May 19, 2011

What’s the Difference Between Tinted Moisturizer and BB Creams?

Now that we are finally seeing BB Creams on our shores I thought I’d take a second to answer the question, What’s the difference between Tinted Moisturizer and BB Creams?

I already see alot of questions rising up about how BB Creams are the same as Tinted Moisturizers or questions about the differences between the two….I want to emphasis that BB Creams and Tinted Moisturizers are too vastly different products. The concept is somewhat the same but the ingredients and performance of the two products are very different. Although I will say so far the US releases I’ve played with from Dr. Jart are quite disappointing and do indeed act more as a Tinted Moisturizer than a BB Cream.

BB Cream stands for Blemish Balm Cream. The product was originally created by Germany dermatologists to help patients who had gone through laser skin surgery. The product was meant to soothe and regenerate the skin tissue.

The craze was born in Korea (most BB Creams and the best performing ones in my opinion are from various Korean Brands) when famous actresses started wearing the cream on their faces. The product slowly started branching out from Korea to Japan, China, Singapore, and other parts of Asia thus creating a very hot trend.

Most BB Creams are created in one shade but some are created in two and if you’re lucky some even go so far as to offer three or four shades such as Missha. It’s rare though that more than one shade is created. I’ve heard alot of ranting about this but you do have to remember that BB Creams originated in Asia where there is one dominate skin tone…

Jump ahead for more.

The question I’d like to answer today is what’s the difference between Tinted Moisturizer that we already have ready and available to us versus the BB Cream fade that surely you’ll be seeing more and more of in the US.

Here’s some of the major differences you’ll see between BB Creams versus Tinted Moisturizers.

BB Cream/Blemish Balm Creams

  • Has Soothing, Healing Properties
  • May have whitening benefits depending on the brand you purchase.
  • Is suitable for most skin types (dry, oily, combination) although you can purchase specific BB’s to address your needs.
  • Very limited number of shades at best two color selections if you’re lucky.
  • Contains SPF of 35 and higher (most cases higher SPF are found in BB Creams that are purchased in Korea).
  • Has anti-aging ingredients.
  • Works as a foundation and concealer plus a moisturizer so no other base products are needed.
  • Pigmented, Thick, Creamy yet lightweight and breathable are some characters of a good BB Cream
  • Tends to not oxidize or fade away quickly (I’ve seen 8 hours or longer of wear time with a good BB Cream).
  • Very cheap (in Asia BB Creams have prices that start as little as $10)

Tinted Moisturizer

  • Normally a thin consistency compared to a thicker, creamy formula of a BB.
  • Has a range of shades to choose from (unlike BB Creams you’ll find better color matches with TM’s).
  • Available in drugstores and at high end counters (If you’re not in Asia, BB Creams are only available via high end brands so far. Hopefully drugstores will catch up soon).
  • No anti-aging ingredients (very rare for TM’s to have any anti-aging benefits).
  • No whitening benefits.
  • Lightweight formula but lacks pigmentation (BB Creams remain lightweight and are pigmented versus TM which have very minimal color pay off).
  • Normally have short wear times (I find TM’s oxidize and fade fairly quickly).
  • Very expensive (TM’s sometimes prove more expensive than foundations!)
  • Low SPF (SPF 15-30 versus BB Creams that start at 30 and go as high as 40 or more).

At present my experience with the releases here in the US aren’t nearly as good as experiences I’ve had with BB Creams from Korea however the product is just in its infancy stages where as Korea has had a few years to bring us a perfect product all around.

I do think our releases have some catching up to do particularly due to higher prices tags and ingredients that are lacking such as anti-aging and whitening benefits. I’m seeing more of a gloried tinted moisturizer so far in the two BB Creams I’ve tried from the Dr. Jart line available now at Sephora.

On a side note, I’d like to mention that MAC has some of it’s chat reps telling people that their new BB Cream is best used under makeup, as a primer of sorts. A good BB Cream acts as your foundation NOT as a primer. You do not need to follow up with foundation after using a BB Cream. The BB Cream is YOUR foundation.

I look forward to the evolution of the BB Cream in America. Hopefully we get it right because so far all I can say is….you’re doing it wrong!

About the Muse

Isabella MuseIsabella is just an average everyday geeky girl who doesn’t blend her eyeshadow correctly, wears too much blush, and hopes she never finds her holy grail products because she likes the thrill of the chase so much. Her mission is to bring you super honest reviews on makeup, skincare, fragrance and all things beauty. She’s in no way an expert on the topic and she sure as hell isn’t a super model. But she’s passionate about makeup and is seeking like-minded individuals that like pina coladas, getting caught in the rain, and ones that enjoy spending hundreds of dollars at Sephora without feeling buyer’s remorse. If you’re that person feel free to reach out and leave a comment or follow me on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Bloglovin‘.

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  • Becky

    Can you usually find these on ebay? I’d love to try.. although I’m cool toned so I wonder if it would be to yellow based.. hmm

    • the Muse

      yes becky but be careful LOTS of fakes around! I suggest sasa as well as imomoko…they are retail prices but at least it’s safe shops with real products in my experience.

  • Heath

    I’ve been waiting for these to come to the US. I’m super pale and have mild acne that never seems to go away along with pesky red marks after they’re gone. Muse, what is your HG of bb creams? Asian or otherwise. I’m a tad bit worried to buy Asian as I don’t need my face to be any whiter than it already is.

    • the Muse

      hi heather my hg at the moment (it changes haha) BRTC Jasmine Water BB Cream and skin79 oriental gold bb cream those are too that I reach for daily for the past two years.

      • Jenn

        Hi Heather (& Muse)

        I just got BRTC Blemish Recover Balm last week and I love it. I did a lot research and got it from a trusted seller in Korea on Ebay. I haven’t noticed any skin benefits (I’ve only had it a week) but I haven’t broken out at all from it (and I have quite a bit of acne that needs covering/healing time). The coverage is great and matched my skin tone perfectly (NC25). I find it looks even better after around 15 mins, then it really matches me. The coverage is great and it feels thick going on, yet when you blend it out I find it feels quite light and I forget I’m wearing it. It smells a bit mediciny (like tea tree oil, which is supposed to be good for acne) but the scent doesn’t last long. I’m just so glad I can wear something that covers my blemishes AND doesn’t break me out!

        PS Muse, I LOVE that you are doing more posts on BB Creams, I just can’t get enough!

        • the Muse

          hey jenn happy to hear your got BRTC’s Recover Balm, they make some fabulous creams! ;-D You prob won’t. I’ve been using them for near four years or so and never really seen a visible improvement in my skin….but some folks say it does ease acne and redness, neither of which I have. Alot of folks complain bb’s are too heavy but I’m not sure what they are doing b/c although thick and creamy they blend out very light and dewy ;-D! aw I’m so happy to see you excited about BB’s ;D! Enjoy! I’ll def be doing more now that the US market is finally into these ;D!

        • j3nn4

          Hey Jenn & Muse! Ooft after all this talk of BB creams I feel I NEED them in my life now! Was just wondering which one would match my NC25 skin….and you answered my question!! Can you remember the name of the eBay seller, I didn’t realise there were fakes on ebay, yikes!!

  • Leah

    I’d love to try some BB Creams! It’s all over YouTube, but I’ve yet to see them in person. I’ve also heard some horror stories about it clogging your pores and making you break out badly. It sucks that they only have 2 shades to choose from! This does not help since I range between NC 30-40 -_-

    Muse, which do you think is the best brand of BB Creams and Tinted moisturizer? Brand or product? ๐Ÿ™‚

    • the Muse

      hey leah..I really like skin79, dr jart, skinfood, and innisfree ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Mary the Muse Militant

    I’ve tried about 6 samples of various BB creams and found them to be warm toned and most seem to have whitish ashy greyish tones too.
    Definitely not suitable for fair cool toned – but that was only the 6 samples I tried.
    I’ll keep looking though as there must be a perfect one out there for me.
    I find TMs are a bit of hit and miss. Mainly miss.
    Hope BB creams catch on over here too.

  • Stephanie Zaleski

    At the risk of sounding like a cosmetic conspiracist, I doubt there was ever a German doctor. It sounds like a clever marketing back story. Doesn’t stop me from loving BB creams though. Sorry if this is a bit of s specific question and I totally understand if you’re too busy to answer. How does covergirl natureluxe foundation compare to the aqua petit bb cream? The lightest shade of the CG is my colour and I wasn’t sure whether to go with shade one or two of the holika holika. Thanks so much for all your hard work and the great blog.

    • the Muse

      hi Stephanie…could be ๐Ÿ™‚ aqua petit bb cream isn’t an actually bb cream…it’s a foundation, they just loosely throw the “bb” in there so people will buy it haha…the texture is considerably thinner and runnier compared to Natureluxe…hope this helps!? I can’t compare colors sadly as I am not familiar with the very ligest shade of NatureLuxe, don’t have it in my stash or recall even looking at it…eep!

  • Littlecreek

    I bought a skin79 pink label BB Cream on Amazon. The seller was wonderful. I am very pale and I am cool toned. The color blended and matched my skin perfectly. I was also worried about it being yellow, but it’s great! It’s cheap enough I say if your on the fence, give it a try!

  • Paris B

    To be honest, I’ve tried tons of BB Creams but they all tend to leave my skin oily and they do tend to oxidise one way or another. I live in the tropics and I tend to believe that BB Creams aren’t formulated for the tropics because its just too heavy. I’ve tried the MAC one and whilst its alright, its not much of a BB Cream. It is a good tinted sunscreen or primer, but on its own, it doesn’t offer much coverage of anything. I do like the Bobbi Brown BB Cream – that one offers more coverage and comes in 3 shades! ๐Ÿ˜€

    • the Muse

      hey sue! My dry skin loves ’em girl! They wear longer than any foundation I own ;-D could be the humidity in m’asia though ;-D! but do you find they last at least a little longer than regular foundation? curious minds! yeah, the mac one is terribly disappointing :-/ can’t WAIT to try the BB one I’m so excited!

  • Jessying

    Thank you for sharing, am still reluctant to try BB cream due to the limited of shade and tinted moisturizer is just too expensive like you say to try ..

    • the Muse

      my pleasure Jess! I hope you decide to try one anyway…some are very good!

  • Mandy

    I love BB creams! BRTC gold caviar is one of the best I have ever used and lasts forever! I also use skin79 diamond prestige and it’s quite good as well, I’m trying to convince myself it’s better than BRTC but I don’t think it is LOL!

    My skin has never improved from using BB creams from what I’ve seen (and I have been using it for years and used different ones as well), but I will just enjoy the marketing scheme anyway haha.

    • the Muse

      mandy same here…I’ve been using since 2007/2008 or so and never seen visible improvement in my overall skin tone but I love the gimmick ha!

  • Therese

    I bought a Missha BB cream on eBay and I LOVE it. I’m pale but not porcelain and the shade suits me to a T. It’s good to have such a high SPF but I don’t feel like I’m caked in makeup like I would with foundation, especially in summer. Am looking forward to stocking up in Singapore this summer.

    Muse dearest, if I like Missha could you recommend any other favourites of yours that I might like?



    • the Muse

      that’s great therese ;-D! Skin79, Shills, BRTC are some I really like ;-D! I’m a very big fan of the Oriental Skin79 BB !

  • M

    All of the BB creams I tried from S Korean, even the famed BRTC, are ashy toned and makes me look…. whitish? Texture is also a bit thick. :s

    I heard Dior has a BB cream that is yellow toned, tho I haven’t yet seen it in shops here. I want that one! ๐Ÿ˜€

  • Ginger

    Hi Muse,

    I can only speak about Korea, but saying one or two shades fits most isn’t quite right. I was surprised to see the wide variation of skin tones in a country that prides itself on being homogenious (spelled wrong, I’m sure! Ithink they just haven’t gotten around to making darker colors because “whitening”/clarifyingis such a big deal.

  • Naktsmeita

    is BB cream safe ? i thought they are stricly for curing skin problems or something like that ๐Ÿ™‚

    I mean , i can use them everyday like foundation or moisturizer ? i do have some skin79 (gift set) and i like them , but i was afraid to use them . i use only one – iluminating , for highlighting cheek bones .

    • the Muse

      they are safe naktsmeita the formulation was created for daily use as a foundation.

  • Hai Dao L

    Hey Muse, thanks for the post! Very informative ๐Ÿ™‚
    I have finally gotten my hands on some samples of BB Cream and love it! My question is which BB cream would you suggest from Skin79? I’ve tried the Caviar/Gold/hotpinkbutfordryskin one and the hot pink one ๐Ÿ˜€

    • the Muse

      if you tried the gold/caviar/and hot pink labels those are the best imho but the one that’s my hg is def the oriental from S79 ;D try that one next Hai!

  • KatyB

    Hey Muse,
    Thanks for this great comparison! I’ve been considering what summer foundation to choose for my oily, acne-prone skin and am intrigued by the idea of BB creams. One thing that has me worried, I have very fair skin and the whole “whitening” effect has me nearly terrified! Is there a good bb cream you know of without the whitening properties or is that just part of what makes a bb cream a bb cream?

    • the Muse

      hey katy

      my pleasure. Mmm for me yes whitening properties are what makes a good bb cream ;-D but it’s not the case in all brands. There are TONS you can try that do not have a whitening agent you just have to shop around a little bit, not all bb creams have whitening benefits ;-D I just reviewed the new Boscia and this def does not offer whitening…! Nor does the new mac or Dr Jart Western versions…if you prefer to go the traditional BB Cream route you might want to try out Etude House, Shills, or Innisfree which all have a range of non-whitening BB Creams. There are SO many brands to choose from ;-D!

      Hope this helps.

      • KatyB

        I just pressed the “submit” button for some skin79 Gold Label, for $12 on Amazon it’s worth a try and from what I’ve read online the whitening effect is more “brightening” than “bleaching”. Would you agree?

        • the Muse

          correct katy ;-D brightening not whitening! Gold Label is brilliant. be aware of sellers though…as some are black market! I have a review of the gold and pink labels as well if you wanna read up on ’em under Bb Cream reviews!

  • Stavroula @drugstoreandbargainlover

    Great post!! I really want to try a BB cream, I’ve heard so many good things about them ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Soo

    Hey Muse!

    Do you know of any good places in New York City (preferably Flushing) area that sell good BB Creams? I believe that the Missha that used to be in the area moved away. :<


    • the Muse

      there are literally dozens Soo have you tried Face Shop? Also Roosevelt has a ton of various beauty shops…!

  • Soo

    Ooh, thanks for the advice! I’ve been to Face Shop for masks and stuff but I’ve never looked into their makeup!

  • Nikki Dee

    Hey there! Thanks for all of the BB cream reviews and info, I’m only just finding out about them! From what I’ve heard the Bobbi Brown one doesn’t have all of the healing benefits of the original Korean ones, am I right?
    I live in NY, do you know of any BB creams I could get here and where?
    (Face Shop you sayy?) I don’t have light skin though, like most of the people I see reviewing BB creams… I am Italian/ Hispanic so it’s a bit like these girls I guess? :

    Do you have any suggestions to help? (haha gosh sorry about this long post!)
    Thanks so much in advance!!! :] Love your site!

  • Goodgirl

    Hey muse, would you be able to know all the ingredient in the BRTC Gold Caviar BB Cream. I am interested in buying that BB cream but I don’t know if it lists oil in the ingredients.


    • the Muse

      hi good girl sorry I don’t have the ingred list since it’s not in English.

  • JaneA

    Hey Muse, I’m so so so glad I stumbled upon your website. I really want to try BB Creams. I’m from Hawaii, so I have tan skin with warm undertones. I think I wore MAC NC 35 (It’s been years since I wore MAC foundation.) Right now I wear Meow’s Naughty Persian. I used to have a lot of bumps and acne, but I got it under control for the most part. And now I am left with a lot of acne scarring.

    I don’t really know where else to turn to, or who to ask — but I was wondering if you could show me to a brand or a certain type of BB cream for my wants, needs and skin type? Aside from the paragraph above my must haves for a BB Cream are anti-aging, SPF, and whitening properties. I want a medium to heavy coverage with a matte finish.

    Please please tell me there is a BB cream out there. I really like how detailed you are, how you’ve pretty much reviewed different types of brands, etc. Besides my local ethic stores, are there any trust worthy online sites you buy your BB creams at? Thanks so much Muse for your help in this matter! I really appreciate you taking the time to read this and helping me out!!

    • the Muse

      Hi Jane.

      Thanks for the comment. I can’t be of much help deciding on a good BB Cream for your skin tone sadly. I find BB’s are a personal experience and having never seen you before it’s kinda hard to pick a shade out and say, “hey this will match…” I also feel like BB’s always turn out different what you expect. Sometimes they look like they’ll be a perfect fit and you try them and suddenly the shade is wrong, wrong, wrong. It’s a hit or miss situation with many of them and it’s something you really have to research by looking at swatches online and reading up on various ones etc…I wish I had better words of wisdom for you.

      I also don’t find alot that match NC 35 skin but I will say Missha’s darker shade may be a good fit for what you need and you can buy it directly from the US portal

      Sasa is another online place to use for BB Cream and Imomoko I am not affiliated with any of these stores or shops but have purchased them them all with success.

      I hope this helps!

      Good Luck!!!!!!!!!!

      • JaneA

        Thanks again! That was a quick reply! I had my eyes set on Missha for a while, and I did purchase stuff from Sasa a while ago, so maybe I’ll check out Sasa too. But I haven’t heard of Imomoko until today, and I’m glad you recommended these sites. Thanks so much again; I really appreciate the reply — and how quick it was.

        • the Muse

          hi jane just wish I had better advice about shades for you! Imomoko has 10% off using code ANNIVERSARY by the way. Ebay is also a good resource but prices are awful sometimes and please beware of fakes. Good Luck! Looking forward to hearing your experience with BB Creams ;-D

          Apologies if I have any spelling errors here, iphone keyboard grr!

  • Jennifer

    I just saw QVC released the Smashbox BB Creams and I wanted to grab the Medium shade, they have FOUR shades which I guess is good: Fair, Light, Medium and Dark. What do you think? I am NW25/30

  • Vicki

    Hi muse! ๐Ÿ™‚ loving the posts on your website!

    I have really sensitive/thin skin on my cheeks, and most whitening products seems to irritate it, so I was wondering, I heard some bbcreams don’t contain whitening ingredients, do you happen to know of any that you may be able to recommend to me? =o

  • Sofia

    Hey Muse!
    I love your page! It’s great!
    I have a question, what BB creme would you recommend for my dry skin with large pores. I get easily clogged pores and blackheads (and since I came to the US 1 year ago I get like acne cause the water is so drying).
    I have rather fair skin, mostly the almost lightest color! (Dunno mac but with Bare Minerals I’m failry light, and Laura Mercier tinted moi I’m nude)
    Keep up with this awesome blog! I enjoy coming back to it all the time and look at your reviews! <3
    Thanks <3

  • kajol

    I am an asian with medium skin tone with yellow undertones.
    I have oily/combination skin and is little acne prone (I have tiny blemishes too,here and there)
    What is the best BB cream that suits my skin? Preferably matte look and that which controls oil and available in USA
    Thanks in Advance

  • Angel

    Hi Muse,

    I love how detailed you are in this post. And clearly, you have experienced different brands of BB cream. I have light complexion and i’m scared that the heat of the summer will burn my skin. Having read your post, I am now considering using BB cream as my daily SPF and to prevent dullness and breakage due to the summer heat. I am interested to try the Gold Skin79 but I don’t know where to buy it in the Philippines. Would you know of a site that will deliver authentic skin79 bb creams?

    I hope to hear from you! Thank you very much ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Angela

      Hi Angel! I’m not sure if they exist in the Philippines, but I would suggest looking for a Watsons store. They’re a health/beauty type of store…I know they have them in most parts of Asia (China, Japan, Thailand, etc.) Hope this helps!

  • Angela

    Also Muse, this is a great post! I am currently traveling in China and I have been searching around for BB Creams and planning to stock up since I live in the U.S. I wandered into a Watsons store and ended up buying Bio-essence Bio Platinum BB Cream. I found out that Bio-essence is actually a brand from Singapore. I tried out the BB cream and I have to say I like it a lot. It was 158 RMB, which comes to about 26 US dollars. Not the cheapest, but the product quality is really great. I hope to find more BB creams, maybe some that are less expensive, and let you know about them.

  • Catherine

    I’m loving the new Garnier Fructis BB Cream. I have been getting compliments on my skin since I started using it about a month ago. I don’t have to wear foundation with it and my skin has been so soft.

  • Estee

    Nice post you have here. I am a Korean and I do use some BB creams myself and important thing to remember about Korean BB creams, you must make sure to cleanse your face really well after use. Otherwise, I have seen many people totally break out from it. Good example brand is Missha, but I used Missha BB creams myself and I clearly had no problem what so ever because I focused really hard on the cleansing part. So just incase any of you using BB cream and breaking out, it’s less likely due to the BB cream but because of not getting it off thoroughly ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Gussie

    I’m 60 & looking for a good bb cream or what ever won’t make my wrinkles more evident. I do have red on my cheeks. I went to Sephora & they sold me boscia. Is that the right bb cream for me?

  • Tammy

    I have been applying a mineral powder foundation over my bb cream as it gives better coverage and lasts longer however towards the end of the day(I am in high school so I don’t often get the chance for touch ups) redness starts to show! Should I apply a concealer before the mineral powder foundation?
    Ps. I use nude by nature bb cream

  • Anne


    I’ve been looking for TM’s online and that’s how I bumped into your blog.
    So personally, which would you suggest, BB cream or TM?


  • fabb

    Just for a BB cream update, since a lot has changed since this was written –

    1) There is no one skin tone in Asia. Even in East Asia, skin tones range greatly.

    2a) Luckily for us brown people, both Iman beauty brand (high end) and Black Radiance (low end) have come out with BB cream for darker skin tones. I recommend getting BB cream from these companies than from companies like Garnier — frankly, when it comes to darker tones, most mainstream makeup companies do not take into account the golden undertones of brown skin, so their shades are often dull and lifeless on a lot of us.

    2b) Don’t be put off by the lower SPF level in these brands. Higher SPF can make darker skin look ashen and sickly, and since darker skin is more resilient against sun damage, the lower SPF level is fine. If you still want extra SPF coverage, I would recommend finding a clear sunscreen spray to compensate.

  • Jackie

    I actually prefer the U.S versions of bb creams (which are glorified tinted moisturizers) to the real Korean bb creams mainly because Korean bb creams look too grey’ish and unnatural. Sort of mask like. I don’t want skin whitening properties; I like to be bronzed. I find tinted moisturizers more conducive to makeup applied on top like blush, contour etc. I also like the glowy look more than the matte grey look.