4 BB Creams for Dark Skin Tones, Black Skin and Women of Color

Read any cosmetic editorial and you’re sure to run into the new rage in cosmetics, the BB cream. BB creams, aka beauty balms are marketed as an all in one solution that acts as a moisturizer, skin treatment, primer and lightweight foundation.

These creams have been such a hit prompting many cosmetic companies to come out with their own formulations. However there was a shortage of brands offering suitable shades of BB creams for dark skin tones.

According to Wikipedia, the concept of the BB cream was originally developed in the 1960’s Germany by dermatologist Dr. Christine Schrammek to help protect her patient’s skin after a cosmetic procedure.

The BB cream was later introduced to the Asian markets and immediately went viral. Asian women favored the more natural look of the BB creams versus the heavier foundations used in most western makeup. The focus of the BB cream release in the Asian markets also explains why they often came in a narrower selection of shades and why there aren’t too many bb creams for dark skin tones.

While the selection of BB creams for dark skin tones still remain fairly small, there are a few brands offering shades for darker skin tones. Here are the few that are well known in the market now.

Top BB creams for dark skin tones

1) Iman BB cream

The Iman line is one of the powerhouse focusing on cosmetic formulations for women of color. The company released its range of BB creams back in November of 2012 and is currently the sole line marketing BB creams for dark skin.

While Iman cosmetics line can be found in many drugstores, the price of their BB cream is a bit on the higher end, retailing for $20.00. The Iman BB cream is cited to be paraben-free and contains licorice, grape seed and acai extracts which lightens spots, even skin tones and nourishes the skin.

According to the reviews on Makeup alley, the Iman BB cream has a thicker, slightly oily consistency, so oily skin types should beware.

Iman BB cream Ingredients:

Coming soon

2) Maybelline Dream BB cream

It seems as though the Maybelline Dream Fresh BB cream was among the first to hit the market. The great thing about their line of BB creams is that it offers a wider range of shades than most drugstore brands, and at a very affordable price of $8.00. There are currently 8 shades in the collection.

The Maybelline BB cream comes with an SPF of 30 and includes ingredients that are said to brighten spots, even skin tone and hydrate the skin. The product is also oil-free.

The Maybelline BB cream goes on extremely light and has a beautiful matte finish while living a soft glow to the skin. However, those with acne prone skin should stay far away as Ethylhexyl Palmitate, an ingredient high on the list, is a highly comedogenic agent, meaning there’s a higher chance of it clogging your pores.

Maybelline Dream Fresh BB Cream Ingredients:

Active: Titanium Dioxide 1.15%. Inactive: Water, Ethylhexyl Palmitate, Glycerin, Octyldodecanol, Silica, Pentylene Glycol, Octyldodecyl Xyloside, Phenoxyethanol, Sodium Acrylate/Sodium Acryloyldimethyl Taurate Copolymer, Hydrogenated Lecithin, Isohexadecane, Hydroxyethyl Acrylate/Sodium Acryloyldimethyl Taurate Copolymer, PEG-30 Dipolyhydroxystearate, Sodium Dehydroacetate, Pentaerythrityl Tetra-Di-T-Butyl Hydroxyhydrocinnamate, Caprylyl Glycol, Disodium EDTA, Citric Acid, Polysorbate 80, Potassium Sorbate, Propylene Glycol, Methylisothiazolinone, Chamomilla Recutita (Matricaria) Flower Extract, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extract. May Contain: Titanium Dioxide, Iron Oxides.

3) Smashbox Camera Ready BB cream

The Smash box BB cream is a high end luxury BB cream available at beauty retail giants, Sephora and Ulta. The BB cream is on the pricey side, retailing for $39.00 and it comes in 5 diverse shades.

The Smash box BB does come with an SPF 35 and does not include any parabens. The company prides itself in offering cruelty free products and their BB cream is pitched to have not been tested on animals.

It applies very light and natural with a matte finish, and leaves a soft glow to the skin. This BB does include silicones, so those with acne prone skin should use with caution.

Smashbox BB cream ingredients:

Active: Octinoxate 7.50%, Octisalate 4.00%, Oxybenzone 2.50%, Titanium Dioxide 1.10%. Inactive: WaterAquaEau, Dimethicone, Butylene Glycol, Phenyl Trimethicone, Pentylene Glycol, Glyceryl Stearate, Behenyl Alcohol, Trioctyldodecyl Citrate, Polymethylsilsesquioxane, Octyldodecyl Stearoyl Stearate, PEG-40 Stearate, Polyglyceryl-10 Pentastearate, Ammonium Acryloyldimethyltaurate/VP Copolymer, Triticum Vulgare (Wheat) Germ Extract, Hordeum Vulgare (Barley) ExtractExtrait D’Orge, Cucumis Sativus (Cucumber) Fruit Extract, Laminaria Saccharina Extract, Pyrus Malus (Apple) Fruit Extract, Scutellaria Baicalensis Root Extract, Polyquaternium-51, Acetyl Hexapeptide-8, Trehalose, Oryzanol, Octyldodecyl Neopentanoate, Urea, Polyglyceryl-6 Polyricinoleate, Propylene Glycol Laurate, Glycyrrhetinic Acid, Tocopheryl Acetate, Sucrose, Glycerin, Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate, Caffeine, Linoleic Acid, Cholesterol, Lecithin, Squalane, Sodium PCA, Isopropyl Titanium Triisostearate, Propylene Glycol Stearate, Stearic Acid, Polysorbate 20, Sorbitan Laurate, Xanthan Gum, Aluminum Hydroxide, Sodium Hyaluronate, Silica, Disodium EDTA, Pentaerythrityl Tetra-Di-T-Butyl Hydroxyhydrocinnamate, Sodium Dehydroacetate, Chlorphenesin, Phenoxyethanol. May Contain: Titanium Dioxide (CI 77891), Zinc Oxide (CI 77947), Iron Oxides (CI 77491, CI 77492, CI 77499), Mica.

4) Sleek BB cream

The Sleek Be Beautiful Blemish Blam from Sleek Makeup has been among the highly reviewed BB creams for dark skin tones. It comes in 7 diverse shades and retails for just under $12.00.

The Sleek BB cream does come with an SPF of 15 and similar to other creams, it includes skin nourishing agents such as Vitamin C and E to brighten and hydrate the skin. With repeated use, the skin is said to be softer, smoother and more even tone.

Typically BB creams have a sheer coverage similar to that of a tinted moisturizer, however the sleek BB offers a bit more fuller coverage without feeling heavy.

On the downside, the cream is not oil-free as it does contain mineral oil which might be problematic for oily and acne prone skin. It also contains retinyl palmitate which studies have shown can cause skin damage when worn out in the sun for an extended period of time. It is best to avoid using products containing retinyl palmitate in the daytime.

Sleek BB cream ingredients:

Deionized Water,Ethylhexyl Methoxycinnamate,Mineral Oil,Aluminum Starch Octenylsuccinate, Stearic Acid ,Dimethicone,Glycerin,Cetearyl Alcohol,Sorbitan Oleate, Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil,Magnesium Aluminum Silicate, Tocopheryl Acetate,Retinyl Palmitate,Ascorbyl Palmitate,Polysorbate 80, Hydrogenated Lecithin,Triethanolamine,Phenoxyethanol ,Methylparaben ,Ethylparaben, Propylparaben,BHA,DMDM Hydantoin ,Palmitoyl Hexapeptide,Algae Extract, CI 77891,CI 77491,CI 77492,CI 77499

Overall, it is nice to see a few companies that are offering BB creams for dark skinned women, however it is dissappointing that almost of all of them are filled with some pore clogging ingredient that can problematic for those with oily or acne prone skin.

I am curious to hear from those of you who have used these creams or if you know of other great BB creams for dark skin, black skin or women of color? Please share in the comment box below

Image from top left to bottom right: ijeomaunatiarra moneterikawyattdestinygodley

*Disclaimer: please note, all prices listed are at the time of the review and may change.

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13 thoughts on “4 BB Creams for Dark Skin Tones, Black Skin and Women of Color 2013

  1. Monae says:

    This post is amazing! So often women of color struggle to find bb creams that actually match their skin tones. Can’t wait to read your other posts.

    • says:

      Hi Monae, I couldn’t agree more. I am still on the hunt for a bb cream that works well on dark skin tones without leaving the dreaded ashy cast. Thanks for your comment and have a great day!

  2. cleo says:

    I’ve used both the Smashbox and Sleek BB creams, and I have to say in the two or so months that I’ve had the Sleek, I’ve not touched the Smashbox once. It’s just a better fit for me in terms of finish, consistency and most importantly undertone. The Sleek has a more gold undertone that’s a perfect match whereas the Smashbox has a neutral tone that left my skin looking dull, and needing additional products to warm me back up. I also like the texture of Sleek, it’s not heavy feeling and although initially I was worried about looking greasy or breaking out from the mineral oil, Ben Nye powder in Topaz stops oils in it’s tracks and I’ve had no breakouts. I wouldn’t touch maybelline or Iman with a ten foot pole. Maybelline, because just yuck, and Iman always looks so cakey no matter how light the application. The Sleek BB gives me a really natural looking finish and I’m supremely happy with it.

    • says:

      Hi Cleo, thank you for sharing your experience. I have heard that the Sleek colors tend to work great on darker tones. I did try the Smashbox bb and was not impressed as well. It had a chalky undertone that left me looking ghastly. And the Maybelline for acne prone skin types like myself is a big NO NO. Glad to hear the Sleek BB cream worked for you and I love the tip about the Ben Nye Topaz powder, I’ve been wanting to try that for the longest time.

    • says:

      Hi Cecilia, at the time I wrote the article, almost a year ago, bb creams were still very new to the US market and there weren’t too many options for women of darker skin tones. Now, more companies have expanded their shade offerings for bb creams. And of course the grand daddy of makeup, M.A.C released their BB cream, so there’s a growing selection. I would still proceed with caution because even though bb creams are pitched to be a multi purpose skin care/cosmetic crossovers, it is still makeup, so please read ingredients carefully before purchasing. Plus if you can do a test spot.

      For dark, oily and acne prone skin, I suggest the Sleek or M.A.C bb creams. Both bb creams have a fairly decent ingredient list . In addition, their colors are some of the most pigmented and do not leave an ashen tint to the skin, which I find to a be a problem with most bb creams I’ve come across. I’ll keep on the look out for other bb creams suitable for oily, acne prone skin and will be sure to post and updated list soon. Hope that helps 🙂

        • says:

          Hi Daphne, since I wrote the article, there’s been a variety of BB creams that have come into the market. I will be doing an update very soon on bb creams for young, acne prone skin so stay tuned for that 🙂 To be frank, after several disappointing trials with various bb cream brands, I simply gave up. The wide majority do not work well with my darker skin tone, instead leaving an ashen hue. If I had to pick one, the MAC, Prep and Prime would be my go to at this point. For lighter skin tones, there are more options. The SKIN79 Super Plus BB Cream
          has had many rave reviews for its great coverage, matte finish and ability to fade dark spots. On the lower end, the Garnier Skin Renew BB Cream for young, oily and acne prone skin is also one to try. Stay tuned for the full article and let me know if you come across any other great products.

          • Daphne Kapetas says:

            Thank you. Please keep me posted. What would you say would be the top three challenges for darker skin? Challenges that are not satisfactory met by the existing products on the market?

  3. Domenic Cardine says:

    Thanks for this post these supplements look good and I hope they work. I am looking to improve my inner self as well as outer. I love Ben Nye banana powder on dark skin, it makes me feel fantastic and covers up many flaws on the outside. So just want to get more healthy on the inside.

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