BB creams have been around for a while now, and they’re still a popular makeup choice because of the lightweight coverage and bonus skincare benefits. I prefer a BB cream or tinted moisturizer over full-on foundation for everyday wear, and I’ve been wearing my favorite BB cream for 10 years.
BB creams (aka beauty balms) provide coverage and have good-for-the-skin ingredients that can take care of the skin, protect against the sun, and brighten. “A beauty balm should feel light upon touch and spread with a feeling of a balm,” explains makeup artist Mia Jones, whose clients include Amal Clooney, Rosario Dawson, and Mariah Carey. “Applied to the high points of the face where the sun touches, it provides a luminous glow and sun protection.”
When it comes to shade-matching BB creams, it can be a little bit easier than with foundations. “There’s a smaller area for error because one shade in a BB cream matches a large array of skin tones because it sheers out,” says Vincent Oquendo, whose clients include Janelle Monáe and Lily Collins. “Most BB creams that are out there will adapt to your skin.”
And while the process is a bit simpler, it still helps to keep a few things in mind when choosing a shade, especially with darker, deeper skin tones, as you don’t want the product to appear gray or ashy.
For darker skin tones, Oquendo recommends getting two to test and perhaps mix together or use on different parts of the face. “Get one that you think is on the money for your skin tone and one that’s warmer,” he says. “You can use two colors because there are highs and lows to your skin—that’s what makes your skin so gorgeous. It’s not all one color. There’s the depth and dimension to your skin. So you could easily use the warmer color around your forehead, jawline, and even your cheekbones to make them pop. It’s a really subtle way of contouring. A lot of people might find contouring intimidating, but this is a really great way to sort of toe touch into it if it’s of interest of you.”
Jones says you can also match between the lightest tone of your face and your actual skin tone.
Don’t be afraid to play around with products to create something that works for your specific skin tone. For instance, if you get more sun and your skin tone is a bit darker than normal, you don’t have to get a completely new foundation to exactly match your coverage. Oquendo recommends mixing your BB cream (if it’s sheer enough and on the warmer side) with your existing concealer (which is normally lighter) to even out the tone.
And Jones creates a beauty balm effect by mixing two products together: “Kypris’s Pot of Shade ($75), which is a primer and sunscreen, and Chanel’s Baume Multi-Use Glow Stick ($45) are incredible. I suggest Golden Light for darker skin tones. I am such a fan of the concept of a beauty balm.”
If you’re shopping around for options, here are the BB creams makeup artists and editors recommend.