Everything You Need To Know About CC Cream

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BB cream, CC cream, DD cream... It's natural to wonder how many letters of the alphabet skincare companies are planning to add to the ever-growing range of miraculous moisturizers that double as natural-looking foundations.

Many people love that no-makeup look, and CC cream is the perfect candidate when you're after that all-natural glow without ditching your makeup entirely. These days, most people opt for skincare that gives them the best of both worlds — overflowing makeup bags are so last season — and CC creams can do exactly that, according to makeup artist Allie Renee. "CC creams are amazing because they are a true multitasker in your beauty arsenal," she told Ipsy, adding, "Generally speaking, CC creams color correct, are self-priming, offer buildable coverage, have additional skincare benefits, and much of the time contain an SPF."

We know what you're thinking: CC cream sounds perfect for when you need to hop on a quick Zoom call while still wearing your pajama bottoms. It's easy to apply and gives you a healthy glow while working behind the scenes to keep your skin happy and healthy.

Of course, you're likely confused about what BB and DD creams are for and what makes CC cream different from them. There's also the question of whether or not CC cream will actually work for your skin type. To spare you a frantic Googling session, we've put together everything you need to know about CC cream.

What, exactly, is CC cream?

Let's answer your most burning question first: What the heck is CC cream, really? Well, first things first: CC is an abbreviation for color corrector. If you struggle with skin conditions like acne, hyperpigmentation, or rosacea, CC cream can help you out. Speaking to Women's Health, celebrity makeup artist Mia Jones said that CC cream also works great to cover uneven skin tone and acne scars, as well as melasma.

Now, Jones warns that you shouldn't mistake CC cream as a treatment for these skin conditions; its almost magical formula simply works to cover those problem areas seamlessly. However, you can expect it to give your skin a healthy glow while working to moisturize it as well. Most CC creams are formulated with SPF, which means your skin will have added protection from the sun's harsh UV rays.

If you've ever used BB cream, you might notice that CC cream isn't as lightweight, but Jones says that it's just as buildable as a BB cream despite having a slightly different texture. She recommends applying CC cream directly to the areas on your face you'd like to cover or apply it all over. Either way, the results will be pretty much the same: smooth, clear skin.

What's the difference between CC, BB, and DD creams?

Aside from CC cream being slightly heavier than BB cream, what else sets them apart? And what makes it different from a DD cream? These are the questions that haunt us.

Celebrity makeup artist Jamie Dorman has some answers. Speaking to InStyle, Dorman explained that the confusion surrounding these different formulations is definitely warranted. However, what sets them apart is simple: It all comes down to your skin type and skin concerns.

Each of these formulations is created to treat specific skin types and issues. If dry skin is your main concern, Dorman says BB cream is your go-to. "BB cream has the lightest coverage with the most moisture making it ideal for dry and dehydrated skin types," she says. If you're looking for more coverage and have oily or combination skin, Dorman recommends you opt for CC cream because it has a matte finish, which makes it the perfect companion to help you counter shininess all day long. 

Furthermore, Naked Poppy explains that DD cream is kind of a combination of BB and CC creams. It has the same benefits as a BB cream and covers your face as CC cream would. So, if you're stuck between wanting light coverage and hydration while also getting those color-correcting benefits of a CC cream, DD cream is your new skincare bestie. However, people with very dry skin might still need to apply moisturizer in addition to using DD cream.

What makes a CC cream different from foundations and tinted moisturizers?

Since CC cream can do a pretty good job of covering up blemishes, it's normal to wonder what sets it apart from regular foundations and tinted moisturizers.

Speaking to Byrdie, celebrity makeup artist Brittany Spyksma explained that the most notable difference between CC cream and foundation is the formula's consistency. Foundations are much thicker, and they also come in a wide variety of shades. Most CC creams don't have that benefit and also don't cover the skin as well as a foundation would, despite its color-correcting abilities. While CC cream's job is to make your face appear more flawless, foundations can provide you with extra coverage while also giving you the option to choose between a matte or dewy finish, depending on your skin type, Spyksma says.

As for tinted moisturizers, Spyksma explains that these products are exactly what the name suggests: A moisturizer containing a tint. These products are great if you're going for a very natural look. CC cream, however, is more than just a moisturizer mixed with a tint; it contains SPF and anti-aging ingredients, providing your skin with extra benefits and more natural coverage than a foundation.

Can you use CC cream instead of foundation?

Once you discover the amazing benefits of CC cream, you might be tempted to get rid of your foundation once and for all. But should you?

Makeup artist Nick Lujan says to hold your horses. Speaking to InStyle, he explained that, while CC creams are able to do a better job than BB creams when it comes to the amount of skin coverage it provides, they can't really compete with foundation. In fact, Lujan says that CC creams provide less coverage than tinted moisturizers do, so don't throw out your trusty foundation just yet.

Lujan explains that CC cream's sheer coverage is also the reason it isn't available in as many shades as foundations. He added that foundations have the added benefit of being able to provide maximum coverage or just enough to liven up your face, depending on how much you apply. So, where does CC cream fit into all of this? "I suggest using CC cream as a base underneath the foundation, to help balance skin tone," Lujan advises. "Then apply a bit of foundation to spot cover any areas of concern."

Well, there you have it: For best results, combine your favorite CC cream with your foundation and then go show off that glow to the world.

What are the benefits of CC cream?

We love products that make our skin look amazing while also providing it with some extra TLC. As it turns out, CC cream does exactly that. Aside from protecting your skin from the sun, CC cream's lighter formulation also won't clog your pores as easily as a foundation would, according to Healthline. This means it'll help you to avoid those pesky breakouts, especially during the hot summer months.

Another perk of CC cream is that it can be used in various ways. You can either apply it on its own like you would foundation or use it as a primer. Most fans of CC cream claim that it's the best product when your main goal is to cover imperfections and blemishes. Instead of trying to figure out how to combine different products to get that smooth, blemish-free look, you can simply apply CC cream to get the desired results.

Celebrity makeup artist Jeannia Robinette told Today that one of the best benefits of CC cream is that most formulations are created with age-defying ingredients that work great to minimize wrinkles and spots. Robinette says that she loves applying just a little bit of foundation along with CC cream for optimal, natural-looking coverage.

Is CC cream worth the hype?

Most of us have been victims of beauty products that claimed to be miracle workers only to find out that the hype was all for nothing. So, are you at risk of making the same mistake with CC cream?

While you certainly can't expect CC cream to solve all your skin woes, Healthline reports that it isn't all just another marketing tactic to get you to spend hard-earned cash on a short-lived trend. Yes, CC cream hasn't exactly been around for ages, so it's considered a fairly new product, but it does deliver what it promises.

CC cream can be seen as a plain old tinted moisturizer, but its ingredient list sets it apart; its color-correcting formula does what it's supposed to and will hide blemishes well, helping your skin to look its best without too much of a hassle. As a bonus, it really does work to hydrate skin and prevent aging. Healthline admits that the marketing around CC cream is brilliantly done, but for once, this is a product that lives up to the hype, and you'll see the benefits it promises for yourself once you start using it regularly.

How to choose CC cream for your skin type

So, you're ready to jump onto the CC cream bandwagon, but you have no idea which brand or formula would work best for your unique needs. Well, fear not: We've got you sorted.

First of all, know your skin type before you buy. Board-certified dermatologist Elizabeth Tanzi told Forbes that CC creams aren't as moisturizing as BB creams, which means people with normal to oily skin will really benefit from this formula. According to Healthline, those who struggle with oily and acne-prone skin can look for certain ingredients when they shop for a CC cream. Compounds like colloidal clay, silica, and charcoal are great to keep oily skin in check. Those who struggle with acne should opt for CC creams that contain salicylic acid, colloidal clary, and tea tree extract.

Once you got your skin type figured out, you'll need to select the right shade. "Since they are color correcting, the best CC cream for an individual is the one that provides the best match for skin tone," Tanzi says. Some brands offer more shades than others. If you find it challenging to find the right shade for your skin tone, take a look at Neutrogena's Clear Coverage Flawless Matte CC Cream, which not only offers 34 different shades but is also a serious acne-buster.

What to look for when you shop for CC cream

We probably don't have to tell you this, but not all CC creams are created equal, and you shouldn't just grab the one with the prettiest packaging from the shelf without checking the ingredient list first.

Board-certified dermatologist Shani Francis told Forbes that good CC creams typically include hydrating ingredients like glycerin or hyaluronic acid. In addition to hydrating your skin, a good CC cream will also include antioxidants in its ingredient list, like vitamin E and niacinamide. Last but not least, check whether it contains sunscreen, either physical or chemical. Then, scour the ingredient list for iron oxide; this compound will not only function as a protective barrier against infrared light but will also add that sought-after tint. Speaking of tints, some CC cream brands go the extra mile and add a green-tinted shade to their formulations. Francis says that this green tint can work wonders to hide redness caused by skin conditions like rosacea, acne, or sun damage.

You should also make sure that you don't accidentally simply buy a foundation with sunscreen. Make sure you read the labels: A genuine CC cream's label will indicate that it's been formulated to help fight discoloration with the ingredient list to prove it. CC creams also include age-defying ingredients, so make sure you spend adequate time studying the labels before spending your hard-earned money.

Tips for applying CC cream

Now that you know exactly what to look for in a CC cream, you'll want to know the best way to apply it. Spoiler alert: You won't be using the same technique you do when applying foundation.

Speaking to Today, celebrity makeup artist Jeannia Robinette said that, while the world won't end if you use a makeup brush to apply CC cream, it isn't really the best route. A makeup sponge is also a no-no since it'll suck up most of the product, causing you to run out of your favorite CC cream much faster than you're anticipating. Instead, Robinette suggests you apply it the way you would an ordinary moisturizer. "I prefer to use my fingers and warm up the CC cream before applying it on my skin," Robinette explained, adding, "I treat it like a sunscreen and put it all over my neck, chest, and face." While that might feel weird the first few times, you'll save tons of product and money in the process.

If you really want to use an applicator, celebrity makeup artist Tara Lauren told InStyle that a duo fiber brush should do the trick. Meanwhile, celebrity makeup artist Jamie Dorman is a fan of the Rephr 31 brush because of how dense it is. "The bristles won't absorb and waste product," she explained.

Robinette also recommends playing around with different shades for various results. "The lighter color will highlight the areas that you want to cover, while the darker will offer coverage," she explained to Today.

Use the dot and blend method to get the most out of your CC cream

There are many different ways to go about applying CC cream, but if you want to get the most out of the formula's color-correcting benefits, makeup artists recommend you use the dot and blend method.

"This method will ensure you are color correcting and adding coverage in the center of the face and sheering out the product at the edges of the face where less coverage is needed," makeup artist Allie Renee told Ipsy. If you've never heard of this method before, fear not. It's fairly simple and Renee explained exactly how to do it. As with foundation, you would first cleanse and moisturize your skin before applying CC cream. Once your skin is prepped, use your fingers and apply the CC cream in dots to your cheeks, forehead, chin, and nose. Then, reach for your favorite makeup brush or sponge (or use your fingers) and start blending those dots, starting the blending process at the center of your face and moving outwards. Hello, gorgeous, flawless skin!

Try these CC creams

You officially know everything there is to know about CC cream, and now it's time to start shopping. If you're feeling a little overwhelmed by all the options out there, you're definitely not alone.

If you usually struggle to find the perfect shade for your skin tone or simply want a CC cream that will do the most for your skin, why not try the It Cosmetics CC+ Cream with SPF 50+? This brand's formula contains quality ingredients that will leave your skin glowing. Not only does the ingredient list include age-defying collagen, but it's also packed with hydrating ingredients like hyaluronic acid. As an added bonus, it also includes antioxidants that protect the skin from free radical damage. It comes in 12 different shades, so you're more likely to find the perfect match for your skin tone. If you want even more variety when it comes to shades, Neutrogena Clear Coverage Flawless Matte CC Cream, which is offered in 34 shades, has you covered.

If you're worried about trying CC cream because your skin is prone to irritation, you can try the Hey Honey Trick & Treat CC Cream. Packed with anti-inflammatory ingredients, this CC cream will kick redness to the curb while calming your skin. Finally, those who are looking for a CC cream that mimics foundation will be thrilled with Thrive Causemetics' Buildable Blur CC Cream. This formulation contains blur effect technology that will hide almost any blemish or imperfection. It also contains SPF and has 18 shades to choose from.