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Clinique Age Defense BB Cream SPF 30 Review

As their name implies, beauty balms are designed to make skin appear dewier, to smooth the skin’s surface and boost overall radiance via a combination of nourishing ingredients, light-reflecting particles, and pigments that deliver enough coverage to conceal minor imperfections. Still, they’re meant to be used atop moisturizers, either to achieve a healthy, natural-looking glow to otherwise bare skin or to prime the visage before the application of foundation and/or powder. If dry shampoos and lip tints were  among the buzzwords of the last two years, 2012 is shaping out to be the year of the BB cream, with brands like Dr. Jart+, Estée Lauder, Dior, and Clinique introducing new formulas, all inspired by the luxurious balms popularized by Korean soap opera actresses.

Always a leader in superior skin care products, Clinique recently unveiled a third shade of its Clinique Age Defense BB Cream SPF 30 ($37 at Clinique.com), a multi-purpose product that promises to hydrate, tighten, and smooth skin, while reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles and protecting the complexion from UV exposure and free radical damage. Addressing the growing popularity of BB Creams, the Shade 03 of the Clinique Age Defense BB Cream Broad Spectrum SPF 30 targets women with fair to medium complexions and golden undertones. The new shade will definitely prove suitable for many women (particularly given that most of the world’s population has warmer undertones as opposed to cool, pink undertones), but it’s still a rather fair color that will be useless to many darker-skinned Latina, African-American, and Middle Eastern women, proving that shade offerings need to be further expanded if skincare and makeup brands truly believe in the marketability of BB creams.

In terms of the technology, all of the Clinique Age Defense BB Cream shades contain the following ingredients: caffeine to soothe any topical irritations and tighten the skin; vitamin E to soften the skin and protect it from free radicals that could break down collagen production and cause hyperpigmentation; seaweed extract to regulate oil production, a combination of trehalose, carboxylic acid and sodium hyarulonate to moisturize the skin; mica and iron oxide pigments to deliver concealer-worthy coverage, along with silica particles to reflect light and yield that oh-so-elusive “healthy glow;” and a combination of chemical and physical sunscreens to deliver broad spectrum protection from the sun’s rays.

Theoretically, then, the Clinique Age Defense BB Cream should be a prodigy product, enhancing the skin’s appearance while delivering lightweight coverage for the most natural-looking effect. In reality, however, the product fell short of my expectations.

Because I happen to be a rather light-skinned Boricua woman, the Shade 03 did prove to be a match for my skin tone, so I did have the chance to fully experience the product and judge its performance. Overall, I was rather disappointed by this BB cream — which was all the more surprising and saddening given that my experiences with Clinique’s skin care offerings have always been so positive (from the Even Better collection to the Moisture Surge and Repairwear lines). For one, the cream was way too thick — even richer and more viscous than some of my tinted moisturizes — which made the application much less comfortable and enjoyable and the coverage considerably less natural and believable. I also found that the Clinique Age Defense BB Cream has the tendency to smear throughout the day and to migrate into any fine lines or crevices (after a day’s wear, the expression lines in my forehead looked like trench dugouts, teeming with the pigmented substance and therefore appearing more visible than had my skin been completely bare). On hot and humid days, it seemed to adhere even less effectively so that the slightest amount of perspiration (or contact with any kind of water) completely disturbed the appearance of my complexion, leaving my skin looking patchy and blotchy. Worst of all, the BB Cream made my skin look greasy and shiny — an entirely new problem for me given that my skin is actually perpetually dehydrated.

When layered underneath foundation and a mattifying powder, I did find that my skin looked healthier than it would had I skipped this estra step of applying the BB Cream, but using it in lieu of foundation or powder was simply not an option.

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