What's the Difference Between BB, CC, and DD Creams — and When Should I Use Each One?

All of your questions, answered. 

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With many of us still working at home or going into the office just a few days a week, wearing a full face of makeup every day has become a thing of the past.

Even though we aren't connecting with people face-to-face as often as we did pre-COVID, that doesn't mean we get to hide from our colleagues, friends, and peers. With constant Zoom meetings and FaceTime calls taking over our calendars, you may still want to apply light, breathable makeup before turning on your camera. So, when it comes to CC cream vs BB cream and even DD cream, what's best?

These lightweight products offer airy coverage while also adding a dewy, healthy glow to the skin — without the heaviness of a traditional foundation.

While BB and CC creams aren't an innovation, we tapped three celebrity makeup artists to explain the difference between the two products. So, if you've always been wondering which cream is best for you, read ahead.

What Is a BB Cream?

According to celebrity makeup artist, Tara Lauren, a BB cream is pretty much an all-in-one complexion product. "[These] creams, aka 'beauty balms' or 'blemish balms,' provide light, sheer coverage and often include an element of skincare or skin treatment. They commonly offer both hydration and sun protection."

BB cream was first developed in Germany by a dermatologist who wanted a single cream that would protect the skin and provide coverage after laser treatments, explains celebrity makeup artist, Jamie Dorman. "The all-in-one formulation became a sensation in South Korea and then spread throughout Asia."

What Is a CC Cream?

CC creams are also known as 'color corrective' or 'color control' creams. If you have hyperpigmentation, dark spots, or redness, this is the cream for you. When you don't feel like wearing a lot of foundation but still want to cover up a few blotches, CC cream can provide heavier coverage than a BB cream and helps with color correcting.

Should I Be Using a BB or CC Cream Instead of a Foundation?

Ultimately, the decision is up to you. However, depending on your skincare needs, a BB cream is a great alternative to a foundation, especially on days when you want lighter coverage. "BB creams soften imperfections," says Lauren. "Some BB creams can leave your skin with just enough coverage to freshen or wake up your face and leave a natural glow. Perfect for a Zoom meeting or FaceTime date."

If you're looking for a heavier, completely flawless beat, BB cream is probably not the answer, as the sheer formula is not designed with buildable coverage. "When you apply BB cream, you're able to see the skin through the formula," says Kevyn Aucoin's director of education and makeup artist, Nick Lujan.

CC Creams offer more coverage than BB creams, less coverage than tinted moisturizers, and a lot less coverage than foundations. "Because BB and CC creams are so sheer, there are fewer shade options," says Lujan. "Foundations range in shades, coverage, and finish and are easy to build coverage with or sheer down for minimal coverage. I suggest using CC cream as a base underneath the foundation, to help balance skin tone. Then apply a bit of foundation to spot cover any areas of concern."

What Are The Benefits of Using BB or CC Cream?

Using BB cream has similar benefits to using great skincare. "Most BB creams have ingredients that repair the skin barrier, prevent free radical damage, and protect from the sun," explains Dorman.

"CC creams offer a natural skin-like look," says Lujan. "They help to balance the skin tone without adding a lot of coverage and are usually full of skin-caring benefits, like hydration, SPF, and antioxidants."

How Do I Apply a BB or CC Cream?

"BB creams can be applied using your hands or a brush," Lauren shares. "Make sure to wash your hands prior and have clean fingertips. If you're using your hands, gently press the cream into the skin. If you're using a tool, I would recommend a duo fiber bristle or sponge like a moist Beauty Blender."

CC creams can also be applied using your hands. However, if you don't like getting product all over your fingers, you can apply CC cream with a flat, dense brush, like the Rephr 31 brush. "I like using this brush because of its density," says Dorman. "The bristles won't absorb and waste product."

VIDEO: How To Get A Bronzy Glow Like Jennifer Lopez

Can You Combine BB and CC Cream?

You absolutely can, but since they have similar benefits and effects, Lujan suggests choosing one or the other, then partnering it with a foundation like Kevyn Aucoin Stripped Nude Skin Tint, for additional coverage where needed.

What's the Difference Between BB, CC and DD Cream?

If you've come across the names BB, CC, and DD cream and don't have a clue what the difference is, you're not alone. "BB cream has the lightest coverage with the most moisture making it ideal for dry and dehydrated skin types," explains Dorman. "CC cream has more coverage than BB cream and has a matte finish making it ideal for oily and combination skin types. DD cream has the skincare benefits and finish of a BB Cream with the coverage of a CC Cream. Dry skin types might still need a moisturizer with this, but other skin types can wear it alone."

Shop the Best BB and CC Creams:

Dr. Jart+ Premium BB Beauty Balm SPF 40

Dr. Jart

To shop: $42; drjart.com

Supergoop! CC Screen 100% Mineral CC Cream SPF 50

Supergoop! CC cream

To shop: $42; sephora.com

Tarte Amazonian Clay BB Cream

Tarte Amazonian clay BB cream

To shop: $36; sephora.com

Clinique Moisture Surge CC Cream Hydrating Color Corrector Broad Spectrum SPF 30

Clinique Moisture Surge™ CC Cream Hydrating Colour Corrector Broad Spectrum SPF 30

To shop: $28 (originally $40); ulta.com

Dermablend Continuous Correction CC Cream SPF 50

Dermablend Continuous Correction CC Cream SPF 50

To shop: $39; dermablend.com

NYX's Bare With Me Tinted Veil

NYX Bare With Me

To shop: $13; target.com

Updated by
Kaitlin Clark
Kaitlin Clark is a NYC-based writer and editor. She covers all things beauty, skincare, hair, and gift guides.
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