"The idea of a well-formulated BB cream is that it's the only product you'll need after you wash your face," says Ni'Kita Wilson, a cosmetic chemist at Englewood Lab in New Jersey.
How BB Creams Began
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," says Jessica Wu, MD, a Santa Monica, Calif., dermatologist and author of Feed Your Face: Younger, Smoother Skin and a Beautiful Body in 28 Delicious Days. "When I was in Hong Kong, every woman I spoke to was using a BB cream to shorten that regimen."
The BB Boom
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.