Written by Grove Collaborative

BB cream vs. CC cream: What’s the difference?

Last Updated: June 9, 2021

Though it might conjure images of your childhood ammo, BB cream is actually a beauty product, as is its cousin, CC cream. Here’s what they are and why you’d use them.

Folks who use BB creams and CC creams often profess their undying love for them, but those who don’t use them often don’t know the difference between them or what, exactly, they’re supposed to do once they’ve purchased these oft-talked about products.


If you’re one of the latter, we're here to explain what these magical, acronymed ointments are and why adding them to your beauty arsenal is a good idea.

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What is BB cream?

"BB" most often stands for "beauty balm," but it can also mean "blemish balm." Dr. Christine Shrammek first developed what's known as BB cream in Germany more than 40 years ago as a gentler alternative to peels and harsh chemicals for her patients' skin. The product's aim was to moisturize, protect, and provide a gentler, lighter alternative for the face.


BB cream became popular as a Korean beauty “secret,” and by 2011, it had gained traction in the U.S. Today, it’s lauded for simplifying our beauty routines and reducing the number of chemicals we're putting on our faces.

What does BB cream do for your skin?

With hundreds of BB creams on the market today, you can find one to address just about any skin issue. Generally, BB creams do the following:

Block harmful rays

Because BB creams serve as a sort of barrier between bare skin and a heavy foundation, many of them contain an SPF, which is a skincare must before you leave the house.

Hydrate

BB creams have evolved into targeted products for specific skin types, providing moisturizing ingredients to hydrate skin, whether it's desert-dry or oily-slick.

Correct

Most often tinted BB creams are like a lighter foundation, helping to blur and correct skin imperfections — but with a more-sheer coverage than foundation.

Nourish

BB creams often contain skin-loving ingredients like antioxidants to fight free radicals that cause skin damage. BB creams zero in on whatever your skin needs to look its best.

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What is CC cream?

Almost as popular as its BB compatriot, CC cream is "color correcting" cream. Similar to BB cream, CC cream is a less-is-more beauty product. Aside from Hailey Bieber (lucky!), most people have uneven skin pigmentation, and CC creams target those discolorations and other imperfections several ways.

What does CC cream do for your skin?

Improves dark circles

Dark circles under your eyes are the dreaded downfall of an otherwise glowy, fresh face, CC creams with a yellow tint will help "cancel" out the bluish-purple skin tones typical of under-eye circles.


It's a classic makeup artist trick: Simply look at a color wheel, and use a hue directly opposite of the problem color. Since CC creams are lighter and more sheer than most regular concealers, there’s a smaller chance you’ll suffer the dreaded reverse-raccoon eyes.

Reduces redness and other discoloration

Using that same color wheel trick, CC creams that contain a greenish undertone can help counteract redness. It might look a little ghastly straight out of the container, but it works like a charm to offset pink tones.


The best CC creams often do more than just color correct. Soothing ingredients like hyaluronic acid hydrate and smooth out the skin, while de rigeur SPFs offer essential sun protection and extra benefits without cake-ifying your face.

Minimizes fine lines and wrinkles

Though not exactly a color issue, the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles on your face is another target for CC creams, which generally include extra anti-aging elements.


Ingredients like skin-loving vitamins C and E help fight dry skin, improve elasticity, and help boost collagen. And because CC cream is so much lighter than regular foundation, it's less likely to settle into lines and wrinkles and look like spackling.

Which is better for your skin type?

Whether your skin is dry, oily, acne-prone, or a combination, you won’t have a problem finding a BB and/or CC cream that your skin will get along with — simply look at the targeted issues listed on the product.


BB creams & CC creams for dry skin

Look for moisturizing, hydrating, and dewy finishes. For example, Grove's Lily Lolo Natural BB Cream features nourishing oils and anti-aging ingredients to help hydrate skin.


BB creams & CC creams for oily skin

Seek out matte finishes, oil-control ingredients, such as silica, and oil-free creams.


BB creams & CC creams for acne-prone skin

Some BB and CC creams are specifically created to address acne issues without stripping or irritating skin. Acne doesn't necessarily mean oily, so read the label and see what the product promises.

How are BB creams and CC creams different from foundation?

Think of BB and CC creams as "foundation-light." When it comes to foundation versus BB or CC cream, loyal users of these creams love them for many reasons, including the following:

Excellent coverage

We hear again and again how nice a sheer, glowy face looks and feels compared to a heavily made-up face. With specific ingredients that help perfect skin in a sheer, light coverage, BB and CC creams are completely replacing heavy foundations for many converts.

Luxurious texture

Thanks to components like hyaluronic acid, minerals, glycerin, and shea butter, BB and CC creams feel good on your skin. A light texture is easy to apply, and it complements — rather than covers up — your natural beauty.

Skin-saving SPF

Our frenemy, the sun, shows its damage to our skin later in life, so anything that contains SPF, like Unsun's awesome products, always gets our thumbs up. We love that so many BB and CC creams have really high SPFs.

What to look for in a BB cream or CC cream

The highest-rated BB and CC creams have several benefits in common. Be sure to look for the following:


Creamy texture: Remember, the purpose of BB and CC creams is to provide a sheer, light, and nourishing treatment for your skin. Look for natural ingredients and creams that are fragrance-free.


Tone or shade: Most BB and CC creams are made in various skin tone colors, with certain undertones to address pigmentation issues like sun spots or redness. In addition, many are made with natural skincare ingredients that brighten skin, like vitamin C.


SPF (yes, we're gonna say it one more time!): Today's BB and CC creams feature higher SPFs made especially for the face, so they're less likely to cause breakouts or reactions.

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