What are BB Creams?

Have you heard about the BB Cream craze? BB Creams (short for blemish balm or beauty balm or beauty base) were first developed for women whose skin was left bruised, raw, and red from lasers and other surgical treatments. These creams were made by doctors to soothe, heal, and protect delicate skin with the added bonus of breakthrough invisible coverage to hide the irritations without having to use any traditional concealers or foundations.  Essentially they’re unique, lightweight coverage creams with sunscreen and other skin benefits built right in. BB Creams are a true marriage of skincare and color – and are often found in the skincare section and not with makeup. They’re traditionally offered as a one-size-fits-all in terms of color using a universal shade that blends into your skin tone perfecting and seamlessly covering redness instead of masking a it the way a foundation does – it reminds me a little of Philosophy’s The Supernatural which gave similar instant results (see my review and photos HERE). You’ll also see some with a PA+, PA++. or PA+++ sunscreen rating (+++ being the best) which tells you how effective the SPF is in guarding against UVA rays – the nasty ones that breakdown collagen and age the skin.

If you like a full coverage foundation you might find that these aren’t enough so use them as a primer to get more skin benefits than what basic silicone formulas provide.They’re really different from anything else out there so go to Sephora where the selection is the best and ask for samples of a few before you commit. I also want to try Lauder’s new BB Cream they’ve incorporated into their Daywear collection which I’ll review separately once I give it a try. For now, here are the 3 I sampled at Sephora and the pros and cons of each.

Clinique Age Defense BB Cream $37:

-Pros-

Oily skin can benefit from its mattifying properties.

SPF 30

A good shade (01) that would work for very fair skin tones – the lightest I found.

-Cons-

It was the heaviest of the 3 and it settled into the skin making pores look more noticeable.

No PA rating.

I couldn’t figure out what the added skincare benefits were (what a BB is all about).

Their site refers to it as a ‘weekend makeup’ along the lines of a quick tinted moisturizer, but it’s called a BB. Not sure if it’s a true BB or just marketing.

Its radiance was a little unflattering (at least on my skin) where it bordered shiny instead of healthy.

Overall:

I liked the thick, creamy texture and easy blendability. It’s probably best for those with good skin who favor a tinted moisturizer or quick powder for their daily routine.

Boscia BB Cream SPF 27 PA ++ $38:

-Pros-

Great skincare benefits (help for fine lines, dryness, and large pores), which is what a BB should offer.

SPF 27 and a PA++ rating

It has a natural formula without parabens, phthalates and other chemicals.

It did give my skin an immediate boost.

Good coverage.

-Cons-

It has these tiny bits of shimmer that, although slight, might not be a fit for oily or mature skin.

Like most BB Creams, the one shade isn’t for very fair or very dark skin tones.

Overall:

This was my favorite and the only true BB of the bunch, it made my skin look better and covered redness well. It’s something I would buy and recommend to those looking for quick and easy coverage.

Too Faced Tinted Beauty Balm Multi-Benefit Skin Care Makeup $32:

-Pros-

Shade range; if you have darker skin you’ll have the best luck finding a color to suit you here.

It gave the most coverage of the 3 I tried, almost as much as some foundations.

You’ll get a pretty glow from its finish.

-Cons-

It does contain some vitamins and minerals, but overall it really is more of a quick makeup than a true BB Cream.

No PA rating and an SPF 20, the lowest of the 3.

Overall:

These are along the lines of what you’ll begin to see more and more of – a foundation with a built in primer and less of a BB Cream but marketed as such. It’s not a bad thing since I really liked the look and coverage, but if you want more of the skin treatment this one will leave you wanting more. Best for those who want great coverage from a tinted moisturizer and don’t care as much for the added skincare bonuses.

A few others to consider:

Sephora now carries Dr Jart’s signature BBs which are favorites in Asia where competition is big. Check out their Premium BB SPF 45 PA+++ $39 for more mature skin and the Water Fuse BB PA++ $32 for normal to oily skin. They’re both great for the skin formulated without synthetics and are exactly what BBs are supposed to be – skincare/makeup hybrids.

Garnier launched the first drugstore BB for just $13 that comes in two shades – Light/Medium and Medium/Deep. I’m can’t find its skincare benefits (or SPF), but it’s getting some good reviews for its light, even coverage. Look for it in the skincare aisle, not next to the makeup.

What to look for in a BB Cream:

- Sunscreen, PA ratings are a bonus.

- Vitamins and minerals.

- Enough coverage so you aren’t using concealer or anything else over it (unless you want to use it as a primer).

- Adequate moisture for your skin.

- Added benefits whether it be for skin lightening, acne, moisture, or whatever- find one that’s helping to target what your skin needs most.

For a full listing of the popular Asian formulas, check out THIS article from 08′ before the US versions hit the stores.

My Face Serum May or May Not Contain Foreskin; Advances in Skincare

Scanning over the ingredients of my super luxe TNS Essential Serum I see that it has Human Fibroblast Conditioned Media at the top of the list. Could this strangely sounding element really be why the serum is know to be so effective (not to mention pricey at $260 a pop)? And is it the skincare equivalent of Soylent Green? Is it really made from humans?

Actually, I think it is.

SkinMedica, the company that makes TNS calls Human Fibroblast Conditioned Media ‘ A physiologically balanced, naturally secreted and stabilized growth factor blend that helps improve the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, and overall skin tone and texture.’ Googling around gives some mixed results; it’s thought by some to be derived from newborn babies’ foreskin (!), but I can’t find a clear explanation about its origin and the company isn’t giving details so the jury is out. Since it’s listed as ‘human’ on the ingredient lineup, I’ll assume it’s something of the sort however it’s derived.

While the use of young stem cells is gaining some serious traction on the scientific front in age reversal research, some companies who can afford to purchase the technology (like SkinMedica) are starting to offer products that are more cutting edge than ever. TNS Essential Serum isn’t new and has developed a bunch of crazed loyalists claiming that it has made their skin look 15 years younger and that they’ve tried to do without it but because of the cost, but they eventually return when they discover nothing else works as well. Its function is to repair and protect by fading discolorations, improving skin tone and texture while also preventing future damage – it’s a do-it-all (better be for the cost right?) replacing other creams and serums and narrowing down the steps to your routine.

I’m only a few weeks into using it during the day, it replaced my C serum and moisturizer and does a good job of hydrating and priming the skin for makeup. It has two separate chambers inside so when you pump it out you get a serum from one side of the bottle and a light lotion from the other that you mix together and apply. I hear the scent has recently changed which is good because it stinks. Really stinks (like foreskin?). But the scent fades and you don’t smell it any longer after it’s blended in.

It’s too early to tell if it’s making a difference, but it’s worth a shot. Because I’m pregnant I’m off Botox and my skin has been lackluster to say the least so I’m hoping for a miracle in a jar. I’ll keep you posted with an update in a few months to see if it works as well as they say.

Best Skin Lighteners for Fading Discolorations

I’m slowly starting to figure out that the all-natural stuff just doesn’t make my skin look as good as it does when I throw something more advanced its way. I’d love nothing more than to use straight nuts and berries on my face, but unfortunately it’s not helping to fade out some old scarring and redness I have going on. Believe me, I’ve tried.

In the cluttered skincare landscape filled with claims and promises, I can say that skin lighteners typically live up to their hype and are worth a try. There are so many ways to fade out age sun spots (sounds nicer), scars, discolorations and add more clarity and tons of radiance, it’s just a matter of finding something that works for your skin (and budget). I’ve put together a list of skin lighteners I’ve tried and ones I hear work great- look into them to see which might be best for the changes you’d like to make in your skin.

Ole Henriksen Sheer Transformation $45:

I’ve read so much about this line and heard stories from people who are crazy devoted so I bought Sheer Transformation to see if I can kick out the last of my scarring and redness. It’s especially effective when used over Invigorating Night Gel but I use it over Obagi Exfoderm Forte that also has Glycolic and Lactic acids for cell turnover and brightening so it’s along the same lines. It’s a weightless gel/cream that absorbs quickly and gives your skin a dose of vitamins, fruit acids, and licorice for non-chemical fading and brightening. I love the way it feels so far, can’t wait to see the results.


Murad Rapid Age Spot and Pigment Lightening Serum $60:

Murad’s serum uses known skin lightener Hydroquinone (2.0%) for a quicker approach to fading out those age spots within weeks. Most people in their trials saw a difference in their spots in just two weeks in fact. If you’re looking for something to work quickly and effectively, this is a serum to check out. There’s still some back and forth about the safety of Hydroquinone (typically when it’s used in a much higher concentration), but it’s still regarded by many as the gold standard for skin lightening.


Estée Lauder Idealist $85:

Idealist has been the most effective in fading out the freckles on my chest that I’ve had since forever. It uses a more gentle approach so the results aren’t instant but if you hang with it you’ll definitely see even, more radiant skin in about a month with better and better looking skin over time. $85 is an investment, but so are the laser treatments I was looking into. I’m glad I found something much less invasive for a lot less money.

Iman Time Control Skin Tone Evener $16:

This treatment is the least expensive of the bunch and hydroquinone free. It’s meant for all skin tones, but it’s especially effective for fading spots on darker skin tones which can be harder to lighten.

Kiehl’s Clearly Corrective Dark Spot Solution $50:

Clearly Corrective is a new lightening serum free of silicones, fragrance, and parabens using vitamin c and white birch to get skin glowing. You should see some changes in just a few weeks with full results after 8, and continued use will help keep future spotting away.

Spots and uneven tone are easy problems to fix, so start with a skin evening treatment before thinking about Botox or more invasive things. You might find that your skin looks so great, you don’t need to do anything else.

Melvita Argan Oil and Such

I couldn’t wait to hit up Melvita during our Cali trip, I needed another big bottle of Argan Oil which I picked up last year in their Newport store and used it slowly until I couldn’t milk another drop out of the bottle. Even with all of the argan oils I’ve tried, I still love theirs the very best. It’s so soothing on the skin and you just need a little to really moisturize. You can use it on both skin and hair but since they don’t have a store in Denver, I hoard it like it’s gold and just use it as a body moisturizer. It’s a light, EcoCert (Europe’s organic certification) formula that feels like silk. With help from Moroccian Oil’s popularity, argan is now the ubiquitous ingredient touted as a cure-all for everything from wrinkles to eczema and even healing old scars. I think it’s a miracle for KP- those bumps on the backs of your arms that are so annoying and hard to get rid of. This is the only treatment I’ve used that really clears them up for good. It is pricey ($56 for 6.76 oz or $25 for 1.7oz) but it’s pure – only 100% real Argan Oil not mixed with anything else which is what you’ll want to use to see some type of results.

I tried a little of their Ultra-Nourishing Body Balm and of course loved it. I’m not typically a fan of body balms and heavy creams – they usually feel like lard to me, but this one was so softening and non-greasy that I knew I’d use it all the time. It has the most perfect, thick texture so you just need a little to keep your skin feeling smooth all day. The only caveat? It smells exactly like that pink ‘bubblegum’ flavored antibiotic we took as kids – remember that? Well if you don’t, good – you’ll think it smells just fine.

Nigella Oil (which I never heard of before) is cold pressed from seeds of a flowered plant that has apparently been used for centuries to relax sore muscles and purify the skin so they suggest using it on oily and breakout prone. I’ve used Suki’s face oil (which they also recommend for acne) for a long time and really love it’s ability to reduce sebum production and give just a really light hydration. Suki’s oil is a half ounce for $32, this oil is $19 for 1.7 oz and it’s organic. Face oils rule – they’re so light and without the needless creamy bases of glycerine or whatever else – they’re just pure beneficial ingredients that are great for the skin.

So far, Melivita stores are only in Newport Beach, San Francisco, and Seattle with one coming to New York soon. Subscribe to their newsletter to get sales notifications (which they have often) since you’ll probably need to order online to give it a try. I’d would suggest against the haircare line, which I felt was totally worthless and not worth the money at all. Stick to the oils and hydrosols, two things they’ve perfected making.

New From Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare and Peter Thomas Roth

A few new launches have caught my eye recently in a vast landscape of ‘more of the same.’ I haven’t tried either one, but I’m looking forward to checking out new innovations by two companies I’ve grown to really love.

Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare has a new Vitamin D Serum Oil $65 for those of us who are so good with sunscreen that the sun’s own vitamins can’t penetrate to nourish the skin. I was way low on D years ago because I’m a crazed SPF weirdo and now take a vitamin D daily, but haven’t explored using it topically until seeing this serum. It’s formulated to be available to the skin without sunlight and they mixed it with Vitamins A, E, B, CoQ10, as well as Glycolic and Ferulic Acids to get some hydrating and brightening benefits in there as well.

Peter Thomas Roth added a new addition to their way popular Un-Wrinkle line to hydrate and brighten up dull skin. Illuminator Instant Brightening Moisturizer $68 combines 3 color correcting shades of light pigment that blend with the skin to brighten dullness and neutralize redness. For me, the home-run is the combo of a wrinkle fighter with a skin perfecter – I love multi-tasking skincare that helps your skin to look great so you don’t need to use as much makeup in the end.

Because It’s Worth It… Where to Spend a Little More Money

If you haven’t watched the adorable Marcel The Shell video that’s such a huge hit on YouTube – you have to check it out below (and click HERE to see it if you get this post delivered via email). The the couple who produces it has already written a book and is in talks to develop a series staring their lovable one-eyed shell after just 2 videos. I watch it religiously. It just makes me smile.

http://youtu.be/Ta9K22D0o5Q

My favorite line is at the end when he says he smiles because it’s worth it. Which caused a mental domino about what’s really ‘worth it’ in terms of popping the lock off the wallet and spending a little more for an investment in your skin looking great. I’m not someone who thinks you have to spend a ton to look great – I recommend drugstore finds as often as department store ones – but there are a few exceptions that are so great that I’ll spend the extra cash because I know they’re worth it.

Chantecaille Future Skin Foundation:

I’m scraping the bottom of my jar of Chantecaille Future Skin that I got almost 2 years ago. I heard so much about their foundations that I purchased the jar at a counter not knowing it was $72 and then tried to play it off when she told me my total like it wasn’t twice as much as I’d ever spent on foundation. I quickly discovered that after I tried every type of foundation that passed my desk, I’d happily return to Future Skin. Its coverage is fantastic, staying power terrific, and the look of it is so natural – which might be because it’s made of 60% water and seaweed. The higher price tag could be attributed to its treatment benefits like reducing sebum and calming redness with chamomile and green tea – but who knows. All I know is that I’m mentally preparing for another $72 purchase very soon, but at least this time I know it’s worth it.

Liz Earle Cleanser:

Cleanse & Polish, the cleanser that I’ve referred to as ‘near perfect,’ is so worth an order from the UK based Liz Earle (or from Fred Segal Santa Monica- their only stateside location I know of.) It’s not a pricey buy at $25 for a 3.3oz pump (and around $7 to ship), it’s the ordering that makes it a little more of a challenge than grabbing a bottle at a store like we’re all so used to doing. I’m so addicted to this thick, creamy, lightly Eucalyptus scented gentle cleanser which removes all makeup so effortlessly, that when I try out a new cleanser to review it’s what I measure them all against. It’s a gold standard for a cleanser and one that’s so popular they have an automatic refill service and also a 3 pack available to make getting this perfect cleanser as easy as possible.

SkinCeuticals Serums:

SkinCeuticals is renowned for their high-potency, crazy effective serums designed to correct, fade, protect, and calm – whatever your skin happens to need. Their C E Ferulic is probably their best known do-it-all serum with vitamins C and E and Ferulic acid to protect the skin against environmental damage and skin aging. They use the purest, best forms of vitamins (like L-Ascorbic for their C) for maximum benefits and create combinations with other vitamins and acids for the very best skin absorption. Serums compliment any skincare routine and are so beneficial using only a few drops a day making them worth their $100- $150 cost.

Estée Lauder Eye Creams:

Eyes show age. It’s that simple. Getting that thin skin moisturized and protected is important, as is finding an eye cream that has some beneficial ingredients and proven science. So many eye creams are a complete waste – basically just plain moisturizers in a smaller jar without any true benefits. I trust and love Lauder’s eye creams – they have something for every skin type and concern, but their Re-Nutriv eye creams are their supreme offerings. With too much science in them to explain (or understand, really) I just know that when I use a Lauder eye cream, I can see the difference. I can waste money $35 at a time with something that isn’t working, or just fork out the $100 (ish) to see a difference and keep the Botox away a little bit longer.

Don’t worry, I’m also rounding up a ‘not worth it list’ (hello mascara!!) so you can save your pennies on things that are all pretty much the same.