally in every ad with a human face. (She's also the most controversial pageant girl Singapore has ever produced, having admitted that she had gone for breast enhancement surgery, and also having photos of her performing a mock sexual act on a questionable-looking cake surface after having won the title - I'm not going into more details, because this blog is PG, but the information is all public.) Her brand bills the CC Cream as the next generation BB cream, and also as "The Beauty Queens' Makeup Secret". So I guess after that will be the DD cream, EE cream, FF cream and so on. Can I make an LOL cream?

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If you've seen the packaging for the CC cream (above), you'll also notice that it promises a lot of benefits (and I quote directly from the box) - whitening, "collagen" (I guess they mean plumper skin), "nourishing" (what is this idea with skins needing nourishment? Skin does not equal stomach!), moisturizing, wrinkle improvement, UV protection, and waterproof (not a skincare benefit but a useful feature anyhow). Now how do the ingredients list stack up against those claims?

Once again, no available ingredients list online, so once again, yours truly has gone ahead to help, using the wonders of iPhone photography:

rachel k cc cream ingredients

Looking at the first 10 ingredients, we can see that it basically consists of silicones, cross-polymers (both for product slip and texture), and glycerin, which is the only ingredient with any real skincare benefit (it helps to moisturize). I was a little bit alarmed to see 4-Methylbenzylidene Camphor, a sunscreen filter, in there, as it can be potentially irritating. There really isn't any ingredient in here that is "collagen", or that would increase the amount of collagen in your skin, or whitening, or "nourishing", whatever that is. There is some UV protection, though, with the titanium dioxide. Again, the actual skin-benefitting stuff (e.g. Hyaluronic acid) only appear in low concentrations in the product, and are much further down the in the ingredients list.

Thus, we can see that sometimes, the skincare benefits of BB creams (or in this case a CC cream) can be rather exaggerated. I'm personally not sure what the difference between this CC cream and other BB creams are - the ingredients aren't all that different. It seems more like a marketing ploy to me.

8. Skin79 Vital Super+ BB cream

I know we already did a Skin79 one, but these guys seriously have TONS of BB creams (I did say they and BB creams are like MAC and eyeshadows!). You'll see at least 5 or 6 of their stuff walking into a drugstore. I did say I'm doing a random sample, so it's no surprise we're looking at more than one Skin79 product. This particular one promises whitening and wrinkle improvement.

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Again, I couldn't find the ingredients list online, so here you go. Usually Skin79's ingredients lists are pretty easy to find, but for some reason I couldn't find this particular one.

skin79 bb cream ingredients

As with most BB creams, if you look at the first 10 ingredients you'll find the usual silicones, glycerin, emulsifier (dipentaerythrityl hexahydroxystearate), UV filters (ethylhexyl methoxycinnamate) and polymers. But what also worried me was the isopropyl palmitate, which was number 6 in the ingredients list. Like I said, I avoid the ingredient like the plague, because it can be clogging. Once again, I don't see any whitening ingredients or any other skin-beneficial ingredients (other than glycerin) until ingredient number 13 (sweet almond oil, which even then can be mild-to-moderately clogging for some people). So, based on the ingredients list, any whitening benefit is limited - instead, this BB cream is much more likely to give you pimples!

That was gross, wasn't it? Now let's try another one.

10. Skin79 Intense Classic Balm

Yet another of the many Skin79 BB creams available. The packaging (black box) is really sleek and pretty. But what about the ingredients?

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Main ingredients:
Water, Cyclopentasiloxane, Titanium Dioxide, Butylene Glycol, Ethylhexyl methoxycinnamate, Cetyl PEG/PPG-10/1 dimethicone, 4-Methylbenzylidene Camphor, Silica, Glycerin, Cyclohexasiloxane, etc.


Although both are Skin79 BB creams, the formulation has some differences. Most importantly, the first 10 ingredients do not have isopropyl palmitate. Otherwise, it's the usual BB cream soup of water, glycerin, silicon,solvents, emulsifiers, and UV filters. Also, 4-Methylbenzylidene Camphor, a sunscreen filter, can be potentially clogging too.

11. Pure Beauty Jasmine Water BB Cream

Alright, a non-Skin79 BB cream! Ooh, fancy jasmine water, and also the BB cream claims to correct skintone and repair wrinkles, in addition to UV protection. Let's see how the ingredients list stacks up.

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Main Ingredients:
Water, Titanium Dioxide, Glycerin, Glycol, Cyclomethicone, Ethylhexyl methoxycinnamate, Jasmine Water, Dimethicone, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Cetyl PEG/PPG-10/1 dimethicone, etc.


The first 10 ingredients are predictable: water, glycerin, UV filters, solvents, silicones. At least they do indeed include jasmine water as one of the key ingredients (it's number 7 on the list), so at least the marketing isn't lying. Although I doubt water vs jasmine water makes much difference to the skin. And, I'm not sure that I see any anti-wrinkle or skintone correcting ingredients in the list, other than maybe the moisturizers and sunscreen components (which is really more of a preventative measure).

12. Dr Jart Black Label Detox Healing Blemish Base

Ooh, fancy black label. Dr Jart is one of the premier BB cream brands, from Korea, so this should be good right? And it promises to detox your skin and heal blemishes! Let's see, shall we?


Main Ingredients:
Water, Proplyene Glycol, Cyclomethicone, Dimethicone, Titanium Dioxide, Prunus Amygdalus Dulcis (Sweet Almond) Oil, Isopropyl Palmitate, Ethylhexyl Methoxycinnamage, Butylene Glycol, Dicaprylate/Dicaparate, etc.


Once again, like most other BB creams, this one is mostly water, solvents, UV filters (both physical and chemical), and silicones. The notable thing here is the addition of Sweet Almond Oil (again, usually harmless but may be mildly or moderately clogging for some people). But there is also the addition of isopropyl palmitate, a highly clogging ingredient. So not only does this BB cream not contain any detoxing ingredients, it's actually much more likely to worsen any acne than help it! Although it markets itself as blemish healing, I'd be very wary of it.

13. Sasatinnie BB Cream

This is one of the cheaper BB creams from Hong Kong - Sasatinne is the house brand of Sasa, a Hong Kong-based retailer of significant presence in the region. This is Sasa's attempt to join in the fray with an affordable product. Let's take a look.

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Once again, no ingredients I could find online, so here you go! I realized the price tag is still on. Oops. Good enough for us to see the first half of the ingredients though!

sasatinnie bb cream ingredients

One of the things I'm noticing is that regardless of how branded or expensive a BB cream is, the main ingredients all tend to be the same. Once again, we see water, silicones, UV filters, solvents, and so on, and so on. Man, this is getting boring, isn't it? And as usual, the skin-helping stuff isn't anywhere in the first half of the list. Unless they're hidden under the price tag.

14. Cyber C'kin Power White CC Cream

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Ah, another step along the inevitable evolution towards my LOL cream. This one claims "high whitening potency". You know me, you know I like to look at the facts. So let's look at the facts.

cyber ckin cc cream ingredients

The usual water, solvents, silicones, and UV filters, and lots of stuff to make the texture nice, like emulsifiers etc (cetyl ethylhexanoate, lauroyl-lysine, polyglyceryl-3 polydimethylsiloxyethyl dimethicone). Squalane helps to moisturize skin, though, so that's a good addition. But I'm not sure I see anything that will "Power White" your skin.

15. Etude House BB Magic Cream SPF30 PA++

Etude House is also a Korean brand, and is known for its girly range of makeup, skincare, and nail polish heavily endorsed by Korean celebrities, both male and female. I'm actually a big fan of their nail poishes! But their BB creams? Well, let's take a look:


Main Ingredients:
Water, Ethylhexyl Methoxycinnamate, Propylene Glycol, 4-Methylbenzylidene Camphor, Titanium Dioxide, Cetyl Ethylhexanoate, Mineral Oil, Butylene Glycol, Stearic Acid, Isopropyl Myristate, etc.


Once again, we have water, solvents, UV filters, and other emollients and stuff to make the texture nice. As usual, I'm not a fan of Mineral Oil (it's harmless for the most part, but for some reason my skin doesn't like it), and Isopropyl Myristate, which is very clogging. Also, 4-Methylbenzylidene Camphor, one of the UV filters in the BB cream, is also potentially clogging. So there is a lot of stuff here that could aggravate sensitive or acne-prone skin.

Part Four: Drawing Conclusions

Now that we've looked at not one, or two, but FIFTEEN (let me say it again, FIF-freaking-TEEN, man!) BB creams across a range of brands, there are probably some conclusions we can safely draw from the ingredients lists we have seen:

1. BB creams are heavy on the silicones, and chemical UV filters, so they may not be suitable for those who have skins sensitive to either ingredient.

One of the common things across the BB creams is the sheer amount of silicones present in them. Cyclopentasiloxane, Cyclohexasiloxane, Dimethicone, BehenylDimethicone, all sorts of -cones and -xanes in there. And the UV filters are always almost chemical - ethylhexyl methoxycinnamate, 4-methylbenzylidene camphor etc. Not everyone is sensitive to silicones or chemical UV filters, and for the most part, both are safe. But if you are, BB creams may not be the best thing for you. Like any other product, it's not a one-size-fits-all solution. No product is, since everyone's skin is different.

2. BB creams generally do not offer much skincare benefit other than moisture and limited UV protection.

Most BB creams promise whitening, anti-wrinkle, skin-evening properties, but really, if you look at the ingredients lists, there isn't really any ingredient that really would help to resurface skin or decrease wrinkles.

The main skincare benefit is moisturization, and UV protection (through UV filters such as ethylhexyl methoxycinnamate, titanium dioxide, zinc oxide, 4-methylbenzylidene camphor), and some ingredients that help to provide moisture (glycerin, caprylic/capric triglyceride, dipentaerythrityl hexahydroxystearate).

Even then, the UV protection is likely to be somewhat limited. Most BB creams don't indicate how much sun protection is offered - not all BB creams have an SPF or a PA value on its packaging. So it's definitely not a product I'd recommend in lieu of sunscreen. As I've mentioned before in my sunscreen tips post, a moisturizer or foundation that advertises UV protection isn't going to provide sufficient sun protection, especially if you have high sun exposure. But I'll stop nagging here - if you're interested go read my sunscreen post.

3. BB creams and CC creams aren't that different. Also, there isn't all that much difference between a high-end BB cream and a low-end one.

Interestingly enough, the range of ingredients used in formulating BB creams seems to be rather narrow - each BB cream by and large consists of the same few things - water, silicones, emulsifiers, solvents, etc. You know the drill by now. Thus, although there is some variance, there isn't too much difference between the ingredients used by expensive BB creams and cheaper ones. In fact, in my opinion, some of the expensive ones could potentially use ingredients that are clogging or irritating to sensitive skin. I guess the best way to know for sure is to know your ingredients, and check the formulation before you buy, rather than relying on brand name or advertising.

Also, when we look at the ingredients lists, we see that BB creams and CC creams in general don't seem to have much differences in formulation, if any. It's really more of a marketing play to me. I have a hunch that the next BB cream wave, which will be by then the DD cream (or whatever it is called by then) won't be all that different from the BB cream, either. (Man, I should go and develop my LOL cream right now!) [EDITED TO ADD: OMG I was sooo spot on! There is now officially such a thing as a DD cream, launched by a brand called Julep, and you can read my Julep DD Cream review and ingredients analysis here.]

4. BB creams are also not all that different from some foundations.

One of the interesting things I've found is that when I take a BB Cream's ingredient list, and show it to someone knowledgable about skincare and makeup, without telling them what the product is, the responses I get are usually, "What foundation is this? So many silicones!" or "That's a foundation with a really long ingredients list!" or something similar.

Thus, when I began this BB cream ingredients post, I decided also not to just look at BB cream ingredients in isolation, but also to see whether they were really truly different from normal foundations in a meaningful way. After all, one of the main reasons why BB creams have so much hype is that they are somehow "better" - more natural, less clogging, more skincare benefits etc - from normal foundations. This is why consumers are drawn to them like moths to a flame. After all, who doesn't want a product that hides your flaws, gives your skin a nice finish, AND is good for your skin?

Unfortunately, I've yet to find such a product. And as our examination of BB creams has shown, some BB creams aren't that different from foundations. Sometimes the difference is more of a marketing ploy than any meaningful, fundamental change in formula. The main difference I noted is that foundations are more likely to use mineral oil in their formulations, while BB creams tend to use silicones instead. But of course, there are plenty of exceptions to the rule. I honestly can't draw any line where foundation country ends and BB cream territory begins, because the two overlap so much, ingredients-wise.

In fact, while doing my online research, I found a couple of foundations that have ingredients list that don't differ that radically from those of BB creams. In fact, I'm guessing with a couple of minor changes to the formula (or in fact, without any changes to formula, for that matter), any of them could be repackaged as BB creams, and noone would know the difference. It just goes to show that there really isn't all that much difference between the two. Just check these out:

Topshop Skin Tint:

MAIN INGREDIENTS: WATER (AQUA), DIETHYLHEXYL CARBONATE, ETHYLHEXYL STEARATE, DIISOSTEAROYL POLYGLYCERYL-3 DIMER DILINOLEATE, CYCLOPENTASILOXANE, ETHYLHEXYL METHOXYCINNAMATE, MICA, MICROCRYSTALLINE WAX (CERA MICROCRISTALLINA), HYDROGENATED CASTOR OIL, CETYL PEG/PPG-10/1 DIMETHICONE, etc.


Rimmel Renew & Lift With Hyaluronic Serum Foundation:

MAIN INGREDIENTS: AQUA/WATER/EAU, CYCLOPENTASILOXANE, TITANIUM DIOXIDE, GLYCERIN, ETHYLHEXYL METHOXYCINNAMATE, CETYL PEG/PPG-10/1 DIMETHICONE, ISONONYL ISONONANOATE, TALC, PHENYL TRIMETHICONE, HYDROGENATED POLYISOBUTENE,etc.


Donny Grayson Perfect Finish Liquid Foundation w/SPF15:

Active Ingredient: Ethylhexyl Methoxycinnamate 7.5%
Ingredients: Water (Aqua), Dimethicone, Phenyl Trimethicone, Butylene Glycol, Polydecene, Talc, Caprylyl Glycol, Glyceryl Dilaurate, Stearyl Alcohol, Glyceryl Stearate, etc.



The Last Word

Whew. That was one loooong post, and if you made it this far, congratulations, and you have the patience of a saint! I thought my post on Asian undertones was long, but man, this takes the cake by far! I guess once you look at fifteen products at once, it can't be helped. But I hope someone found this useful! That would make all the research, photographing, and post-writing worthwhile!

At the end of the day, regardless of the hype, BB creams are fundamentally makeup products, and shouldn't be confused for skincare. Most BB creams market themselves as some sort of miracle panacea for your skin - not only do they function like a cosmetic product, they often promise skincare benefits too. But for the most part, they are really no more than glorified foundations or tinted moisturizers, as an examination of their ingredients lists have shown. We need to evaluate BB creams just like any other makeup and skincare product - and that is by the facts, not the marketing. So good luck in your BB cream hunting and buying, as I know it can be a jungle out there! I hope you find this post useful as you search for the perfect one!

82 comments:

  1. This is definitely one of the most interesting reads I've come across lately. Thank you for doing so much research and giving us a whopping 15 BB cream ingredients list comparison. I agree I think that users should treat BB cream like any other cosmetic item. Whether they live up to the hype or not, if you use bb cream you should remove it at the end of the day like with any other makeup. Such a great post! Thank you!

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  2. thank you for your post! we always think that bb creams are "lighter" than the other skin products, bb creams are not as innocent as they are always presented to the consumer. I don't feel sorry to use a foundation instead of a bb cream or tinted moisturizer anymore :) we should clean them up at the and of the day, because they are not so healthy!

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  3. Wow, this was a really thorough analysis, thank you! It's good to know that BB creams are not that different than foundations.. I've been eyeing them for a while with all the hype on Asian beauty forums/blogs, but now I don't feel like I need to shell out to try one. I also didn't know that some of them contain sweet almond oil (I'm allergic!), so it's really helpful to have a bunch of ingredient lists in one place.

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    1. @Innocuous A.: Yup, sweet almond oil can be mild to moderately clogging for some people, so if you're one of them, it's best to avoid products with large amounts of that!

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  4. Hi,
    Thanks for the extensive comparison between not two but fifteen BB creams. From time to time, I get seduced by the different foundation type products out there. But time after time, I remember the hard way that I am allergic to silicones and my face will break out viciously. It takes almost 2 month (one time upwards to a year) to unclog my pores. I always return hastily to my mineral makeup. Do you know of any foundations products (including setting powders) that do not contain any silicone/silicone byproducts?
    Thanks!
    Ali

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    1. @Unknown (Ali): Thanks for your post! You're right, although silicones are mostly safe for most people, some people do have sensitivities to some silicones, so products like these which use 4-5 types of silicones at one go may not be suitable.

      Fortunately, there are quite a lot of silicone-free foundations! Most mineral powder-type foundations don't have silicone. Also The Notice blog has a list of silicone-free foundations here: http://thenotice.net/2011/04/silicone-free-foundations/

      There are also other silicone-free products here:
      http://www.sephora.com/silicone-free-foundation-primer-P374826
      http://forums.vogue.com.au/showthread.php?t=281493 (some low-silicone products are listed in this forum)

      Hope this helps!

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  5. have you tried all the bb creams your listed? If so, which ones break you out? and which don't?

    Thank you for this helpful post!

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    1. @caomei: I haven't tried all the BB creams - I've tried some, but not all. Generally, I'm not sensitive to silicones, so silicones aren't an issue with me. I'm sensitive to ispropyl myristate, isopropyl palmitate, and mineral oil (although mineral oil is mostly safe - no idea why), so any BB cream with those in the first 10 or so ingredients will break me out. Your skin may be different, so different things may work differently on you. Best is to know what your skin is sensitive to and avoid that. Hope this helps! :)

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  6. Thank you for posting such article! I really learn a LOT about BB creams now. I used to believe that they can 'heal' your skin from those scarrings and blemishes (i.e snail-based BB creams) but now, I doubt that.

    Also, do you know which are the key ingredients in tackling oily-combo skin? I suppose tea tree is 1 of them.

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    1. @Liza: You're right, BB creams are a makeup, not skincare, item, so they definitely won't "heal" skin or work the way skincare does.

      Oil control (or more specifically oil absorption) is different from pimple treatments. They are two different things, as oil absorption tends to be more of a cosmetic function, while pimple treatment focuses primarily on killing the P. Acnes bacteria that causes pimples. Tea tree oil is a disinfectant, and will help to kill the bacteria on skin, but I don't think it helps to do oil control control.

      Common oil control ingredients include silica, magnesium aluminum silicate, isododecane, and alumina. Hope this helps!

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    2. Thank you for the list of oil control ingredients. Now I can look a little 'smarter' when I go over the ingredient list at the packaging when I'm on the stores ;)

      Ah! I didn't know those 2 are very different! I assume acne occurs because of the oil from the face that clogs the pores -_-" (which is why sometimes I tend to cleanse my face thrice!)

      From what you're saying, did I get this right: Tea tree oil can help combat acne in the initial stage? As in before the pimples appear? Coz I always use TTO on those pimples and they do tend to dry out faster, but leaving blemish behind.

      Could you then please write an article about oil absorption and pimple treatments? Something like the 'dos' and 'don'ts' or tips? I hope it's not too much to ask from a lurker like me xD

      Thank you so much for all info!

      P.S I just followed you for GFC :)

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    3. @Liza: Okay, maybe I made them sound more different in my previous post. What I meant to say is that acne is caused by to a few factors, so there isn't a one-size-fits-all acne solution.

      Acne is basically caused by blockages in your pores. These are usually oil secretions mixed with dead skin cells. Some makeup products also worsen the blockage in your skin's pores. Bacteria (more specifically the P. Acnes bacteria) feeds on that mixture in your pores, and multiplies. This eventually leads to an inflammation under your skin, i.e. a pimple. Generally that is how acne is formed.

      Thus, as you can see, oily skin alone isn't sufficient to cause acne. Other important factors in the formation of acne would also be the rate at which your skin sloughs off its dead cells (as dead cells can accumulate and mix with the oils in your pores and block the pores), and also other factors that affect the blockages in your pores (e.g. hormonal cycle, makeup products used).Bacteria activity is also a factor, since bacteria can secrete chemicals and enzymes that cause inflammation.

      Since acne is influenced by a few factors, different acne products and medications work through different ways. Some try to regulate oil production, some work to kill the bacteria, some work to dislodge or reduce the blockage in the pores, and some work to reduce inflammation caused. That's why there is no one cure-all for acne, because different people have different factors at work in different degrees, so naturally they will find some products more effective than others.

      Now, back to tea tree oil vs oil control. What I meant to say was that tea tree oil works to kill the bacteria that causes acne. So it's helpful not just before your pimples appear, but also after they've appeared. Oil control products, on the other hand, focus more on reducing the amount of oil on your face (either by absorbing it or by decreasing oil production from your glands), but they may or may not kill bacteria, or perform any of the other functions. That was the difference I was trying to establish in my previous comment, not sure if it was clear.

      There's some quite helpful reads on acne, if you're interested:
      http://newsinhealth.nih.gov/2010/January/feature2.htm
      www.mayoclinic.com/health/acne/DS00169/DSECTION=causesaa
      http://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/ucm174521.htm
      http://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/bhcv2/bhcarticles.nsf/pages/Acne

      Hope this helps! :)

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    4. Yes, it is now all the more clearer!

      I should've known that there isn't a '1-size-fits-all' solution for acne.. I wished I don't have a bad case myself! haha.

      Thank you for the links! I'll bookmark them for my future references too :)

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    5. I also suffer from acne. Especially after using silicone based products. In the past few years (in my last 20s), I have not ever been without one spot on my face. Since coming back from vacation from a hot and humid place, my acne was exacerbated by the weather, irregular hygiene and unfamiliar products. I searched the internet for some treatments and this is what has worked for me:
      www.acne.org.

      What sold me on the website was that, although the creator dan advertised his products, he also recommended products in the common drugstores that would work just as well. Because of that, I was reassured that the website wasn't just a gimmick to make him rich.
      Here are the things I have used:
      Cleanser: cetaphil gentle skin cleanser
      Treatment: Clean & Clear persagel 5%(recently finished)now using Spectro acne care vanishing gel 2.5%
      Treatment: Alpha Hydrox Enhanced Lotion - 10% (use over top benzoyl peroxide
      Moisturizer: Spectro daily facial moisturizer for blemish prone skin mixed with two drops pure jojoba oil (dessert essence)

      My skin took about 7 weeks to clear up. I still have the occasional pimple, but I just glop some AHA on top of it and it brings the core to the surface a lot quicker. To combat the flakiness, use jojoba oil.

      I hope this helps someone out there. My skin hasn't looked so clear in a long long time.

      Ali

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    6. @Unknown (Ali): I'm glad your routine works for you. Like I mentioned in previous posts, not everyone will have clear skin using the same treatments/routine (I also have acne, and benzoyl peroxide didn't really seem effective to me; it just dried out my skin without really helping that much).

      I also like to use sunscreen in my skincare routine, so if you don't have one (I notice you didn't list one in your routine). I find it helps greatly as a preventive measure - although the right sunscreen can be tricky to find, it is worth it :)

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    7. @Unknown (Ali): Just to clarify, when I said sunscreen is a preventive measure, I meant that it is a preventive measure against signs of aging from UV exposure, not a preventive measure against acne! (Realized my comment above wasn't clear.)

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  7. thanks for the in-depth research and explanations. I have never used any of the Asian BB creams, but have used Garnier BB cream. I don't believe anything can change a person's skintone -- whiten, darken, doesn't matter -- but do like my BB cream's ability to provide sufficient coverage and moisturize. Perhaps one day I will invest in an Asian BB and test it out myself. Excellent article!

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  8. nice article
    thanks for sharing

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  9. 히알론산 reads "hiallonsan". Probably Hyaluronic acid. =D

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    1. @Seri: Thanks! Looks like google translate was way off!

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    2. Yeah, it's Hyaluronic acid...but it's usually written as "히알루론산."

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  10. You are amazing for putting so much work into this. Thanks a lot!

    I have some relatives that own and operate a skincare brand in Korea that recently won some makeup awards recently and when my mom inquired about their production system, they honestly told her that all the brands pretty much use the same ingredients made in the same ways for an incredibly small cost margin compared to what they retail the products for. So basically... it's hype and marketing. So people - do your research!!!

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  11. This is an amazing post. You finally proved what I had been thinking all along. That the BB creams I use are no different than the foundations I use. Thankfully, I use BB creams just for foundation with no expectations of any other benefits. I plan to share this post with as many people as I can! THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU! For an excellently written and researched post!

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  12. This is a better post than most on bb creams, but I have to say I'm skeptical about your method of analyzing ingredients. Things like ceramides and different botanical extracts do not need to be present in really large quantities to work. It is natural for the carrier to be featured higher on the list.

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    1. @Melody: Thanks for your comment. It's true that the carriers will be highest on the list, and that sone ingredients like peptides don't need to be present in great concentrations. But even if we look at the rest of the ingredients of BB creams, most of them do not carry the kind of peptides etc that you are referring to. A lot of these BB creams that promise substantial benefits in your skin don't actually have any of the ingredients necessary to do so - I honestly rarely see a BB cream with any form of Vitamin C or peptides or other forms of ingredients that can fulfill their claims.

      Instead, most of these sell claims of moisturizing your skin and UV protection, but based on the ingredient list and likely proportion of ingredients, there isn't likely to be sufficient ingredients to moisturize your skin in the way their ads make you think. The UV protection offered is also a little tricky from a marketing perspective, as BB cream is a cosmetic and users generally don't use as much product as they should in one application to get the states skincare benefit.

      Lastly I'm not sure if all botanical extracts only need to be present in small amounts, especially things like botanical oils which are meant to provide moisture to the skin. If I'm not wrong, those usually need to be present in much larger amounts than found in the typical BB cream to have a meaningful effect.

      I do appreciate the comment though! Perhaps if I have time I will go back and improve on this blogpost - you have given me some ideas on how to do this, so thanks! But I definitely still think my baseline argument still stands - that a lot of BB creams don't perform up to the standards that the exaggerated marketing claims. Here where I am, consumers swallow those claims whole, and I hoped to provide a reality check on all the hype.

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  13. Thank you for the article. I too have written about BB creams, and I think the piece that is missing from all of this is that 1. BB creams did not originate in Asia. BB creams originate from Germany. Their original purpose was to serve as a protectant for plastic surgery post-op patients. They needed a gentle cream that could protect the skin from the sun and heal. It also needed to fade and prevent scars. The whitening properties are in fact the reason why they became so huge in Asia. The need for porcelain white skin. 2. BB creams are more so primers than foundation, almost to the point that BB creams cant even be compared to foundation. They were designed to be,and are lighter on the skin than foundation. 3. There are many brands that are beneficial. I have personally tested more than a few that did exactly what they claimed to do, some did not. Just because it does not work for you, does not mean that it will not work perfectly for someone else.

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    1. @Aprill: Thanks for your comment! Let me address some of your points below:

      1. I'm definitely aware that BB creams were not first developed in Asia. However the popularity wave did come first from Asia before reaching the West, so that's why I was referring to.

      2. BB creams may originally have been developed for post-op patients, however they've now evolved into cosmetic products. Accordingly, the formula has evolved as well. Based on the ingredients lists of BB creams nowadays (which may sometimes contain clogging and irritating ingredients that probably wouldn't be recommended for post-op skin!) these are clearly more cosmetic products than skincare. You're right that BB creams are similar to primers (both tend to contain high amounts of silicone), but a lot of users use BB creams as foundation alternatives, rather than foundation primers, in the belief that these were somehow "better" than foundation, hence my comparisons.

      3. You're right, some BB creams work, some don't, some are better formulated and some suck. I've taken care to mention in my post too that not ALL BB creams are ineffective multiple times.

      Thanks for the comment :)

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  14. Great article and this wakes me up! I am using different brands of BB Cream and i realize not all BB cream do the magic as they claim to be. =)

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  15. You've put a lot of thought into this post...very comprehensive. Although I'm a diehard BB cream fan, I actually agree with you on most points! They are not too different from foundations though I think the fact that some bb creams tout themselves to be "all-in-one" skincare/base makeup...I actually sometimes skip a day moisturizer and put on bb cream, esp in winter when the sun is not strong and sets early so I don't need an extra layer of sunscreen. I have also found most BB creams, including good ones, to be cheaper than most high end foundation, barring some expensive bb creams like dior's.

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  16. Well written and so informative! I sat here glued to the screen reading your thoughts and your proof of ingredients on these big bb cream brands. What irritates me is the big difference in pricing between the range of bb creams when all their ingredients are so similar. What differs from Hanskin is not so much in a lower end drug store one but I suppose that's just from marketing their products to make it famous. Thanks for the comprehensive post...bb creams cannot live up to their claims!

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  17. Thank you SO much for such an informative and helpful post. I love the way you write as it's not like a lecture. I find myself actually sitting here glued to the monitor!

    I am always grateful when bloggers go into the science and ingredients side of things as I am so clueless when it comes to things like this.

    I guess BB creams are just a 'hype' but they're not different at all!

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  18. wowow this is one long assssssssssss post! lol! But it's great cos I felt like I was in a cosmetic science lesson and its great because I love cosmetics but I dont know any sciences behind it! So ill be like taking notes down from this to learn whats what LOL. Sad! But that's how good this post is! interesting to know that the ingredients are so similar too. I dont have to waste money on a high end so called "good" bb cream!

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  19. Holy smokes girl, amazing post. Thanks for posting this - I will definitely need to refer back to this again and again. The only BB cream I've used/am using is the Dr. Jart+ black Label BB cream but really wanted to try the more popular Asian ones but they contained parabens! So this post will show me other alternatives and the pros and cons! Thanks!

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    1. @Jenny (beautykissxo): Thanks! Parabens as they are used in cosmetics (small amounts of less than 1%) are not actually harmful to your skin. They're used as preservatives to prevent bacterial growth. So you don't have to worry about them in the way they are used. :)

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  20. I use and like the Missha BB cream, but also only buy it during their semi-annual sales, when it's 40% off. I also like the Garnier BB cream. I do tend to dismiss most claims on packaging, because they're lots of hype and very little fact. (Really, Tarte? Claiming that your Lipsurgences increase lip fullness by six thousand per cent? ...and a whiff of fresh fertilizer wafts across the morning meadow...)

    Thank you for this thorough research and comparison! This will be excellent information for those who may have wanted to try BB creams and see what all the hype's about!! (Translation: the hype is just that: lots of hype. Find something that works for you, they're all pretty similar ingredients-wise.)

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  21. Excellent post! I love BB creams only because they I like the way they look and feel on my skin, I never take any of their claims seriously, in fact I'm pretty skeptical of most skincare brands and their claims :)

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  22. I just came across your blog. A lot of extremely useful posts. Thank you for your time and effort.

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  23. Really appreciate what you have done on our behalf... going that extra miles to furnish us with so much details and information on bb creams... thank you so much!

    I was using bb creams from face shop and maybelline for a while and decided to throw them away as i found the shades, texture and coverage were somehow not suitable/appropriate for my skin type and skin tones!

    So i switched to using Kate Powderless foundation (from kanebo cosmetics) hoping that it will make some improvements to my skin...yet i felt that actually whether bb creams or foundations (liquid or cream) both will still do some harm to our natural skin and will eventually clog pores after long term usage... and here you are giving the confirmation to my "suspicions"...

    And yes, its only a make-up cosmetic item/product, so the regular skincare regime must be observed to keep skin healthy!

    By the way, why do they keep emphasizing that bb creams are used in post surgery treatments, etc and hence it is good for the skin... blah blah blah... and the koreans are happy using them, haha...like without any adverse results...hmmm

    Thank you for your blog/post! Cheers!

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    1. @Anonymous: I don't know why they keep emphasizing that aspect of BB creams, my guess is probably for marketing purposes, lol! And yes people continue to use them for a variety of reasons, e.g. they may be one of those lucky people whose skin are not sensitive to any of the ingredients, or their skin might be irritated by the BB cream but they may not realize it , or, they may attribute their breaking out to another product, not the BB cream (sounds surprising, but I've come across girls who really do find it difficult to believe that the BB cream is the one breaking them out, even if it's the only thing they've changed in their makeup routine. Some really buy into the advertising and believe that it HAS to be better for their skin, and as a result find it hard to accept that a BB cream can be the cause of their breakouts, even when the signs point that way.) Also the weather may be another factor - Korea can have cold weather, so thick creamy products like BB creams are better tolerated by the skin in such weather. In hotter climates though, a more lightweight alternative may be better. Hope this helps!

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  24. oh yes, is there such thing as a mineral liquid or cream foundation? Since mineral is still the best of all the makeup base to be used on our delicate facial skin!

    I would not want to compromise in any way even there is an extensive marketing and advertising on bb creams from both high-end and low-end (not to mention cc creams also)! Even foundations are up and coming with advanced and improved formulas to claim good to full coverage for flawless looking skin...i think it is just a gimmick... how possible to cover all the blemishes, fine lines, open pores, pigmented skin, brown/age spots, etc and make it look flawless? i wonder?

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    1. @Anonymous: Yes there are cream and liquid foundations which market themselves as "mineral" products. Since "mineral" is another marketing buzzword that can be (and is) used by advertisers in a very misleading way, I would definitely check the ingredients to see if the product is what you expect out of a "mineral" product. As yet, there is no standard definition of what a "mineral" product is (should it not contain any synthetic polymers? Or just preservatives? Should it actually incorporate earth-based mineral ingredients, or will natural ingredients do? What about synthetic equivalents of chemicals and ingredients that are found in nature? Are those allowed, or are only natural sources allowed?). Thus, if you look carefully you'll see that most products marketed as "mineral" may or may not live up to what you expect from a mineral product. Since both BB creams and mineral products are marketing buzzwords whose ingredients may or may not live up to consumer expectations, rather than jumping from one marketing trend to another, I prefer to read the ingredients list. It may no provide the whole story, but it's definitely better than buying blindly into the marketing hype!

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  25. Oh wow. I had been reading this yesterday and finished only now. I don't wear BB creams anymore, as I have developed allergic reactions to them but I used Missha more as a sunscreen before. Pure Beauty Jasmine BB cream, however...they hurt on the eyes.

    Thanks for this post!

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  26. Had been using BB cream from the last seven months on a daily basis...will stop now n let my skin breathe. in fact, started from today..all thanks to eye-openers such as your post

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  27. Thanks for the post. I've been using elisha coy bb cream & it promises a lot of nourishing factors incorporated in it, dont know how much truth is that.

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    1. @Anonymous: That's why I wrote this post! :) You can take a look at the ingredients and see how they compare to the ones listed here (ingredients may be similar) for a start. Otherwise, I'd be glad to take a real quick look at the ingredients list for you :)

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  28. Just come across your interesting comments on BB creams. My reason for this search was because for the last few months I have been using Rimmel BB Cream. However, a few days ago I awoke to find that all around my eyes and top half of my cheeks, very small lumps and swelling (with a burning sensation around the skin of both eyes) had developed. I looked at the ingredients on the BB cream and notied Aluminium was mentioned. I do in fact have a strong allergic reaction to metals and was wondering if anyone else has come across this problem. Obviously I have ceased to use the cream but am still waiting for the blobby rash and soreness around my eyes to dissipate.

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    1. @Anonymous: When I looked at the ingredients list on the Rimmel website (http://uk.rimmellondon.com/products/face/bb-cream), I noticed that it had ALUMINUM DIMYRISTATE (sorry for the ingredient names in caps, am copying and pasting from Rimmel website). I'm not sure if it is clogging or not, but it is currently included in some products that are labelled non-comedogenic (although that can bea tad misleading). However, as it is fairly low down the ingredients list, and thus present in less concentrations, I'm guessing that there are other ingredients, e.g. silicones (CYCLOPENTASILOXANE), and UV filters (ETHYLHEXYL METHOXYCINNAMATE), that could also be sensitizing on some skin types, and are more likely to be more responsible for what you are experiencing. Hope this helps!

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  29. Thank you soo much for this post! Can you review the asian brand Canmake BB cream...its an all-natural ingredient list? I would like your input on it as i am considering purchasing it. lm african american do you think i can add an unharmful product to match my skin tone?

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    1. @Sheena: I'd be glad to help! If you can copy/paste the Canmake BB Cream ingredients list on the comments here, I'd be able to comment on it. Although, my gut feel is that since Canmake is your typical drugstore brand, they probably have formulations quite similar to other drugstore brands mentioned here.

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  30. funny, i experience really nice skin after i wash off my skin79 orange vital bb cream. And the clogging thing... it's not a problem if you use it correctly and clean out your skin with the right kind of product! That's why the double cleansing method exists :)

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    1. @Kell: It's great that BB creams work for you and that you double cleanse (a good practice when wearing makeup, regardless of whether it's a BB cream or not). I wrote the post because there seems to be a belief that BB creams work for every skin type and is imbued with almost magical properties that make it good for all skins, which of course isn't true - very few products work for everyone. For those people, this post serves to explain why a BB cream may potentially cause problems for some sensitive skins, and why a lot of BB cream marketing is exaggerated.

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  31. Hmmm I'm thinking all the western brands (Garnier, Covergirl) are just their old tinted moisturizers but with a different label if that makes sense. I really wanted to try them but they're way too pink toned for me.

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  32. Just discovered your blog! You sound really smart, haha. I hope I can get an education on cosmetics ingredients now that I'm following you.

    I found you because I was searching for a good BB cream, but now that I've found out that there are so many clogging agents in them, I'm disappointed. Can you recommend a similar product with BB-like coverage that isn't clogging? I just need a little something to even out my skin tone when I don't want to do foundation (mostly every day lol). My skin type is normal but slightly acne-prone. Thank you!

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    1. @Sydney: To be honest, it's hard for me to do so without knowing what your skin is sensitive to, because formulation within tinted moisturizer/skin base type products can vary widely, and different people are sensitive to different things (e.g. mineral oil is safe for mots people, but some seem to have issues with it; same for things like silicones). The best I can say is that if you know what is likely to break you out, then your best bet is to look out for products without those ingredients. If you have no idea, then the results of this paper might help: http://journal.scconline.org/pdf/cc1989/cc040n06/p00321-p00333.pdf - there is a chart on pages 4 - 6 of the document that shows how comedogenic and irritating each ingredient is likely to be, on a scale of 0 to 5 (0 being least, 5 being most). Your results will vary (since everyone's skin has different levels of sensitivity), but it will be helpful as a start. I actually have a printed out version of that table which I refer to when I want a quick reference :) Hope this helps!

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    2. Thank you so much! I really appreciate your advice :)

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  33. Hi there, thanks for the awesome writeup! Really helpful and an eye opener. Switched to Ettusais BB Mineral Cream and BB Mineral Powder two days ago and found that little bumps have formed on the forehead and cheek areas - not sure if these have been caused by the BB Cream/Powder! Can you kindly do a quick review of these two products? Am just wondering whether the fact that the latter is in powder form would make it less.. harmful? Thanks once again!

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  34. As a follow up, the ingredients are as follows...

    Ettusais BB Mineral Powder ingredients:
    Talc, CI77019, Titanium dioxide, CI77891, Calcium carbonate, Dimethicone/Vinyl dimethicone crosspolymer, Methyl methacrylate crosspolymer, Zinc myristate, CI77947, CI77492, Aluminium hydroxide, Silica, Aluminium distearate, CI77491, Chlorphenesin, CI77499, Isostearyl alcohol.



    Ettusais BB Mineral Cream ingredients:
    Water, Dimethicone, Cyclomethicone, Alcohol, Nylon-12, Cyclopentasiloxane, Titanium Dioxide, Ethylhexyl Methoxycinnamate, CI 77891, Lauryl Peg-9, Polydimethylsiloxyethyl dimethicone, Glycerin, Zinc oxide, Disteardimonium hectorite, Diphenylsiloxy phenyl trimethicone, Erythritol, Xylitol, Dimethicone crosspolymer, Isostearic acid, Phenoxyethanol, Aluminium hydroxide, Alumina, Isostearyl alcohol, Triethoxycaprylylsilane, Polysilicone-2, Tocopherol acetate, BHT, Calcium chloride, Magnesium chloride, Peg/Ppg-14/7 Dimethyl ether, Sodium hyaluronate, Sodium acetylated hyaluronate, Tocopherol, CI77491, CI77492, CI77499.


    whew~ long list!

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    1. @Anonymous: To be honest, nothing in the first few ingredietns of the Ettusais BB Mineral Powder really jumped out at me as being likely to be clogging (some people are sensitive to silicones, but not all). For the Ettusais BB Mineral Cream, it could be the sunscreen filter (Ethylhexyl Methoxycinnamate) or the silicones (Cyclopentasiloxane etc), I'm guessing, that could be causing such a reaction. These are just guesses however, most people figure out what their skin reacts to by trial-and-error. Also, another factor to consider whether you have made any other changes to your skincare routine around the same time (e.g. did you change your moisturizer etc?). It could be that the little bumps are also from other new products introduced to your routine. However if the only new additions are the Ettusais BB Mineral products, then it could have been caused by either of those products. Hope this helps!

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  35. An interesting read!
    One thing though - if BB creams are not much different from regular foundations (inlcuding their ingredients), why the effect of using a BB cream is so much different from a foundation? They feel much lighter on the skin (I feel like I've just applied some moisturizer, no heavy feeling I usually get when using a foundation) and the look - more natural, in most cases indetectable on your face, glowy, but without shine. In most cases - a lot better than a foundation, especially for a normal day at school or work when I don't want to wear heavy make up.

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    1. @kirei: Most BB creams use silicones, e.g. Cyclohexasiloxane, Dimethicone, etc, which tend to feel lightweight on the skin. If the foundations you're comparing them to use a different formulation, e.g. are mineral oil-based, then of course the BB cream will feel lighter on the skin. I suspect that if you compared them with tinted moisturizers, which are lighter and also tend to be silicone-based, you might find greater similarity. If you like the feel of BB creams and how they wear on your skin, and if they work for you, of course you are most welcome to continue using them. I'm not bashing BB creams in this post or saying that noone should wear them; I'm just trying to tone down some of the hyperbolic marketing statements that I see people believing, because these statements are very misleading. At the end of the day, you should use what works best for you. :)

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  36. I have been searching for a bb cream but after reading your post I was wondering if there are any bb creams that wouldnt clog pores? I just bought a bunch to try out so need help lol

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    1. @Anonymous: If you know what ingredients your skin is sensitive to, then you should avoid those ingredients. Everyone's skin is a little different. Otherwise, the best way is just via trial and error, to find what works best for you.

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  37. @Anonymous: You can probably compare the ingredients lists of the BB creams you bought to the ingredients lists of the BB creams on this page, and see if there are any similarities. I think the most common pore-clogging ingredient is isopropyl myristate, so unless you're sensitive to silicones or the chemical UV filters, you should be fine. Hope this helps!

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  38. I finally know why I always develop small pimples or got worse skin after using BB cream. I eventually stopped using them, but just thought that the shades (they usually come in light shade and pinkish undertones for my darker skin) don't work for me and it contains fragrance, which my skin is allergic to. So it is the ingredients that caused that distress to my skin. I've since moved back to using foundation! Useful info, by the way~!

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  39. Hi! this is a very impressive post, thank you very much :)
    By the way, can you help me analyzing the ingredients of Garnier BB? It's newly released in my country, and I liked the feel of it, but a little bit worried about it's long-term impact, because it has alcohol. Here is the first 10 ingredients: Aqua/Water, Alcohol, Glycerin Dipropylene Glycol, Dimethicone, Pentaerythrityl Tetraethylhexanoate, Ethylhexyl Methoxicinnamate, Ammonium Polyacryldimethyltauramide, Ammonium Polyacryloyldimethyltaurate, Styrene/Acrylates Copolymer, Triethanolamine, etc. I wondered, because BBs in your post don't list alcohol on the top ingredients. Oh, ya, I used BB as substitute for foundation.

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    1. @Abida Muttagiena: Alcohol by itself can be drying to skin, but when formulated properly, it can be good for the skin. For example, a typical use of alcohol is to thin out a face cream that would otherwise be very thick. The alcohol helps the cream to feel thinner and spread better on the skin. Another use of alcohol is to enable active ingredients in the skincare product to penetrate the skin. For example, Skinceutical's acclaimed CE Ferulic serum uses an alcohol base to help the Vitamin C and other ingredients penetrate the skin better. That said, if you just put 100% alcohol on your skin, of course it will be drying. So it's not that alcohol is always bad, instead, it's really more about the way in which alcohol is used in the product, and more about how the product is formulated with alcohol.

      That said, for the Garnier BB Cream it's hard for me to tell. This is because alcohol is pretty high up in the ingredients list (second after water). But on the other hand, there are quite a few ingredients that might be quite thick and feel quite gooey on the skin without the alcohol otherwise. So my guess is they probably added the alcohol to thin out the product. Whether the level of alcohol is appropriate for you depends on how oily/dry your skin is, and how sensitive it is. Dry and sensitive skin tends to be more sensitive to alcohol than oily and not-sensitive skin. So depending on your skin, the results could go either way. If you know your skin well, you can guess what the results might be. Otherwise, your best bet is to try it out and see if your skin reacts to it. If so, then it is best to discontinue use. On the other hand, if there is no adverse effect, you're probably fine using it.

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    2. Thank you for your explanation :) My skin is combination; sometimes dry, sometimes oily. Well, I'll just try it out and see...

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  40. Thanks for this educational post...I noticed I started developing nasty skin reaction (red dots) on my forehead especially after using BB cream of different brands. This was something new, I never had that problem before..so I googled and stumbled upon this post. I just stopped using BB cream..and start switching to a good old foundation of good brands after going through these BB and CC bream...
    I found that now a classic simple foundation (e.g. Estee Lauder Double Wear) works better and seems less irritating to my skin.

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  41. I don't usually give comments when reading reviews. But i gotta do one for you - what an amazing review and best so far. I read them all! Thank you

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  42. Amazing review, great job! It must took you ages to find all the information and write it down, but it was really interesting and helpful. Thank you

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  43. i can read retinol as one of the ingredients in my vital orange skin79 bbcream (In mine at least and i ve also seen it in ads as "it containts vitamin A) Retinol, retinyl palmitate and any form of vitamin A should be avoided in products that will be used under the sunlight, as there r studies that may indicate they produce damaging radicals and be potentially carcinogenic under direct sunlight exposure. this shouldn't be a problem if the product is used by nights but this bbcream claims to have a high sun protection( spf/pa++ ) and it has a noticeable white cast coming frm the sunblocking agents, so obviously ppl will use it by days and expose themselves to sunlight. this is very puzzling and confusing. i am not even using it by nights (like for a party) bc of the ugly white cast it leaves due to the sunscreen ingredients. what a waste of money.

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  44. Hi, I know you posted this is an old post, but I only found it recently, and thought I'd pitch in my 2 cents.

    I tried lots of foundations and bb creams (both korean, european and american) and the only product I'm happy with is Skin79 (Hot Pink and VIP Gold). In my case, they're pretty good. My skin does look better, it's a decent alternative to foundation and violet base, and on my lazy days, it's a good replacement for moisturizer and primer as well, which saves me a lot of time and money.

    I have to say though that the whitening of Skin79 does work. Been using these for nearly a year, and I noticed a visible difference AFTER summer (went from a little darker than NC30 to almost-NC20).

    With that being said, I agree that what it promises is pretty much all crap. My problems with foundations all those year are probably due to mineral oils, and all I needed was to switch to something else. In which case, it's not really because BB creams spoon-feed caviar to my skin's tiny invisible little mouths, just that my skin doesn't hate silicon.

    As a big fan of BB creams, I say if you're not happy with foundations, get a 20$ Skin79 or Missha bb cream from a Korean seller and try it. It might be good for you, or it might make you look like a slightly-purple corpse.

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  45. Thanks for this extensive review! As you may have found there is minimal differences between CC and BB creams, but I would just like to add that in terms of usage, CC creams offer less coverage than BB creams.

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  46. Thank you! That was a wonderful post!!

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  47. I loved your post, but now it makes me wonder that if I use these bb creams with cheap silicone into and whatnot..how harmful would it be for my skin, if I keep using these products?

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    Replies
    1. @InnocentlyNaive: It depends on your skin. Generally silicone is fine on most people's skins, but some people experience sensitivity to silicones, so your results may vary. Other than skin sensitivity, there aren't any health or safety issues with regards to silicones in skincare. I think the important thing is to use a good makeup remover to remove the makeup at the end of the day. Hope this helps!

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  48. Thank you! That was a wonderful post!!

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  49. I'm really relieved that I found this site. I thought I was the only one with problems. I was and still have itchy, red blotches all over my face, under my eyebrows, ear lobes, chin and neck ! I never had such facial skin problems before except for pimples. This happened after a SA introduced BB products to me and since then I've been having these itchy rashes on and off. They're awful and when I scratch them they sounded like scraping over sandpaper, after drying out ! My eyelids swelled and itched, red and puffy. The skin doctor recommended me ELOMET which was very effective but after my face healed, I used and my BB creams again without realizing they were the cause of these ugly breakouts. After all, everyone raved about BB creams and didn't seem to have problems.
    Below are those I used, hoping one would be the right one for me but each cause me big problems,
    1) La Roche Posay Melt-in BB cream SPF 50
    2) Vichy Aera Mineral BB Skin Breathing blemish balm cream SPF 20
    3) Garnier Miracle Skin Perfector Moisturizer w BB Finish SPF 26
    4) Elizabeth Arden Ceramide Lift n Firm, SPF 15
    5) Hada Labo BB cream
    6) Skin 79 (Gold, Pink and Orange)

    I've even given each a few times try to check if they were the cause of the itchy rashes. I couldn't bear to throw them away as I thought they were money well spent but each time the rashes returned. I never had sensitive skin before till I started BB creams and wondered if I had suddenly developed sensitive skin or some skin allergy.
    As I live in a tropical climate, I wondered if these BB creams are unsuitable as the facial pores are blocked, but then that was why I had purchased Vichy as it stated it had 'skin breathing' properties. I hope more people are aware of such BB creams and the facial rashes and heartaches they can cause.

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  50. Thanks for the breakdown! True enough, Skin79 Hot Pink gave me a breakout. I've been using SkinInc's Pure UV Protect. So far so good.

    Aqua, Cyclopentasiloxane, Titanium Dioxide, Triethylhexanoin, Butylene Glycol, PEG-10 Dimethicone, Trimethylsiloxysilicate, HDI/Trimethyol Hexyllactone Crosspolymer, Mica, Aluminium Hydroxide, Octyldodecanol, Ceramide-2, Soluble Collagen, Tocopherol, Macadamia Ternifolia Seed Oil, Glycerin, Stearic Acid, Isostearic Acid, Polyglyceryl-2 Triisostearate, Sodium Citrate, Disteardimonium Hectorite, Ethylhexylglycerin, Phenoxyethanol, Dimethicone/Vinyl Dimethicone Crosspolymer, Dipotassium Glycyrrhizate, Silica, Iron Oxides CI77491, Iron Oxides CI77492, Iron Oxides CI77499, Talc, Citric Acid

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    Replies
    1. @gie_chloe: I'm glad you found my post helpful! The Skin79 BB creams can be quite clogging if you're sensitive to isopropyl myristate/isopropyl palmitate. These looks comparatively better, good luck!

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  51. Have you had any experience with Bourjois? I was a little concerned when I found that the Healthy Mix Foundation uses Alchol Denat and Alcohol.

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  52. HI! This post was really helpfull, I'm so happy I stumbled on it! I've always thought that makeup cant clog your pores, since it is layered (on a moisturizer), so it cant reach to your pores,man I was wrong. I've recently discovered tjat I have big issues with titanium dioxide, it really clogs my pores so badly,but strangely using a foundation or bb cream with titanium dioxide doesn't clog my pores immediately,while the sunscreen does. But just seeing that almost all bb creams relly on titanium dioxide for protection, I'm somehow disapointed,because I know that some bb cream from brand Sulwhasoo( if I m not mistaken) actually have beneficial ingredients on first place!But once again the titanium dioxide is their, I wish they would list their active ingredients... Once again, really good post :D

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