June 28, 2012

L’Oreal Youth Code BB Cream Illuminator Review & Swatches

Official song for BB Creams released in the US, another one bites the dust.

L’Oreal Youth Code BB Cream is another fail of a BB Cream that’s marked up to $18 at drugstores at the moment, yes, that’s $17.99 plus tax.

You can imagine my review of the new L’Oreal Youth Code BB Cream Illuminator isn’t going to be a good one so brace yourself.

I feel like a broken record, it’s not a BB Cream.

Rant, sigh, burp.

L’Oreal created Youth Code BB Cream to perform a few functions so like any good BB Cream it multitasks a few different things.


  • To even out your complexion.
  • Illuminate your skin
  • Perfect it.
  • Moisturize it.
  • Correct it.

What does it actually do?

The formula is a thick, creamy texture however, it loses something of its credibility as a BB Cream since the formula is a bit on the runny side during application. Upon contact with skin it becomes looser and very, very hydrating. Great, I love hydrating base products however, it might prove overkill for oily skin types as this provides some incredible moisture.

It does even out skin tone to some extent but the coverage it offers is zero to sheer. BB Creams in Asia offer full coverage 95% of the time so the fact that US brands continue to put BB Creams into more of a Tinted Moisture realm is one of the main reasons you’ll continuously hear me rant, “This isn’t a BB Cream..!”

The formula definitely has a luxe feel to it. I can’t deny that it feels like a higher end tinted moisturizer and at $17.99 I feel like that’s a bargain considering how costly higher end tinted moisturizers from brands like Bobbi Brown and Laura Mercier are. However, at $17.99 you can get two Asian BB Creams that actually have a superior formula to this, food for thought.

It does moisturize skin however, unsure what exactly they think it corrects. Outside of possibly protecting skin from future issues using a broad spectrum SPF 15 (which is FAR too low in my opinion) it doesn’t technically have any anti-aging, correcting, or healing properties.

The good news is it does create a more uniformed skin tone and does lend a healthy finish to skin so dullness is eased, skin looks healthier, smoother even.

I’m not seeing the illuminating aspect here and I’m quite alright with that because anything that has shimmer/sparkle or iridescence looks rather badly on my face in natural light.

Overall, L’Oreal Youth Code BB Cream is a glorified tinted moisturizer. I liked the fact that it eased dullness and created a solid base for makeup. My skin looked healthier after application, less dull, and it evened out my skin tone. I enjoyed the hydrating feel of the product and felt it blended beautifully however, I think it’ll prove a little rich for those with oily skin since it leaves behind a certain soft, dewy sheen on skin. They promise the formula will refine skin and imperfections will diminish within two weeks of use but they don’t specifically mention what those imperfections might be. Acne? Fine lines? Eh?

In the end, I think the price is a little too high. You can easily pick up the Garnier BB Cream for a little less. I will say I did get it at $14 thanks to a friendly sales associate at Walgreens giving me a coupon. You might want to wait for a sale to purchase it as it might be worth trying out for a little less than near $20.

It has the potential to please users that have never experienced a real Asian BB Cream in the past. I think more mature, drier skin will like it the most where as younger, less drier skin will find it a bit too heavy. For someone desiring full coverage, you’ll find this is disappointingly sheer and won’t offer the coverage you need for concealing redness, acne, acne scarring, dark spots, etc…

And of course, those of that have experienced a real BB Cream will just dislike it completely.

It’s another BB Cream that’s merely a tinted moisturizer.

I could be persuaded to rave a little more if they called it L’Oreal Youth Code Tinted Moisturizer.

It’s available in two shades for $17.99-$18.99 (depending where you purchase) at drugstores now.

Tried it?

Loved it?

Left it?


I purchased this item.

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‘.

Leave a Comment


  • Rachel

    Well, for the price, Im going to have to pass on this one. I dont understand why US brands are marketing these as BB creams when they are absolutely not, its feels like theyre taking advantage of their customers.

    • the Muse

      I think they think the idea won’t fly in our market so they want to keep it light and simple. the drugstore isn’t exactly overloaded with tinted moisturizer options anyway so I guess they feel this fits into that demographic. they also assume many US makeup users don’t know BB creams exist outside of the US for many years and they could possibly be right, I imagine people don’t even realize that BB Creams aren’t some new technology. As far as they know this is some incredible new beauty formula that the US created or something lol!

  • meep

    Not sure why I would pay more money for a bb cream that doesn’t have as many benefits as an Asian bb cream, Loreal!

  • Jen

    I am not a fan of most Asian BB creams, they are too heavy, and most contain yucky mineral oil that makes me break out. The decent ones cost a lot and usually do not have a shade for my Latina skin tone. So naturally, I am quite enjoying the US BB cream market. I have used tinted moisturizers and I feel like my maybelline BB gives me a bit more even look than any TM I’ve tried. I really like the SmashBox BB, I think it has the most pigment in a US BB so far. Remember, Asian BB creams are a step down from prescription Blemish Balms, so I see US BBs as a ‘3rd generation’ BB. 😉

    • Grace

      Maybe its just the ones you tried? Japanese BB creams especially have more of a medium coverage and none of the ones I’ve seen have mineral oil in them.

    • Liz

      I heard that missha’s perfect bb cream is the best and offer shades for pale to deep tanned skin tones. I personally have researched and read/watched many reviews and am going to try it for myself soon.

      I do agree that we cannot trust the American version of the bb creams. I haven’t tried any and honestly am not interested. I’m also kind of bummed that they have taken the bb concept but what can we do?

      That’s my 2cents on it all.

    • christi

      I think u just haven’t tried any quality Asian Bb’s. I’m a ,makeup artist & bb cream connoisseur, & many, many do not have mineral oil or yucky ingredients. U.S. bb creams aren’t 3rd generation Bb’s, they are 1st generation tinted moisturizers. LOL May I suggest Skin79, Innisfree, Etude House, Ettusais, L’egere for quality bb creams with good ingredients. I

  • Grace

    Blehh another disappointment…and seriously, spf15? I can get a nice medium coverage BB cream with spf30 for the same price, or even cheaper when I travel to Asia… 🙁 Not worth the jacked up price…

  • Tiffany Martin

    I’m going to cry all day >: I am so sad when products are labeled BB when they’re not. I mean, this seems like it might be a really nice product, but there’s no way I’m going to buy it now, my oily skin will hate it.

    What’s better, Loreal? Getting an initial sale and losing a customer for life


    Labeling your product right?

  • Ennn

    I have oily skin, Asian & living in NYC! Im a believer of Laura Mercier product especially the tinted moisturizer. I discovered L’Oreal Youth Code BB Cream 10 days ago in my local Duane Reade drug store & decided to give it a try!! I’m so glad I did cause I totally love it!! Ive been using it everyday! It’s been outrageously hot & humid here now and my skin stayed hydrated and NOT oily at all! I look fresh!! This product may be a tinted moisturizer only or what not! But I love this product & had shared it with a number of my friends already & they all love it too.
    My cream isn’t watery at all like what you have in the picture. Mine is pretty creamy consistency.

  • Melissa

    I have not tried Loreal’s Youth Code BB Cream, however, I have tried Garnier’s. Unfortunately, after a week of use I started developing little red bumps on my chin and near my nose. I would have considered trying Loreal’s version but their formulas are identical! I wish I could find a decent BB cream.

  • Kim

    Hi! Since you own many BB creams I was wondering how long can you keep them before they go bad?

    • the Muse

      creams are typically a year sometimes less kim before they expire.

  • Heather

    I actually just bought this yesterday. I’m new to your blog and have been researching BB Creams and tinted moisturizers and I’m so glad I did! I’ve never tried a “real” BB Cream, but because of what I’d read here, I knew buying this not to expect too much, more of a tinted moisturizer. I really do like it! It feels really nice on my dry skin, with a dewy finish. I’m really digging your blog, keep up the good work!!!

  • jane

    I tried American bb cream and I have a terrible rash on my face. Luckily it is on forehead and I have bangs. Ugh

  • jorge mai kelly

    tried this one also and was disappointed yet again…i am not a big foundation lover, and typically prefer it around the eye area for blending. some tinted moisturizers have worked well in the past but always they get discontinued which so sucks. anyway, this bb cream was rich but sat on top of my skin and had to be toweled off! yuck. didn’t provide moisture or any flawless dewy luminescent finish at all instead it looked dull and “make-uppy” . also, irritated my skin somewhat as it aggrivated my mild ecema and i got redness around my mouth/chin area and under my nose. so i returned the product and i am still searching…

  • natalie

    i have good skin but it’s oily. i too bought this one (for 11 bucks) to give a try because i don’t really like to wear foundation. i live in a city with a huge asian population (more than a million, most from china or hong kong) and there are lots of bb creams available around here, but i tried a few samples and found them too masky, oily and yellowish for my skin.

    most foundation makes my face feel dirty and i sweat under it all day. too much maintenance with blotting and powdering.

    this stuff:

    hydrates; doesn’t make my face feel dirty or sweaty.
    tames redness in my cheeks and nose.
    fades sun spots/freckles.
    refines pores and fine lines.
    smells ok.

    overall, i like it . the only complaint i have is that if i get it too close to the corners of my eyes they will water all day.

  • Ank

    I tried this BB cream and it really is very creamy. It leaves my make feeling greasy. And the SPF coverage is also nit that great. I have tried many other BB creams and so far, my favorite is Estee Lauder. It is a little pricy (abt $40) but its totally worth it. A little goes a long way. And it keeps my skin looking fresh and hydrated for upto 8 hrs. I was trying for a cheaper alternative and that is why I tried the Loreal cream. But I think I will definetily go back to Estee Lauder.

  • Annie

    I tried a teeny bit of this product after getting a sample in O magazine a few weeks ago. I have very fair and sensitive skin that reacts poorly to most cosmetics so I was pretty hesitant to even try it but I did. And for me, it’s basically a miracle. I don’t wear makeup…ever, if I can help it, so wether or not it is a TRUE BB cream, I couldn’t tell you. I can say that it feels wonderful,does illuminate my skin and doesn’t make me feel like I have makeup on. <3

  • Renea

    I bought this BB Cream at Walmart in Alaska for just $15. I use coverups and concealers whenever I have breakouts and since I have uneven skin tone. I understand technical people say it’s not a BB cream blah blah. I really do love this cream. If you have dry to medium skin I recommend it, this cream hydrates and really does perfect your skin tone. I love the feeling it gives after it soaks in. I don’t undestand how there’s so many horrible reviews I love it!

  • christi

    I have this tinted moisturizer and it sucks IMO. I certainly won’t even call it a BB cream. The American market has basically changed the name of tinted moisturizer to bb cream. I will say tho, that I do love the Maybelline bb cream, which surprised me. I was only expecting it to be a tm tho, so I wasn’t disappointed. I am just getting into trying different Asian bb creams and it’s true muse, it is so addictive trying and ordering different ones! ! I love this blog and thanks to u I found sasa.com! Love ur reviews!

  • Candice

    I tried the tiny sample they sent out on a card and it was definitely the most moisturizing BB cream I’ve tried but man, it was just too dark even if it was the lighter shade offered and I don’t understand because I don’t have this problem with other brands. It felt nice and I can imagine liking it on good-skin days (since the coverage was very sheer) but in the end, it’s really really not for me.

  • Simone

    Im biracial, NC44 in the summer, with warm undertones. I javent had much luck finding an asian BB that works with my skin tone. 🙁
    I’ve tried almost all DS BBs, and a couple HE… And, on my no makeup, makeup days, Ive been reaching for this one. It just works very well with my skin!
    I know it’s not a real BB, but I will continue to purchase this!
    I’ve noticed with US BB creams (TMs), the results really vary depending on the person. U just gotta sort of end up getting lucky with the right one…

  • Noelle

    I really love this stuff. I don’t really need a lot of coverage except perhaps under my eyes. I have regular skin, neither oily nor dry. The coverage is great. The texture is great. Now I’m waiting for the new stuff to come out and see what happens. Always have to try something new…..

  • Jane

    At last, at last someone is on the same page as I am!!! I am an Australian who discovered BB Creams (through a Korean friend) a couple of years before they were ‘discovered’ in western countries and I’ve become increasingly annoyed with scores and scores of bad reviews from people who are trying (and hating) all the ‘new’ BB creams that really aren’t BB creams at all. Anyone who has tried the Asian brands will know that the Eastern and the Western BB creams are totally different products. It’s great to finally find a beauty blogger who has tried Asian BB Creams and knows how superior they are!!! Why, why, why can’t Western beauty houses get it right??? They’re half the price and twice as good from Asia so I’m going to continue doing exactly what I’m doing – buy them online from Asia and ignore the ‘new’ ones available in the shops here!!

    • the Muse

      AGREED totally Jane believe me I understand exactly how you feel. I’ve been using Korean BB Cream for several years now and when they hit the US Market I was very excited but everything that has launched here is simply a tinted moisturizer labeled as BB Cream sigh! 🙁

  • Nicole

    It’s covers well, but it takes a few minutes to settle in. I have to use my CoverFX finishing powder to remove the sheen (combo skin). It’s overpriced for a drugstore tinted moisturizer aka wannabe bb cream.

  • Gilly

    I absolutely loved this BB cream. I have oily skin and acne prone skin and although I knew it wasn’t going to cover my flaws, I really liked how dewy my skin looked. Overtime, I hope it covers my flaws but I was definitely surprised and pleased with the results

  • isuru

    Dear muse
    I have sort of indian skin. Can you tell me a good bb cream to use?

  • Silvia

    So glad i did not purchased the Garnie one but definetely will purchase again the Loreal BB Cream Youth Code. To me it has been perfect so far! I love it! In fact it is my favorite.