Korea may seem an unlikely incubator of grooming trends but, along with its pop groups and soap operas that have swept through Asian culture, sheet face masks and BB creams are two more game-changing products we can thank them for. Korea has long been on a mission to find the holy grail of skin perfection: the brighter and smoother the better. A quick glance at boy band BTS – the Kings of K-Pop – explains a lot about Korea’s androgynous popular culture: guys that very nearly look like girls with over-groomed eyebrows and freakishly good, baby-smooth skin.
BB stands for “Blemish Balm” and was originally conceived to disguise the skin and discreetly help it recover after a cosmetic procedure or treatment. In the beauty addicted world of South East Asia, the concept took off and spread like wildfire to your nearest chemist. From luxury skin care labels to makeup giants, most brands have brought out their own version.
The BB is its current guise is more like a skin tone tinted moisturiser with extra benefits. These multitasking products can correct redness and discolouration, conceal spots and scars, smooth fine lines and wrinkles, brighten and moisturise, and protect with sun protection filters – making them ideal for summer.
They’re practical too, and easier to carry around than the combined products they can sub for: moisturiser, sun screen, concealer. Basically, BBs are a lighter, more man-friendly version of foundation.
For all the times your mug could use a little extra help in the skin department, there’s a BB cream to match.
The Original One
Lab Series Skincare for Men BB Tinted Moisturizer SPF 35
Lab Series were the first dedicated men’s brand to launch a BB cream in the UK back in 2012. This has a very natural finish and can be built up for denser coverage. It’s slightly limited by the fact it only comes in one shade – that said it is universal and should adapt to your skin tone, even as you tan. Great for concealing uneven skin tone and redness.
£38 for 50ml; labseries.co.uk
The Acne One
Clinique Anti Blemish Solutions BB Cream SPF 40
With built in oil control, Clinique’s mattifying BB will disguise scars and spots whilst helping to stop new break outs developing. The high SPF will keep skin protected all year round. Comes in four shades across a light to medium spectrum.
£30 for 30ml; boots.com
The Pigmentation One
Kiehl’s Actively Correcting & Beautifying BB Cream SPF 50
Suffer from pigmentation spots, sun damage or uneven skin tone? Kiehl’s light BB is for you. A dual-action formula uses Vitamin C to help break down excess melanin and a very high SPF to prevent further patches developing. Consistent use should result in a more even skin tone overall.
£23.50 for 30ml; kiehls.co.uk
The Luxury One
Omorovicza Complexion Perfector SPF 20
From high-end Hungarian skin care brand Omorovicza, this luxury skin perfector comes in three shades and works as a moisturiser, foundation, sunscreen and concealer in one. The formula uses the brand’s famous Healing Concentrate with high-tech hyaluronic acid microspheres that deliver hydration over time.
£60 for 50ml; cultbeauty.co.uk
The Authentic One
Erborian Korean Skin Therapy BB Crème Au Ginseng
Want the genuine K-Pop look? This all-round BB from Korean brand Erborian will reduce the appearance of imperfections, hydrate and leave a non-oily, velvety-soft finish. Comes in four shades.
£31.87 for 45ml; amazon.co.uk
The Matte One
Ren Clean Skincare Satin Perfection BB Cream SPF 15
Prone to shiny skin? To keep oily sheen to a minimum, Ren’s BB leaves a matte finish. The antioxidant formula is designed to give an anti-ageing boost. Available in one shade that covers fair to light olive skin tones, it also has a lower SPF, so don’t forget to add sunscreen in summer.
£31 for 50ml; spacenk.com
The Sensitive One
La Roche-Posay Hydreane BB Cream
Skin that’s easily irritated will be in safe hands with this BB. It won’t block pores and comes in light and medium tints. The moisturising formula gives skin a brighter, fresher look.
£12 for 40ml; lookfantastic.com
The Oil-Free One
Shiseido Perfect Hydrating BB Cream SPF 30
Available in dark and medium shades, this BB will suit asian and black skin. The oil-free formula provides a natural finish, feels light on the skin and gives a healthy glow.
£34 for 30ml; johnlewis.com
The Moisturising One
bareMinerals Prime Time BB Primer-Cream Daily Defense SPF 30
Available in two shades – light and medium – this BB comes in a pump-action dispenser. It takes care of any flaking or dryness, mops up excess oil and minimises the appearance of pores and blemishes.
£25 for 30ml; bareminerals.co.uk
The Holiday One
Vichy Idéal Soleil BB Tinted Velvety Sun Cream SPF 50+
Not all us want to be bare-faced at the beach. Vichy’s BB includes high sun protection as standard and offers a healthy tint while reducing the appearance of lines, wrinkles and blemishes. It comes in a “natural tan” shade that’s more suitable for medium skin tones.
£28 for 50ml; amazon.co.uk
The One for Everyone
Bobbi Brown BB Cream SPF 35
Bobbi Brown’s extra light BB comes in very simple packaging and is available in a wide palette of shades – including hard to find matches for very pale skin and yellow-toned skin. The moisturising formula with sodium hyaluronate will keep dry skin hydrated, while reflective pearls bounce light off tired-looking skin to make it look more “awake”.
£32 for 40ml; debenhams.com