Do You Need A BB Cream, A CC Cream Or A Tinted Moisturizer?

dalybeauty bb cc cream tinted moisturizer

Oh, what a world it is out there in Beauty Land. So many choices, such overwhelm, much promises. Especially when it comes to coverage options that are not foundation. I don’t wear liquid foundation as I have never ever liked the way they feel on my skin. Too heavy and thick, and just not me. I almost feel like my skin can’t breath, if that makes any sense. Sometimes I use powder or mineral foundations, and I love stick foundations that you can spot apply, like Bobbi Brown Foundation stick. But sometimes, especially on days where my skin is feeling dehydrated, I want something moisturizing that adds a glow and is a little more than a primer.

When I use BB Creams and Tinted Moisturizers, I always go a shade darker and just blend well with a damp sponge. I find that gives me more of a tan glowing look, but I am a “fair- medium” to “medium” skin tone. The “fair” shades always make me look sick.

Even when I compare and contrast, I am still struggling to find any major differences that make me believe the names are little more than marketing. Now, that does not mean they aren’t great or that they don’t work well on skin. I think that in the rush to be part of a beauty trend, a lot of companies started calling everything a BB or CC creams. And apparently DD Creams are now a thing but I can’t even, and I won’t…

Here is a quick breakdown. However, I’m still not convinced we need these categories.

BB Cream 

The “BB” stands for Blemish Balm with “blemish” applying to any imperfection not just acne, and the original formulas were developed in Germany for post-op treatments after cosmetic treatments. They caught on in the Asian beauty market and by the time they made it to North America, they were calling them “Beauty Balms”. Their main point of difference from foundations and tinted moisturizers was they contained skin-healthy ingredients and usually sunscreen. Many are full of silicone and ironically not helpful for acne-prone skin. The best BB cream I’ve tried that works for acneic skin is Garnier SkinActive Pure Control Anti-Acne BB Cream. My daughter wears it often and it looks like she is wearing nothing on her skin and just looks glowy. It contains acne-treating ingredients like salicylic acid, but oddly no sunscreen. A great BB Cream for drier skin would be Vichy Idealia BB Cream – instantly illuminates, protects from sun with SPF 25 and has vitamin E and other antioxidants to help ageing skin.


Use a BB Cream if you want a bit more coverage than a tinted moisturizer but less than a foundation.

CC Cream

The CC stands for “colour corrector”, and my experience has shown that CC Creams range from heavier than foundations to on par with BB Creams. I’ve tested many that were so thick that they rivalled full-coverage foundations for texture. They often have reflective pigments to add a glow as well as mattefying pigments to prevent shine, all the while camouflaging flaws. As a rule, CC creams have been too heavy for me. That was until I tried Darphin CC Cream. I love Darphin skincare – it’s beautiful texture and effective ingredients make my skin feel gorgeous. Darphin CC cream with skin loving ingredients is still lightweight and sheer enough to not make my skin feel smothered.  I love it and use it often, and it makes my skin feel glowy. When I have acne spots that are healing, I find them easier to camouflage when I’ve got Darphin CC Cream on.

Darphin CC Cream medium Dermalogica Moisture Tint dalybeauty

It’s not as heavy as any CC cream I’ve tried, but has definitely has more corrective qualities than a BB cream. It manages to be moisturizing and glowy without being greasy or shiny, so it does what I want. But it’s not exclusively for ageing skin. My twenty year old daughter uses Darphin CC Cream as well. She has acne-prone skin but gets dry skin as well, and hates a dry powdery look to her skin. Her usual go-to has been the Garnier BB Cream I mentioned above, but she is now loving her Darphin CC Cream. I love it too, and one of the things I love most is how long it lasts. For a sheer product it has great lasting power. It also has SPF 35 protection which is terrific.

Use a CC cream when you still want lighter coverage than a foundation, but have toning issues that need a bit more help.

Tinted Moisturizer

Again, this depends on the brand, but in my experience, Tinted Moisturizers are lighter than BB or CC creams, and definitely lighter than foundation. I have only ever loved one tinted moisturizer for my oily skin, and that is my beloved Dermalogica. Most of the TM’s I’ve used have been so heavy and thick I might as well use a foundation. I’ve tried oil free versions and still got breakouts – why  oh why Laura Mercier Oil Free Foundation? I tried a sample of Dermalogica’s Sheer Tint ages ago and the first thing I noticed was the light and sheer texture which is exactly what I want in a TINTED moisturizer vs a foundation. The SPF 20 protection helps, and it is a physical sunscreen which is also great. Dermalogica has changed the formula since I first bought it, but I still love it. It’s imperceptible on skin and a small amount is all you need. It doesn’t get oily in the T zone and does not irritate my skin. If you want more coverage, this may not be right for you, but if you are like me and like “no-makeup makeup” then give this a try.

Darphin CC Cream medium Dermalogica Moisture Tint dalybeauty
Left: Darphin CC Cream in Medium, and Right: Dermalogica Sheer Tint. Both shown unblended and blended, when the sheerness is most evident.

Chantecaille Just Skin (ridiculously expensive so it must be good?) and Perricone MD No Foundation Serum (sounds like the sheer makeup of my dreams) are on my test list next. I’d like to see companies come up with better names for these products. Of course we know everyone will jump on the latest and greatest bandwagon with products to match. But this whole BB, CC cream etc thing is a bit nuts. We all know foundation is heavy, but how to navigate the world of non-foundations? When I was a teenager we would put a few drops of foundation into some moisturizer (likely Clinique Dramatically Different Moisturizer…) and go nuts.

What are your favourite foundation alternatives? Do you use tinted moisturizer, or BB cream or even CC cream? Or do you think it’s just getting too crazy?

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Reader Comments

  1. Louise

    Hi, I use Dermalogica sheer tint and I like it. I use Darphin products but have not tried their CC cream. Like you I do not like thick foundation and prefer more sheer coverage or pressed powder. Some BB creams I have tried in the past were too heavy. I also like Ole Henrickson (spelling is wrong) coverage. It is a bit heavier than sheer. When I use the Demalogica sheer, I don’t use moisturizer beforehand. I also go for the medium tint. Another product I sometimes use is the primer from Clarins instead of powder. It also works well.
    A future column for you to write about that I would be interested in is on Darphin products.

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