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First there were BB creams, then CCs, and now—you guessed it, DDs. With so many different versions of skin-perfecting products at a range of price points on the market these days, it’s hard to know which to try.
Believe it or not, BB creams aka "beauty balms" or "blemish balms," have actually been around since the ‘60s! The first version was formulated by a German dermatologist, Dr. Christine Schrammek, as a way to help heal patients’ skin and hide redness after a peel or treatment. BBs were introduced to the masses in South Korea and Japan in 1985 and, and hit the U.S. market in 2011, quickly becoming a standout seller for many brands despite a crowded makeup market. Following that success, CC creams ("color correction" or "color control") were the inevitable next step. BBs were designed to instantly even out skin tone and make your complexion work better, and, in most cases, have SPF built in; CCs take it to the next level, providing all of that, plus long-term benefits—most are made to color correct and improve skin tone over time with regular use.
As if things couldn’t get anymore confusing, this year, Julep was the first brand to launch a DD—or "dynamic do-all"—cream in the U.S, which combines the benefits of both BB and CCs together. Initially, BBs and CCs came only in limited shades, often lighter on the complexion spectrum, but now, thankfully, brands like AJ Crimson, Cover FX, and Clinique have released a full range to accommodate skin tones from very light to very dark.
It’s a lot to take in, and even after extensive research we're not convinced there's a real, marked difference between all three. Still, every product offers different benefits—and we figure any multitasker that can streamline our beauty routines is worth a go. Here, we break down each category and offer some of our favorite picks.
BBs are like tinted moisturizers, which give light coverage and hydration perfect for everyday use, but with added benefits. They're a skincare–makeup hybrid that does it all: primes, refreshes, brightens, moisturizes, and protects (most versions include SPF from 15 up to 50 and beyond). If you want more coverage, you can also try using a BB as a primer under your foundation, rather than switching to a heavier foundation.
Provides very sheer to light coverage with a natural-looking matte finish; the drier formula is a good pick for those with normal or combination skin. Those with really light skin will find a couple of shades to choose from; the darkest of the five offered ("dark") would work on medium-dark complexions.
A great option for dry skin that tints, primes, nourishes, and protects. It has a smooth texture that's easy to apply, and has a dewy, sheer finish. There are five shades, the darkest of which,"Nude Glow," would work best on medium complexions.
A budget pick that’s super blendable and includes SPF30? Sign us up. It’s oil-free so there’s no greasy feel, and each of the five shades is designed to adjust to your skin tone to blur imperfections.
CC creams tend to give a little more coverage than BBs, but still feel light and offer similar benefits. The difference is the addition of color correcting ingredients (for example, vitamin C), which help diminish dark spots, neutralize redness, and improve the appearance of skin that's dull, ashy, or uneven over time. If you have problem skin (anything from acne to hyperpigmentation) or want anti-aging benefits, CC creams may be the right choice.
This one is fragrance-free, provides broad-spectrum sun protection, and has a wide range of color options—nine to be exact. The thick and creamy texture gives a nice amount of moisture (thanks to the aloe barbadensis, leaf water, and hyaluronic acid) as it evens out skin tone and reduces redness. As CCs go, it’s on the sheerer side, and great for dry skin.
The formula’s sheer coverage helps even out redness and Evodia fruit, known to brighten skin, gives a matte finish with a bit of brightness. The product is also designed to fight wrinkles over time, and has SPF 18 broad spectrum protection built in. The only downer is that it comes in just two shades: light and light-medium.
This new product from the pro-favorite Cover FX has retinoid-like ingredients that help reduce fine lines and wrinkles. It also does the trick is without parabens, sulfates, phthalate, mineral oil, fragrance, talc, or gluten. If you want something that gives good coverage that lasts, this one is worth the splurge. Bonus: nine shades to choose from, all totally vegan.
Designed to diffuse light, a DD's strongest asset is its arsenal of anti-agers—usually some combination of botanical oils, hyaluronic acid, antioxidants, and peptides. They're best for aging skin, and those who want to focus on improving tone and diminishing wrinkles over time. The best DDs are ideal for covering up wrinkles, blemishes, and dark spots, and also work to actually battle all three while you wear them.
The coverage is similar to a tinted moisturizer, but it builds really well so that you can get the effect you want. The standouts here are the pearlised pigment, which gives you an instant glow, and the variety of shades (ten in all, all along the spectrum). But there's no SPF, so remember to layer your own underneath!
Okay, we cheated a little, as AJ Crimson decided to combine the “BB” with the “D,” but we had to include it in this category for the range of shades. The 11 offered range from truly light to truly dark, with an option for every subtle variation in between. It’s lightweight, moisturizing, and natural-looking, but provides near-full coverage. Layer it over a primer or moisturizer with sun protection, as there's no SPF.
For more info on these picks, see under Featured Products below. What do you use—BB, CC, DD, or none of the above? Tell us in the comments!