Aging Well
Beauty & Style

The Truth About "Alphabet Skin Creams"

Editor’s note: Feel like you’ve been hearing a series of letters rather than actual descriptors attached to the newest skincare products? You’re not crazy: You’ve just been caught up in the swarm of “alphabet creams.” BB, CC, and now DD creams first gained popularity in Korea, and have made similar waves stateside. But what do all those letters stand for, and what do these creams actually do? Dr. Rebecca Baxt is a board certified NYC dermatologist. “BB, CC, or any alphabet soup creams can be excellent all in one products for some women,” she says. “But for many companies, the labels are just marketing.  Check the active ingredients.  Does it have a sunscreen? What is the SPF? Is it at least a 20 or 30 SPF? If your BB, CC, or any other over the counter cream is not working for you, seek help with a great Board Certified Dermatologist to solve your skin issues.  They may be more complicated than just the ABC’s! “

Here, Baxt shares what you need to know about “alphabet creams”:

BB Creams

BB creams are short for beauty balms or blemish balms. They were first developed in Germany by a dermatologist who wanted a single cream that would protect skin and provide coverage after laser treatments. The all-in-one formulation became a sensation in South Korea and then spread throughout Asia. The average woman in Asia goes through seven different steps taking care of her skin.

BB creams started hitting U.S. store shelves in the spring of 2011. Today, almost every major beauty company has a BB cream, from drugstore brands that cost under $10 to high-end department-store lines that may be as costly as $100 or more, as well as lines that are only sold at spas or in doctors’ offices. More are on their way. The NPD Group, a market research group, found that although only 2% of beauty shoppers have purchased a BB cream, nearly 4 in 5 of those who have, say they’ll buy the product again.

Many BB creams offer effective sun protection, with broad-spectrum SPF 30 or higher, the American Academy of Dermatology’s recommendation for daily use. What’s more, BB creams generally contain zinc oxide or titanium oxide, physical sun blocks that have some built-in water-resistant properties, Baxt says.

When it comes to skin treatment, you can find BB creams that contain:

•Anti-aging components, including peptides and antioxidants such as vitamins A, E, and C

•Moisturizing workhorses like hyaluronic acid and glycerin

•Ingredients such as licorice and arbutin that help even out skin tone

•Light-reflecting mica to give skin a luminous finish

•Silicone-based ingredients, such as dimethicone, that help smooth the skin, acting much like a foundation primer does

For all its benefits, if you expect a BB cream to be a miracle in a tube, you might be disappointed.

CC Creams

What is it? Packed to the gills with vitamins C and E, complexion corrector cream is similar to BB cream, but focuses on color correction.


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