How to Market BB Creams

What shoppers need to know about this beauty craze.

What would you think of using a facial product that improves the skin? That’s great, right? How about one that also cuts some steps out of your beauty routine? Fantastic! Now, what about one that creates a winning trifecta with results, quick application and cost savings? Yep, those are the makings of a hot seller.

For all these reasons and more, shoppers may want to explore the latest skin care craze: BB creams.

BB Background
BB creams (short for beauty balms or blemish balms) were the brainchild of a German dermatologist who wanted patients to have a single facial product to cover flaws and protect skin after laser treatments. Before long, the all-in-one BB cream segment took South Korea by storm and spread all over Asia (1). And by 2011, Americans were in love with BB creams.

It’s easy to see why. BB creams are more than just a tinted moisturizer or a light foundation. A single tube generally acts as a moisturizer, sunscreen, skin treatment, primer, concealer and foundation. This is welcome news to the many women who use upwards of five products on their skin daily. So, be sure to call out this versality to shoppers, which offers time and money savings.

Making a simple shelf talker about which products BB creams could replace may be worth your time and effort. Only 2% of U.S. beauty shoppers have ever bought a BB cream, but 77% of those that did said they would buy the item again, according to market research firm The NPD Group (2). So, the need for education about BB creams could link up nicely with repeat buys.

What’s in Them?
While mainstream companies may have made the first foray into the U.S. BB cream market, several natural brands have since launched BB products. Which ones should you add to your shelves? Consider this: An NPD Group Survey said 52% of women want natural-looking coverage from their BB Cream, 47% want one that moisturizes, 42% are looking for a cream that nourishes and treats skin, 42% want SPF protection and 38% are looking for a product that improves skin texture (2). So, talk to manufacturers and be sure their offerings meet some of these needs.

How is all this achieved? One natural brand uses peptides (Argireline and Matrixyl) as a treatment component. They help diminish the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles and other signs of aging (3). The company adds in madonna lily plant stem cells, vitamin C, bearberry and niacinamide to tackle melanin and even out skin tone.

Another natural brand uses stem cells from Swiss apple and a grape from the Burgundy region of France to protect skin against environmental damage. Eight berries (like acai, sea buckthorn, goji and others) help “combat environmental stressors, support cell turnover, increase collagen and elastin, and strengthen dermal immunity,” while aloe soothes and moisturizes (4).

Several companies also use minerals like mica to reflect light and help reduce the appearance of skin imperfections. Caffeine and certain botanicals lessen redness and discoloration. Other brands include moisturizers like hyaluronic acid and shea butter.

One interesting category extension is the launch of beauty balms for the hair by one industry company. Such products are intended—like BB creams for the face—to aid a variety of beauty issues in one tube. In this case, the creams style, hydrate and protect the hair, with specific varieties for curly hair, volumizing, shine and repair (5).

The Color Conundrum
One criticism of BB creams is that their color selection is too limited, and few manufacturers offer colors for deeper skin tones. Many brands say that products adapt to the skin, blending into a wide spectrum of skin tones. Blending is key, but tell customers that the coverage in general is sheerer than foundation. So, the shades are forgiving and don’t require the kind of match that a heavy foundation might. Shoppers may want to see this for themselves, so ask your manufacturer for testers so clients can try before they buy.

Some natural brands offer untinted formulas to better complement shoppers of all skin tones. These might be worth stocking, too. WF

1. S. Levitt, “What Are BB Creams?”, accessed Feb. 20, 2014.
2. “NPD Reports Women Go Bonkers for BB Creams,”, March 11, 2012, accessed Feb. 20, 2014.
3. derma e, “BB Crème,”ème.html, accessed Feb. 20, 2014.
4. Andalou Naturals, “All-in-One Beauty Balm Sheer Tint with SPF 30,”, accessed Feb. 20, 2014.
5. Mineral Fusion, “Beauty Balms for Hair,”, accessed Feb. 20, 2014.

Published in WholeFoods Magazine, April 2014