The Lazy Student: Make Your Own BB Cream

Posted by on Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Companies, you're ignoring me? Well I'm ignoring you. It's BB time.

(Before we get too into this, let me just warn you that I prefaced the actual BB 'recipe' with a load of analysis and discussion. If you don't like words, feel free to skip to the end!)

While having never actually tried one, being a K-pop fan does mean that you're exposed to lots of facets of Korean (and by extension, Asian) culture, so I did know a bit about BB Creams before they became popular amongst those in the West (outside of the Asian diasporas). I'm sure everyone has heard the abridged biography of BB Cream before, developed for plastic surgery rehabilitation, 'beauty balm/blemish balm', ultra amazing and awesome on your skin yadda yadda.

The main thing that put me off, personally, from trying one was that each company only makes them in a few shades, and obviously a product geared towards countries like Korea or Japan is going to cater to the fact that they are incredibly ethnically homogenous. Something like 99.98% of Koreans are ethnically Korean, so I'm guessing dark brown/creamy pink toned BB Creams wouldn't sell so well over there, because they're just not going to suit, well, anyone. I can understand that.

Once Western companies got interested in the concept and started manufacturing their own 'versions' (from what I've heard and seen, many are nothing like the versions sold in Asia) then I had expected to see a wider available shade range. For one, in general the cosmetic industry here seems to encompass a wide variety of choice, when it comes to skincare, as standard. Most foundation/tinted moisturiser lines have at least five or six different shades to choose from, as it's widely accepted that people want to be able to find the closest match to their own skin. Generally, features like whitening/brightening are less valued, compared to mattifying or moisturising properties. They're different markets, yet companies seem to have half heartedly lifted 1/3 of what BB Creams are actually about and returned with this awkward, greasy, tinted moisturiser mish mash of fail.

While I'm not a marketing expert, I'm doubtful that the 'one or two shades in the entire line' model will succeed in the West. I think part of it's success in Asia (East) is due to the general cultural acceptance of harmony and cohesion as societal ideals, whereas the West is very focused on individuality which would lead to someone brought up in the West perhaps being more inclined to seek out his or her own unique shade. I dunno. I do know that the major drugstore BB Creams being brought out so far come in one or two very light shades, which excludes quite a lot of people from using them. 17's is basically the same shade repeated twice with slightly altered undertones :/ No good for me. I've heard of girls mixing foundation in with their BB Cream, to correct the shades, but to me that would mean that I was getting less of the benefits of wearing it. By percentage, if the amount of BB Cream present is decreasing (because you're adding foundation to it) then the skincare benefits are decreasing as well. If I'm going to spend a substansial amount of money ordering cosmetics from halfway around the world, I want to make sure I can use them! I suppose the exception would be if I ordered something and recieved BB Cream satchets as free samples, but even so...

What I would personally love to see would be a range of BB Creams similar to what can be found in Asia - different benefits including brightening/healing/SPF protection, the lot - but it's unlikely a company is going to take that huge risk in producing that, or at least not until the craze has truly taken off.
Knowing this, I set about making my own, or at least an approximation of it. First, I looked at what BB Creams actually are or are meant to do.

This isn't actually something I'm looking for in my own BB Cream, however if it's an aspect that interests you, I suggest you just go a shade lighter on the foundation that you use when you're making it! I haven't tried this but it looks like it'd work.

This is more of an area of interest for me...a nice 'glowy' look is always welcome, especially in winter when everyone is ill and miserable. Many BB Creams that offer brightening as a selling point make use of tiny, light reflective gold (or more commonly, silver) particles to bounce light off the face. I'm thinking of Shiny Pearl Water Drop BB Cream by Skin79, that sort of product. I dusted over Max Factor Mineral Foundation in 'Bronze' after applying my BB Cream to get this look (it's got lots of gold particles in it) but if you don't want to add an extra step, you could mix some of a suitably sparkly face powder into the product or even crush up a /tiny/ bit of gold or silver foil eyeshadow and stir it in.

The good thing about making your own is that you can judge the level of protection your skin needs at any given time and tailor the cream to it. For example, now we've moved to a bigger town I want to up my coverage as there's more environmental pollution which could introduce toxins etc. onto my skin. So I add slightly thicker ingredients like E45 cream to provide a little more of a barrier between myself and the smog car drivey gases. Also, if you're someone that burns easily, add a little more SPF (if you're using a seperate one) or a moisturiser with a higher SPF if you're combining it, like me.

Again, this is something you can fix entirely to your liking. I have rare eczema flare ups and sometimes tiny patches of dry skin, so those times I might add more moisturising ingredients to my BB Cream. At the moment, I'm trying to shift some dark marks from a recent crop of spots, so more moisture and perhaps a little RescueOil is needed there. If you're recovering from a sunburn, adding some Sudocrem might do wonders (or whatever your favourite post-sun exposure treatment is). Alternatively, recent waxing or a rash on the face could do with a higher percentage of moisturiser to soothe the area.

This is a big one for me. I have really, REALLY dry skin. Many people don't like the feel of a heavy moisturiser on their face, though, so might choose something lighter. In the winter, most people require more moisture than in the summer, due to the action of the wind and cold drying out and chapping away at exposed skin on the face.

This one is a bit iffy to me. Most BB Creams, including the Western versions that I have tried, won't function as a heavy duty concealer - don't be misled. Rather, they help to even out skin tone and reduce the appearance of say fine lines and redness/sallowness.

They're all meant to be a primer too, and to stay on your face all day. When you apply many BB Creams, they have a wonderful slip to them because silicones are often pretty high on the list. I added MUA's primer to mine and it makes my skin feel lovely. Obviously, if you react badly to silicones in your skincare products you would need to reconsider their inclusion in your own BB Cream.

This in mind, let's get started.

The only picture you have seen thus far is of most of the things that I used while making my BB Cream. I'm using an empty Johnson's face cream jar to store it all in. First, I squirted a few pumps of this awesome sunblock spray. It's SPF 30 and invisible (as well as being water resistance, so it shouldn't react badly with any of the other ingredients in my BB Cream), so the fact that it was liquid not only helped the mixability of the cream but also made it smoother, and it spreads easier on my skin. However, cream sunblock is great too if that's what you have at hand. Depending on it's consistency, it'll make your cream thicker.


Next, I added a few squirts of the MUA face primer, which is almost like a thin lotion but adds much needed silicones to the formula, which not only help it go on smoother and make your skin feel almost silky, but help it to last longer on your face. With a bit of powder, this can last all day on me (does depend on how much I've had my head in my hands, though. Bad habit...)

To this, I added some pumps of a more liquidy E45 lotion. I have both the runnier kind and the firmer stuff in a tub, and both are totally great for this. I do find the firmer type needs a bit of warming up before use so to make this quicker for me, I added more of the liquid type. But for forming more of a barrier against those air pollutants, I'll up the amount of the solid kind. Personally, I find these lotions very healing and they don't irritate my skin at all, but they do contain parabens and lanolin so if you are sensitive to those ingredients, add something else that is kinder to your skin.

It's not pictured, but I then added truckloads of the Johnson's face cream. It's got an SPF of 15, which obviously isn't the same as the extra sunblock I added. One of my friends, when I was younger, once told me that adding two SPFs of different strengths meant that one 'divided' the other, so 30/15 = an SPF of 2. This sounded like complete bull to my fourteen year old self, but can anyone out there confirm it?

Finally, I added some tint to my huge pile of creams and lotions. Depending on how much coverage you want, you can adjust the amount of foundation you add. I put a 'medium' amount, perhaps about eight or so squirts? Give or take.

Mixed together:

I made mine more watery than maybe some other people would like, but I dig this consistency at the moment - it's very light.

You can see the slight sheen it's left on my hand - nice and dewy, but not what I'd class as 'glowy' because there aren't any sparkles in it. As I said before, I add those later with my powder.

Thoughts on the (lack of) shade range in BB Creams? Have any of you tried to do anything similar?


  1. I tried a sample of BB cream a little while ago and I loved it, I'm so going to try this!

  2. Brilliant idea! I love how you can tailor it to your own needs and use products that you know suits your skin! xxx

  3. I'm really impressed by your trial, it looks goood :)x

  4. A great idea actually, get exactly what you need from a product :D
    I can see why typically in Asia they have a target market but I am hoping that once they get a hold of the UK they will widen their colour spectrum. Sleek should bring out a BB cream, everyone might have more luck finding a match there.

  5. Let us know how it goes, Elize!

    Thank you, Amy :P That's the part I like about it too! Especially if you make smaller batches at a time, then when you feel your skin needs a change you can easily make up a new batch with a slightly altered formula without wasting anything.

    Thanks JennY!

    I totally agree, Enigma. Actually I have a hunch Sleek ARE going to bring out a BB Cream, because they did one of their weekly competitions and the question was 'What BB Cream do you use and why', which looks to me like they're looking for what consumers want to see in one that they might manufacture O_o. If they do make one, and it's anything like the Asian BB Creams, then yeah, I'm all up for it! And since Sleek's foundation/powder etc range is so large and inclusive, everyone should be able to find a match.

    Thank you for your comments!

  6. It never even crossed my mind that people could make their own BB creams, good job! *bookmarks*

  7. Thanks Jennifer!

    Thanks, SilhouetteScreams! To be honest, what with the lack of shade range and inferior versions that we could buy locally, it felt like the only choice!
    Once again, thank you both for your lovely comments :)

  8. Such a great idea! I may try this.. i think i would put... foundation, moisturiser, a bit of something like mac strobe cream, a tiny bit of spf.. DONE!

  9. This post is awesomeeee!! As is your whole blog- my skin's a bit darker than Boots' 17 range but will mix up some MAC and give it a go. Thank you.

  10. You such a creative person! *aplauds*

  11. That's very kind of you, shellowooo! Glad it helped :P I think the shade that /mostly/ fits me in Boots' 17 is Honey (pictured) and that's the darkest one. It's not the most inclusive of ranges, sadly.

    Thank you, Tereza! Honestly, I'm not that creative, just looking for ways to save money :P

  12. I've never heard of BB cream before, but have been mixing foundation and moisturizer on my hand to use on days when I don't want to get all"made up". I am going to try this today! Thanks for the post.

  13. This is great found this article after trying to make my own bb cream-esque concoction. I like that kind of can do attitude. Why would companies only make a few shades for non-Asian markets.

  14. No problem, Michele! Glad you enjoyed it.

    Aha, thanks neikaplay! I don't understand the limited shade range for non-Asian markets either...Korea has something like 99.98% ethnic homogenity so it's understandable. Britain is incredibly diverse, so applying the same philosophy makes ZERO sense!


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