From The Pros: The Truth About Alphabet Creams

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The ABC’s of alphabet creams.

Walking down the beauty aisle at your favorite drugstore can seem more like a lesson on alphabets than a search for the best beauty item. You hear about BB, CC and DD creams all the time, but what do they actually mean? And how can these descriptors help you find the best skincare product for your skin type?

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We asked Dr. Rebecca Baxt, a board certified NYC dermatologist to give us the low down on the creams, and apparently it’s less complicated than you might think. Take a look!

ESSENCE: What are BB creams? And, what makes them so special?
BB creams are short for beauty balms or blemish balms. They were first developed in Germany by a dermatologist who wanted a single cream that would protect skin and provide coverage after laser treatments. The all-in-one formulation became a sensation in South Korea and then spread throughout Asia. BB creams started hitting U.S. store shelves in the spring of 2011. Today, almost every major beauty company has a BB cream, from drugstore brands that cost under $10 to high-end department-store lines that may be as costly as $100 or more, as well as lines that are only sold at spas or in doctors' offices.

ESSENCE: What do BB creams do and are they effective?
Many BB creams offer effective sun protection, with broad-spectrum SPF 30 or higher, the American Academy of Dermatology's recommendation for daily use. What's more, BB creams generally contain zinc oxide or titanium oxide, physical sun blocks that have some built-in water-resistant properties, Baxt says.

ESSENCE: What should you look for when buying BB creams?
Anti-aging components, including peptides and antioxidants such as vitamins A, E, and C. Moisturizing workhorses like hyaluronic acid and glycerin are also great. And, silicone-based ingredients, such as dimethicone, that help smooth the skin, acting much like a foundation primer does.

ESSENCE: What are CC creams?
They are packed to the gills with vitamins C and E, complexion corrector cream is similar to BB cream, but focuses on color correction.

ESSENCE: What do CC creams do and are they effective?
Lighter than a BB cream, CC cream's primary purpose is to correct color-related skin issues, such as sallowness or redness. Like BB cream, it has SPF as well (number varies by brand). If you're acne-prone, have dull skin, dark spots or constant redness, CC cream is for you. Use CC cream to help with redness, acne, dark spots, sallowness and more. It's also lighter than BB cream! Additionally, DD cream will balance skin tone and protect the most sensitive areas of your skin. DD cream's strongest selling point is their anti-aging benefits. If you're looking to reduce the appearance of wrinkles, this cream is the cream for you.

ESSENCE: Okay, we got it. But, where should we start?
If discoloration is your primary concern then start with CC creams, because that’s their claim to fame so you will more than likely find a product that contains skin-brightening ingredients such as arbutin or daisy flower extract. If fine lines and wrinkles are the issue, then look for an alphabet cream full of ingredients like retinol, firming peptides or adenosine. If your skin is oily, then look for an alphabet cream that controls oil and has a lightweight texture.

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Filed under: Beauty, Skin