Banish that blemish with BB cream

Here's everything you wanted to know about that wonder product - a BB cream. Bushra S Khan speaks to experts for their views.

If you're wondering why everyone's going gaga over BB creams, here's why. BB or Blemish Balm/ Blemish Base or Beblesh Balm is an all-in-one cream being touted as the next big thing in the cosmetic industry. Back in the 1950s, dermatologists in Germany recommended it to patients who had undergone laser skin surgeries to soothe and heal sensitive skin while giving light coverage to post-surgery scars. BB creams have been a rage in South-East Asian countries since then, before the hysteria moved to UK.

But what's the big deal about BB creams, you may ask? For seasoned make up fanatics, it gives you the no-make up or natural look while covering your flaws. And for rookies, if questions like 'What goes on first - moisturiser or primer?' and 'What follows - concealer or foundation ?' leave you flummoxed, then BB creams are your one-stop product.

Here are the things BB creams can do for you:
- It heals, smoothens, refines and softens skin.
- It has SPF, so you don't need to slather sunscreen.
- It evens out complexion like a foundation, and since it's not as thick it won't clog your pores.
- It covers up blemishes, mild discolouration and pigmentation on skin, effectively doubling up as a concealer.
- Keeps skin moisturised.
- It brightens skin leaving you with a dewy finish like a primer.
- Promotes skin-regeneration.

But before you go rushing to your nearest beauty store, here's what some experts have to say about the product.

How dos it manage to be an all-in-one product?
Dr Rekha Seth, Cosmetic Dermatologist: From what I understand of its ingredients, it maybe a good soothing cream but it can't be a complete skin care regime by itself.
Dr Jamuna Pai, Cosmetologist: The active ingredients used in the BB cream are put together in such a way that there is no interaction between them and they all act in a cohesive manner to give the required result. Some of the key ingredients in the cream for the Asian market are:
- The usual base of Allantoin, which is the vehicle and has moisturising, healing and soothing properties. It is present in most creams.
- Berry extracts like Arbutin, Bearberry, Liquorice or Kojic Acid, that are tyrosinase inhibitors and help in skin whitening.
- The parabens work as a sunscreen.
- The Elastomer gel works as a filler for creases and fills up pores to give a taut look to the skin.
- Some oil content enables the product to spread easily and soothing properties from plant extracts, green tea, lotus help to soothe irritation in the long run.

Thankfully, the product does not include Tarc, which is used to make asbestos and construction materials, because it is known to be carcinogenic.

Do you think it really works?
Dr Seth: As a base or foundation, it might work well, but it doesn't do anything for the skin.
Dr Pai: I think it is truly an 'all-in-one' cream and it works.

Can it be used over a long period?
Dr Pai: Since it does not contain any ingredients like steroids (which cannot be used over a long period of time), this cream is suitable for long term use.

Who all can use it? Can people in their 40s and 50s use it?
Dr Seth: It's not enough even for someone with normal, non-problematic skin. It's okay to use it if you're going to be indoors all day. But who stays indoors all the time? It can't solve everybody's problems; 20 and 30-year-olds can use it if they want to, since a lot of people like trying out new stuff. But I would certainly not advise people in their 40s and 50s to use it as it does not seem to have anti-ageing properties.
Dr Pai: All age groups can use it. With a lot of hydrating, moisturising, healing and antioxidant effects and with the inclusion of a sunscreen, if used on a regular basis, the cream can delay premature ageing.

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