August 26, 2011

Clinique Age Defense BB Cream Review, Swatches, Photos

Clinique has joined the realms of BB Creams being released in North America. Thus far we’ve seen BB Creams from Smashbox, Boscia, Dr. Jart, and MAC.

I’ve noticed a few main differences with BB Creams here in the US versus the many I’ve tried here from Asia, these differences include:

  • Lower SPF (15 to 30 but no higher)
  • Lack of anti-aging ingredients
  • No whitening properties
  • No Acne, skin treatment ingredients
  • Lack of pigment

Of course, these things are to me what makes up a good Asian BB Cream however, North American standards are somewhat different particularly when addressing whitening ingredients, this is understandable and the lack of such an option in our BB Creams can be overlooked but other things such as anti-aging ingredients, lower SPF, etc…is rather disappointing.

Clinique released it’s BB Cream in Asia several months ago and most recently we are able to purchase it here in the US.

Let’s take a look at Clinique Age Defense BB Cream and see if it lives up to Asian standards.


If you have no idea what a BB Cream is or how to use one or how it might be difference from a Tinted Moisturizer I do suggest reading up on BB Creams by clicking here and here for further information.

Clinique Age Defense BB Cream does lack a few things that makes up a good Asian BB Cream. This isn’t a treatment cream so it will not heal your skin, make it look better, etc….this does not contain anti-aging ingredients nor does it brighten or whiten. It does contain a decent level of SPF 30 for sun protection and contains a fragrance formula free that’s gentle enough for use on most skin types.

Traditionally speaking, it is not what you’d come across on the Asian market however Clinique, like many of the North American BB Creams released, has taken the concept of Blemish Balm Cream and improvised a little for the US Market.

This BB Cream is a solid performing product that offers sun protection while perfecting skin and creating a good solid base for your color cosmetics. Count me impressed because up until now Clinique proves one of the better BB Creams I’ve tried from the brands released here in the US.

The formula is a think consistency cream which absorbs easily and creates a dewy finish on skin. Those with dry skin will enjoy the very light hydrating feel of the product and those with oilier skin will appreciate how easily it absorbs without feeling greasy. Granted, it’s supposed to act as a moisturizer as well as a base product but the moisture effect is very light so prepping prior is essential to getting good, even coverage. I’ve heard and read a few reviews that felt the cream wasn’t hydrating enough but I personally felt it had a nice even glide and felt nice and light on my skin however if you’re not used to cream foundations or BB Creams it could prove a different experience for you.

The sun protection is an SPF 30 and offers both UVA/UVB protection thus not treating anti-aging but preventing it. According to Clinique it does contain antioxidants that will help protect skin against environmental aggressors thus again offering protection but not treatment of aging.

Coverage is sheer and can be built up to midway medium…not completely covering major problems but doing a fairly good job of covering minor issues particularly redness, fine lines, etc…it perfects beautifully in my opinion and evens out skin tone, creating a flawless canvas.

The two shade selections are 1 and 2. This is where folks will begin to rant, complain, etc…but if they did a whole range of colors it would defeat the purpose of the product actually being called a BB Cream, they could just call it Tinted Moisturizer or foundation…hope that makes sense.

Many Asian BB Creams have a nice knack for self adjusting and fitting many skin types but it is a rarity and varies from brand to brand and product to product. Clinique’s version does not adjust all that well but it does make a good push to try and adjust to your skin type. Shade 1 for me was a little too pink and it left a white cast on my skin however with a 15 minute time frame it started to settle down and created a nice glow-y effect but sadly the white was still there. Shade 2 was actually a better match for me. It starts out very beige but has a nice creamy base as you massage…be sure to NOT pass up Shade 2 believing it might be too dark because the color, once touched and smoothed on it, changes drastically. I’m probably between these two shades as if I combine them it matches my skin well but I’ll probably end up keeping Shade 2 as that was the better fit. Shown below: Shade 2 on the left and Shade 1 on the right.

Overall, Clinique Age Defense BB Cream SPF 30 isn’t really a typical Asian BB Cream but is a good solid try at being one. I liked it even though the fact that it isn’t a typical BB Cream does disappoint. The coverage was good for me, the formula nice and creamy, and the wear, like any good BB Cream, was excellent as it didn’t oxidize on my skin, fade, or turn gray-ish…!

At $37 for 1.4 oz is disappointing but…we aren’t in Korea and we can’t expect to pay the same lower costs as the Asian market.

If you’re looking to have the BB Cream experience and don’t mind a few quirks and things left out of a traditional formula, you may end up just loving Clinique version.

Seasoned BB Cream users will enjoy the formula but the lack of extras and perks that they have come to know, expect, and love about BB Creams may be missed and possibly ranted about an ickle bit.

I’m not sure when this will be on counters but it is available at Sephora and if you’d like to swatch and play, I think it deserves, at the very least, a check out!

If you already tried it, I look forward to hearing your thoughts!

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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  • melissa

    I bought a tube from Sephora last week and ended up returning it.

    The texture was a bit thick and hard to put on for me; I found it had not blended too well on my chin. Unfortunately, this was AFTER going to an event. -_- Oh well!

      • melissa

        usually tinted moisturizers, but i got excited for the bb cream since it came in a darker shade. the color matched well but i tried it thrice and was not pleased with any of the results. it really enhanced my dry skin patches.

        perhaps i need more practice?

        • the Muse

          sorry to hear it melissa 🙁 I’m dry too but no problems with it. Normally I pat into place and massage in dunno if that helps!?

        • BB Cream Crazy

          melissa – sometimes when we have drier skin, the best for it IS the tinted moisturizers and we can’t use other things.

          BUT – you CAN try to exfoliate your facial skin every other day, and see IF, maybe it will help “set” the BB Cream type coverages better.

          On the other hand korean BB creams(and *OTHER TRUE ASIAN BB CREAMS*)usually have more oils in them so perhaps that is what you should just try anyway – although exfoliating thrice weekly with either a fine paste type exfoliant OR an exfoliant sponge, will certainly help all angles of it.

          There are ppl that are actually trying to MIX products like Clinique BB Creams and other western ones like Garnier, with the true asian ones bc the western products are

          ***TOO DARK FOR SO MANY OF US*** – me being in that category too!

          Sad that Clinque didn’t just LEAVE their ***CITY BLOCK*** product ALONE – the one that they had FIRST!!!!!

          It had a PERFECT SHADE FOR EXTRA LIGHT SKINTONES and some sort of ingredient mixture in it that diffused light like a nice BB Cream AND would litely cover also.

          I CANNOT TELL U HOW MANY PPL RAVED ABOUT MY SKIN WHEN I WORE THAT! And it DID give the skin a FANTASTIC diffused perfection, evening out redness just right, SUPER SHEER – and THE GLOW!! IT WAS UNBELIEVABLE!

          I mean COME ON! When a DERMATOLOGIST says to u as you are wearing it, “WOW you got beautiful skin!” then YOU KNOW that you’ve got something FANTASTIC, SHEER, AND GORGEOUS on!! Some stupid person at clinique decided it should be discontinued – you would think before they would EVER do that to a product, that they would AT LEAST try to push it in advertising and THEN make the judgement!


          If you decide to try this above mentioned *MIXING* technique to get a **LIGHTER COLOR**, you just have to be careful and be sure you are mixing compatible **BASES** Meaning oil based CREAMS mixing with similar oil based *CREAMS* – and lighter water based *LIQUIDS* doing the same.

          HONESTLY I just do NOT GET IT! You would THINK these BB Cream ppl in the industry that are TRYING to make it work for their bottom dollar profit and loss, would just GET A CLUE about the TOO DARK PROBLEM and jsut put out a tube that is TOTAL NEUTRAL – like WHITE – and just let people MIX THE 2 and FIND THEIR RIGHT SHADE!!!

          Kind’a like what that Perfect Shade Makeup does by having a skintone shade in the bottle with a WHITE NEUTRALIZER IN THE NEXT COMPARTMENT of the bottle!!


          ps – there is a JAPANESE BB Cream out there called HADA LABO that has gotten really good reviews on the LIGHTER color and the nice diffusing “perfection/glow” front. (sorry so long & not meaning to SHOUT – just trying to ***DRAW ATTENTION*** to particular points.

          • BB Cream Crazy

            BTW – When I say the ***FIRST CITY BLOCK*** I am referring to the one that they had BEFORE the one that they have NOW!

            The one that is (OR WAS) there last time I bought it, was a “re-formulated” city block and **NOT THE ORIGINAL** that gave such GORGEOUS DIFFUSED SOFT COVERAGE! …it really WAS UNBELIEVABLE! The closest I have EVER SEEN to a TRUE BB Cream on the western market!! It would even go on kinda “whitish” like a true BB Cream, and then settle in and TOTALLY MATCH YOUR TONE while giving u the whole anti-redness and perfect skin illusion!!

            ***A DERMATOLOGIST TRULY SAID THAT TO ME!! I was there for a dandruff problem, and so I confessed I was wearing a tinted SPF type clinique product that evened out redness and gave a nice “velvety” look; and he was FLOORED bc it was honestly SO SHEER and NATURAL LOOKING!! His wife worked in the office and SHE came in to see it and get all the details so she could go get herself some too!

            STUPID CLINIQUE! Hiring that NEW COKE GUY!! xD

  • Jessica

    Thanks for the review, Muse! I’ve tried the Boscia and Dr. Jart+ and have been interested in this one too. I was really curious about what you’d think of it, as I know you definitely know your way around a BB cream! I thought you might want to know that the swatches are labeled backwards, though. Anyone who read the review would be able to figure out for themselves that Shade 1 is lighter, but if someone is only skimming, they might not catch it. Thanks again!

  • Perry

    So short of pleading with relatives in China, how do you get your Asian BB creams?

    • the Muse

      I normally ask a friend in Korea perry but when all else fails e-bay unfortunately and sometimes sasa and 🙂 or if I’m really really wanting to deal with it I go ahead and go the gmarket route. Flushing has alot of smaller Asian beauty shops that carry BB’s as well!

  • Geek in Heels

    I’m glad that this BB Cream is better than the other U.S. versions…that being said, as I *like* the added benefits of the Asian BB Creams, I’ll stick to those for now! Thanks for the thorough review!

  • Susan Lewis

    Are you sure you don’t have the swatches switched? Shade 01 is pinkier.

  • Tiffany

    I don’t understand your reasoning for why BB creams should only come in 2 light shades. It makes sense for Asia but not for the North America and European markets because there are more ethnic groups here who range in skin tones. BB creams can still be called BB creams and come in more shades than just pale and very very pale.

    • the Muse

      tiffany bb creams are supposed to adjust accordingly. the ones I’ve tried here in the US fail to do that…some in Asia successfully do so.

  • Tiffany

    Also BB cream is supposed to be a makeup item that has skincare properties. It should have nothing to do with the shade selection only being for fair skinned people. They only make 1-2 shades in Asia only because that is the shade their target demographic ie. Asians mostly fit under. BB creams set sitself apart from foundation and tinted moisturizers by what it does differently, not the shade selection.

    • HapaGirl84

      BB creams aren’t really just for fair skinned people, check out Youtube for some great tutorials and reviews on BB creams for deeper skin tones!

  • Adriana

    Where can I buy an Asian BB cream (with all the benefits) here in the US? Thank you!

    • the Muse

      hi adriana you have to do a bit of online shopping e-bay,, imomoko are good places to start just be aware of e-bay as there are sellers who sell fake products. Hope this helps.

  • LouAnne

    I bought Shade 2 from Sephora and it is just about too dark for me. I like this BB cream although I think I like the Dr. Jart just a little better. I am going to pick up Shade 1 for the winter. And Clinique does have this on their website now.

  • kimkats

    Ok, I gotta admit I’m puzzled by this stuff… SInce it’s not a blemish balm, (since it has no anti acne ingredients) what’s the difference between this stuff and a tinted moisturizer? Or is it a moisturizer that acts as a bit of a skintone evener, like a tinted primer might?

    I’m just not sure what the purpose of this stuff is… Help me out Muse!! :-}

    • the Muse

      hi kim I actually have links to those explanations right in the post…one is about what bb creams are and the other is what the difference is between bb creams and tms. I pointed them out before I reviewed and mentioned reading them first if you weren’t familiar with bb creams. Hope this helps!? 🙂

  • Lietuva

    Hi Muse,

    Would you mind recommending a BB cream that I, as someone who lives in the US, has access to? I have terrible skin that just does not work with any foundation I have tried and the idea of a TRUE BB cream really appeals to me (whitening, healing, great coverage, etc). I’m super fair so the lack of shades won’t be a problem. I have tried all available creams from Missha and they were okay but I feel as if there may be a better option. If you could just point me in the right direction of brands, websites, etc. that could allow me to purchase a more true BB cream I would be ever so thankful! Thank you in advance for your help!

    • the Muse

      hi lietuva have a look through my archives I have suggestions for ones I enjoy. Hope this helps!

  • Cynthia

    I tried and swatch this at Sephora. I personally not to keen on thick consistency , but what I’m bothered by this cream is the smell. Is it just me that I don’t like BB cream? cause I’m kinda of bummed out and tried out a few of the bb creams and I’m just not into it. I was so excited to hear Clinique was coming out with their own BB cream but just stoked and bummed out of this.

  • Kimber

    I FINALLY get what a BB cream is – thank you so much Muse! The Asian BB creams sound fabulous but the Clinique one doesn’t do too much for me.

  • Sara

    Dimethicone makes me a sad panda. 🙁 Actually, all silicones make me a sad panda. 🙁

    Is there such a thing as a BB cream (American, Asian, or otherwise) that doesn’t contain them? At least not as the first, second, or third ingredient?

    I, too, am puzzled by this being a BB cream. Not because I don’t understand the concept of a BB cream, but because of all the things you already mentioned Clinique is missing. It really does sound like a tinted moisturizer that comes in two shades.

    • the Muse

      Not sure sara sorry :-/ alot of my bb creams aren’t in English so know way to say.

    • the Muse

      tina pointed out the pros and cons in the review. I liked it alot. Hope this helps 🙂

  • Joan

    I’m kind of confused about BB creams. Are they just for Asian skin or for Caucasian skin as well?

    • the Muse

      it’s a popular product in Korea that has ventured out to various Asia countries but you can of course, use for Caucasian skin as well Joan if you find the right match. It’s not something restricted to Asian skin.

  • Dee

    Yup, we’ve BB Creams from all over Asia and even counter brands (like Lancome!) are churning them out for a share of this BB-pie.
    A single brand can roll out a range of BB creams, supposedly to target various skin concerns e.g. Hydrating formulas, Anti-aging, Whitening, Multiple Benefits (10-in1) etc etc… and SPF could be like 50?
    All the Korean and Japanese hypes taking over the Asian regions… guess the trend’s not really picking up in USA… 🙂

    <3 Dee, Singapore

  • Tiffany

    Thanks for the review on this bb cream, I was thinking about picking this up but I’ll probably check it out in store first. The American bb creams seem to be quite disappointing so far huh? I’ve used the Missha Perfect Cover and I love it. Do you have any recommendations for good Asian bb creams?

    • the Muse

      hi tiffany check back in the archives I have alot of various reviews/recs! Hope this helps 🙂

  • Harshleen

    Hi Muse, you got me into BB creams finally. I just bought the Boscia BB cream after your review…..looking fwd to try it 🙂

    • the Muse

      yay harshleen ;-D have fun! check back with me and let me know how you like!

  • AO

    I think people would be better off trying the “real thing” BB creams from Asia. A lot of times, whenever the US market tries to put something out that tries to mimic the original from another country, it usually doesn’t work as well. These Asian BB creams have a lot more going for them than just a SPF and whatever else the US versions are touting. I just feel if you want the true BB cream experience,you are better off trying to get one of the originals. There are tons to choose from and they have different properties in them to suit individual needs. 🙂

  • Ciambella

    I wonder what the reasoning is behind all of the American BB creams paling so much in comparison to their Asian counterparts. Are they cheaping out on the ingredients, or are they legally not allowed to use certain ingredients or make the claims that the Asian BB cream companies do? I’d be interested in finding out.

    • the Muse

      hi karen I have a few in the archives, check back and you’ll see the ones I enjoy 🙂 hope this helps!

  • Isabella

    thanks, I wondered what they are, dont need a moisturizing foundation. I need a drying one 🙂

  • LK

    in a way i like how it doesn’t have whitening properties…..but i’m liking the price….. i’m not really white or tan person…. i bought one bb cream out of curiosity last yr when i went to Singapore…. the only problem was there was too many option so i ended up picking random one… it does have spf 45 but it make my face whiter than i would like to be…..

  • Fuuka

    I tried the Japanese version in Hawaii at the duty-free mall. I liked it, it claims to be the skincare type(in Japanese at least). I can’t use it because it uses chemical sunscreens, but it was ok. I wish that they would bring the “Even Better/Dermawhite” products over. As well as the Repair Wear Foundation.

  • Nadiar

    Muse, as you know i’m a beginner in terms of beauty products ;D
    kinda want to try BB cream product, but i don’t know which to choose lighter or darker shade than my skin tone? I have a yellowish & somewhat slightly reddish tone btw 😐

    • the Muse

      I’m not really sure nadiar. Perhaps head to clinique and swatch these two and see what best works for you hun! In terms of other BB Creams it’s really something you have to play my ear, or at least in my experience. As sometimes shades run too pink, too beige, etc…when you find it, it’s a really joyous occasion ;-D but it’s alot of work to get the perfect shade down!

  • Minh

    @Tiffany, by your logic [that skincare should have nothing to do with the shade selection], why are you so concerned with this BB cream having more color selection? I think you’re confused by your own argument. Anyway, it does adjust itself quite well to my NC35 shade. While I am Asian, I am farrrr from fair-skinned, at least, I don’t think NC35 is fair.

    This BB Cream in shade 02 adjusted itself quite nicely on my skin after 10 minutes or so. Despite it being a bit thicker, it wasn’t especially difficult to blend. It just requires a fast hand ;).

    • Jackie

      What she said wasn’t confusing at all. BB creams are supposed to be about having coverage + skin care properties. Not the shade selection. But according to Miss Muse here, limited shade selection is a criteria for BB creams. But if your not medium to fair skintone like NC 45, NC 50, etc, this stuff isn’t going to “adjust” no matter how much you want it to. Let’s be real here. If that’s what BB creams are all about concerning shades, then I really hope it doesn’t catch on in the states. Most Western companies barely make 1 shade for darker skinned people (Although thankfully in recent years more have begun to make more shades), so I really don’t want to feel even more left out if this becomes popular and it’s only available for medium to fair skinned people.

  • Ana

    Hi, Muse! Would you say this is full coverage? I’ve been wanting to try a BB cream for a while now and was intrigued when I heard about Clinique’s product. But I only really like foundations that almost entirely eliminate the need for concealer (I have red pigmentation from acne). I may be mistaken, but I believe most BB creams are supposed to have great coverage?

    • the Muse

      not full coverage ana. They are supposed to be full coverage but this one is not. Hope this helps.

  • Kamagrian

    Muse, have you tried Clinique’s City Block? I always liked that product in the past, and felt it gave a little coverage along with major sun protection and so on. If you’ve used it, how does the new BB offering compare?

  • Ajay.

    Hey there, Muse! Loving the thorough reviews on here. Very, very helpful! 😀 I was just wondering how you would go about applying this BB cream? I find that it has a bit too thick consistency and dries out too fast on my skin, so I don’t have much room to work with it and blend it properly and evenly on my skin. So frustrating! I’ve tried warming it up first with my fingers but it still ended up looking dry and emphasising my dry spots on my cheeks. Not sure what to do. Don’t want to waste this wonderful product!

    • the Muse

      hi ajay! thanks so glad you’re loving the reviews and finding them helpful. BB Cream is should be applied by “palming” or gently patting in place. you want to apply a few spots on your face and gently press the palms of your hands to your face to allow it to absorb. sorta like you would would Hadalabo toner, see this video this enables to product to absorb into your skin and produces the best finish.

  • Nina

    This is nearly the first BB cream I have found that actually matches my fair skin! Most BB creams ive tried leave me looking dark and dull. This one likes bright and matches! But its much too dry for me. I always wear my full skincare under any BB cream ive tried and still this one is dry dry dry (i have combo skin, but since its winter time I like a little extra). The only other BB cream ive found decent, is the Dr Jart water fuse, though it lacks brightening properties so Im still searching for something better. Im scared to order one from outside the US. The loreal youth code bb cream, is it light enough for super fair skin? thats the next one ive been looking at….

  • lila

    I’ve been meaning to buy this product but now I’m a bit afraid due to the shades. I don’t have a counter store that sells it in my city and I really have no idea which shade would be the best for my skin color since you said shade 02 when blended and smoothed changes drastically. I’m MAC NW20. Do you think shade 01 is the best for me?