Ann Wong
July 25, 2013

Learning the Alphabet of Cosmetics From BB to DD

If you’ve found yourself in the makeup section of any store lately, you’ve probably been surprised by the strange alphabet on the packaging of some trendy newer beauty products.

BB? CC? DD? What does it all mean? What do these creams even do?

Let me fill you in.

BB Cream

What it stands for: Blemish Balm or Beauty Balm

What it does: It’s an all-in-one cosmetic product to replace serums, moisturizer, primer, foundation and sunblock. Often it’s mineral-based coverage that’s supposed to cover like a foundation and also treat acne, age spots and sun spots.

The BB creams that are popular in Asia also contain skin lightening ingredients. However, the Beauty Balm you’ll find at your local department store doesn’t — which is good, considering these ingredients are often harmful.

Where it comes from: It was first created by German dermatologist Christine Schrammek in the 1960s. It was introduced in Japan and Korea and took off when the cream was hailed by Korean actresses as the secret to porcelain skin.

My verdict: BB creams really do deliver on what they’re promoted to do. That said, they’re very thick, have limited color selection and make you look like you’re wearing an oily mask. Unless you can find one that matches your skin tone, I’d recommend sticking with foundation as it’ll look more natural.

CC Cream

What it stands for: Color Control or Color Correcting

What it does: It’s basically the same as the BB cream, only with more nourishing ingredients that provide natural looking coverage, better sun protection and a lighter formula for better blending and smoother application. CC creams also treat uneven skin tone like redness and contain anti-aging ingredients.

Where it comes from: The technology originated in Japan and was further enhanced in Korea.

My verdict: CC cream gives a lighter and less oily finish than its BB sister. Because of their anti-aging ingredients, CC creams are generally more expensive than BB creams but comparable to high-end foundations.

If you can find a CC cream that matches your skin tone, I’d definitely recommend making the switch to CC creams as your daily go-to product for coverage.

DD Cream

What it stands for: Dynamic Do-It-All

What it does: It claims to have all the benefits of both the BB and CC creams with an emphasis on anti-aging to diminish fine lines over time.

Where it comes from: Julep, a company better known for its nail polishes.

My verdict: Not enough major cosmetic companies have jumped on the bandwagon with this letter cream, and Julep is generally known as a nail polish company — not exactly confidence-inspiring.

My recommendation? Stick with your regular foundation instead of opting for this Double D product.

Yep, it’s now the Age of Alphabetical Cosmetics — so get used to it, because we have 26 letters in the English alphabet.