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BB cream, blemish balm, beauty balm — call it whatever you want. It’s one of the most misunderstood makeup products around. Because it only appeared on the scene less than a decade ago, it still feels a little foreign: Is it foundation? Is it tinted moisturizer? Well, it’s both — and more. What makes BB cream so amazing is that it’s the ultimate multitasking product to even out your skin’s complexion, hydrate and protect — often with SPF and antioxidants.

We chatted with beauty expert and makeup artist Mickey Williams of Share The Glam to answer the question: How do you use BB cream? Plus, see five our current favorite BB creams below.

Is BB cream foundation?
“Yes and no,” explains Williams. “It’s a hybrid of a beauty balm or skin care with SPF and pigment. It works just like a day cream loaded with varying benefits like moisture and SPF but also has the added perk of pigment for coverage.”

What are the advantages of BB cream? Disadvantages? 
“You can skip the steps of layering your skin care under your color foundation and apply one step with a BB cream,” says Williams. “As for disadvantages, not all BB creams are the same. Some have minimal tint added while some have heavier pigments. Same goes for the ingredients, as some target acne and others mature, dry skin. You need to really look at the benefits and coverage before selecting a product that is right for you. Also, it can be hard to find a BB cream that works with a multitude of skin tones. I’ve found that most brands have only two to three shades to choose from, omitting a lot of consumers.”

How do you use BB cream with your skin care?
“Most of us have a favorite serum or tonic we wouldn’t dream of tossing out of our daily routine. If you want to use it together with a BB cream, you may want to wait a few minutes between applications. Always spot test a small area before smearing all over your face to see if there is any discomfort. Some BB creams are very active and you do not want to have interactions with your favorite serum and the BB.”

Is BB cream the only SPF I need?
“Very few BB creams have SPF over 20. I recommend applying your BB cream and then dusting a mineral SPF powder after to give added protection. These powders work well to touch up skin throughout the day, as well.” You should also always apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher before your makeup.

Ahead, find five BB creams you’ll love, plus what makes them unique. 

Kiehl’s BB Cream
We can always count on Kiehl’s for its high-performing skin-care products, like this dual-action BB cream. Its lightweight formula works to correct uneven skin tone, contains SPF 50, and conceals imperfections. 

Garnier SkinActive 5-in-1 Miracle Perfector BB Cream
This oil-free BB cream controls shine, minimizes pores, evens skin tones, hydrates and protects. It’s ideal for all of you beauty lovers with oily or combination skin. 

L'Oréal Paris Magic Skin Beautifier BB Cream
For a super lightweight lotion, look to this BB cream for a naturally flawless finish. It’s perfect for everyday-wear to hydrate, correct and perfect.

Maybelline New York Dream Fresh BB Cream
Add this drugstore staple to your cart if you’re looking for a radiant, dewy finish. This formula blurs, brightens, hydrates, evens skin tone, smoothes and more! It also contains broad-spectrum SPF 30 to protect your skin throughout the day. 

Read More:
A Complete Step-By-Step Tutorial for an Easy Natural Makeup Look
The Right Way to Wear Sunscreen Under Foundation — According to an Expert 
4 Translucent Setting Powders That Won’t Give You Flashback

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