March 1, 2010

BB Creams: what are they, and a review of Erborian BB Cream

A friend of mine recently introduced me to Erborian BB cream, talking about it as the best invention since sliced bread. She explained that it is a product that is kind of an all-in-one moisturizer, primer, SPF and sheer foundation. That it also improves the skin condition. And that it has a light ashy color that is just perfect for us pale neutral/warm girls.

I was intrigued. Talk about a paradox: I, the girl who owns 1.247 foundations, needed to try the product that would make them all useless! So I ran and bought it - 33€ you guys!

Then, once what I had coveted was in my possession, I started researching the product and brand (which I strongly advise against doing, that leads inevitably to huge amounts of unused stuff).

BB Cream stand for Blemish Balm Cream, and they are not new at all. The first one was apparently created by a German plastic surgeon who wanted a product that would protect, heal and soothe the skin after cosmetics procedures. That's why he put SPF in it, because those skins are fragile and can't be exposed to UV's at all.
Then the Asian cosmetics industry got their hands on the product and made it a big thing: there are dozens of BB Creams available on that market and it looks like every woman is using one. Some don't have SPF anymore, some have whitening ingredients, which lots of Asian consumers appreciate. Some have a darker tint to it but mostly the products don't come in different tones and have an ashy color.

Now the Asian BB creams are available on the web through different e-tailers and range between 19 and 29$. Hum, how come I paid almost the double?

Well, although Erborian claims to be a Korean skincare brand, it was actually created by 2 ladies: one Korean and one French. The products are currently marketed in Europe and are pretty easy to find in France and Belgium at least, or can be ordered from their website.

The products claims to be "a totally new generation of skincare formula to create “perfect skin”, naturally. Transparent foundation + skincare + “peachskin” effect, GINSENG BB CRÈME 3-in-1 unifies your skin tone, energizes and brings moisture, for a perfect “baby skin” all day long." (information coming from the Erborian website) What wasn't very clear for me was the 'transparent foundation' description: is it or is it not a foundation? Apparently, it can be used as such but if you want to add a foundation on top, it makes an excellent primer.
Now, about my experience with the product. It has a little bit of a spicy scent, but this fades away very quickly. The first time I used it, I didn't put a moisturizer underneath, since the product is supposed to be one, and I applied a very thin layer. I found it was drying very quickly during the application, which made it hard to blend, and that my skin felt quite tight through the day. I must say I had put some Mac MSFN powder on top.
My friend advised I used it differently: moisturizer underneath, more product, and no powder on top. She was right: it works much better.
The positive points: this is like Photoshop "blur" tool in a bottle, your pores are less visible, your skintone looks more even. Your skin feels very smooth. It has a pretty slightly dewy finish and doesn't turn into a greasy mess during the day. And it has an SPF of 25.
The negative points: although BB creams claim to be so good that you won't need any concealer, I don't think that's the truth. I had a couple of small blemishes that were still visible and my undereye circles, which are fare from the worst you can encounter, were still there as well. The skintone is a bit more even but don't expect this to cover hyperpigmentation or rosacea or just plain redness. I found I need to use concealer on top of it to hide my little flaws. Also, this wouldn't work on anybody darker than me, this is really a product for fair skin (but there might be darker ones on the market, although I think the options are very limited).
And then there's the ingredients. Although Ginseng is supposed to be the active ingredient, it's among the last ones on the very long list, well behind quite a few different silicones (hence the smooth skin). I checked the ingredients of other BB creams on the web and this is quite common in their formulation. I find it a bit hard to understand how these products are supposed to improve the skin and not clog pores. But since I have good skin, I can't really comment on that, nor on the improvement it's supposed to bring after 2 months.
But well, I'm still glad I came across this product. On days where I am in a hurry or don't care about wearing a lot of makeup because I'm not going any further than the bakery, this is absolutely perfect. It's applied in 30 seconds, and it does look good, especially as I have good skin and don't have much to cover.
I would say it's the perfect product for those who don't want to spend a lot of time on a foundation routine, don't have a lot to conceal and can find a matching color. The price is very accessible if you buy an Asian product on the web (make sure you check out reviews first). I wouldn't use it as a primer because I feel like it would be very heavy on the skin.
Did you already try a BB cream? Which one and did you like it?


  1. I read your post tentatively and I'm still confused with BB creams... I've read somewhere that they're supposed to help blemished skin?!?

  2. Indeed, they are supposed to help with healing. As I said, I have good skin and haven't used mine long enough to notice how it works in this field. From what I read on the web, it does work but on the long term - you need to wear it daily for 2 months to notice a truly improved skin.

  3. I think I will give a go to the one from Missha (have not decided yet which formula) or from Skinfood. They are indeed way cheaper than the Erborian! But I am pretty sure to be disappointed as I can not stand light coverage. Need to hide behind my foundation layer :))

  4. For anyone interested in trying BB Creams, you may want to check out the Missha website- they've had a long running offer where if you regsiter for an online account (give them your name & address info basically) you can get a sampler set for free- you just pay shipping. For me here in the US that was $6.

    The sampler has a small tube of the #23 M Perfect Cover BB Creme- which I'd say would match somewhere around an NW 25. It basically seems like a tinted moisturizer, but whereas most moisture plus tints on the US market are liquid, this is more of a cream.

    I'm not decided yet on the Missha one- it's not my shade, but since it is sheer when blended out, I can make it work by blending down onto my neck. I've read a lot of reviews for various BB Creams- there doesn't seem to be one standout brand, and it seems like many people break out from them, so that's a concern, yet it's lately an obsession of mine, so I'll continue to test & experiment!

  5. Hi there, great blog. I've just become highly interested in BB Cream products at the moment and since the last blog and comment was quite some years ago, I hope to find out what your overall experience and thoughts on the product are..

    If you could enlighten me about that issue some 2 years hence, I and I'm sure your readers will be grateful to hear what should now seem like a very thorough trial and experimentation of the product. Thanks for the above thus far!

    1. I stand by everything I wrote here 2 years ago and I have not worn the product in a very long time as I never repurchased it. And basically, I didn't like any of the Western BB creams launched last year that I tried. BB creams are not my thing, I don't think I can really help you, sadly?


I love getting comments, thanks for sharing your thoughts!