Battle of the… BB Creams

The buzz word in the world of cosmetics and makeup lately has been the BB Cream, which, in case you were wondering, stands for Beauty Balm or Blemish Balm.  These products fall somewhere between liquid foundation and tinted moisturiser but they do so much more than just cover up as I will explain here…

Beauty balms were first formulated in Germany in the 1960’s to protect the skin and to give extra coverage after surgery. In Asia, the BB market grew rapidly, as Asian women are fanatical about having flawless, blemish-free skin. Recently the western world saw the BB cream emerging as the leading beauty product, taking over serums, primers and tone-eveners. This multi-tasking product is a true miracle worker and does the work of a moisturiser, sunblock, anti-ager and foundation all in one! It really is “the Swiss Army knife of the beauty industry” as The Daily Mail newspaper called it.

Women are known to be serious multi-taskers too and are often on the look out for products that are able to do a multitude of things all in one go. I know as a mom my beauty routine has to become quick and easy for it to actually take place! I think I ‘m not alone in wanting to achieve the most amount of results in the shortest amount of time. Our time-starved society demands that! Enter BB Creams!

They contain ingredients that create an even skin tone and often contain SPF and anti-oxidants which prolong the onset of aging as well as protect the skin from pollutants. It’s worth noting that many BB Cream only come in one shade that then blends into your natural skin colour – this means that women with darker skin tones might struggle to find one that will blend in without making their skin appear ashen and those with pigmentation might need more coverage than a BB cream offers.

I was super excited to try out my first BB Cream purchase a few months ago. At the time there were only a few options on the market and since then a whole host of new BB Creams have arrived on our shelves. I don’t know about you but I was keen to find the BEST one for me and thought you might be interested to hear my findings in my BB Cream review article:

The Battle of the BB Creams -My thoughts on a variety of BB Creams that are currently available to purchase in South Africa!


Stila Stay all day 10-in-1 HD Illuminating Beauty Balm

Stila has a few BB Creams on offer. I tried the Illuminating option. A Bronzing option is also available but probably more suited to summer skins with a tan. I found this product light and quick to absorb. In terms of moisturising I feel like I didn’t need to apply a moisturiser as well (sometimes the case with other BB Creams) The colour blended easily into my fair skin and gave me light coverage with a natural look and calmed the redness in my cheeks. I liked the illuminating option and felt it worked nicely giving me a subtle radiance but without the sparkle. I also really liked that this cream has a SPF of 30 as I often forget to apply a separate sunblock and I will have peace of mind knowing I am covered in this dept! I didn’t love the tube it came in as I found it a bit difficult to get the product out sometimes, that being said this is still a hot favourite of mine.

Colour: Illuminating (for fairer skins)
Size: 40ml
SPF: 30
Special properties: SPF 30, Water-resistant, 10-in-1 incl reducing inflammation and pore size, oil free, paraben free and dermatologist tested. Contains peptides to treat fine lines and wrinkles.
Price: R395
Purchase at: Woolworths, Truworths, Style 36 and Rubybox online shops
Best for: Mature or dry skins that want a subtle glow


Pond’s Flawless Radiance All-in-One Even Tone Expert BB Cream


The Pond’s BB Cream claims to cover the skin on the outside while helping to even out the skin tone and reduce dark spots from within. I used the Beige product and found the product to give a light to medium coverage with a slight orange tone so better suited to those with warm undertones to their skin. The product didn’t blend into my skin as easily as I would have liked and it was visible in my pores. A huge advantage of the Pond’s product is that it is specifically designed for African skin and comes in a colour option, Chocolate, which is perfect for those with darker skin tones. I also found the product to be matte and oil-free, super for those with oilier skin but not ideal for those with drier skin. Another great advantage of this BB cream is that it comes with SPF 30 PA ++

Colour: Beige
Size: 25ml
SPF: 30
Special properties: GenActive COVER formula, enriched with Vitamin B3, Vitamin e, Allantoin and Super Optics which play a role in reducing the processes that can lead to pigmentation.
Price: R90
Purchase at: Clicks, Dischem, various pharmacies
Best for: Oily skin and those with darker skin tones


!QMS Sport Active Cream


I’m a recent !QMS convert after my introduction to the products via a facial I enjoyed a few weeks back and have been using their skin care range daily. This cream was not originally marketed as a BB Cream but as it is a tinted moisturiser that also does a multitude of other skincare tasks it has become one! This golden tinted cream initially appeared a bit dark for my fair skin but it in fact blended in beautifully and gave me excellent coverage, hiding imperfections and giving me a healthy sun-kissed glow but without the “orange”. This non-greasy product is perfect for when you want to look good while exercising or doing your daily errands.

Colour: One colour, suitable for all skin tones
Size: 15ml
SPF: 15
Special properties: Lightly tinted day cream, keeps skin healthy and supple, prevents skin ageing and protects against free radicals.
Price: R610 / 30ml
Purchase at: Various !QMS salon stockists
Best for: Wearing on the run


GOSH All in One BB Cream


GOSH cosmetics are new to SA so I was interested to try them out. Their BB Cream claims to be a ‘ALL IN ONE’ product combining foundation, primer and moisturiser with active ingredients. I tested the lightest colour in Sand 01 (there are 5 other colours) however I found it to be a bit too light for me initially. After applying it the “colour-adapt” aspect kicked in and the colour adapting to match my skin tone albeit slightly lighter than any of the other BB creams I tried – what this might help with is to highlight certain areas of my face ala facial contouring as seen on Kim Kardashian here. This will be a good option for the next few months of winter paleness! The cream is quite thick when applying it but it gives a light, natural coverage and left my skin feeling soft and smooth.

Colour: Sand 01 (other colours: 02 Beige, 03 Warm Beige, 04 Chestnut, 05 Espresso)
Size: 30ml
SPF: 15
Special properties: A Waterproof Foundation, Primer and Moisturizer all-in-one. Contains Phytosan, which increases the skin’s firmness and smoothness and makes fine lines and wrinkles less visible.
Price: R180
Purchase at: Edgars, Red Square. See the stockists list here.
Best for: The wide colour selection available


Revlon Photoready BB Cream


This is a lightweight, multi-benefit BB cream that “hydrates like a moisturizer, smoothes like a primer, covers like a foundation and blurs flaws like a concealer all while protecting like a sunscreen”. I love that this BB cream has a fairly high broad spectrum SPF of 30. I found the formula easily absorbed on well moisturized skin but where my skin was dry it appeared to sit on the surface and in the pores which wasn’t what I had hoped for. When I used it in conjunction with my moisturizer then it left me with a healthy glowing complexion. Probably best for those with oily skin.

Colour: Light Medium 02 (other shades: Light, Medium, Dark)
Size: 30ml
SPF: 30
Special properties: Skin Perfector, Broad Spectrum SPF, translucent photochromatic pigments, one step skin perfecting formula with multiple benefits eg. hydrates, evens skin tone, blurs and conceals.
Price: R145
Purchase at: Department stores & selected pharmacies
Best for: Looking picture perfect!


Decleor Hydra Floral Multi-protection BB creme

decleor bb cream

This was definitely the best smelling of the BB creams I tried but with Decleor’s strong aromatheraphy background you can’t expect that not to be the case. This product took a bit longer than most to be absorbed by my skin but this is probably due to the richer texture. I found it to be super moisturizing on my skin and left me with a subtle radiance. The colour blended really well and I couldn’t notice any remains of the cream in my pores. I loved this luxurious BB Cream and it was a treat applying this in my daily routine.

Colour: One shade available, blends for all skin tones
Size: 40ml
SPF: 15
Special properties: This 5-in-1 product packs a punch by offering 24-hour moisturisation, brightens and evens the complexion, refines skin texture, corrects imperfections, and protects from UVA & UVB with SPF15. Contains Wild Pansy, Samphire Extracts and Grapefruit Essential Oil as well as Moringa Oleifera Microproteins to protect against urban pollution.
Price: R395
Purchase at: Woolworths, Truworths and various spas and salons
Best for: Adding a little big of luxury to your life!


The Body Shop All-in-One BB Cream


The first BB Cream I tried was The Body Shop. The way this BB cream works is quite unique, it comes out as a white cream with tiny flecks of pigment that then blend into your skin. I was initially very excited to try the product out but was given the wrong advice in the shop when I was in a rush. I ended up buying the incorrect shade (02). I have very fair skin so should have trusted my gut and gone for the 01 shade. My experience of the 02 colour is that it is too orange for me and it didn’t blend as much as I needed it to. I definitely can’t use it on my pale winter skin but could consider it when I’m sporting a summer tan! The cream has good mattifying properties and minimizes the appearance of my pores, lines and redness. Unfortunately it has no SPF.

Colour: 02
Size: 25ml
SPF: none
Special properties: Colour-adapting tinted cream
Price: R180
Purchase at: The Body Shop
Best for: Warmer skin tones or those in need of some colour


Garnier Miracle Skin Perfector BB Cream

Garnier BB Cream is one of the most popular on the market and for good reason – it is extremely well priced when you consider the size of the tube. Another reason for it’s popularity is that it does what it says it will – an easy to use multi-tasking BB cream. This product has a pleasant smell and the packaging has a flip top lid which is super handy. I found it offered good moisture, sheer coverage and gave me a light glow. A great option for first time BB cream wearers and those with dry skin. Remember to applying WITH sunscreen as this BB Cream comes with no SPF which is disappointing as it ticks all the other boxes. Still one of the best.

Colour: Light (other shades: Medium & Dark)
Size: 50ml
SPF: none
Special properties: Daily all-in-one BB Cream, contains hyaluronic acid and glycerin for dehydrated skin and Vitamin C to brighten skin
Price: R80
Purchase at: Clicks, Dischem
Best for: BB on a Budget


Obviously this is not an extensive round up of all the BB creams available in South Africa – there are so many brands I have not yet tried including MAC, Clarins, Clinique, Smashbox, Dior, Estee Lauder, Bobbi Brown and Rimmel – hopefully I will get to sample these in the future!

Which BB cream have you tried? Which other brands should I try?


Images: Kathryn Rossiter

Kathryn Rossiter

Kathryn is a South African lifestyle blogger and mom of 2 who has been blogging daily for over 9 years! She writes about travel, health, beauty, fashion, decor and family... but not food (unless it's food she's eaten made by someone else) as she is a hopeless cook. She only wakes up early for 2 things... a red-eye flight to somewhere exotic and early morning game drives. She has just finished an extensive home renovation and would prefer to never see another box again. She's never met a chocolate or glass of bubbles that she didn't like!

  1. I have tried the Ponds and Loreal BB cream – not a fan of the Loreal one though. It rubs off and leaves little brown balls on your skin.

    1. Thanks for the heads up on the L’oreal one – I’m keen to try a few more and add them to this post at some stage but might give that one a skip then!

  2. Great round up! I have both the Garnier and the QMS sports active. They both give an amazing finish and glow, but the Garnier one is the winner for me by a nose 🙂 (luckily, considering the VAST price difference between the two!)

  3. I use QMS and love it for the natural glow it gives…It doesnt provide massive coverage though so I reckon as I get older I’ll need something with more coverage…

  4. I got a free sample of the Garnier BB cream, liked it, and so bought a full tube. I have been using it ever since, but have not tried any other options. I’m glad to see that it is one of the better options. Which would you recommend for slightly more coverage?

    1. Hi Lisa – Thanks for your comment! I also used the Garnier prior to doing the research for this article. Now when I want a bit more coverage I go for the Decleor one

  5. I use Erborian BB cream, it’s the best product I’ve ever used on my skin. I couldn’t go back to normal foundation or concealer again after having used it.

  6. Very interesting. I have been using the Garnier BB for a while and its replaced all other foundations for me. I am interested to see the other options and will probably try find a second, heavier coverage option for night wear – and maybe one that ticks the SPF box. Thanks.

    1. i bot the sorbet bb light…today for R60 at clicks..
      i tried it on and it luks awesome on my skin

  7. I use stila , its very nice. Gives a smooth glowy finish. Would like to know more about Erborian BB cream… Where can I get that from?

  8. i bought today at Clicks R60 on special price the sorbet bb light cream it does
    waht is says evens out my skin tone…and my skin looked flawless
    i tried it already and i am pleased wit it…skin looks hydrated and feels

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