Where Are All Of The BBBs (Brown Beauty Balms)?

BB Creams should come in shades for all skin tones.

It’s been a while since a completely new skin care category has been introduced to the beauty world, hence all the fuss about BB Creams, which have hit stores en masse over the last few months. If you haven’t heard, “BB” is a nickname for beauty balm or blemish balm. The creams, which were a hit in Asia before they made their way to the states, are have become so popular because they’re extremely multifunctional. They’re primers, tinted moisturizers and sunscreens all in one tube. Sounds amazing, right? They are—unless you have dark skin. The thing is…

…most BB Creams only come in one or two shades–sometimes three–but that doesn’t leave many options for women with brown complexions like mine. Even if your skin tone is olive, you might have trouble finding a good match.  Yo, beauty industry—what’s up with that?

Since the BB Cream genre is new, I wondered if there is something about it—like the unique texture or the formulation—that would make it difficult to produce in deeper colors. I asked my friend Trae Bodge, Senior Beauty & Lifestyle Writer for Retailmenot.com and co-founder of Three Custom Color Specialists. But Trae told me dark BB Creams are totally doable. “From a product development standpoint, foundations for darker skin are very tricky because dark skin is infinitely more complex in tone than fair skin.  Where fair skin may have around eight different tones around the face, darker skin can have over 25, which is why it’s so hard to get right. That said, there is no excuse when it comes to BB’s or tinted moisturizers. Because they have a sheer payoff, there’s a lot more wiggle room with the shades.  You could easily have one or two darker shades and call it a day,” Trae explained.

Until the day comes when more brands decide to produce some good BBBs (brown beauty balms), there are a few products out now that are worth trying:


Photo: courtesy of Smashbox

Smashbox Camera Ready BB Cream SPF 35 in Dark: The color matches my complexion really well and I love the texture. My face tends to get shiny during the day, but when I wear this I don’t have to use my oil-blotting papers. It makes my skin look smooth and even, but real–not like it’s underneath a layer of heavy coverage. This cream also has one of the larger shade ranges (it comes in five colors!) so the medium shades could be a good option for South Asian women and Latinas as well.


Photo: courtesy of Sarah McNamara Beauty

Miracle Skin Transformer SPF 20 Face in Dark: This doesn’t say “BB Cream” on the label, but based on what it does (mattifies, primes, covers, hydrates) it’s pretty much the same thing. Trae suggested I try it, and I really like it. I think as I get more sun, I’m going to have to try the Deep Dark shade, but Dark is working well for me right now. It doesn’t feel as hydrating as I would like, but if I put on a serum or light moisturizer underneath, I’m good.

Dr. Brandt Flexitone BB Cream: The back of the tube says it adjusts to “most” skin tones, but it left my face with a slightly ashy cast. But I think this product is worth mentioning because it could work for those with light to medium-light complexions that are hard to match–like biracial or multiracial women. Trae fits into this category and chalkiness wasn’t an issue for her when she tried the Dr. Brandt cream.

I want to get your take on the trend–have you jumped on the BB Cream bandwagon yet? Which one(s) have you tried? 




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2 thoughts on “Where Are All Of The BBBs (Brown Beauty Balms)?

  1. Pingback: Made In My Shade: Burberry Sheer Luminous Foundation | beautycism

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