The Best BB Creams According to Our Blind Test

In a truly blind beauty test, where the testers have no knowledge of brand, packaging, price range, or previous reviews, what products would reign supreme? With that in mind, we at Fashionista concocted the "Blind BB Cream" test.
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In a truly blind beauty test, where the testers have no knowledge of brand, packaging, price range, or previous reviews, what products would reign supreme? With that in mind, we at Fashionista concocted the "Blind BB Cream" test.
Photo: Getty

Photo: Getty

In the world of beauty products, the sad truth is that sometimes the outside of a package matters more than what's inside, at least when consumers are standing in front of endless rows of similar products and trying to choose one. People are also pretty label conscious, and have certain quality expectations for luxury vs. mainstream brands. But does any of it matter when it comes to a product's efficacy?

I started thinking--it’s time to get less superficial with makeup. In a truly blind beauty test, where the testers have no knowledge of brand, packaging, price range, or previous reviews, what products would reign supreme? And so with that in mind, we at Fashionista conducted the "Blind BB Cream" test.

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Equipment: BB Cream samples, Light shade (8) BB Cream samples, Medium shade (8) BB Cream sample, “One Shade Fits Most" (1) 20 clear, plastic sample receptacles Mirror (1) Makeup Removing Towelettes (1 pack) Tape Marker

UPDATE: Per commenters' request, here are the brands we tried: L’Oreal Paris Youth Code BB Cream, Too Faced Tinted Beauty Balm, Urban Decay Naked Skin Beauty Balm, Olay Fresh Effects BB Cream, Flower Beauty Balm BB Cream, Dr. Brandt Skincare Flexitone BB Cream, L’Oreal Paris Age Perfect Instant Radiance BB Cream, Smashbox Camera Ready BB Cream

Procedure: 1. Start squeezing BB creams into the plastic receptacles, designating each one with a letter and a number (ex: A1.) Record the super-secret designations in notebook. 2. Hand out samples to testers. Samples are applied to clean, bare skin. 3. Collect comments and quotes independently from test subjects

Results: Three clear front runners came out of testing. But before we reveal the favorites, some select quotes from BB creams that didn't make the cut: “Smells like menthol, feels tingly.” “It feels powdery and just sits on top of my face.” “Weirdly orange.” “Too chalky, powdery and thick.” “This one is just not working!” referring to a BB cream that sat on top of her face like chalky ‘80s sunblock.

And now, the winners:

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3rd Place: Too Faced’s Tinted BB Cream, $32: Those with drier skin enjoyed the creamier texture of this BB cream. “A little lotiony, but blends in really well.” --Test Subject #1 (Hayley) “Light, creamy, and smooth.” -- Test Subject #7 (Miranda, intern)

2nd Place: L’Oreal’s Youth Code BB Cream, $12: Our testers universally praised this one for its depth of coverage and pleasant smell. “Two thumbs up--with a little matte coverage.” --Test Subject #2 (Cheryl) “Smells great, with good, buildable coverage.” -- Test Subject #4 (Tyler) “Went on easily, with light coverage.” -- Test Subject #5 (Leah) “Coverage was fast, natural and blended really well.” -- Test Subject #6 (Carissa, intern) Test Subject #3 (Nora) liked the texture of our first runner-up, but was in between the Light/Medium color.

1st Place: Smashbox Camera Ready BB Cream, $39: From the get go, our testers thought this was one was a winner. “Smells expensive. Like something good is happening.” -- Test Subject #5 (Leah) “Colors blends in really well, light but with natural coverage.” Test Subject #1 (Hayley) “Great coverage, good texture” --Test Subject #2 (Cheryl)

Conclusion: Our test results suggest that perhaps prestige does count for something--sometimes. Our number one pick was higher-end Smashbox--but it was closely followed by drugstore favorite L’Oreal, which is less than half the price. The lesson? Try before you buy, and don't be snobby about brands.