What’s the Difference Between BB Cream, CC Cream, and Foundation?

The more you know

What's the Difference Between BB Cream, CC Cream, and Foundation?

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The world of makeup can get a little confusing when new products are constantly coming out and with new names you’ve never heard of. A few years ago, there was just foundation; then came BB creams, and almost immediately after that, CC creams.

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Before they come out with ZZ creams, let’s take a look at what differentiates these three products, so you’ll know before you buy.


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Foundation is the most recognized makeup for full-face coverage. It’s designed to match your skin tone and cover your flaws to create the illusion of an even complexion. Dream! It can come in sheer, light, medium, or full coverage depending on your needs. Some foundations have moisturizing elements and/or sunscreen. The main benefit of foundation is that it comes in a wide range of shades and textures (some are creamier, some are more watery, etc).

Tinted Moisturizer

A tinted moisturizer pretty much says it all in the name: it’s a moisturizer with just a hint of tint. If you don’t need (or like) a lot of coverage, but just want a little bit of evening out and some added moisture, a tinted moisturizer is a great choice. Most have sunscreen, so your skin is protected and you don’t have to add an extra step in the morning.

BB Cream

Short for “beauty balm,” BB creams became a huge sensation in Korean beauty before they made their way over to the U.S. Unlike foundation, which for the most part just provides coverage, BB creams are more of an all-in-one product. They can replace your moisturizer, sunscreen, anti-aging cream, primer, concealer, and foundation — so all you have to do is wash your face, apply your BB cream, and go.

Many BB creams contain antioxidants, hyaluronic acid, light-reflecting mica, pore-filling silica, and an SPF. The only drawback to BB creams versus foundation is that they provide significantly less coverage (although more than a tinted moisturizer). But on the flip side, they tend to be more comfortable than foundation to wear for everyday use. Other important factor: many BB creams are only available in three shades: light, medium, and dark.

CC Cream

Not long after BB creams hit the market, CC creams quickly followed. While BB stands for “beauty balm,” CC stands for “color correcting,” — but overall, CCs really aren’t that different from a BB cream.

If your skin tends to be get red and warm (or even yellow and sallow), a CC cream may be a better choice than a BB cream. Its specialized tints can help correct your undertones. Like a BB cream, a CC cream contains special ingredients to help with moisturizing, anti-aging, sun protection, priming, and concealing.

Which one do I need?

Figuring out whether tinted moisturizer, foundation, BB cream, or CC cream will work best for you will most likely require some trial and error. Or a free consultation at your local department store or Sephora.

If you like a “barely there” makeup look, then the tiny bit of added coverage from a tinted moisturizer will be your best friend.

If you’re limited for time and want products that’ll do it all for you, BB creams and CC creams are the way to go. Just spend some time checking the individual ingredients and benefits to find the one that best suits your skin’s needs.

If you’re more of a traditional makeup wearer and want the fuller coverage of foundation, find one that sits best on your skin. If it ain’t broke…

Jackie Kolgraf
Jackie Kolgraf

Jackie lives in the suburbs of Boston with her dachshund and corgi. She loves flowers, snow, One Direction, and bad TV. When she's not writing about pop culture, she's probably reading about it.