The Best (and Worst) BB and CC Creams: Drugstore Brands


(**UPDATE: Thank you for stopping by! I can’t believe people still refer back to this post 3 years later! If you’d like, check out my new blog, Afternoon Glow, for more beauty-related posts that are probably more up-to-date! BB creams have come a long way since then!)

During the month of August, I worked on a bit of a beauty research project – finding a good BB cream, and testing out my first CC cream.

I have been using BB creams on and off since the spring, but was only somewhat satisfied with them. So off to the drugstore I went, and came home with 5 different drugstore brands. Some of them I have used before, and some are new to me. I also kept hearing about CC creams (I almost laughed at the name…where’s the DD cream, or the AA cream?), so I thought I would give one a shot.

So without further ado:

BB and CC Creams: Drugstore Edition

One of my main problems with trying out BB and CC creams is that they don’t come in specific shades yet. They’re very much a “one size fits all” product, and for many of us that can be frustrating. It can be even more so when you don’t have a lot of money to spend trying out a bunch of different products. Of the 5 that I bought, you can see that very problem immediately after squeezing them out of the bottle:IMG_2811The consistency of each one varied quite a bit, from a thicker consistency (like the Revlon Photoready BB cream) to a thin liquid (like the Maybelline Dream Fresh BB cream). The real test, however, is to spread them out a bit and let the color develop:IMG_2815See the difference? It’s quite a big range of shades, and looked even more drastic in real life. For all of these brands, I chose the lightest shade they had available. It shocked me a bit that for companies who pride themselves in offering dozens of shades of foundation, that consistency doesn’t translate to their BB or CC creams. They ranged from a pale ivory with almost a grey undertone, to what I’d consider a medium tan with bright red undertones. Since no two faces are alike, it seems to take a bit of trial and error before finding one that works.

So to save us all some time in the store, here is my assessment of each brand I tried out.

(The links and pricing information are from Ulta, which is where I bought most of these products, and because their pricing seems pretty consistent with other stores.)

 Maybelline Dream Fresh BB Cream in Light, $8.99Screen Shot 2013-08-29 at 4.38.23 PMShades Offered: 5 (Light, Light/Medium, Medium, Medium/Deep, Deep)
Sunscreen Strength: SPF 30
Coverage: Light

This BB cream is one I’ve been hooked on using all summer. The tint is pretty close to my natural skin tone, and it’s a very light formula, which was perfect for hot days. I did wear it out without my usual sunscreen once for a bike ride (oops) and it seemed to protect my face fairly well. I wouldn’t recommend replacing your sunscreen with this entirely (especially since this is such a light formula, it might be easy to miss spots), but it worked fine in a pinch.

The coverage of this BB cream is fairly light, much like a tinted moisturizer, so if you need something with a bit more coverup potential, I’d suggest going with our next product.

Revlon Photoready BB Cream in Pale, $10.99Screen Shot 2013-08-29 at 4.43.00 PMShades Offered: 3 (Light, Light/Medium, Medium)
Sunscreen Strength: SPF 30
Coverage: Heavy

This product was the one I was most hesitant about purchasing, since I’m not a big fan of their Photoready foundations. However, after using it on and off for the past week, I’m a new convert. The shade is almost identical to the Maybelline Dream Fresh, but the coverage is much thicker, almost like a regular foundation. I broke out on my chin last week, and this covered it up much better than the thinner Maybelline formula. I’m looking forward to using this more in the fall and winter, when I want a heavier coverage, or at work where I have to look like I’m at least trying.

My only negative feedback on this product is that it smells like sunscreen, which if you can overlook it isn’t that big of a deal. Aside from that, I highly recommend this one if you want to try a BB cream, but need something more substantial than a tinted moisturizer.

L’Oreal Studio Secrets Magic Skin Beautifier BB Cream in Fair, $10.99Screen Shot 2013-08-29 at 4.45.47 PMShades Offered: 4 (Fair, Light, Medium, Deep)
Sunscreen Strength: None
Coverage: Light/Medium

This product is actually the first BB cream I ever tried. I think I originally purchased this during the winter, when I found my skin needed a little extra moisture, and was too pale to match any of my current foundations.

While this product looks white right out of the bottle, once blended in it matched incredibly well with my winter-pale skin. I have a bit of a yellow undertone to my skin, which makes it incredibly hard to find a pale shade that works for me (most are too pink), so if you fall into the same olive-skinned trap I do, this product is great. If not, a touch of blush or bronzer might help brighten things up.

It feels gritty when you first put it on thanks to the “beautifying beads,” but once you blend the product in it’ll smooth out to a light, moisturizing finish. I ended up using a little powder over it on my trouble areas (t-zone and chin), but other than that it didn’t need any other help.

One warning about this particular BB cream: it does NOT mention anything about SPF protection, so if you plan to use this product, make sure to definitely wear sunscreen with it. I wasn’t even aware that it lacked the SPF protection of other BB and CC creams, so I guess that’s good to know.

Rimmel London BB Cream SPF 25 in Light, $6.99Screen Shot 2013-08-29 at 4.39.24 PMShades Offered: 3 (Light, Medium, Medium/Dark)
Sunscreen Strength: SPF 25
Coverage: Heavy

Remember when I said that BB and CC creams tend to be inconsistent in shades offered? Well this one is a great example of that. I tried the lightest shade they offered, and it was far too orangey and dark for my skin tone. I think if I had a tan, it would be a better fit, but honestly I wouldn’t recommend this product unless you have a tan or an orange undertone to your skin (which I can’t imagine too many people have in real life). The consistency of this was a tad lighter than the Revlon Photoready version, so it does cover much more like a foundation than a tinted moisturizer.

In the end, I just wasn’t impressed with the selection of shades. This was by leaps and bounds the cheapest option I found, so that may have something to do with the lack of options. Hopefully someday they will broaden their offerings because while I liked this product’s consistency, I just didn’t care for the fake-tan glow I had after applying it.

L’Oreal Visible Lift CC Cream in Light/Medium, $12.99Screen Shot 2013-08-29 at 4.40.19 PMShades Offered: 2 (Light/Medium, Medium/Deep)
Sunscreen Strength: SPF 20
Coverage: Light

I will end my little experiment with both the most expensive and most frustrating product I tried. With all the hype of CC creams now hitting the market, I thought I’d pony up the extra cash and try one out. Even though this product claims to be a “color correcting” cream, after applying it for the first time it looked like I had a bad sunburn or had just done a chemical peel. On further investigation (aka swatch-testing it on the inside of my forearm), I discovered the problem – the undertone to this CC cream is RED. It was also a bit shiny, which only seemed to amplify the redness.

A color correcting foundation with red as your most prominent undertone? I don’t understand that. I can’t imagine this product works with too many skin tones, and seeing as redness is something many of us try to avoid, I wouldn’t recommend it. It also only comes in two different shades, which I can only assume work with maybe .00005% of the population. Hopefully they step up their game and offer more options in the future, but it’s going to be hard for me to want to go back and buy this again. I guess it might make a good contouring color or blush…but not a foundation.

Well there you go – a full report of 5 drugstore BB/CC creams. While there are many other options available, and a whole pile of higher-end products out there, I felt these were the most common drugstore brands available everywhere. I also haven’t tried out any higher-end products because, well, they cost more. Before diving into that expensive of a pet-project, I will have to do some more research on different brands and their offerings. Until then, I’ll stick with the first two on my list today – they seem to work for my every day makeup needs.



36 thoughts on “The Best (and Worst) BB and CC Creams: Drugstore Brands

  1. Oh no! What were they thinking with that CC cream? I can’t imagine anyone looks better with red skin, unless you want to look sick… I tried a sample of that Loreal BB cream with the beads and it was so weird, grey + the beads, it really threw me off. I got shiny with it by the afternoon and felt greasy the rest of the day 😦 I’m thinking about picking up the Olay one, I’ll let you know how that turns out 🙂 I enjoyed reading your post!

  2. This was really helpful! I actually had to google “BB Cream” after seeing all the commercials currently running. That’s how I found your post. And I just saw the CC cream TV commercial this morning and also thought that was funny. How “jump on the bandwagon”! (Glad I didn’t buy it.) Has anyone tried Jergens BB Cream for Body? With shorts and tank top weather coming up I was wondering if that would be worth the money.

      • I just bought the Jergen’s BB Body – it is a lot thicker than a normal body lotion. I wasn’t too impressed at first. It has a pleasant scent but it leaves a slightly greasy feel for about an hour or so – assuming probably because it’s so think that it takes a little while to soak in. However, the bottle claims that you won’t see results unless it is used consecutively for 5 days and I haven’t done that yet. I’d love to hear any other reviews on it!!

  3. Excellent read, I just passed this onto a friend who was doing some research on that. And he actually bought me lunch as I found it for him smile Thus let me rephrase that: Thank you for lunch! “We have two ears and only one tongue in order that we may hear more and speak less.” by Laertius Diogenes.

      • Question! I use Olay Fresh Effects and of course they don’t sell anymore. What I like about it is it’s not thick and sticky like maybelline dream effects one I have. I use a little bit with my foundation to give me medium coverage. Is there something out there that has the same consistency? (Worried the response won’t go to my email to notify me– can you email directly?) Thanks!

  4. the rimmel bb cream in the matte formulation is much better! it’s not orangey either and comes in a lighter shade called “very light”. also, just by comparing the packaging you can see the significant darkness of the regular to the matte. however, i do not believe the finish is matte at all lol xo

  5. I so agree on the Loreal cream. Thank goodness someone else agrees, I kept trying it thinking I was doing something wrong. It took my flat, slightly red face and made it look like I had a bad shiny sunburn.

  6. I have been wanting to try other BB creams just to see how they are. I always use the Light tinted Maybelline BB cream, I just love that stuff! Heavy foundations are just not good with my skin. I look awful and I always break out. But the Maybelline one is the only one that doesn’t make me break out and is the right shade for my skin. It’s thin, but has just enough coverage to even everything out (without any super noticeable blemishes. Concealer is just best for covering that up if you don’t want to cover your whole face). After seeing your test on all of these products, I’m pretty sure I’ll just stick to the one I use now. The other one’s looked too heavy. I like to keep a more natural look on the skin, which is why I like tinted moisturizers more(: Thanks for this! It was helpful(: Glad I could learn from your experience instead of having to go out and spend a whole bunch of money!

    • Glad I could help! Another good one I’ve found since I wrote this is the NYX BB Cream. It doesn’t have SPF, but it is a lighter coverage one as well. It’s on the higher end for drugstore prices (I think it’s around $13), but it lasts forever!

  7. My most favourite BB cream is from The Body Shop. It makes my skin glow without making it look greasy or shiny. It evens up my skin tone and my skin feels moisturised through out the day. I cannot recommend enough. I am on my secon bottle now and will be getting more when I run out.

  8. Ha! I just tried the CC Cream by L’Oreal today and literally thought I might be having an allergic reaction because of the redness. It freaked me out. I washed it off, immediately, only to discover I wasn’t having an allergic reaction (thankfully). Terrible, terrible product.

  9. I found this super helpful and thanks you. I have currently been using cc cream from Pink papaya. It was my first experience and I really love the product. It’s super pricey! So I wanted to know if anyone has this product cheaper. Don’t get me wrong, it’s light, starts white, it’s got sunblock and it’s light to the touch and the change in color to your face. It might be worth a try I’d you haven’t already. I was wondering if anyone tried the Burts bees brand as well

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