Sign up to receive email updates, action alerts & health tips from EWG. [Privacy]

What are BB and CC creams?

BB and CC Creams: What are BB and CC creams?

October 3, 2013

Ads claim that BB and CC creams are designed to function as various combinations of facial sunscreen, foundation, concealer, anti-aging cream, bronzer, highlighter, oil absorber and moisturizer. The specifics differ by brand.

A German surgeon named Christine Schrammek developed the concept for these creams in 1980, when she was searching for something to soothe and smooth skin that had been subjected to peeling with a laser (Holmes 2012). The original creams combined a concealer, foundation, moisturizer and sunscreen in one bottle.  

About five years ago, Korean and Japanese women began using products marketed as “BB creams” that leveraged Schrammek’s concept.  These creams were built to appeal to Asian women. They reflected light to create the illusion of paler, pinker skin and evened out skin tone.  They offered the convenience of a single product instead of multiple bathroom-and-purse-cluttering items.

In 2011, products bearing the name “BB cream” began appearing on the U.S. market in a narrow range of shades.  Over the past two years, cosmetics makers have added more shades and branded the new products as “color correcting” or “CC” creams.  Some current-generation BB and CC creams use terms like “anti-aging” and “anti-wrinkle” to imply they can restore youth.