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The over 50s' guide to BB cream, CC cream and foundation

bb cream cc cream foundation

Don't know the difference between CC cream and BB cream? Not sure what coverage is right for you? When it comes to makeup, there's a fine line between a great base and a cake face. There seems to be a product for everything at the moment, which is great...if you know what to do with each of them. With this wealth of options on the market, we decided it was time to hone in on how to properly choose a makeup base that suits you.


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Foundation, BB cream and CC cream: which should I use? 

What is BB cream? What does it stand for? How does it differ from CC cream or foundation? When it comes to base makeup for older women, there are so many questions to be answered, after all we're all searching for 'the one' - that product that can transform our confidence. With a plethora of products available, it can be difficult to know what the right base for your skin is. If you're wanting to ace your base, a good place to start is by asking yourself these four questions before you start shopping: 

1. What do I want from a base product?  

Consider what you want from your base. Is your main concern balancing out skintone or are you wanting full coverage that easily hides all blemishes? The key to base is thinking about what you want most from a product, so list the properties you are looking for and prioritise them in order of how important they are to you. It's all about feeling confident, and once you know what you want most from a foundation or cream, you can start searching for the best product for you. 


2. What is my skin type? 

what skin type am I

Whether you have oily skin, dry skin or sensitive skin, different skin types require different formulations when it comes to makeup. There are so many products geared towards specific skin types, so it's important to ensure you get the base that gives you what you need. If you're unsure of your skin type, speak to a consultant at a makeup counter, and they will recommend products that have been designed to meet your skin needs. 


3. What shade am I? 

One of the drawbacks of BB creams and CC creams compared to foundation, is the lack of shades that some brands offer. With some ranges offering only a few shades, it's unsurprisingly impossible for some women to find a colour match. Fortunately, some of the latest offerings do have a wider range of shades, although creams typically don't have as much choice as foundation ranges, and tend to not have shades that acknowledge different undertones. It is worth visiting a makeup counter for a colour match if you are unsure about what shade to go for.


4. Is it long lasting? 

The million-dollar question - what is the point in investing in a product that you have to reapply several times a day? It's worth reading reviews online or even asking gransnetters on our forums if they have tried a product for an honest review that goes beyond the brand's marketing. Alternatively, if you want to try it out for yourself, request a sample instore or have the product tested on you at a makeup counter in the morning and see how it lasts all day before you decide whether to buy it. 

Now you've thought about the basics it's time to choose the right product for you... 

What is BB cream? 

BB cream is the best option for those lucky ladies who don't need much in the way of coverage. Standing for blemish balm, or sometimes beauty balm, BB creams contain several products in one, including moisturiser, foundation and often SPF - cutting down the number of products you need to use beforehand. Its light texture gives a natural look, and it often contains antioxidants that protect and nourish skin, while working to enhance its appearance. If you're in the market for a sheer, skin-enhancing product, it's a great option. 

It's best to avoid BB creams if you have noticeable blemishes that you'd like to cover up, or if you prefer a matte finish, due to its lighter coverage. One of the largest disadvantages of BB creams is the limited shade choice offered, although some brands do fortunately offer more shades than others - although they do tend to be the pricier makes! 

Best BB creams

best bb creams

  • Garnier's BB Cream (£4.89) is specifically geared towards older skin, reducing the appearance of wrinkles, whilst simultaneously working hard to moisturise skin and offer a light coverage.
  • A little more on the expensive end on the scale, is the Bobbi Brown BB Cream (£29.50). With SPF 35, its multitasking formula protects and perfects skin, and is available in a range of different shades.
  • Rimmel has a very affordable but good quality 9-in-1 BB cream (£6.99), that claims to smoothe skin, while giving a natural coverage.
  • Finally, Smashbox Camera Ready BB cream (£27), improves skin's moisture within four weeks, and can be used as a primer under foundation if you prefer a fuller coverage. 


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What is CC cream?

CC creams are complexion correctors, designed to even out skintone. Similar to BB creams, they are lighter than foundation, but most CC creams tend to offer more coverage than a BB cream. If you have sallow skin, age spots or hyperpigmentation marks, a CC cream will cover them without looking too heavy. They often have a soft texture and will even out redness and blotchiness. If your main skin concern is to do with colour correction, then CC creams are your best option. 

Best CC creams

best cc creams

When to go for foundation

The most familiar of the bases, foundation is often the best option, particularly if you want a fuller coverage. As foundation is so popular, there are so many products available, tailored to different requirements. Where BB creams and CC creams tend to have a 'one-fits-all' approach, with the exception of some products, foundation comes in a wider range of shades, that take account of undertones, and are designed for different skin types. Whether you want a dewy, glowy look or a velvety matte finish, there are options to suit your needs. 

It's just a case of finding the right one for your skin type and knowing how to apply it well. Whether you're going to a fancy do, are likely to be snapped in lots of photographs, or are just having a rough patch when it comes to your skin, a full coverage foundation is the secret to even and all-over cover. Here are some of our favourites...

Best foundations

best foundation for older women

Best foundation for oily skin 

Best foundation for dry skin

Best foundation for normal skin


Best skincare buys for over 50s

We hate to say it, but whichever product you use, it can only do so much if you haven't paid proper attention to your skin beforehand. Remember to cleanse, exfoliate and moisturise and you'll find that make-up sits better on your skin. Here are our selection of best buys to enhance your base. 

skincare for mature skin

Cleanse - Clarins One-Step Gentle Exfoliating Cleanser is a double-duty product that removes make-up and gently exfoliates at the same time (plus it smells lovely). 

Moisturise - Clinique Pep-Start Hydroblur Moisturiser acts as a primer for make-up, blurs imperfections and will give you a matte finish.

Prime - If you're not using a moisturiser like the above, a separate primer will smooth skin and create a surface for make-up to glide and cling onto. Treat yourself to Smashbox's Photo Finish Foundation Primer.

Use a night cream - Overnight is a key time for rejuvenating skin, so give it a little help with Garnier Anti Ageing Night Cream. It works hard to minimise the signs of ageing, so skin feels more supple and soft. 


Top tips for applying foundation

  • Blend right into your hairline, around your ears and down your neck to avoid a tell-tale makeup tidal wave.
  • For full coverage, try a foundation brush or buffing brush for a more natural finish. Buff the product into the skin in circular motions for an airbrushed effect.
  • For BB and CC creams, a beauty blender is a great tool to ensure even application. Beauty blenders also work well with foundation. 
  • Choose the right shade for you. Don't match your foundation to the colour of your hand! Ideally, test the colour on your jawline - you're looking for the closest match to your normal skin colour.

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