How is a CC Cream Different than a BB Cream?

Cosmetics, Personal/Inspirational, Skin Care

I’ll admit, I’m slow to change:  When BB creams first came out, I didn’t like the fact that they only came in 3-5 shades each.  Then, I started to realize that they usually had only silicone bases, meaning that the key ingredients were laying on top of the skin, not embedded in delivery systems absorbed well by the skin.  Boo!

But I made peace with BB creams.  I even recommended a few.  [Read more:  Are BB Creams Worth It?  Which Ones are the Best?]  And then along came CC creams.  *sigh*

So here’s what you need to know about the differences:

1.)  A CC cream is a “color-correcting” cream. A BB cream is a “beauty balm.”

I think freckles are beautiful, but they’re also signs of sun damage. CC creams are designed not only to cover sun damage, but also to help treat and prevent it in the future.

A CC cream is a color correcting cream, meaning that it is a brightening primer, foundation, moisturizer, SPF and anti-aging cream.

On the other hand, a BB cream is a non-brightening primer, foundation, moisturizer, SPF and anti-aging cream.

2.)  A CC cream is typically lighter than a BB cream, and oil-free.

BB creams are typically laden with hydrators to create a dewy finish, which are not so great for acne-prone or oily skin.

CC creams, on the other hand, are typically oil-free.

Still, I prefer more targeted products for acne-prone or oily skin. For instance, FutureDerm writers love Hourglass Veil Mineral Primer ($52.00,, with alumina that completely absorbs oil on the skin.  As for foundation for oily/acne-prone skin, we adore Clinique Acne Solutions Liquid Makeup ($34.99, – with 2% salicylic acid, it controls oil production, but has enough hydrators to dry smoothly on the skin.

3.)  Neither is still likely to deliver key ingredients to your skin as well as a serum or targeted moisturizer.

English: BODY BISTRO Apricot + Lavender Soothi...
It’s true: BB and CC creams do not typically have delivery systems that ensure ingredients are absorbed well by the skin. Serums, on the other hand, often (but not always) do.

Delivery systems matter.  Ingredients like propylene glycol, butylene glycol, and other alcohols, as well as advanced delivery systems like liposomes, are commonly used to increase the skin’s absorption of ingredients.

Unfortunately, BB and CC creams typically are designed to be make-up products.  Yes, you will get benefits.  But I’d take 10% vitamin C in a serum over 10% vitamin C in a BB or CC cream any day!

4.)  It’s hard to find CC creams in the U.S. right now.

Right now, Rachel K Cosmetics is premiering a CC Cream in the U.S.  Given their popularity in Asia and the U.K., I’m sure more will hit our shores any day now.  But for now, as of August 6, 2012, if you want to try one, you have to go through Rachel K Cosmetics in the U.S.

Bottom Line

I don’t like BB creams and I don’t care for CC creams either.  But, that said, I don’t want to be a Scrooge about them!  If you have oily or acne-prone skin and hyperpigmentation problems and want an all-in-one moisturizer/sunscreen/primer/foundation, then I would choose a CC cream over a BB cream.  Otherwise, for those with dry or normal skin, stick with a BB cream.

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  • tvister992

    Hi Nicki!
    In your comments about freckles you mentioned website

    Unfortunately I have not found this site. It seems that it is no more.
    Instead, I found something better.

    Thanks for the brilliant job – great stuff!

  • Alberto

    Just letting anyone know that Givenchy’s BB Cream does have butylene glycol, which supposedly helps skin absorption of ingredients. Beauty wise, it covers quite well and therefore feels like a foundation. I find that I don’t need much to cover my face. It does leave some kind of glow, too. Also, It has no oils in it, according to the ingredient list.

    But since I have acne-prone skin, I’m going to look into CC Creams to see if anything else suits me better when I feel like covering up.

  • I am loving CC cream. It’s less greasy than BB cream by far! I tried the Rachel K one and reviewed it:
    I am also trying the Chanel one in a few weeks!

  • Great post!

    Glad to hear someone NOT jumping on the BB/CC cream bandwagon and actually looking at the ingredients of a product to determine its effectiveness.

  • josephine

    Thanks so much NIcki!! I guess that’s what I meant since I’m very fair and a strawberry-blonde and I remember having freckles at 4 or 5 yrs. I barely have any now. Lots of staying out of the sun and wearing sunscreen 🙂 Thanks for all the great info!

  • @May – Feel free to ask in Comments. Please note, though, that it can take a few days for a response, hope you don’t mind 🙂

  • May

    Hi, is there a way to ask questions other than through Facebook? There are still a few holdouts out there who refuse to hop on the bandwagon, largely out of privacy concerns. 🙂 Thanks!

  • @Angela – Thanks for your opinion. We’re in the process right now of clarifying our voice and finding new writers, and there will definitely be an adjustment period. Please keep reading and let us know how we’re doing again in a few weeks/months! Thanks!

  • @Josephine – Thanks for your comment. Perhaps I should have phrased it differently: “Some people have a higher genetic predisposition than others to get freckles. They emerge with sun exposure, though it takes more sun exposure in some individuals than others to emerge.” However, no matter what, no one is born with freckles, and they do emerge with sun exposure. Not necessarily sun damage, though – should have rectified that, yes.

  • @Olive – Glad you like the article! Love your site too!

  • Angela

    Gotta say I totally agree w/Lauren. Quality over Quantity. Being a long-time FD reader, sadly. I too have begun to skip over the barrage of posts now. It’s been that way for quite a while. Many posts lately seem to be written too quickly or sort-of thrown up haphazardly. And, many are just too far off topic or interest. I understand the need to try new things, expand, reach more readers. Splitting the feed could help. Though, as far as content, quality and relevancy to your readers is THE most important thing.

  • josephine

    Whoa, hold up! “I think freckles are beautiful, but they’re also signs of sun damage.” Some people are born with freckles, like me. That’s not sun damage! The line should read, “but they can be signs of sun damage”, or “but they can be a sign of sun damage” because saying that they are always a sign of sun damage…is…just…totally false.

  • Nikki,
    I totally agree with you on the BB & CC market. Almost every single one I have looked at is heavily loaded with silicones. I think it’s sometimes unfair when products make claims like ‘brightening’ because many people can misinterpret that as ‘lightening’, which, as you know, are 2 very different things. Like you said, even if there were ingredients that were clinically proven to lighten, the silicone would prevent any effective absorption. I had high hopes for BB’s when they first entered the US market but I haven’t really found one that was set itself apart from most primers.
    Love your blog!

  • Hi @Lauren,

    Thank you for your concerns. I will certainly talk to our coder about splitting our posts in the news feed. You may found now that there are links at the top; if you click on a link, you can go directly to the post that you selected.

    I can also assure you that each of our writers is trained, and goes through the same process of research that I do before making a review. We are currently receiving about 20-25 questions and product review requests per day, and it would be impossible for me to handle all of these by myself. However, due to your comment, I will make sure that I review each post myself from now on (in addition to our editor’s review) to ensure that they are of the same quality and say only things that I would approve of on the site.

    Hope this helps,

  • L

    Can you split the feeds for each of your categories? I used to love your blog, but with the recent upswing in posts, I’ve found myself avoiding your folder in my Google reader because there’s so much to sift through. I’m sure you’ve attracted readers with the addition of fragrance reviews, etc, but as a reader who started following your posts for skincare information, I’m not as interested in the new stuff. Split feeds would really improve my experience as a reader.

    Also, please keep an eye on the overall quality. I was surprised to see two very different posts on eye creams in such a short amount of time. Frankly, I’m starting to trust the information presented on your blog less now that some writers seem much less qualified to offer skin care advice than when the posts were almost exclusively written by a med student (you) and dermatologists.
    Advice from hobbiests is fine for some blogs, but I started reading this one because I enjoyed posts with information that was scientifically proven, reviewed & edited by a (future) doctor, and usually new to me. I’m a pretty typical consumer, many of the recent posts contain the same old information on the same old topics that are published time and time again on average blogs and in main-stream magazines.
    I enjoy your impressive posts on ingredients, interations, and overall skincare, but finding the gems hidden in the increased volume of posts is becoming increasingly difficult. Please reconsider quantity v. quality issues on your blog. I wrote such a long comment because I really do appreciate your blog, and I want it to get back to the place it used to be when I recommended it to lots of my friends.

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