BB Cream, move over! It’s time for CC Cream!

Written by on June 26, 2013 in Brands & Products

How does your makeup routine go? If you’re a Korean woman, you probably have a minimum 5 steps (cleansing-toning-moisturizing-wrinkle/eye/sun care-base), and I’m only talking about skincare here. Adding color makeup; I guess there are probably 10 steps plus in an average Korean woman’s makeup routine; even more if you count the additional exfoliating, revitalizing, rejuvenating skincare sessions that are done maybe not daily, but on a regular basis.
With such “basics”, putting on makeup can become an arduous task, so it’s inevitable that Korean cosmetics companies come up with products to shorten time and minimize effort of this daily chore. The most popular of such products is undoubtedly BB Cream. Since its commercial launch in 2006, BB Cream (“blemish balm” cream), which has the properties of suncare-moisturizer-makeup base/primer-concealer-foundation all-in-one has been a must-have item with its light consistency and easy-to-apply formula. It is particularly appreciated in the summer months when you really could do without a lot of stuff on your face.
However, when there is something good, something better always shows up. Thus comes in CC Cream. Yep, there’s a newcomer in the cosmetics world and it’s taking over pretty quickly.

“CC” is short for many things depending on the brand: Color Correction, Color Control, Complete Correction, Complete Care, Complete Combination, Care & Color, and every other possible combination of cosmetic related C words. (Before you get riled up about “correcting color”, just take note that it means to even out one’s complexion, NOT trying to change the color of your skin.) But what do they actually mean? And besides the name, what exactly is the difference between BB and CC?
CC Cream is being marketed as the upgraded BB Cream but to be precise, the main purposes of the products are slightly different. BB Cream is the all-in-one concealer/foundation offering full coverage while CC Cream puts more emphasis on nourishing the skin while providing optimal coverage. The main complaint about BB Cream was that it had the tendency to go on chalky in the beginning and then go “gloomy” as time went by, leaving a grayish cast by the end of the day. Although products were made for different skin types, those with dry skin would often have to use extra moisturizers with BB Cream, which sort of defeats its main purpose as an all-in-one product.
CC Cream added moisturizing elements and instead of flawless “perfect” coverage, it aims to “correct” (thus the “C”) the uneven skin tones by offering just the right amount of coverage to fix those problem areas. Consequently, CC Cream has a much lighter touch than BB Cream. It is recommended for those who want to portray a dewy “makeup free” look, even more natural than that accomplished by using BB Cream. Anti-aging, skin polishing, nourishing are other factors added to CC Cream.
So far, most of the reviews I’ve read about CC Cream have been favorable. However, although all CC Creams come with SPF features, because it is a product with very light coverage, the reviews advise using a separate suncare product to be on the safe side. The negative remarks about CC Cream were almost all about the coverage. If you’re not a fan of the extremely natural look, you might want to enhance it a bit with a matching BB Cream.
Personally, I find CC Cream to be great for hot and humid days, but not enough when I want to be in a properly dressed formal situation. (I’m not 20 years old anymore and my skin needs more help.) It really depends on what you’re going for. There are occasions for CC Cream, BB Cream, and foundation and I think you really do need all three, for different purposes and occasions.

Like BB Cream, CC Cream is offered by most cosmetics brands, from low/mid-market to high end brands, Korean and international. In Korea, the low/mid-market brands are trumping the high end brands in the CC Cream department, but I am assuming this is because CC Cream is vastly popular in the younger market. (As I’ve mentioned before, mature women prefer more coverage.) However, high end CC Cream sales are also hitting stride, and beauty experts predict they will get even more popular as time goes by. Of course, like most cosmetics in Korea, there is CC Cream for men, too.

Some of the CC Creams with the best reviews are:

banila co. it Radiant CC Cream
Voted the #1 CC Cream by the reviewers of “Get It Beauty” – a popular TV show specializing in beauty and makeup – this CC Cream is water based and applies very lightly to the skin. The product received high marks in moisturizing and lastingness. In addition, the packaging appeals to the young customer (or those who like pink) and the tube is the pump type, for easy amount adjustment. It comes with all the advantages of CC Cream: moisturizing, SPF, anti-aging, evening out skin tones.

Hera CC Cream
Another immensely popular product among beauty editors and the public alike, Amore Pacific’s higher end brand Hera’s line of CC Cream comes in a pump tube, but is sold in a smaller quantity compared to other brands. (It is more eye cream size.) The cream is beige tinted and applies very smoothly and quickly. It immediately leaves the skin with a glowing finish, which explains some reviewer comments that it gives you the “Photoshop effect”. Anti-aging, moisturizing, SPF, revitalizing, and skin polishing are noted as its attributes.


Packaged in a pump type compact, THEFACESHOP’s CC Cream is meant to be applied with a powder puff, although brushes (and fingers) may also be used according to your preference. The brand also has a jar packaged capsule CC Cream, but this product is the more popular for its convenience. After complete use, you can just switch the product with a new refill so it’s eco-friendly as well. The product comes in two tones: bright and natural. Compared to other CC Creams, it applies a bit on the matte side – not too shiny or dewy – so allows a bit more coverage. As usual, SPF, anti-aging, brightening, moisturizing, long lasting components are included.

Etude House Correct & Care CC Cream
More pink! Literally. Etude House’s shops are even called the “Pink Playhouse” and their CC Cream also comes in pink packaging. The cream comes in two types: Silky and Glow. Silky is the more popular product. In a pump type tube, the cream applies white at first, with pigments popping out of miniscule capsules to melt into your skin tone, with a slightly pink beige finish. Because of these capsules, some might find the formula a bit grainy to apply directly to the face. Applies very lightly.

O Hui UV Color Control Cream
A CC Cream in compact form for easy portability, this product is more popular than O Hui’s “regular” CC Cream in the traditional jar. Enhanced with minerals, anti-aging properties, and pumped up with high SPF, it also has a skin calming and cooling effect which makes it a great item to have for the summer. Applies lightly and may be packed on for more coverage, without it feeling too heavy.

IOPE CC Complete Care Cream
Amore Pacific’s brand Iope recently launched its own version of CC Cream and is quickly gaining popularity. The product is in a pump type tube and comes in two tones: Clear Beige and Natural Beige. The consensus is that it applies a bit heavier than the low/mid-priced brands, but this may probably be because it is targeted to an older demographic. (I.e. women, not girls.) The cream boasts a bio-redox formula (which basically means it is pumped up with a lot of good ingredients that reduces skin oxidation) for brightening, revitalizing, conditioning and evening of skin tone. SPF and anti-aging elements are essential.

MISSHA Signature Complexion Coordinating BB Cream
Missha decided not to go with the flow and just joined the strengths of BB Cream and CC Cream together and called it CC BB Cream. (Full name above.) Provided in two tones, white and beige, the former gives you a more natural look while the latter, more coverage. The products are lotus water based, and are known for evening out complexion by brightening and revitalizing. Because the formula is so light, the brand recommends using it as a makeup base on more formal occasions when full makeup is required.

TONYMOLY Luminous Pure Aura CC Cream
A water based CC Cream which is white on first application, but changes color according to your skin tone. It comes in a pump type tube and gives a very light, dewy finish. It has all the CC Cream musts: anti-aging, brightening, SPF, moisturizing, lastingness. There is a new line called the Luminous Live Aura CC Cream, which has improved on skin coverage, for those who do not want a too natural look.

Nature Republic Super Origin Cushion CC
The compact type CC Cream from Nature Republic comes in two tones: Natural and Bright. It has a sponge puff and applies very, very, lightly, giving a very dewy finish to the skin, almost as if you’ve given yourself a face mist. For those who aren’t comfortable with the cushion compact, the brand also has a pump tube type which comes in three varieties: Color Change, Tinted, and Brightening..

For men
As I’ve mentioned before, most of the brands offer a men’s line of CC Creams, although I think most of (Korean) men are still sticking with their BB Cream for now. I really like the slogan of THEFACESHOP’s CC Cream for men, but I’m told that it’s not only because of the name it is popular; it’s as good as its product for the women’s line, with all its characteristics. A notable difference may be the inclusion of black malt, so it doesn’t glow too much. (Apparently men don’t want to be as dewy looking as women?)

Since CC Cream is meant to blend into your skin and offer a brightening glow, it does not come in a large variety of skin tones. The CC Creams which are completely white on first application (like sunblock) will adjust to your skin tone. It is best to try out the samples before making a purchase, not only to note the tone and hue, but also to see if the consistency of the product suits you as well. If you have a very dark complexion, it might be better to choose a product which adjusts to your skin tone rather than the beige or pink beige ones. Also, if you’re not a fan of the dewy look and prefer matte, it’s best to stick with the reliable BB Cream.
Besides the brands mentioned above, there are many other brands which carry CC Cream, so please don’t limit yourselves in experimenting.

R&D for new products is never-ending, so I’m curious to know: what comes next after CC Cream? DD (Definition Defined) Cream? EE (Everlasting Excellence) Cream? FFF (Flawless Foundation Formula) Cream? Pretty simple name combinations, but hey, if any of these are ever picked up by the cosmetics industry, I’d like you to know you heard them here first. Heh.

In the meantime, hope you find the perfect CC Cream for you!

* All photos are from the official sites.

About the Author

Suzy Chung

Multilingual editor, writer, and translator. Coffee addict, bookworm, art junkie, foodie, oenophile, and a billion other things. I tend to talk a lot. @suzyinseoul