Garnier BB Cream Review
'Miracle Skin Perfector' or All Hype?
Garnier claims that this cream, like all BB creams, is an all-in-one beauty product – a moisturiser, sun block, primer, concealer and foundation in a single handy tube.
But does it work? Isn’t there, after all, a reason why each of these qualities are found in separate products – or are the tons of different skin care routines out there just a marketing ploy designed to part us from our hard-earned cash?
On any given day, I might be wearing all or none of the individual skin care and beauty elements that BB cream is designed to replace. I know that applying foundation without moisturiser can leave me looking a bit patchy and streaky, and that because I am very light-skinned and burn at the first glimpse of sunlight, I want a good SPF too protect me. These are my concerns: will it give me even coverage; enhance my complexion and match my skin tone; and will it really do the job of a good sun protection cream, given that these need to be re-applied periodically, which is something that obviously I don’t want to do with a foundation throughout the day?
A Brief History of 'Blemish Balms'
The creams have been one of the most popular beauty products in Asia, and especially Korea, for many years and are reportedly the product of choice for Korean actresses famed for their camera-flawless skin. The product also has the reputation of a treatment cream for skin problems such as acne and sensitivity, as the original formula was developed by a dermatologist, Dr. Schrammek, to calm irritation and cover redness after facial peels and surgery.
Modern cosmetic BB Creams have developed along ‘beauty’ lines rather than ‘treatment’ ones, but because the Asian market is more interested in natural beauty and skin care as the basis for good looks, as the they grew in the East and then migrated Westwards, they have incorporated more and more skin care properties.
The Asian market for them is huge! There are not just tubes of the cream, but compacts, jars, ‘swirls’ (different ones 'swirled' together in a pot) and even ‘creams to mix with the creams’. This vibrancy and excitement hasn’t really started to take off in the West as yet, but there are signs that something similar may well happen on a large scale, as more and more manufacturers are bringing their own versions to Western markets.
Coverage – fantastic! Hides all my imperfections and gives a ‘photoshopped’ look in real life!
Colour – looks natural and radiant, but be warned that there is a yellow tint to it that might be a bit of a shock if you’re used to more natural foundation colours.
Application – apply like a foundation with a brush, and with a small concealer brush around the eyes.
As a Moisturiser – I didn’t find it to be very moisturising, and I used a separate moisturiser first because it did have a tendency to dry my skin a couple of hours after application.
As Sun Protection – fine if you’re only going to be in and out of the sun for few minutes at a time, but I wouldn’t use it in place of proper sun protection if I was going to be in strong sunlight for any length of time.
Overall – I love the effect of the product, but its thick consistency and drying tendencies make me think it has some way to go in development. I like the surprising yellow tint more than I thought I would, but I would prefer to be able to get this in a range of more natural tones.
Garnier’s BB cream is quite thick; thicker than most of the straightforward foundations I’ve used. I’m waiting for other varieties I’ve ordered to arrive so I don’t know from experience if this consistency is common in this type of cream, although reviews and product descriptions I’ve read indicate that most of the newer BBs are more liquid. But certainly with Garnier’s, I use a foundation brush to apply, and use it sparingly, dotting some on cheeks, chin and forehead and blending before adding a little more here and there to even out the tone all over, and then finally smoothing some over and around the eyes with a small concealer brush.
It's fairly natural-looking in colour, but it is quite different from my skin tone – it has a pale yellow ‘radiance’ to it, and perhaps more than other tinted moisturisers and foundations it really does need to be applied onto the neck area to make sure that there is no sudden difference in skin tone.
I have normal/combination skin that (most of the time) is well behaved, but I don’t like to use this cream without a moisturiser – partly because the consistency is quite dry and thick, so it can be a little bit streaky if it’s applied to bare skin; and partly because although it feels soft and hydrating at first, it becomes dry and taut after an hour or two – something that might be welcomed by those with oily skin but for others I think moisturising first is a must.
Some people recommend mixing a little moisturiser with the cream itself, but I haven’t done this simply because I apply it around the eye area and on my lids, and moisturiser on this delicate area stings – but if you don’t suffer from this sensitivity, combining the two might help with any ‘dry’ feeling.
Coverage and Effect
Applied well (using foundation and concealer brushes as above) I think it's fantastic, really concealing blemishes and lightening dark areas around the eyes, evening out redness, and giving a kind of ‘soft-focus’ effect so that pores are much less visible and freckles fade into the background. All of this can be achieved with foundation and concealer, but there is a big difference with the BB cream in that it also gives skin something like a ‘glow’ or ‘radiance’ – something that I noticed most stunningly catching sight of myself in a shop mirror and had a little double-take moment! It really has an ‘airbrushed’ look, as though you’ve been brought to life from a photograph that’s been carefully adjusted to make you look your very best.
Sun Protection Factor
The creams are first and foremost tinted moisturisers with added extras; a make up product that doubles as skin care but with the onus on cosmetic rather than treatment or protection. As such, I admit that I don’t trust the sun blocking effects of these, and if I had to spend any time in the sun, I’d probably forego the make up in favour of a good SPF and get a sun hat! Any sun protection cream affords a protective effect only for a limited time after application, so a couple of hours after putting this on, it would be giving little protection at all. BB cream isn’t slathered on like proper sun block, but used sparingly in a highlighting and shading manner like foundation, so there will be areas that aren’t covered. Most Western BB creams, unlike those intended for the Asian market, offer only fairly low SPF – in Garnier’s case 15, which is paltry compared to the 40 and 50+ of those in Korea. That said, for day-to-day purposes, which don't involve me spending a great deal of time outside, I am fairly happy with the minimal protection I think this gives.
Skin Treatment Properties
Garnier claims that it evens the appearance of skin tone, covers blemishes, illuminates, hydrates and protects. None of these claims touch on any healing or ‘skin repair’ properties, but after a few days’ use, I did notice that my pores were shrinking a little, and my skin was softer and smoother, with a more even tone. As I said above, the cream seemed to have a tendency to dry out after a couple of hours, so I did use a moisturiser before applying, but it was a low-to-mid-price one that I’ve been using for years without seeing any improvements so I can only put my improved complexion down to the BB cream. The two ingredients I think responsible for the improvement I saw are alcohol (astringent, tightens pores) and caffeine, which has significant anti-inflammatory properties.
Colour and Tone
I have the ‘light’ version suitable for pale skin. I’m very fair-skinned with pink and yellow undertones, and thanks to the British weather I’m often a little pasty-looking. When I first applied it, the colour was a bit of a shock – I always go for the most natural shades of foundation, and the cream has a very pale yellow tint to it. But after catching sight of myself in a shop mirror, I started to come round to the idea – it’s what adds the ‘glow’ and it takes away the slight ashy complexion that comes from not getting enough sun exposure in England’s greyer months.
My Overall Verdict
The finish is gorgeous, and over time it improves my skin, softening it and tightening pores. I love the radiance effect and the coverage is fantastic – even the slight yellow tint looks natural as long as it’s applied sparingly and with a foundation brush. It works as a concealer on dark or red patches and blemishes, and I’ve had no sensitivity reaction to the cream, even around the eyes.
However, as much as I’m impressed and pleased with the product, I think it still has a way to go. The consistency is too thick, and I’m perplexed that for all its moisturising claims it needs a moisturiser base or else it dries out my skin. After reading about the fantastic and extensive Korean and Japanese markets, it is obvious to me that Western BB Creams will develop along similar lines in the future and perhaps provide more choice of colours and properties to suit different skin types.
For now, I am really looking forward to trying out other company's versions, and from reading other reviewers’ thoughts I know that I’m not alone in thinking that Garnier’s is a good and reasonably priced product to start with in testing out this potentially magical and miraculous leap forward in cosmetic and skin care evolution.