BB Cream vs. Foundation: What’s the Difference?

If you take a walk down any makeup aisle, it’s clear there are so many complexion products to choose from. There’s something for every skin type (read: oily, dry, mature) and an endless amount of finishes (think: dewy, matte, velvet). The sheer number of BB creams, CC creams and foundations can be overwhelming. To help you find your perfect match, we gathered all the tips and tricks we have learned over the years. Below, we share the difference between BB cream, CC cream and foundation — and tips for applying each. 

What Is BB Cream?

BB cream is an all-in-one makeup product. It traditionally has good-for-your-skin ingredients like SPF and sufficient coverage to still even out redness and smooth rough texture. BB creams range anywhere from a barely-there tint to medium coverage. What’s more, BB creams also have the added benefit of helping breakout-prone skin. “If you’re acne-prone, using a BB cream that’s oil-free is a good way to go. We recommend the Complexion Rescue BareMinerals, which is formulated with salicylic acid to address acne. This BB cream moisturizes, tints, and provides SPF protection. It’s a great choice for darker skin tones. 

What Is Foundation?

Foundation is a classic go-to option for makeup artists and beauty lovers who want to create a flawless canvas and have superior skin coverage. If you want something that’s going to last all day and give you airbrushed-looking skin, foundation is the right choice. Foundations are also available in a wide range of coverage options. While the coverage is buildable, we love the Nars Natural Radiant Longwear Foundation and Estée Lauder Double Wear Stay-in-Place Makeup for a lightweight, sheer option. For medium to full coverage, we like the Giorgio Armani Luminous Silk Foundation, Too Faced Born This Way Foundation and Pro Filt’r Soft Matte Longwear Foundation FENTY BEAUTY by Rihanna and the Lancôme Rénergie Lift Makeup Foundation. 

What Is CC Cream?

Cut from the same cloth as a BB cream, a CC cream, or color correcting cream, is an all-in-one product intended to address redness, darkness and sallowness. It blends skin care with light-diffusing properties to give you a smoother complexion, but it doesn’t give the same amount of coverage as a BB cream.

How to Apply BB Cream and CC Cream

BB creams and CC creams are a true time-saver in the morning and impossible to mess up. “Anything that combines sunscreen, skin-care ingredients, antioxidants and light coverage is ideal for the busy woman who doesn’t have time for a more in-depth regimen. Just rub a pea-sized or dime-size amount between your hands to warm it up and apply to bare, freshly cleansed skin. You can use a sponge or brush for application, too. Just note, if you have extra dry skin, you can benefit from applying a moisturizer underneath your BB or CC to give your skin an added boost of hydration.  

How to Apply Foundation

Considering most women use foundation to cover up things like under-eye circles, pimples, uneven skin tone and other imperfections, the application needs to be a bit more precise. You can use your hands, however, you’ll get the most even coverage using a sponge or brush.

Sponges tend to be a bit more intuitive than brushes, and you’ll achieve a more airbrushed finish, while makeup artists swear by a brush for its ability to effortlessly blend and smooth product evenly. Depending on your preference, try IT Brushes For ULTA Airbrush Dual-Ended Flawless Complexion Concealer & Foundation Brush #132 or Tarte Double Duty Beauty Powder Foundation Brush & Removable Sponge.

Start by dabbing dots of foundation down the center of your face — forehead, nose, upper lip and chin — and blend your foundation outwards using your tool of choice. Be sure to pay extra attention to your hairline and chin as you want to blend those areas out the most for a seamless and invisible foundation line. 

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