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The Real Difference Between BB, CC, DD, and EE Creams

by Riley Rant

You’ve probably heard of BB and CC creams; alphabet creams are all the rage in the States these days.

But this tinted cream formula has actually been around for quite some time. In fact, the first BB cream was invented in the 1950s by the German dermatologist, Christine Schrammek, to help post-peel patients hide facial redness.

In 2005, BB creams resurfaced again in Korean beauty, where they were marketed as all-in-one skin care products that provide cosmetic coverage and skin benefits to boot.

Made with one-part foundation or tinted moisturizer, and one-part skin care products — be that face primer, anti-aging serum, or sunscreen — today, BB creams have taken America by storm, and have added a few more letters to their wake.

But what’s the real distinction between BB, CC, DD, and EE creams? Is there an actual difference between each of these letters, or are alphabet creams just an alphabet soup?

Like many other things in life, the tried and true option – in this case, foundation – will do the trick. But if you're curious about the world of alphabet creams, we've outlined the A, B, C's below.

BB Creams (“Beauty Balm”)

BB stands for “beauty balm” or “blemish balm.” Designed to be an all-in-one primer, moisturizer, and light foundation formula, BB creams provide light, hydrating coverage to create a flawless, radiant base with added skin care benefits like SPF or antioxidants, depending on the brand you choose.

Great for every type of skin type — but especially for combination skin — BB creams provide thicker coverage than your average tinted moisturizer, but not as much coverage as a classic foundation.

Though these creams often claim very high SPF, be careful leaning on that number too heavily! Most women don’t slather on tinted BB creams as generously as they would colorless sunscreen. So if you’re going to replace your moisturizers, primers, and sunscreen with an all-in-one BB cream, make sure to apply a full ¼ teaspoon of BB cream to get the best protection and coverage.

CC Creams (“Color Correcting”)

Looking to correct uneven skin tone, dark spots, or other imperfections? Look no further. The “CC” in CC Cream stands for ‘color correcting’ or ‘complexion correcting’ and is formulated with ingredients that cover redness, perfect your skin tone, and blur uneven textures and wrinkles with light-diffusing minerals.

Compared to a BB cream which might boast more skin benefits in the long-run, CC creams correct skin more like a foundation would. They tend to have a creamier, dewier texture and finish than most BB creams. Beyond color-correction and finishing perfection, many CC creams also contain skin-brightening ingredients like vitamin C.

If you like the look of natural makeup, and the idea of all-in-one products, you’ll likely be choosing between BB and CC creams, which are the most popular formulas today.

Now onto DD and EE creams, which are little more complicated, and a lot less popular in the beauty market.

DD Creams (“Do It All”)

“DD” can stand for “Dynamic Do-All,” “Daily Defense,” or “Double Duty” cream. Sounds like a bit of everything, doesn’t it?

Here’s the main difference: DD creams are primarily designed to offer extra doses of skin protection. That means they have higher levels of SPF and antioxidants than a BB cream, with additional ingredients to prevent fine lines, wrinkles, and environmental damage.

So, DD cream is basically a BB/CC hybrid with the skincare benefits of a BB cream and the coverage benefits of a CC cream.

It’s worth noting, however, that no Korean company has come out with a DD cream, and the few companies that did launch this concept haven’t done that well.

EE Creams (“Extra Exfoliation”)

With the success of BB and CC creams, and the addition of DD creams, skin care companies decided to jump on the Alphabet cream bandwagon with the EE Cream. 

The EE typically stands for “extra exfoliation,” and offers a cream designed to break away dead skin cells while moisturizing the skin.

This cream is not like a BB, CC, or DD cream that offers coverage. EE cream is strictly skin care, made to add to your cleanser for an extra layer of clean.

What are your thoughts on BB, CC, DD, and EE creams? Let us know in the comments below!

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