Cream behind many a dream

Cream behind many a dream

Cream behind many a dream

The BB cream promises to be many things in one tube. What’s more, it seems to deliver too, as users swear by it.  Sheila Kumar  takes a close look at this wonder cosmetic.

Oh, it’s a good life for women. First there was foundation. Then there was make- up base, which the discerning soon found, was the old cream by a new name. Now there is the BB cream.

Verily magic in a tube, this cream swears to prime skin/blur imperfections/give SPF protection/hydrate and moisturise/smoothen and brighten skin/enhance luminosity/even skin tone.  Basically, it tells women to buy this slim tube, then go home and throw  away their  dressing table fixtures, their  moisturisers, foundations, sunscreens or  sunblocks. The BB cream has all these, you see.  The BB cream is all this, you see.

So, what exactly is a BB cream? The `BB` stands for `blemish balm` or in some cases,  `beauty balm.`  The BB cream was originally formulated in the 1960s in Germany by dermatologist Dr Christine Schrammek to protect her patients` skin after surgery. The creamy formulation was found to work wonders in speeding up the healing of skin after laser treatments.

In ways that are now shrouded in mystery, the cream went east, to South Korea and Japan in 1985; here,  it took off in a big way and soon became the ill-kept secret behind the porcelain complexions of Korean actresses. Once these actresses came out and talked about just what kept them looking so lovely, women were flocking to local departmental stores in search of the BB cream. Since fair skin is much prized in most of the eastern world, the BB cream’s skin whitening properties played a huge role in keeping it a chart topper.

The surprise element in this cosmetic tsunami is that this product first became a rage in Korea and Japan and other parts of south- east Asia, then made its way out West!
The BB cream may have been in use from the mid- Eighties in some parts of the cosmetic-using world but it took another two decades before it became hot news world over.

By 2011-2012, the cream’s popularity  had peaked and it became the one product found virtually on all vanity table tops. By the end of last year, people, women mostly,  were using the BB cream as cover for their acne scars, as tinted moisturiser, as protection against the sun. Make- up virgins allowed themselves a liberal dab of BB cream; it was just one product, after all, not a slew of lotions and potions.

The moment the cosmetic houses woke up to what was happening, they didn’t waste time getting aboard  the BB bandwagon. The big names, the more modest houses,  the specialists, they were all producing BB creams, from Garnier to Maybelline to L`Oreal, all the way up to Estee Lauder, Clinique and Dior.

Soon enough, some cosmetic houses and dermatologists  started  offering their own `new improved` versions of the BB cream. Clinique`s version is an age defence BB cream; a Korean company Dr Jarts,  adds arbutin to speed  up the fading process of skin discoloration; others have added oat derivatives and aloe vera; there are oil- free BB creams and some contain traces of mica to add a glitter. Some of these creams  claim to have  anti-wrinkle, anti-inflammatory and soothing effects. Several contain hyaluronic acid and Vitamin C. A whole lot of improvements are being made on the original BB cream, much to the customer’s delight. 

In India, Body Shop, Maybelline, Kyra and Vedic Line are some of the brands selling their BB creams. Vital to the point, the BB cream seems to have lived up to its reputation. Users swear by its excellent coverage and camouflage effects. Says Sunita Malik, a regular user: ``The important thing is to find the exact colour match for your skin. BB cream is my one-stop cream.`` Rita Khanna is a recent convert to the cause. ``It’s amazing how good my face looks after I apply BB cream. Dark circles gone, cheeks glowing, what’s not to love about this marvel, I ask!``

However, in the end, the BB cream, too,  is a cosmetic and  must be treated as one: worn all day but sloughed off at the end of the day.  And now, even as you rush off to get that tube of wonder cream that matches your complexion and skin tone perfectly, wait up. You need to know that the BB cream is fast being overtaken by the next miracle- maker: the CC cream. The colour control cream. Also known as the colour correction cream. But that,  now, is another story!

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