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10 Ways To Choose The Best Double-Letter Cream For You

We examine what'll make your choice of a multi-action cream the BEST one--ever. (Hint: The secret is not in the letter; it's in the plus!)

With BB creams and other double-letter creams dominating the market, what gives yours a superior edge? Is it glitzy packaging or your fave K-Pop stars or primetime princesses as endorsers? Bloggers and beauty expert testimonials on social media? 

It’s undeniable that the BB cream and its other multi-function doppelgangers, like CC and DD creams, are the beauty decade’s hottest items. However, the BB cream is not just a mere beauty fad. The ever-growing clamor for this popular multi-function product actually speaks of how evolved the beauty customer has become.

Knowing that the beauty buyer is now as demanding as she is curious, beauty brands have taken to creating their own versions of the BB, some even making fancy combinations and promises. The variations now span A to Z, and choosing the perfect BB cream can get confusing.

Here are some questions to ask yourself before shopping for your own double-letter cream. Dermatologists and skin experts weigh in and tell you exactly how to make the right choice.

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1. Which double-letter cream should I consider buying?

The BB or beauty/blemish balm is a multi-function cream that marries coverage and skincare. 
“It’s not exactly the letter you should be mindful of,” says Dr. Yanee Vasquez, medical director at the aesthetic science clinic. CC or even EE creams aren’t precisely better than a trusted BB cream. What defines the superiority of one double-letter cream over the other are its "plus" attributes. Instead of being wowed by letters of the alphabet, you should “look closely at what ingredients brands use before applying their creams on your skin,” Dr. Vasquez adds. A good track record, potent ingredients, and substantiated claims will prove one double-letter cream better than the other.

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2. Is this cream made by a reputable skincare company?

Since BB creams straddle the best of both worlds (skincare and makeup), brands from personal care leaders to makeup giants, have claimed themselves experts of the BB formula (or whatever letter combo they call it). A good measure would be to select a multi-way cream backed up by extensive expertise in skincare.

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Whether trying a BB cream for its skin-tending properties or wanting its convenient makeup use, it is still primarily applied on skin. As such, “you must only use a BB cream or any double-letter variant produced by a well-trusted brand that has an exemplary track record in caring for skin. Don't compromise; give your skin the care it deserves,” says Agoo Bengzon, former beauty director of Summit Media and long-trusted local beauty expert.


3. What are the simple requisites of a BB or double-letter cream?

The plus points awarded to any effective BB or double-letter cream are rooted in two efficacies: 

  • Instantly makes skin even-toned and spotless
  • Maintains and even further improves the quality of skin

“When I first heard of BB creams, they were like a dream come-true. Imagine makeup that can also serve as good skincare,” says renowned blogger and Yahoo 2014 awardee for best style blog Tricia Gosingtian. Now that there are so many options out in the market, “I’m very particular about what I put on my face, and I love that my BB cream works instantly, and better yet, continues to work over time. It’s also important for my BB cream to blend into my skin without being sticky. Deifnitely tried and tested!” Like Tricia, it’ll be ideal to figure out what you personally want in your BB cream so you can pit your personal requirements against the options available in the market.

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4. What specific ingredients should be in my BB (CC, DD, EE...ZZ) cream?

If you want a product that conceals spots instantly, look for a cream with a good color-correcting pigment that spreads on for a natural finish. Also, as a basic requirement, seek one with sun protection qualities, like “Zinc Oxide, a physical barrier that protects you from UV rays” says dermatologist Dr. Anna Palabyab-Rufino of the Palabyab Skin Clinic and a member of the Philippine Dermatological Society. 

For a BB cream that addresses your unique skin concerns, find one with “a winning whitening formula or an anti-aging combo of ingredients may address the skincare part of a BB cream’s promise.” If the base product of a brand works for you, whitening or anti-aging, then it may be wise to grab their BB cream as well. Brands often infuse their BB or double-letter variants with the same effective ingredients found in their other popular products.

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5. Will this cream provide me with ideal coverage?

A good BB or double-letter cream provides healthy coverage. Some are overly sheer, lacking effective color-correcting qualities. Others are unnaturally thick, looking fake and airbrushed. What you want in a BB hybrid or double-letter cream “is coverage that instantly conceals spots, while lending skin a natural sheen. You want your BB cream to mimic skin—only better. It’s about natural, healthy coverage on good skin, not about fake, photoshopped perfection,” says Albert Kurniawan, celebrity makeup artist and beauty expert, who is the fave makeup artist of stars like Heart Evangelista.

6. Is this a stand-alone all-in-one cream or can I use it with my other skincare products?

The BB cream gets plus points for being an all-in-one cream. It functions both as skincare and makeup. To get the maximum benefits from skincare, you may use it with your other favorite skincare products, as long as they do not contain active ingredients that may cause untoward reactions when combined together,” says Dr. Cecile C. Ocampo, a fellow of the Philippine Dermatological Society, and cosmetic and pathologic dermatologist at the Capitol Medical Center. Use products from the same product line to avoid reactions. “Products of a certain line or brand are often formulated to complement each other and might lessen the chances of allergies,” adds Ocampo.

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7. How do you choose your shade of cream?

While the default creams come in fair or light color, a good BB cream has shades to different skin tones. Make sure that your shade of BB cream suits your skin tone, so it’s best to do a color test first. Do it like you’d test a liquid or cream foundation. “Road test your BB cream by spreading a dot of product on your jaw line. It should blend out evenly and disappear almost unmistakably into skin,” says internationally-trained makeup artist Amanda Padilla, who does print and commercial makeup and has done work for the country’s biggest glossies. Light shades of BB cream mostly match women with fair complexion, while beige shades blend seamlessly on more morena skin tones.


8. Can I use this BB cream alone or is it intended to be layered with makeup?

A good BB cream can be used alone on days when you don’t want to pile on too much makeup. Used on its own, it looks great on good skin, providing just enough coverage and making skin look even-toned. On days when you want a fancier makeup look, use your BB cream as a base, top it off with your trusty foundation and concealer, and then proceed to doing the rest of your face. “A good BB cream works as a good makeup base because its rich texture primes the skin and allows it to easily absorb the foundation, giving better coverage. Also, it already corrects minor imperfections of the skin, so you don’t have to top it off with heavy foundation,” says internationally-trained and celebrity makeup artist, John Pagaduan, who regularly does makeup for beauties, like celebrities Jasmine Curtis-Smith, Kelly Misa, and Rissa Mananquil-Trillo.

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9. Is there a right BB cream for my age?

Generally, BB creams seek to instantly correct color while promising to address certain skin concerns. Some BB creams, however, get plus points for infusing their formulas with breakthrough science that makes their products address skin concerns specific to certain age groups.

For the younger lot and for working women who like having flawlessly fair skin, Dr. Palabyab-Rufino says to be on the lookout for “a BB cream with a whitening system combining ingredients like niacinamide and vitamin B3, which are safe and less toxic.” Those concerned with fine lines, age spots, or wrinkles may seek out a BB hybrid “that has anti-aging combo of ingredients which are also infused with retinol boosters, alphahydroxy acid, exfoliants for skin renewal, and glycerine for moisturization.”

10. How would I know if I’ve hit the jackpot and found the right cream for me?

Go for track record in skincare, and you’ll most likely get a BB formula that does wonders for your skin as well. A potentially good BB product would be to trust credible testimonials of those who’ve tried the product before and loved it. Also, feel free to consult your dermatologist if you want to add a BB or any other double-letter cream to your regular regimen. Don’t gamble on your skin. If you’ve made the right choice of a BB cream, you’ll notice “immediate effects, such as even skin tone. Over time, you’ll also start to notice long-term benefits and better quality skin, showing delayed signs of aging, fewer fine lines and wrinkles, more moisturized complexion, and even less pigmentation,” says Dr. Palabyab-Rufino. 

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