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8 best BB creams that can’t be beaten for a bare-faced look

The barely there base that’s lighter than foundation, yet covers more than concealer

Lauren Cunningham
Friday 05 January 2024 13:26 GMT
From make-up-like formulas to protecting SPF coverage
From make-up-like formulas to protecting SPF coverage (The Independent)
Our Top Picks

If you love a full face of make-up, look away now. This product is the perfect pick for those after a bare-faced look with the lightest layer of coverage, and you couldn’t find better buys than these nine options.

BB cream – often called beauty balm or blemish balm by those in the biz – sits somewhere in between make-up and skincare. Offering just a touch of tint to the skin, lightly covering up blemishes, uneven skin tone and redness, it’s much lighter in weight than a foundation and covers the whole face, unlike a concealer.

Often including ingredients such as hyaluronic acid, ginseng and vitamin C to hydrate the skin as well as reduce fine lines and wrinkles, they also work to boost skin health from the inside. And who doesn’t love a two-in-one product?

From No7’s protect and perfect option that also doubles as an SPF, to Erborian’s bestselling blemish-busting balm, there’s a whole host to choose from and we’ve tried a huge handful to bring you the best BB creams to buy.

Keep reading this article to find out which BB creams impressed on oily skin, which ones created a fuller-coverage effect and which ones stood out for their great sun-protection factor. And remember, a simple additional sweep of concealer can help to cover up any under-eye bags or blemishes that are harder to budge.

Some of the products that conquered a spot in our round-up (Lauren Cunningham)

How we tested

Trying a huge range of some of the best make-up brands, our tester took six weeks to work through each and every product. Looking at ease of application, coverage, colour, finish and feel, they rated each one out of five to find those that truly impressed.

To use, simply sweep onto the face with your fingers after you’ve applied your skincare routine and rub in as you would a moisturiser. It really couldn’t be easier.

The best BB creams for 2024 are:

  • Best overall BB cream – Erborian super BB au ginseng nude: £20.50,
  • Best budget BB cream – Essence hydro hero hydrating BB cream: £4,
  • Best BB cream for oily skin – Garnier oil-free perfecting care all-in-one BB cream, SPF25: £6.66,
  • Best BB cream for dry skin – Clinique dramatically different moisturizing BB gel: £18.50,
  • Best BB cream for combination skin – Nude by Nature sheer glow BB cream: £19.99,
  • Best BB cream with SPF – No7 protect and perfect intense advanced BB facial sun protection: £14.95,

Erborian super BB au ginseng nude

Erborian super BB au ginseng nude.png
  • Best: Overall
  • Shade tested: Nude
  • Number of shades available: Five
  • Finish: Semi-matte
  • Key ingredients: White ginseng, fermented ginseng flower, niacinamide
  • SPF included: SPF 15
  • Size: 40ml

The competition was close for which BB cream would be named the best, but Erborian was the winner. Combining a standout ingredients list with a non-cakey full coverage, there were few faults to be found with this product. In fact, we could happily use it as a foundation replacement, safe in the knowledge that, while it conceals, a lot is going on behind the scenes. Enriched with white ginseng and fermented ginseng flower, it deeply moisturises the skin, while niacinamide works to reduce blackheads and blemishes. We really couldn’t ask for much more, other than a high SPF factor, perhaps. And it was the longest-lasting option of all the products we tested too.

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Essence hydro hero hydrating BB cream

Essence hydro hero hydrating BB cream.png
  • Best: Budget BB cream
  • Shade tested: Soft nude
  • Number of shades available: Three
  • Finish: Matte
  • Key ingredients: Glycerin, isopropyl myristate, citric acid
  • SPF included: SPF 15
  • Size: 30ml

Essence is a go-to for bargain beauty, and, at £4, this BB cream is no exception. With a fuller coverage than some of our other options, and a formula that isn’t as packed full of skin-loving ingredients, we’d class it more as make-up than skincare. So, if you’re after a budget-friendly lightweight foundation, look no further. A little goes a long way, and the matte finish adds to the foundation-covered look without being too heavy. But we would recommend applying with a make-up brush or sponge to get that silky-smooth finish.

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Monat BB cream

Monat BB cream SPF 30.png
  • Best: To splurge on
  • Shade tested: Vanilla
  • Number of shades available: Nine
  • Finish: Natural, semi-matte
  • Key ingredients: Coconut alkanes, jojoba seed oil, rice bran extract
  • SPF included: SPF 30
  • Size: 35ml

Coming in at the top price end of BB creams, this Monat option is one of our more expensive finds. With a heavyweight, thick, creamy texture, it certainly feels more luxurious than some of the other options, thanks to the incredibly hydrating coconut alkanes, which work wonders on dry skin. Immediately melting into the face, a little goes a long way to provide an incredibly natural ‘no make-up make-up’ by simply swiping across with your fingers (no mirror required). The coverage is quite light and does even out the skin tone, but any blemish, dark circles, or real redness will need a concealer to be fully covered. And an SPF 30 seals the deal on why our tester will be keeping this in their make-up bag for the foreseeable future.

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Garnier oil-free perfecting care all-in-one BB cream

Garnier oil-free perfecting care all-in-1 BB cream SPF25.png
  • Best: For oily skin
  • Shade tested: Fair
  • Number of shades available: Three
  • Finish: Matte
  • Key ingredients: Hyaluronic acid, mineral pigments, aloe vera extract
  • SPF included: SPF 25
  • Size: 50ml

Anyone with oily skin may have given BB creams a wide berth. Packed full of potent ingredients, the skincare staples can seem a bit too silky on the skin, often with a dewy, softly shining finish. But with mineral pigments and an instantly matte formula, Garnier is here to bring good news to anyone struggling with shine. Designed for combination to oily skin, the lightweight layer instantly covers the face with a slight shade, evening out skin tone and stamping out excess shine. It won’t quite cover under eye bags or blemishes, so keep a concealer to hand too. Included in the formula are hyaluronic acid and aloe vera extract, to add a hit of hydration, but on dry skin, it can look a little cakey, so best to leave this for skin types it’s particularly suited to.

  1. £9 from
Prices may vary
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Clinique dramatically different moisturizing BB gel

Clinique dramatically different moisturizing BB-gel.png
  • Best: For dry skin
  • Shade tested: Universal
  • Number of shades available: One
  • Finish: Semi-matte
  • Key ingredients: Glycerin, cucumber extract, laminaria saccharina (yellow/brown algae) extract
  • SPF included: No
  • Size: 50ml

This Clinique BB cream may look white, but it actually includes encapsulated pigments that are designed to transform to the colour of your skin. Although it doesn’t work for everybody, so use the camo print on the bottle to see which skin tones it will actually suit. Including a whole host of hydrating ingredients from glycerin and cucumber extract to laminaria saccharina (yellow/brown algae) and Japanese knotweed extract, it was the most moisture-boosting option our tester tried. The results last for around eight hours, leaving a lightweight sheer coverage while flooding your face with skin-loving ingredients. To use, our tester found it was best to apply with the fingers and leave to dry for a minute before touching up to ensure a smooth finish. It won’t conceal blemishes or dark circles but does even skin tone and smooth the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Best for those with dry skin, it sits in between a foundation and a moisturiser, so be sure to slot it into your beauty routine after any serums and an SPF (as none is included).

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Nude by Nature sheer glow BB cream

Nude by Nature sheer glow BB cream.png
  • Best: For combination skin
  • Shade tested: 02 soft sand
  • Number of shades available: Five
  • Finish: Light, sheer coverage
  • Key ingredients: Desert date oil, kakadu plum, phytomoist
  • SPF included: SPF 8
  • Size: 30ml

For those who are after just a touch of coverage, this BB cream is for you. It’s labelled as sheer and is true to its name, with one of the lightest layers of skin tint we’ve seen. But don’t let that fool you into thinking it doesn’t do anything, as this light layer evens out skin tone with a slight shimmer blurring imperfections and leaving a more radiant-looking finish. Key ingredients include kakadu plum and phytomoist, high in vitamin C, to boost the skin’s natural glow from the inside while reducing signs of fine lines. Meanwhile, desert date oil and aloe vera provide a hydration boost without any greasy feeling. Best for those with combination skin, it really leans into the beauty balm name with an impressive ingredient list and a ‘your skin but better’ boosting result.

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Clarins BB skin detox fluid

Clarins BB skin detox fluid SPF25.png
  • Best: For a matte finish
  • Shade tested: Fair
  • Number of shades available: Four
  • Finish: Matte
  • Key ingredients: Acerola seed extract, meadowsweet extract, aloe vera extract
  • SPF included: SPF 25
  • Size: 45ml

Clarins is a favourite of many a beauty buff, and it truly excels with this BB cream. With a fuller coverage than some of the other options in this round-up, it provides a slightly heavier finish than the lightweight layers, yet is packed with potent skincare ingredients. Acerola seed extract aids in the oxygenation of the skin, meadowsweet keeps the skin bacteria balanced, and aloe vera helps with hydration.

Easy to apply, it gently hides redness and covers slight blemishes and dark spots but, with a fuller coverage, it could be a little bit drying on tight or dry skin, so best for those with combination to slightly oily faces to aid that fresh-faced glow.

If signing up to receive a recurring order on the Clarins site, you’ll receive 10 per cent off and a whole host of free samples.

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No7 protect and perfect intense advanced BB facial sun protection

No7 protect and perfect intense advanced BB facial sun protection.png
  • Best: Cream with SPF
  • Shade tested: Fair
  • Number of shades available: Two
  • Finish: Semi-matte
  • Key ingredients: Matrixyl 3000 plus, kiwi fruit water, glycerin
  • SPF included: SPF 50
  • Size: 50ml

Less is more with this No7 BB cream, as a little goes a long way. The lightweight texture feels like sunscreen, and with an SPF 50, the product works perfectly as a sun protection combined with just a touch of make-up. So, you can bet we’ll be wearing this once the warmer weather comes around. The one downfall our tester did find was that it can be a little bit patchy, so best to apply with the fingers, let dry for around a minute, then go back in with a make-up sponge or brush to make sure there’s one solid smooth sheet. After all, no one wants a patchy-looking face. But blurring fine lines and brightening the skin, thanks to the brand’s bestselling protect and perfect formulation, it actually works from the inside out to truly improve the skin tone and texture.

  1. £14 from
Prices may vary
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BB creams FAQs

What is BB cream used for?

The BB stands for beauty or blemish balm. While a foundation essentially does one thing (covering up the skin), a BB cream does three. Firstly, it offers skincare benefits. Usually, the creams are enriched with antioxidants to protect the skin from the day’s aggressors, and contain moisturising ingredients such as hyaluronic acid, and/or skin brighteners.

Secondly, they even out the skin tone with a natural coverage that’s usually very light, enhancing your skin rather than camouflaging it. Lastly, they provide sun protection, which is a key step in all good skincare routines.

You’ll find the shade ranges of BB cream tend to be smaller that those for foundation, but as they offer a more sheer, transparent coverage, one shade can often suit multiple skin tones.

What is the difference between CC and BB cream?

CC creams are “colour correctors”, and are very similar to BB creams in that they offer additional skincare benefits and a lighter coverage than a foundation. However, they also target discolouration and balance skin tone to reduce sallowness, redness or hyperpigmentation, so they would be better suited to you if your skin needs a little complexion correction.

Is BB cream better than foundation?

BB creams are more lightweight and fluid than foundation and can easily be applied with just your fingers, as you would your usual moisturiser. They provide much less coverage than a foundation but are more hydrating.

BB creams are speedier to apply, and are often popular in the summer months, when you may wish to switch from a heavier foundation to a more lightweight product that still offers some coverage.

The verdict: BB creams

For anyone after a lightweight layer that evens skin tone, slightly blurs blemishes and reduces redness, while flooding the skin with nutrient-rich ingredients, a BB cream may be your best bet.

With quite a full coverage combined with standout skincare, Erborian super BB au ginseng nude was named our best buy. But for those on a budget, bargain beauty brand Essence shouldn’t be overlooked either.

Anyone with dry skin may want to lean into the hydrating benefits of the Clinique dramatically different moisturizing BB gel, and oily-skinned folks may find Garnier a good match. So, there really is something to suit everyone, and this list should get you off to a good start.

For more skin-perfecting formulas, try the best liquid foundations for every skin type

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