Can BB Cream Improve Aging Skin?

Can this cosmetics craze really make you look younger?

BB creams
Image courtesy Sharon Basaraba

BB creams are the master multi-taskers of the cosmetics industry because they offer several different products all in one convenient tube. But can the BB cream combination formulas that are increasingly marketed as anti-aging skincare wonders actually help aging skin appear younger?

The Beauty History Behind BB Creams

The first BB cream, or "blemish balm," was developed in 1967 by German dermatologist Christine Schrammek.

It was designed as an anti-inflammatory agent to help heal and conceal redness in skin irritated by peel treatments. The pharmaceutical firm Dr. med. Christine Schrammek Kosmetik continues to manufacture variations of the original BB cream today.

Perhaps thanks to Korean nurses working in Germany, BB creams made their way to Asia, where they became quite popular by the mid '80s. Many formulations also included a component to lighten the skin. Since then, widespread BB cream use in countries like Korea and Japan, recognized as the forefront of the next big trends in the beauty industry, have helped fuel the exploding BB cream market.

Within the last decade the craze has spread throughout Europe and North American, where many formulations made by some of the biggest cosmetics companies have created BB creams that double as treatments for aging skin.

What's in a BB Cream?

Many BB creams contain an SPF, moisturizer, and pigment.

They vary in texture, finish (matte or dewy), level of coverage (light to heavy), range of color and sun protection. BB creams are a super convenient, one-stop product, but you may still need to use a moisturizer underneath if your skin is dry.

In addition, sunscreen is most effective when evenly and generously applied to the entire face, so you may want to use a sunscreen with a high SPF before layering on B cream.

Some BB creams double as primers, meaning they create a smooth base for foundation application.

Proven Benefits or a Bunch of Hype?

Like any good foundation, BB creams might make aging skin appear smoother and help even out tone, thanks to moisturizers and pigment. Manufacturers are obligated to disclose ingredients, but not the exact formulations, so it's difficult to compare one BB cream to another.

Although BB creams may improve the look of your skin, they won't eliminate wrinkles. For example, the don't contain tretinoin, a vitamin A derivative that is one of the few topical ingredients proven to reverse photoaging, because it's available only through a prescription. Retinol, an ingredient included in many over-the-counter products, does convert to tretinoin when applied to the skin, but at a much lower concentration.

Ingredients like alpha hydroxy acids or beta hydroxy acids, like salicylic and glycolic acid, help increase cell turnover, which can improve skin texture and color. Since most BB creams contain sunscreen, they can also help prevent skin aging, as long as enough is applied.

Perhaps the BB cream's greatest strength lies in its convenience, allowing you to use one product in the morning, instead of several different ones. BB creams are definitely beneficial, but if you want to reduce the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles and other telltale signs of skin aging, you're better off incorporating a BB cream into your anti-aging skincare regimen.

See Also

Dr. med. Christine Schrammek Kosmetik. History of Christine Shrammek's development of the first BB cream formulation. Correspondence with Claudia Dellenbusch, company representative. July 16, 2012.

Siddharth Mukherjee, Abhijit Date, Vandana Patravale, Hans Christian Korting, Alexander Roeder, and Günther Weindl. Retinoids in the treatment of skin aging: an overview of clinical efficacy and safety. Clin Interv Aging. 2006 December; 1(4): 327–348
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2699641/

Zussman, Jamie; Ahdout, Jennifer; Kim, Jenny. “Vitamins and Photoaging: Do Scientific Data Support Their Use? Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, ISSN 0190-9622, 2010, Volume 63, Issue 3, pp. 507 - 525.

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