ABCs of beauty: The difference between BB, CC and DD creams

ABCs of beauty: The difference between BB, CC and DD creams

Whatever happened to the good old duo of concealer and foundation? Today's new alphabet soup of facial creams can often seem like a confusing jumble of marketing buzzwords.

Have no fear - we're here to simplify the new language of beauty. Take a look at our handy overview of the colour cocktails on the market, and decide for yourself which beauty-boosting balm best suits your needs.

BB Cream

What it is: The letter game started here. Originally conceived in Germany as a post-procedural healing ointment, the "beauty" or "blemish" balm fad really took off in South Korea and neighbouring Taiwan. On the makeup spectrum, BB creams sit somewhere between tinted moisturiser and foundation.

What it does: The lovechild of a happy marriage between makeup and traditional skincare, BB creams offer the hydration and translucent coverage of a tinted moisturiser, with bonus benefits like spot-fighting antibacterial agents, anti-aging retinols and sun damage protection.

How to use: Blend well into skin, after cleansing, toner and serum. Think of it as doing triple duty as an all-in-one sunscreen, moisturiser and sheer foundation. It is an alternative to, and not a substitute for, foundation - don't expect it to mask all of your flaws.

A common bugbear of BB cream users is the deathly gray cast some brands can impart to your skin. Always test different swatches on your wrist and wait for an hour or so, to make sure the one you select stays true to hue and doesn't oxidise a shade or two darker after application.

Best for: Women with enviably good complexions, who require just a little evening of skin tone. For the rest of us, a BB cream is great for days off when you want to look polished without going the full makeup route.

Do note that most BB creams use light-diffusing optics for a dewy look, so oilier skin types might need to tamp the shine down with an added swipe of a mattifying compact.

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