Beauty Balms are the trendy new beauty products on the US market, and it seems as though every women's magazine has praised these all-in-one items for one thing or another.
As the story goes, Beauty Balms originated in Germany a few decades ago when a dermatologist saw a need for a product that would help soothe and protect the skin of his patients that had recently undergone facial rejuvenation surgeries and/or treatments that had left their skin sensitive, tender and/or scarred. So a balm was created that provided both hydration and sunscreen to sensitive skin, as well as adding a tint of color to the face that would mask any tell-tell effects of procedures, should the patient choose to go out in public.
Years later, Korean actresses found the product and, upon realizing the multifunctional, positive effects of using such a cream, became the first public spokespeople that promoted the products. These Korean actresses, always being seen with flawless complexions, then spawned a nationwide fervor for beauty balms that spread throughout Asia, and now has come to the United States.
This was a brief "nutshell" description, so more in-depth behind-the-scenes information can still be found. One of the most comprehensive articles I found on Beauty Balms can be found HERE.
In the United States, Beauty Balms are now marketed as the all-in-one products that will eliminate the need for separate primers, foundations, concealers and sunblocks. This claim intrigued me, and I wanted to try out the formulas of various brands that offered BB creams. Since so many brands have decided to ride the wave of popularity that Beauty Balms have enjoyed, trying to find the perfect Beauty Balm is akin to finding the perfect foundation...it's going to take some digging. A brief list of the brands that have released Beauty Balms include: Dior, Too Faced Cosmetics, Maybelline, Revlon, Dr. Jart, Boscia, Lancome, Dr. Brant, Sarah McNamara, Clinique and Smashbox. This is not an exhaustive list. There are several more foreign brands that are available online or overseas.
The four brands that I chose to swatch and test out are, from left to right: Sarah McNamara's Miracle Skin Transformer, Smashbox's Camera Ready BB Cream, Dr. Jart's Water Fuse Beauty Balm and Dr. Jart's Premium Beauty Balm. The first picture is of the BB creams outside, in a shaded area. The second is in direct sunlight. Seems pretty self-evident, but there's always that one person...
Each swatch was applied straight down the arm, but toward the bottom I patted each product out a bit to give an idea of how much pigment was left when it was sheered into the skin, as would be done when applied to the face.
Sarah McNamara's Miracle Skin Transformer is the softest, most luxurious anything I've ever put on my skin. It felt like creamy silk, like...I will never be able to accurately describe the feeling without sounding like a fruitloop. Simply put, it feels like clouds on your skin. But...it didn't cover anything. This product may hydrate and leave you feeling soft and pampered, but it left out the foundation and concealer element of the BB cream's appeal. There are a few different pigments available for a variety of skintones. The scent of sunscreen is also present, but isn't a deterrent. The price is $42 for a 1.7 ounce tube.
Smashbox's Camera Ready BB Cream seems to defy gravity, as the product itself gives the impression that you are squirting a heaping blob of moussey cream into your hands, but it sheers out into a soft, lightweight cream foundation. Unlike Sarah McNamara's product, the Camera Ready BB Cream does offer enough coverage to function as a foundation, as the pigment it provides is somewhere between that of a tinted moisturizer and of a liquid foundation. There is a slight sheen to it that gives off a dewy vibe. There are four colors available, and surprisingly, they match most skintones quite well. Sunscreen scent is also present, but isn't a deterrent. The price is $39 for a 1 ounce tube.
Dr. Jart's Water Fuse Beauty Balm is very hydrating and super dewy. Unlike Smashbox's formula, though, the sheen that it gives off can quickly make skin go from looking refreshed to just plain oily. Sunscreen scent is present, but it isn't a deterrent. Ultimately though, there wasn't enough coverage in this formula to consider it to be anything more than a hydrating balm. It also only comes in one color, and that color runs very light. If I had liked the formula more, the color would have been perfect for me. The price is $30 for a 1 ounce tube.
Dr. Jart's Premium Beauty Balm is less water-based than his Water Fuse Beauty Balm, which takes away the issue of inducing the look of oily skin, but the formula is still just as emollient as the Water Fuse formula. The best part about the Premium Beauty Balm is that more pigment has been added to it, thereby guaranteeing more coverage. I really liked this formula as it seemed to perfectly do everything that Beauty Balms were claiming to do for the skin: prime, conceal, even out and provide SPF protection. The sunscreen scent is the same as it is in the Water Fuse formula. The price is $39 for a 1.4 ounce tube.
Overall, for me, the winners were Dr. Jart's Premium Beauty Balm and Smashbox's Camera Ready BB Cream for the way they delivered on their claims to offer sun protection, radiance and coverage in lightweight, soft formulas.