Wearing Letters: A Guide to BB, CC, and DD Creams

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Multipurpose creams have always been a huge hit in the beauty sphere, but now they’ve got some oddly repetitive Dewey decimal system to categorize them, and often it’s unclear how or why. Here’s the breakdown so that the next time you’re at the store, you know what you’re picking up:

 

BB Cream

Stands for: “Beauty Balm” or “Blemish Balm”

Basic Uses: Tinted moisturizer, sun protection

More: Think of BB Creams as your beginner creams—the lowest on the lettered totem pole but still useful if you know how to use them. They’re very much like tinted moisturizers, but BB Cream provides slightly more transparent coverage. It’s more for evening out an already not-so-bad skin tone. BB Cream is great, however, for a light layer underneath mineral foundation. In addition to SPF most BB Creams have, there are often other skincare benefits due to botanical ingredients or specified lines for certain skin types.

Recommended: Garnier Skin Renew Miracle Skin Perfector BB Cream SPF 15 ($13.49, Walgreen’s) – This BB Cream comes in two shades and is super blendable, so it’s perfect to start yourself off experimenting!

 

CC Cream

Stands for: “Color Control” or “Color Correcting”

Basic Uses: Advanced color leavening, brightening, sun protection

More: A CC Cream is meant to do what a BB Cream does—moisturize, protect from the sun, etc—but CC Cream is more focused on concealing rather than nourishing. CC Creams are often a little lighter than BB Creams yet still manage to become tone correctors and skin brighteners. This is closer to a light liquid foundation with additional skin benefits parallel to those of BB Creams.

Recommended: Clinique Moisture Surge CC Cream SPF 30 ($35, Neiman Marcus) – This CC Cream is great alone or in combination with foundation or other moisturizers (if you have really dry skin), and it comes in five different shades for weightless coverage for all.

DD Cream

Stands for: “Dynamic Do-All,” “Dermatologically Defining,” or “Daily Defense”

Basic Uses: Moisturizer, sun protection, anti-aging agent

More: Essentially, we’ve made our way to the existing top of the totem pole. It’s everything a BB Cream does, but unlike a CC Cream, a DD Cream targets beneath the surface to help lessen the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, and dark spots. DD Creams still nourish and even the skin, but they’re slightly more specifically medical—as opposed to strictly cosmetic— in nature than their two predecessors.

Recommended: DERMAdoctor DD Cream SPF 30 ($38, Ulta) – This DD Cream does everything you can find in a normal BB Cream but with added anti-aging benefits! It’s mineral based and one-size-fits all, so you know you’re in the big leagues now.

No more confusing acronyms! Now you’re armed with the technological know-how behind each advertised corrective cream, and you can pick whichever one (if any) is right for you and your skin type. They’re all pretty versatile and cover a wide variety of needs, so don’t be afraid to experiment!

 

Have you used a BB, CC, or DD Cream?

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image credit: target;sephora

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Angelina Hoidra

Beauty Editor: A college senior in DC trying to find the balance between Whitman and Wilde and stopping at Sephora along the way.

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