Absolutely EVERYTHING you need to know about BB creams

Yesterday, I spent 20 minutes of beauty time just prepping my face. The order of cosmetics: Serum, eye cream, moisturiser, sunscreen, pore-minimiser, primer, foundation, concealer. Eight layers of products to take up time and clog the skin.

Today, I headed out in the hunt of the “new” BB creams that promise to simplify your makeup into one simple step. Sounds too good to be true? Well! Sometimes miracles happen and BBs are one of them. After today’s shopping spree, I can vouch for that!

The Top BB Picks

So, what exactly are BBs? This multi-tasking cream is differently referred to as Beauty Balm, Blemish Base, Beblesh Balm or Blemish Balm and it’s aim is to combine several different skincare and makeup steps into one product, thereby saving time, space, money – and probably your skin!

How did they originate? BBs go back to Germany in the 1950s, when Dr. Christine Schrammek created a healing skin salve for her post-peel and laser surgery patients. The idea was to soothe the skin, camouflage splotchy or inflamed patches and create a shield against the sun. BBs became a big hit in the Asian (specially Japanese and Korean) markets, thanks to drop-dead gorgeous Korean actress Song Hye Kyo singing their praises. Today, suddenly, they are all over the world.

BB Creams: All-in-One

What do they do? BBs can do any or all of the following, depending on which one you choose: Hydrate, nourish, fight acne, prevent premature ageing, brighten, smooth skin texture, cover blemishes, even out skin tone, banish fine lines and wrinkles, add luminosity, protect against UVA/UVB rays… in short, they are the Swiss Army knives of the beauty industry.

Are they the same as tinted moisturisers? Definitely not. In fact, they fall into the category of cosmeceuticals, which combine makeup with serious skincare. That’s because BBs are often packed with potent skin ingredients like collagen-boosting peptides and pigment-busters. They also contain silicones, which are used in primers to make your skin seem smooth and refined.

How to use them? They tend to go on quite easily – no sponge, brush or massive blending required. Simply emulsify in the palm of your hands and massage into your skin in small circles.

How do they measure up? I tried the Maybelline BB and it felt quite nice – neither too dry nor too heavy. It spread and blended very easily, almost like a tinted moisturiser. The finish was dewy (which might not work well for very oily complexions) and my skin looks hydrated. Coverage was enough to even out the lighter freckles and unify my complexion but it’s not enough to completely hide away major blemishes (as evidenced by the monster on my skin). Skin also looked brighter and I did not need an illuminator.

So, are they worth it? Well! I am definitely not ditching my regular serum and moisturiser. But I like the included SPF, coverage level and ease of application. The BB is sure to become my go-to product for daily daywear, on-the-go touch-ups and travelling. It’s also a good nighttime or party option for those who want a light product or don’t have any significant coverage or blemish issues. However, I would definitely need a heavier foundation and concealer to tackle these.

The New Silk Route: How a Fabric Makes You More Beautiful

Once considered the gold standard for luxury textiles, silk is fast gaining a brand new identity – as the hautest new ingredient in foundations, perfumes, skincare and haircare products. From  Guerlain’s Lingerie de Peau foundation to Elemis’ Japanese Silk Booster Facial and Vidal Sassoon Silk Essence Hair Treatment, these mulberry-derived fibres are popping up in luxe goodies everywhere. But how exactly does a fabric work in beauty products?

In haircare, the filaments usually take the form of hydrolyzed silk proteins that are derived from degummed silk worm cocoons. These form a transparent film on the hair that increases the elasticity of your tresses, boosts shine, binds moisture and step up volume  – the perfect antidote for dry or damaged locks.

Skincare products call on silk proteins, which are a natural, water-soluble source of acid derived from liquid silk. These precious acids aid moisture absorption and help heal damaged or stressed complexions.

In a foundation, silk filaments are used to create a micro-mesh, which gives the pigments an elasticity that helps them bond and move with the skin. This allows the foundation to give lasting coverage.

Holy & holistic: Discovering Ila skincare

Yesterday, I chanced upon a divinely gorgeous brand called Ila, which felt absolutely luxuriously fabulously blissful against my skin while calling upon ‘vibrational energies’ to soothe the senses. Developed a handful of years back by Denise Leicester, a Brit who came to India and fell in love with it’s culture, traditions and flowers, it offers up a sensual medley of fragrant floral and plant extracts, natural mineral oils and Himalayan salt crystals. The word ‘Ila’ comes from the Sanskrit word for ‘earth’ and there is a sacred place in northern India at the confluence of the Sarasvati and Drishdvati rivers known as Ilayaspada, which is considered to be extremely holy.In keeping with it’s name, the brand is devoted to the ancient practises that respect the sanctity of Mother Earth while calling upon it’s healing energies. According to the founder, “Everything in our products comes from a plant or mineral – nothing else.” But the brand goes even beyond the merely organic – ensuring an exceptionally high degree of purity in every ingredient. All the products are entirely free of synthetic chemicals and are crafted by sourcing the finest ingredients directly from local producers who cultivate and harvest the raw ingredients in harmony with nature.

For example, the Rose Damascena from India (below), which forms a core ingredient in many of the signature products, comes from a family that has been growing and distilling roses for many generations according to a centuries-old methods. The water is drawn by solar energy, then mixed with petals in copper vats and heated by natural fire-fuel. The spent petals are fed to the cows, completing a cycle that begins and ends with nature. The end result is a distillate of Rose Otto with a depth, a richness of scent that is so potent, I can smell the fragrance and feel it’s silken touch a full 12 hours after washing the Body Balm for Feeding Skin and Senses off my skin!

Similarly, the Argan Oil from Morocco (below) is made by a womans’ co-operative whose skills have been passed on down the Berber generations. It’s crushed, filtered and cold-pressed in the way it always has been, using many hands and just a few simple mechanical aids. The brand owners eschew middle-men, choosing instead to travel and handpick the “purest sources” by themselves, which lays the foundations for fair trade. The reason? “The purer the source and the process, the purer ila’s products will be and the more suffused with the earth’s natural healing energy.”

The products themselves are artisanal and hand-blended in an environment of peace and purity, accompanied by the rhythm of energy and balance-imbuing chants, in the English countryside. This is to imbue the finished holistic products with all the pure vibrational energies of nature that work in consonance with the therapeutic ingredients “to improve natural beauty through the health and vitality of our skin, to increase well-being through the transforming effects of energy healing, and to connect to a greater sense of inner serenity.”

The products have garnered a number of awards and are available at premium outlets across the world (including the Four Seasons Spa in Mumbai, which also offers up terrific spa rituals based around the same,  for the benefit of Indian connoisseurs). Prices normally start at approximately Rs. 2,000 (or 35 British pounds, depending on which part of the world you are based).

Black magic: Givenchy Le Soin Noir Cream

In the bewitching world of hi-tech beauty, black often equals white, as is the case with Givenchy’s Le Soin Noir Cream. Alongwith its striking appearance, this rich black cream has an astounding effect on skin. And do not be intimidated by the bold hue – the cream simply melts into the skin, turning completely transparent, and leaves only stunning results (like diminishing fine lines, hydrating dry areas, tightening the skin and preventing premature ageing) in its wake.

It’s secret is a unique algae (called Skeletonema Costatum and now patented by Givenchy), which has phenomenal restorative powers that help repair the communication between all skin cells. The algae counter-acts the signs of ageing, leaving the skin firm, glowing and more even toned.