BB cream is a marketing term that stands for blemish balm, blemish base, beblesh balm, and in Western markets, beauty balm. Products marketed as BB creams are generally designed to serve as a foundation, moisturizer, and sunscreen all at once. What became BB cream was originally formulated in the 1960s in Germany by dermatologist Dr. Christine Schrammek to protect her patients' skin after facial peels and surgery. BB creams come in a variety of different formulations. Because Korean companies focused initially on the Korean and East Asian markets, they are offered in a limited number of hues. Instead of offering multiple shades for different skin colors, most formulae are designed to oxidize to match the user's skin tone. The skin-whitening properties of the cream as sold in the Asian market are an important element in its popularity. The "BB" in "BB Cream" stands for "Beauty Balm" or "Blemish Balm", a concept originally created by dermatologists from Germany and Korea to address the needs of delicate and post-procedural skin. These 5-in-1 perfectors contain treatment ingredients to address various skin concerns, moisturize dry and dehydrated skin, camouflage uneven skin tones, redness, and blemishes, prime the skin by filling in uneven texture and pores, and provide SPF sun protection.
The cream is promoted as a multi-tasker and all-in-one treatment, but Korean women mostly use it as an alternative to foundation, particularly those with Western formulations that tend to be too heavy for their tastes. The coverage is often mineral-based, and is intended to both cover and treat blemishes such as acne, sun spots, and age spots. Some brands claim anti-wrinkle, anti-inflammatory, and soothing effects for their products. Several contain hyaluronic acid and vitamin C. BB creams make up 13 percent of the cosmetics market in South Korea. Some Korean brands also offer BB creams for men. Notable Korean brands include Etude House, Missha, Nature Republic, Skin Food, Sulhwasoo, The Face Shop, SKIN79, Innisfree, Banila Co. and CLIO.
Western cosmetics companies began to launch BB creams in the Western market in 2012, though some of these creams have been criticized for lacking the skin-caring functions that BB creams normally have, and for being no more than tinted moisturizer. Early arrivals included Boscia, Clinique, Dior, Estée Lauder, Garnier, Marcelle, Maybelline, Revlon and Smashbox. Lab Series makes a BB cream for men. Certain BB creams have been tailored for Western markets: Estée Lauder, for example, has not included the whitening properties in their formulation for North America.
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