What You Need To Know About BB, CC, And Yes, DD Creams

Illustrated by Jenny Kraemer.
BB creams. CC creams. And, yes, now DD creams! With this alphabet of options, it’s easy to get confused. But, we've rounded up some fabulous creams — most of them natural and all of them cruelty-free. We've broken down the difference between these various creams so you can best determine which letter is right for you (I’m a CC, in case anyone was wondering). Click through for your go-to guide and never again wonder what BB stands for.
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Illustrated by Jenny Kraemer.
BB Cream
What is it?
We can thank the Japanese for bringing Beauty Balm (BB), their cult beauty product, to the fore. Colored and lighter than a foundation but boasting more robust coverage than a tinted moisturizer, these creams usually contain antioxidants, illuminators, and other skin-care ingredients to smooth the complexion and blur imperfections. They tone and brighten the skin and provide the long-term benefits of free radical mitigation.

Who’s BB right for?
Folks genetically blessed with good skin who just want some tint to even out their complexion and some sun protection. Those who generally loathe makeup or the heavy, cakey feel of some foundations. Everyone, because a little concealer over trouble spots atop a swipe of BB makes for a lovely, natural-looking result.

Note of Caution:
Sounds pretty great, right? Hold it right there, though. Any BB worth its salt better have SPF, and a broad-spectrum one at that. If yours doesn’t, kick it to the curb and try these more natural, protective options. And, be sure to double-up on SPF moisturizer in addition to your BB. I mean, can you really have too much sun protection? No.
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100% Pure BB Cream Luminous SPF 15, $39, available at 100% Pure.
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Tarte BB Tinted Treatment 12-Hour Primer, $36, available at Sephora.
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Illustrated by Jenny Kraemer.
CC Cream
What is it?
Think of Color Correcting (CC) cream as BB’s slightly sexier, more advanced cousin whose main goal is to address discoloration issues, like redness and sallowness. CC’s have a more whipped, sometimes even mousse-like consistency, and are generally lighter on the skin than a BB. Advanced formulations will contain cosmeceuticals to address age and dark spots longer-term. Think of these as skincare with some tint and SPF.

Who’s CC right for?
Those of us (many of us) who experience redness, discoloration, dark spots, acne scars, etc. More advanced formulations are great for more mature complexions looking for discoloration reduction with a light, weightless, no-makeup feel. Similar to a BB, even if you have a troubled complexion, or love the more opaque coverage of a tried-and-true foundation, you can still use a CC with some concealer and highlighter to yield a natural-looking, light-as-air result.

Note of Caution:
Again, the sun protection thing. If it doesn’t have adequate sun protection, don’t use it. Also, some cosmeceuticals can interfere with SPF, so be sure whatever product you select has ingredients that are sun exposure compliant.
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Origins Smarty Plants CC SPF 20 Skin Complexion Corrector, $37, available at Macy's.
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Pacifica Ultra CC Cream Radiant Foundation, $18, available at Pacifica.
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Illustrated by Jenny Kraemer.
DD Cream

What is it?
Well, we’re not entirely sure yet. There are a few on the market (Julep introduced a does-it-all DD Cream, as did Derm Doctor), but in the natural, cruelty-free arena, few have hit the mark. For now, we know that these creams are intended to trump the BB and CC creams to do “Double-Duty,” some for body and some for face.

Who’s DD right for?
Peeps who like more coverage. Mature skin. Ritual foundation wearers who want a lighter feel without sacrificing coverage.

Note of Caution:
Again, the sun protection thing. I’ll keep repeating it — if you’re not wearing SPF, you're doing something wrong.
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