Kiehl’s Skin Tone Correcting & Beautifying BB Cream SPF 50 Review
Last year, I rounded up some of the most popular BB Creams in the market and broke down the benefits and disadvantages of each but, since then, even more brands have jumped on the BB bandwagon, with Wei, Lancôme, Ole Henriksen, Origins, and Too Faced among them. Recently, Kiehl’s made its own foray into the BB Cream realm, developing a formula meant to deliver instant gratification by concealing any imperfections, hydrating skin, and reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles while also working on a long-term plan to reduce skin discolorations and obliterate lingering dark spots. Though billed as a beauty balm, then, the Kiehl’s Skin Tone Correcting & Beautifying BB Cream SPF 50 ($37 at Kiehls.com) is more of a CC cream since its ultimate goal is complexion correction which is, after all, the term to which the letters “CC” allude.
To achieve these long-term goals of combatting hyperpigmentation, the Kiehl’s Skin Tone Correcting & Beautifying BB Cream incorporates Vitamin C, which is known to not only boost radiance but also decrease melanin production and correct existing cases of discoloration. But infusing Vitamin C into a BB cream is more challenging than one might think. First, Vitamin C is a rather unstable molecule, so sensitive to heat, air, water and alkali that it begins to oxidize almost immediately upon contact. Second, it’s a water-soluble molecule, which makes it difficult to mix with pigments which tend to function more efficiently in oil-based formulas. To tackle these challenges, the chemists at Kiehl’s spent two years perfecting the formula for this BB cream, ultimately developing a formula that combines amino acid-coated natural mineral pigments, glycerin (a natural humectant that ensures long-lasting hydration), Vitamin C, and a combination of UV filters: homosolate, a UVB absorber that protects against sunburn; octocrylene, which protects the skin against both UVB and short UVA rays; and titanium dioxide, a mineral sunscreen that blocks UVA and UVB rays.
How exactly did they accomplish this feat? Well, the Kiehl’s team is holding that secret close to its vest — and with good reason. After all, it’s hard enough to develop a stable form of Vitamin C to incorporate into a skincare product but mixing it with pigments and sunscreens is an entirely more challenging ordeal. From a science standpoint, then, this BB cream constitutes a stellar breakthrough.
But, as consumers, we’re less concerned with the behind-the-curtains operations and more focused on how products perform. And, in this realm, the Kiehl’s Skin Tone Correcting & Beautifying BB cream doesn’t quite fare as well. My primary frustration with this product was that it didn’t offer nearly enough coverage. Even the smallest blemish was still plainly visible after smoothing on the BB cream, requiring me to apply foundation and/or powder to completely camouflage the area. Seeing as part of the allure of BB creams is that they eliminate the need for heavier makeup during hot and humid days, this lack of coverage was a huge drawback. The tonality of the pigments was also a bit off the mark, giving my skin a bit of a yellowish tone that made me feel like I resembled someone with a subtle case of jaundice. Another disappointment: this BB cream didn’t quite give my complexion the radiance boost, the dewy luminosity, I so covet from a beauty balm.
Now, don’t get me wrong: it’s not a bad BB cream by any means. It’s great on sensitive skin and doesn’t include any allergens, artificial fragrances, or mineral oils that could trigger adverse reactions. It also doesn’t look cake-y on skin, nor does it leave your complexion looking oily and greasy. And it does, in fact, provide all-day hydration. But, given the bar of excellence that Kiehl’s has established over the years, I expected more from their BB cream and was therefore disappointed when I didn’t have the absolute best experience. As for the BB cream’s long-term benefits, I can’t say I’ve seen a drastic change in the evenness of my skin tone (sans makeup, that is), but this sort of effect requires steady and repeated use for long intervals of time.
As for my gripes regarding the BB cream’s performance, I did find a way to make it work for me, a means through which to achieve both the coverage and the luminosity I so desired: I blended the Kiehl’s Skin Tone Correcting & Beautifying BB Cream with the Dr Jart+ Water Fuse Beauty Balm and, together, they gave me both the youthful radiance and the coverage I wanted, not to mention long-lasting hydration and broad spectrum UV protection. As it turns out, it’s a winning combo!