BB Cream vs. CC Cream: How to Choose?
Written by: Jean Godfrey-June
Updated on: April 28, 2023
executive beauty director
We want to answer your most pressing questions—or, you know, just the things that you’re curious about. Please keep them coming to [email protected].
I’d like my skin to look nice—smooth, even, and fresh, not like I’m wearing makeup—and I need daily sun protection. Do I want a tinted moisturizer? BB cream? CC cream? I know I don’t want traditional foundation, which is too heavy for me, and I know I need more than just moisturizer. What’s the right move?
Dear Stephanie, CC creams and BB creams were originally touted as sheerer than tinted moisturizer, which was supposed to be sheerer than foundation. BB creams were supposed to be especially moisturizing for dry skin, while CCs were better for oily skin. But I’ve seen BB creams chalkier and pastier than the most grandma-brand foundations and CC creams and tinted moisturizers so sheer they might as well be invisible. The problem with all makeup is that whatever “thicker lashes” or “plump” or “sheer coverage” means to you—well, it might mean something entirely different to the people at a cosmetics company.
So, as with finding the perfect-fitting pair of jeans, make room for some trial and error—and remember that even when you find the perfect pair of jeans, sometimes, a month later, you’re like, Why did I think these were so perfect?
That said, I bet the ultimate airy-textured, pretty, skin-perfecting daily SPF 20 for you is Beautycounter Dew Skin. It makes practically every person look and feel better.
I discovered its miraculous works-for-everyone-ness when I worked at one of our OG goop pop-up shops in San Francisco. I hung out in the beauty area, soaking up the curvy, groovy atmosphere (the space resembled a miniature Guggenheim).
Everybody, it seemed, was looking for tinted moisturizer/foundation/BB/CC advice. But as I took people over to the mirrors, I’m not kidding that 9 times out of 10, Dew Skin turned out to be the perfect match, not just in terms of color but also in terms of texture and coverage level. (There are few things as happy-making as being able to help a person get exactly what they’re looking for; both the finder and the seeker emerge triumphant.)
The many triumphs, of course, convinced me, too. I started wearing Dew Skin on days when I didn’t have any appointments, dates, or other reasons I had to look good. On every one of those “off” days, someone in the office would invariably exclaim, “Your skin looks amazing today. What is it?”
From Foundation to BBs, CCs, and Beyond
That’s precisely the reaction we’re all looking for with any sort of foundation (as opposed to “Your makeup looks nice,” no?), and everybody’s skin is, of course, different. So here are some amazing clean options, every one of them adored by goop editors and staffers, from full coverage to sheer.
Oil-Controlling CC-Meets-FoundationEre Perez Oat Milk Foundation goop, $40SHOP NOW
Gorgeous Coverage—Foundation with SPF 35Saie Slip Tint goop, $36SHOP NOW
Tinted Moisturizer with Medium CoverageKosas Tinted Face Oil goop, $42SHOP NOW
Soothing SPF 30 BB-Meets-CCTower 28 Beauty SunnyDays SPF 30 Tinted Sunscreen Foundation goop, $32SHOP NOW
Ultimate Sheer Tint—with SPF 40ILIA C Beyond Triple Serum SPF 40 goop, $64SHOP NOW
Adding BB & CC Creams to Your Routine
When something makes your skin look good, you want to optimize. Here’s what I do.
I wake up and smooth on this glow-inducing, people-will-notice, miracle-working hyaluronic acid and vitamin C serum.
As I wait a few minutes for the vitamin C to really go to work, I do this lip mask. As the beloved skin whisperer Jess Bowers says, “Treat your lips right and your entire face looks more youthful.” My friend makes this mask in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, and it’s incredibly nourishing. It sinks in while I get ready, awaiting lip color (which is always my last step).
I smooth in this face oil—it feels and smells so fantastic, it’s kind of hard to believe. And it leaves the best glow.
Makeup artists like to dab on a bit of eye cream before tinted moisturizer or concealer; this one is amazing. It helps visibly depuff, soften dark circles, smooth crepiness, and reduce the appearance of wrinkles.
Now that I’ve got all the glowifying layers in place, I spend 5 to 10 minutes smoothing my face (especially under my eyes) in upward motions with this vibrating T-bar to accomplish two things: It visibly lifts, an effect that lasts the entire day. It also helps push all the amazing ingredients from the serum, oil, and eye cream deeper into my skin.
Dew Skin time. I do my whole face to get the SPF benefit and, of course, the amazing-skin benefit.
Using a brush makes all the difference with concealer: Dab the concealer only on the dark spot you want to cover, then pat (don’t rub) with your fingers. You’ll think the concealer isn’t blending properly and, suddenly, it will disappear, along with your blemishes and dark circles.
You might think liquid eyeliner is only for a bold going-out moment, but if you ever find yourself applying many extra coats of mascara, try this: Use this sleek felt-tipped pen to ink in its blackest black in between your lashes, along the top outer half of your lash line. Then sweep away any smudging with a Q-tip and your eyes will look wide-awake all day with only a single coat of mascara.
Made with powerful ingredients typically found in clean hair care, this mascara conditions deeply, so each swipe doubles as a treatment for glossy, healthy, feathery-soft lashes.
Last touch: I put on this bright but flatteringly sheer lip balm and then, with my fingers, swipe a little of the color from my lips and dab it on my cheekbones. I cannot tell you how many times people have asked me, “Did you get your makeup done?” after I’ve done this one thing.
Have you ever seen a cuter tube of sunscreen? I put a little dot on the back of one hand, blend with the back of my other hand, and throw the tube in my bag (you never know when you’re going to desperately need sunscreen, and we wash our hands so often that you need it reapplied to the backs of your hands several times a day).
This is my favorite clean fragrance. There’s hibiscus, pomelo, lemon zest, star fruit, mandarin leaves, ginger root, and Virginia cedar, mixed for a pure, bright, breath-of-fresh-air sexiness I can never get enough of.