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What is CC Cream? Why You’ll Love This Multitasking Foundation Alternative

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There are makeup products, there are skincare products, and then there’s CC cream—a beauty essential that's a little bit of both. CC, which stands for “color corrector” or “color correction” creams, first appeared on shelves not long after BB creams (more on the difference between the two in a bit), and they’re increasingly taking the place of foundation in makeup bags everywhere. But what, exactly, makes them so beloved by makeup artists and at-home experts alike?

“CC creams are amazing because they are a true multitasker in your beauty arsenal,” says Los Angeles-based makeup artist Allie Renee. And she’s right: They do just about everything. “Generally speaking, CC creams color correct, are self-priming, offer buildable coverage, have additional skincare benefits, and much of the time contain an SPF,” explains Renee. Talk about an overachiever.

Continue reading below to find out everything there is to know about the miracle makeup essential. We've even highlighted 5 of the best CC creams for you to consider.


About the Expert:

Allie Renee is a Nashville and Los Angeles-based makeup artist who has worked with musicians and celebrity clientele such as Carly Rae Jepsen, Camila Mendes, and Brendon Urie. You can explore more of her work on her Instagram @alliereneemua.

When to Use CC Cream

“CC creams are made for anyone who wants a single complexion product that is easily applied, delivers skincare benefits, and provides beautiful coverage,” explains Renee. It can seamlessly conceal everything from an uneven skin tone to hyperpigmentation to blemishes. And depending on how much you build it up, it can be perfect for that “no-makeup” makeup look or for replacing your go-to daily foundation formula—especially if the CC cream comes with built-in SPF.

How to find a CC Cream That’s Right for You

Renee explains that CC cream formulas are often designed to tackle different skin concerns. "[These] can range from a hydration boost to helping with fine lines and anti-aging, to addressing acne concerns or even dark spot correction,” she says.

Once you've found one that suits your skin concern, you'll also want to check the finish of the CC cream. “Just like other complexion products, CC creams come in different finishes, so depending on your skin type or preference, you can choose whether you’d like a matte, natural, or radiant finish,” explains Renee.

How to Use CC Cream

Depending on how you typically apply your foundation, you may want to change things up with CC cream. “An easy application method for a CC cream is the dot and blend method,” recommends Renee.

Here's a super quick tutorial: “Starting with clean, moisturized skin, apply a few dots of the product onto the forehead, nose, chin, and cheeks. Then, starting in the center of the face, blend outward towards the hairline and jawline using clean fingers, a makeup sponge, or a makeup brush,” Renee explains.

So why dot-and-blend over other foundation techniques? Renee says, “This method will ensure you are color correcting and adding coverage in the center of the face, and sheering out the product at the edges of the face where less coverage is needed.”

What’s the difference between CC Cream and BB Cream?

Think of CC cream and BB cream as the fraternal twins of the makeup world: They’re deeply similar but with key differences. BB cream, which stands for “beauty balm” or “blemish balm,” is sort of like a supercharged tinted moisturizer: it offers sheer coverage with an added boost of skincare benefits—using it is almost like adding one last skin-perfecting step to your skincare routine.

Renee explains that the coverage of CC cream is often one step closer to what you might expect from a full coverage foundation. “CC creams are often sheerer in comparison to their foundation counterparts, but typically provide more coverage than a BB cream or tinted moisturizer.”

CC creams also contain pigments specifically designed to target discoloration, making them a particularly great pick for those who deal with redness caused by rosacea, blemishes, acne scars, uneven texture, hyperpigmentation, and melasma.

TLDR: If you want just a touch of coverage (enough to smooth the skin but still let those freckles shine though), reach for BB cream. If you want a little more coverage, but you still want your skin to look like skin, reach for a color-correcting cream.

The 5 Best CC Creams

Ready to give this multitasking makeup product a whirl? Here are five formulas we love—three of which have been featured in past Glam Bags.

1. Best Overall: IT COSMETICS CC+ Cream with SPF 50+

IT COSMETICS CC+ Cream with SPF 50+

This iconic CC cream formula tops just about every "best CC cream" list for a reason—well, several, actually. First off, it has one of the largest shade ranges we’ve seen for a CC cream (12 to be exact), making it easier than ever to find the perfect color for your skin tone. On top of that, the formula is packed with skin-loving ingredients like hydrating hyaluronic acid, plumping collagen, free radical-fighting antioxidants, and broad-spectrum SPF 50+.

“The color evens out any [hyper]pigmentation spots, and I insist it makes me look and feel prettier, younger, softer,” says one Ipster after trying this all-in-one product.

2. Best Brightening CC Cream: PURLISSE BEAUTY Youth Glow Vitamin C CC Cream SPF 50

PURLISSE BEAUTY Youth Glow Vitamin C CC Cream SPF 50

With a whopping 15% dose of vitamin C, this fave delivers a potent brightening boost. As it's also oil-free, so it's a great pick for those with oily skin. However, just because it's oil-free doesn't mean it's not hydrating; the formula offers a boost of hyaluronic acid, as well as a high dose of sun protection.

"This has amazing coverage for a CC cream," one Ipster writes. "My face looks even, not as red and my acne basically disappears. The shade works well on my skin tone."

3. Best CC Cream for Irritated Skin: HEY HONEY Trick & Treat CC² Cream

HEY HONEY Trick & Treat CC² Cream

If you're drawn to CC cream particularly for its ability to conceal redness, this formula may be especially helpful thanks to the addition of both honey and propolis, two natural anti-inflammatory ingredients that soothe and hydrate irritated skin. Between the skincare elements and the makeup elements, this is a guaranteed way to even out the skin tone in no time.

"Absolutely love this," one Ipster says. "Very blend-able and light in the skin."

4. Best Buildable CC Cream: THRIVE CAUSEMETICS Buildable Blur CC Cream™

THRIVE CAUSEMETICS Buildable Blur CC Cream™
Courtesy of THRIVE CAUSEMETICS

Looking for a CC cream that can easily take the place of your traditional foundation and concealer? Try this full coverage formula that comes with built-in blur effect technology to diffuse pores, fine lines, and skin imperfections. It also features a daily dose of sunscreen and comes in 18 different shades so you can be sure to find a perfect match.

5. Best for Mature Skin: JUICE BEAUTY Stem Cellular CC Cream SPF 30

JUICE BEAUTY Stem Cellular CC Cream SPF 30
Courtesy of JUICE BEAUTY

Looking for a CC cream designed to target signs of aging? This formula blends ultra-hydrating aloe vera with antioxidant-rich ingredients like fruit juices, coconut oil, and vitamin C to visibly minimize fine lines and wrinkles while also creating a smoother, more radiant complexion. Plus, with SPF 30, this CC cream will also protect against any future sun damage and signs of aging as well. We love a formula that's thinking about our future.

Want to discover all the best beauty products for your skin type? Take our Beauty Quiz now to get started. Already an Ipster? Refer your friends to earn points, which you can use toward products. Either way, don’t forget to check us out on Instagram and Twitter @IPSY.

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Article Last Updated November 3, 2021 12:00 AM