Foundation for the Fearful: Boscia’s BB Cream

On the rare occasions that I’ve had my makeup done by a professional, I’ve tolerated foundation. But as someone with sensitive skin that goes from matte to “oil slick” in a matter of minutes, I’ve had trouble finding a formula that feels and looks good on me over the long term. Even the supposedly lightweight, mattifying stuff feels stifling and heavy to me.

But I’ve trusted Boscia for ages, since their moisturizers and skincare products are fantastically gentle and don’t irritate my skin. And I’ve trusted Beauty Bets for even longer, so when she said that Boscia’s BB Cream is a good bet, I figured it was worth a try.

What’s a BB cream, you ask? The “BB” stands for “beauty balm” or “blemish balm,” depending who you ask. (Which makes the “cream” tacked onto the end a bit redundant, no?) These products have been popular in Asia for ages, but only hit the U.S. a few years ago. They combine the properties of moisturizers, foundation, and acne care to create even tone and a clean finish. Some even tack on wrinkle minimization and sunscreen. Most formulas come in a single shade that adjusts to most skin tones upon application, which blows my mind. Well played, cosmetics formulators. Well played indeed.

I’ve been a fan of tinted moisturizer for spot application, but was eager to find a product that could even out my skin a bit without clogging my pores. I’m delighted to report that Boscia’s BB Cream does everything I want it to and more.

Here’s a photo of me with a freshly washed face and no makeup whatsoever:

And here’s a photo of me after applying my BB Cream:

Not a night-and-day difference, but as you can see, it creates an even tone that works with my naturally pale skin color. I learned early on that it needs to be rubbed in quickly and vigorously. Whatever mind-blowing science allows this goop to match various skin tones fails miserably if you fail to work it into your skin. Once you’ve done that, though, it feels great – clean and light. I must personally dispute the proclaimed mattifying properties, as I definitely get shiny after three or four hours. However nearly all mattifying products fail on my face, so this wasn’t a huge surprise. And I’ve been AMAZED by how this product keeps my acne in check. I have the occasional wayward zit, but overall? So much less spotty and breakout-prone than before. As always, all acne is unique so my good experience is no guarantee that this product will soothe your acne. But it might be worth a try.

In addition to creating an even finish and combatting acne, Boscia’s BB Cream also functions as a sunscreen. Now if only it could double as an ice cream topping, it would be the perfect product …

But seriously, I’m sold on this stuff. Feels great, looks great, does great things for my skin. And at $38 a bottle, it’s one of the cheaper BB options out there.

Have you tried any BB creams? I know a couple of you have been ordering them via eBay and online for ages! If you’ve not yet given them a whirl, would you now? Especially curious to hear if dark-skinned women have tried these tone-matching formulas … and if they actually match and work.

Image courtesy Beauty.com.

**Disclosure: Actions you take from the hyperlinks within this blog post may yield commissions for alreadypretty.com. See Already Pretty’s disclosure statement for more details. However, this is NOT a paid review. All opinions are my own, and no product was received for free.

  • Aimee C

    I feel like the emperor has no clothes. BB creams are just another slick marketing scheme to sell people (women) another “beauty” product.

    • http://www.alreadypretty.com Sal

      Interesting. These products don’t claim to do anything new or play upon any newly manufactured “flaws” in women. They just address a bunch of things at once: Acne, skin tone, sun protection, etc.

      All cosmetic products feed on manufactured discontent. I mean, no one needs foundation or eyeliner or even acne medication to survive. But my guess is that many folks who are interested in BB creams feel they are all-in-one money savers, cramming products they once bought separately into a single tube. This might be “another” beauty product to some, but it could be a multiple-product replacement for others.

  • Rachel

    I love the BB cream from Loreal – 9-11 dollars and its fabulous my skin has never been this smooth, clear, or nice looking sans makeup. Also a pale girl so I love this stuff. Also this brand has some grit to it, almost like a mild exfoliant – I find it controls oil really well. I also tried Garnier which I liked but even the fair was too dark for my skin.

    • Anneesha

      I’m SOLD on the L’Oreal BB as well … sounds like you use the “Magic” type as well (L’Oreal has at least 1 other BB line out there). The Magic has several different color ranges, and the second-lightest works perfect … I generally wear the second-lightest shade in foundations as well. I put some light foundation over it as well.

      Sal – love the before/after!

    • Nikki

      I am totally in LOVE with the L’Oreal Magic BB cream… I get it at Target for $7.99. I actually bought the deep shade first, bc they were out of medium. The coolest thing EVER about this “magic” stuff is that because it adjusts, there is no way to mess it up, even with the deep shade! It was wacky. I prefer the medium shade most of all, but I didn’t look like an Oompa Loomp with the deep.

  • http://www.thekitchendoor.blogspot.com Di

    I LOVE Boscia’s BB Cream, but I’ve finally admitted to myself that I’m a tad too fair-skinned for it. It works perfectly, but my face didn’t match my neck.

    • Halo

      That was my take, too. Of the BBs I’ve tried, I like Boscia’s formulation best by far, but I can’t abide the line at my neck. I’ve been using Dr. Jart instead, and it works really well for my paleface.

  • http://www.jenontheedge.com Jen on the Edge

    I have very dry skin that gets downright parched in the cold months. I’ve been using this BB Balm: http://www.amazon.com/Garnier-Miracle-Perfector-Light-medium/dp/B006WVCF1I/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1351601611&sr=8-1&keywords=garnier+bb+cream.

    So far, my skin hasn’t gotten as dry as it usually does in the fall, especially the 2-3 extra dry red flaky patches that always pop up.

  • http://www.adventuresofamadscientist.com adventures of a mad scientist

    I currently use Smashbox BB Cream SPF 15. It works really well on me, though I have always been told that American BB creams are more akin to tinted moisturizers than actual BB creams (like ones manufactured and sold in Asia). The Asian ones do a lot more and are better for people with drier skin, but I am totally content with the one I’m using.

    The only thing I don’t like is that since I don’t use a lot on my face to begin with, I have to add moisturizer with it to protect my face from the sun. It kind of defeats the whole purpose of my “use less” routine :P

    I think Dr. Jart has a trial set at Sephora for ~$30 if anyone wanted to try it out. I have always wanted to try the Boscia one since I have always liked their products (they are just a little too expensive for me to use on a regular basis).

    • kb

      I’ve been told that in the US you can’t do sunscreen and acne fighting in the same product.

  • diane

    The only one I’ve tried is a cheapie Maybelline BB cream that was kind of an impulse buy, and I am SOLD. I only use it under my eyes to even out dark circles and fine lines. Then the rest of my face gets a little bareMinerals. This combo makes my skin look awesome. The color seems to blend fine, and it doesn’t irritate. I’m not sure I would like the feel of it on my whole face though, I don’t really need it other than under my eyes. I used to use under eye concealer, but it was always too light in color and would crease, making lines look worse. Boscia is on my list to try once mine runs out. One other thing to note, I use philosophy’s hope in a jar daily. It does most of the evening out work before I get to the make up part. So there’s that.

  • kentucky

    I tried Clinique’s BB cream and it made me break out in terrible acne. Thank goodness it was just a sample from Sephora! I’ve been using Clarin’s Beauty Balm for years, but it’s not tinted–so not a true BB cream, I guess. It’s a fantastic moisturizer and gentle on my sensitive, acne-prone skin.

  • GingerR

    Drugstore lines have been popping up with B&B creams. I’m sure they don’t have the same magic ingredients as the more expensive ones but the couple I’ve tried have been acceptable to me.

    If a person is confident in picking the right shade I think they’re an affordable option to consider. If it turns out you don’t like it then it’s not such a big loss.

  • http://www.aminglingoftastes.com Julie

    I’ve recently purchased my second tube of this stuff. I love it. I have light olive skin that is dry with an oily nose and some redness around nose and eyes. It neutralizes redness and discoloration, and just makes me look prettier. I cannot fathom how they make it adapt to any skin tone, but it does. It feels like virtually nothing, yet has better coverage than tinted moisturizers I’ve used. You’re right—rub it in vigorously. I don’t even bother with under eye concealer most of the time bc this takes care of the redness and bluish tones. I’m happy to see other ladies touting this brand!

  • http://www.jillwillrun.com Jill Will Run

    I’ve been using the Garnier BB Cream for the past 3 weeks and I really like it. It evens out my skin tone without requiring I wear foundation, because I hate foundation!

    • Nikki

      I used Garnier for a few months before my best friend handed me a tube of L’Oreal Magic BB… you have got to try it. You sound like me- I can’t stand makeup and need an easy way to even out my skin tone. This stuff is so light and airy and EASY to use, I’m screaming it from the rooftops. I’m not usually a bossy person, but grab a tube next time you’re in Target or Walmart. It’s around $8. Medium works great for most skin tones because it adjusts to your tone.

  • lecontraire

    I decided to try Dr. Jart’s version about a year ago and love it. I believe it has actually improved the quality of my skin. The texture is quite different than a tinted moisturizer, and I have to let my moisturizer completely soak in before applying it. I am very dry and fair and I am SO happy that I decided to give it a try.

  • http://www.uglygreenchair.com whitney

    As someone who already uses a bunch of Boscia products, I’m eager to try this one, but so nice to read a review first! Thank you! I’ve tried a cheaper Loreal BB cream and wasn’t too impressed, but I have higher hopes for the Boscia version!

  • http://monkeyobsessions.blogspot.com alice

    Intriguing! Thanks for showing your befores and afters Sal, I’m struck by how natural looking it is and how well it matched your skin tone. I’m wondering if you guys dust on powder after applying the BB?

  • Ericka

    BB creams for darker complexioned ladies a few and far between it seems. I have had fantastic luck however with the Origins BB cream. Truly my skin but better. I look refreshed and awake with it and it serves as a great base if I do want to actually do makeup. It wears amazingly on me, most of the day. No breakouts either.

    I am interested to try the Bobbi Brown one if they can match my complexion. Haven’t tried the ones that supposedly match to skin (not had good luck with those types of products in the past—match to skin, usually means match to white skin most of the time in my experience unfortunately).

  • leah

    BB creams are just really good tinted moisturisers with light reflectors, which is how they adapt to skin tones. Most don’t actually have any “acne combatting” ingredients. It’s a great product but don’t buy the hype. I use a BB cream as a base when I wear makeup as I have very pale, but yellow based complexion which a lot of the western cosmetic companies don’t seem to cater to, and I don’t like a lot of coverage so it’s perfect for me.

    I will suggest to try the Korean BB creams. They’re the original and best and far, far cheaper than the Western brands. I particularly love Missha and it runs me $17 a bottle. Takes ages to ship from Asia but if you’re willing to wait, you can save a lot of $$. $38 for BB cream is a bit of a con.

    • Hannah K

      Ahh, light reflectors! That’s the matchy magic!

  • http://notdeadyetstyle.blogspot.com/ Patti @ NotDeadYet Style

    I have yet to try one, so thanks for the review. I too find many foundations too heavy and noticeable on my skin.

  • Lynn

    But which is best with super oily skin? I thought my skin would dry out as I age, but, although I have almost no breakouts now, I am still super oily. All the BB creams I have used just exacerbate this.

  • http://www.byhillary.com Hillary

    I have tried a few of the American ones and while none were even close to my skin tone I didn’t find they did too much.

    I instead went to a Korean grocery store and found IOPE BB cream. It’s my holy grail. Helps blemishes, mositure, smoothes skin, smoothes nose black heads look and minimizes more I use (I swear) evens out my red areas around nose and dark under eyes and looks like I just have beautiful skin with no makeup on and you can still see my freckles!!! And you use a tiny tiny amount. Ohhhh and I’m super oily, by end of day only tiny tiny shine.

  • Hannah K

    EVERYONE! EVERYONE!! Skin79’s BB cream (one of the old-school Korean ones) is available for drugstore prices on Amazon and it is awesome. Looks pretty (appears like light coverage while actually covering? I can’t explain it, but it’s magical), matches both my and my very-differently-undertoned friend’s skin, and is quite affordable. (I wear moisturizer under it–if you have dry skin too you probably won’t want to give up your moisturizer habit.)

    http://www.amazon.com/SKIN79-Super-Beblesh-Triple-Function/dp/B0020ZEA40/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1351635632&sr=8-1&keywords=bb+cream+skin79

  • Nikki

    Does this have a scent? I tried the Garnier BB cream and liked the coverage, but it was very heavily scented.

    • http://www.alreadypretty.com Sal

      No scent that I’ve noticed. Weirdly, the bottle itself only lists active ingredients but online listings note that it’s synthetic fragrance-free.

      • Nikki

        Thank you! I’ll have to give it a try.

  • Samantha

    I’m sort of confused by this product. Is it supposed to replace moisturizer AND foundation? Would I still want to use moisturizer underneath it? I’m very interested, because I too dislike foundation and looking made up, but evening skin tone is definitely something I’m looking for.

  • LG

    I recently bought the Marcelle BB cream and I love it! It’s only $30 in Canada, compared to Laura Mercier tinted moisturizer which I have been using, at $45. And I don’t have to wear a primer underneath, so it saves me a step (and another $45 product). I’m very curious now about the Skin79 cream though…so many products to try, but I don’t want to until I run out of what I’m using now! Wow – there are some great foundation products out these days.

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