Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Holika Holika Clearing Petit BB SPF 30 PA++ Cream Review and Swatches

BB Creams have been all the rage in Asia for the past decade or so, but are only now making inroads in the American and European markets.  If you read other beauty blogs, I'm sure you've heard a lot about them, but in the off-chance you don't know what they are: BB creams, short for "beauty balm" or "blemish balm", are supposed to be an all-in-one face product, serving as moisturizer, foundation, concealer, sunscreen, and treatment (many have whitening ingredients, or anti-aging treatments, or, as the case with this one, anti-acne ingredients).  Here are a couple of posts summarizing them from the Muse, who is an expert on Asian beauty and has been using BB creams for many years.

In the past few months, there have been several BB creams introduced in America, but they are all high-end (and therefore out of my price range) and tend to be closer to tinted moisturizers/primers than actual BB creams.  I wanted to try a legitimate BB cream, especially one targeted towards acne and oily skin, so I turned to eBay.  I'd read many positive reviews from other bloggers on Holika Holika brand of BB creams, and had heard from them of bello-girl, who sells a ton of Asian beauty, including many, many kinds of BB creams, from South Korea.  I ordered the Clearing BB Cream, which has tea tree oil, from her at the beginning of August for $9.99 with free shipping.  It took 2 and a half weeks to get here, on the early end of the 2 to 4 week window I'd been told to expect when I ordered, and she included a very nice note and free sample (I need to find that, hmmm).  Overall, it was a very positive eBay experience, and I highly recommend buying from her if you're wanting to try a real BB Cream for cheap (not that $10 is particularly cheap to me, but compared to other BB creams, it's a fraction of the price).
Holika Holika Clearing Petit BB SPF 30 PA++

BB Creams are designed for Korean and Japanese skin, and so usually only come in one or two light shades that do somewhat adjust to your skin tone, but not enough to venture far from the target skin depth.  If you're outside the NC/NW 15 to 30 range, it's really unlikely that most BB creams would work for you; hopefully, as they catch on, the shade ranges will be expanded to accomodate a range of skin tones and types.  I find that it's very nearly almost too dark for me, and may prove to actually be too dark in the winter when the minor "tan" I have fades; it's also very yellow-toned, so if you're really cool, it probably wouldn't work for you.

Ignoring those shortcomings for the time being, let me move on to performance.  At first, I treated the BB cream like a foundation and put on way too much.  It's unbelievable how spreadable and pigmented this stuff is.  I have pretty terrible skin, so it usually takes a fair amount of product for me to cover my imperfections to the level I want, but I find that a small dot of this covers my whole face, no problem.
this is enough to cover ~80% of my face; I always err on the side of too little, because it's amazing how far it goes
Here it is applied to my forearm; you can see it negates the effects of my sunburn (rafting trip took longer than expected, and my sunscreen proved insufficient!) and mutes the veins in my arms, especially compared to my other, non-BB creamed arm:
sunburned, beveined arm

I usually have to add a little bit more to bigger blemishes, but if you only have mildly grouchy skin, the initial thin layer should suffice just fine.  Because it takes so little, the tube will last me for months––definitely a bonus when it takes a few weeks to order and receive it!  I find it doesn't rub off or fade over the course of the day, and it never transfers to my clothing.  I haven't noticed a big improvement in the condition of my skin, so I think it falls a little short in that regard, but it also hasn't broken me out.

The biggest drawback is that it doesn't control my oilies nearly as well as my Meow foundation.  Topped with Mattify! Ultra and Meow Top Cat finishing powder, I get about 3 hours of wear before I really need to blot wearing this, whereas I can go 8+ hours in my Meow.  Using the Mary Kay mattifier extends the time before blotting by a couple of hours, but it's still not equal to the magic of Meow.  In spite of this, I've been wearing the BB cream pretty much exclusively for the past couple weeks, because I love how hassle- and mess-free it is to apply.  I'll be bringing it with me to DC, because even though I have to fit it in my quart-size ziplock baggie, I won't have to fit moisturizer and/or sunscreen in with it, and it's so much more convenient to apply than MMU is.  I picked up a mattifying compact from E.L.F. to carry around with me during the day for touch-ups, and I expect between that and the long-lastingness of the BB cream I should be able to survive full days without my face melting off.  I'll report back after my trip about whether that worked!

Holika Holika makes several other kinds of Petit BB creams, including Essential (with anti-aging and whitening ingredients), Moisture (with hyaluronic acid for moisturizing), and Watery (with green tea and glacial water for dry skin).  There are many other brands of BB creams, too; Missha, Etude House, and skin79 are all popular, but generally more expensive than HH.  A lot of other beauty bloggers have much more experience with BB creams than I do, and a quick Google search will give lots of informative posts and reviews.

$9.99 for 30 mL, available from bello-girl

Quality: 9.5
Effectiveness: 4.5 (works great as foundation, concealer, sunscreen, and moisturizer, but the acne treating claims fall a bit short)
Ease of Use: 5
Senses: 5 (unscented, as far as I can tell)
Pigmentation: 5
Duration: 4.25 (it wears all day, but only controls oil for a few hours)
Consistency: 5 (unlike anything I've used before, it's thick but spreads out so easily)
Price: 4.25 ($10 isn't cheap, per se, though compared to other brands, it sure looks it)
Value: 5+ (you need so little that the tube will last ages, and the fact that it works as a moisturizer, sunscreen, foundation, and concealer is just incredible for $10)
Packaging: No points given or taken here, but it is a squeeze tube, not a pump; that's not a problem for me, since I like being able to easily control how much comes out, but germaphobes may not be comfortable with the contamination possibility.
Grade: A

Overall, this is a fantastic product.  Unfortunately, you have to be fairly light and neutral or warm toned to wear it, so for many, it's not really feasible.  Plus, it's not available in the US, which makes getting ahold of it more of a hassle (thank God for eBay, seriously).  If you're looking for a way to streamline your routine and are within the general skin tone range, Holika Holika is a great way to enter into the BB cream world.

Have you tried any BB creams?  What do you think of the concept?
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