The difference between BB, CC and DD creams

Lily Aldridge Glowing Skin Yellow Dress

We decipher the confusing world of alphabet makeup

Beauty Crew Beauty Writer / May 03 2018

If you’ve visited a Priceline, Sephora, Mecca or department store counter recently, there’s a very good chance you’ve been bombarded by an overwhelming display of flesh-coloured formulas. Tinted moisturisers, concealers and foundations are just the beginning, with BB, CC (and even DD) creams sitting alongside them in recent years.  

And while we’re pretty sure you’ve got foundations and concealers down pat, you’ve probably wondered what the difference is between the newer formulas that have been making waves in the beauty world. To find out exactly that, we spoke to Sephora National Artistry Lead, Alphie Sadsad.

What do BB and CC creams stand for?

Before you can begin to determine which formula is best for you, it’s important to know what the alphabetised liquids actually stand for. According to Sadsad, “BB is short for Beauty Balm or Blemish Balm, whereas CC stands for Colour Correcting.”

The benefits of BB creams and CC creams

“BB and CC creams are where makeup meets skin care – think of them as tinted moisturisers with benefits. A BB cream [has] a light tint that evens out skin tone, hydrates, smooths and protects against sun damage. Plus, many have anti-ageing ingredients and light-reflecting particles for a dewy finish,” explains Sadsad. 

CC creams on the other hand, generally combine all the benefits of a BB cream “while targeting more specific colour-related concerns like redness, dark spots or a sallow complexion,” Sadsad adds.

He also notes that while CC creams can be used on their own to create a natural-looking base, they can also be used under foundation as a colour-correcting primer to help deliver a more flawless finish.

Three of our favourite CC creams include IT Cosmetics Your Skin But Better CC Cream SPF 50+, Estée Lauder Revitalising Supreme Global Anti-Aging CC Creme and Bourjois 123 Perfect CC Cream Foundation.

include IT Cosmetics Your Skin But Better CC Cream SPF 50+

Estée Lauder Revitalising Supreme Global Anti-Aging CC Creme

Bourjois 123 Perfect CC Cream Foundation

The difference between BB and CC creams

If all of this sounds well and good, but you still don’t quite understand how the two products differ, we get you. Essentially, the difference between the two is subtle: “CC is like a spin-off of BB, and is more focused on colour correcting, so tends to provide a little more coverage to disguise imperfections like redness or dark spots,” says Sadsad. 

How to apply BB creams and CC creams

One of the best things about the lightweight BB and CC cream formulas is how easily they can be applied with your fingers, and seamlessly blended into the skin. Alternatively, if you’re not a fan of using your fingers, Sadsad explains you can also use a brush or sponge. When applying either formula, it’s “best to start from the centre of the face and work outwards. Too add [even more] coverage, add a cream foundation stick or concealer where needed.”  

Do you need both formulas in your makeup bag?

“You really only need one, but which one you opt for depends on your concerns. If you’re looking for lightweight coverage, go for a BB cream, or alternatively if you’re after something a bit heavier that targets redness, dark spots or a sallow complexion, go for a CC cream,” Sadsad recommends.  

Some of our favourite lightweight BB creams are Garnier Skin Active BB Cream Naturals, Dior Diorskin Nude BB Creme Natural Glow Radiant Perfecting Complexion Treatment and Bobbi Brown BB Cream SPF 30+.

Garnier Skin Active BB Cream Naturals

Dior Diorskin Nude BB Creme Natural Glow Radiant Perfecting Complexion Treatment

Bobbi Brown BB Cream SPF 30+

How BB and CC creams differ from tinted moisturisers and foundation

Ok so you get the difference between a BB cream and a CC cream now, but you’re probably thinking that a BB cream sounds awfully similar to a tinted moisturiser and even a light-coverage foundation. According the Sadsad, the distinction between all of these products is quite simple: “Tinted moisturisers generally have sun protection but no other skin care benefits. Foundation has a higher pigment so more coverage, and in most cases is less concerned with skin care ingredients.”  

What is a DD cream?

While not as popular or as readily available as BB or CC creams, DD creams are another base formula that has popped up in recent years. Standing for ‘dynamic do-all,’ DD creams are “a hybrid of both BB and CC creams and is primarily focused on delivering anti-ageing benefits,” explains Sadsad.

DD creams haven’t quite taken off in Australia yet, but if you’re keen to give one a go, try Nutrimetics Professional DD Crème & Corrector


Nutrimetics DD Creme & Corrector

If BB, CC and DD creams aren’t quite the base makeup product you’re looking for, check out the liquid foundations the Internet is raving about.

Are you a fan of BB creams and/or CC creams? Share your favourites with us in the comments below.

Main image credit: Getty

Kate started working for BEAUTYcrew in early 2016, first as a contributor, and was then named Beauty Writer in 2017. She loves picking the brains of the industry's top experts to get to the bottom of beauty's toughest questions. Bronze eyeshadow palettes are her weakness and she's forever on the hunt for the perfect nude nail polish to suit her fair skin. Her words can also be found in Men's Health magazine, and she now works in PR.