What are the Differences Between a BB cream, CC, DD, and EE Cream? And Which Do You Actually Need?

For years now, we have been touting the benefits of all-in-one foundation, moisturizer, and sunscreen. But what started out so innocently as a BB cream has now evolved into a revolution, with BB, CC, DD, and EE creams entering the market. As if makeup shopping wasn’t difficult enough, now it sounds like bra shopping in an alternate universe!

Luckily, I’ve spent time researching each cream, and I’m happy to tell you which I quite frankly think are worth the money and which are not!


A BB cream is a non-brightening primer, foundation, moisturizer, SPF and anti-aging cream.

BB creams are typically laden with hydrators to create a dewy finish, which are not so great for acne-prone or oily skin.

Unfortunately, BB creams typically are formulated to be make-up products.  Yes, you will reap some benefits with regular use over time.  But I’d take 10% vitamin C in a serum over 10% vitamin C in a BB cream any day, simply because an expertly-crafted serum is formulated to maximally deliver ingredients within the skin. Delivery systems matter.  Ingredients like propylene glycol, butylene glycol, and other alcohols, as well as advanced delivery systems like liposomes, are commonly used to increase the skin’s absorption of ingredients.

The BB cream is meant to cover somewhat, and to deliver somewhat. You generally don’t find specialized delivery systems in a BB Cream.

That said, if you do want to try a BB Cream, I like Dr Jart. Though it comes in a limited number of shades, it has a great consistency, glides on well across the skin, and hydrates for hours.


A CC cream is a color correcting cream, meaning that it is a brightening primer, foundation, moisturizer, SPF and anti-aging cream.

Though it is called “color correcting,” I recommend most CC creams only for those with oily or acne-prone skin, not age spots or hyperpigmentation.

This is because you will find many CC creams have no more brightening or lightening ingredients than many BB creams. Instead, the major difference is that CC creams, unlike BB creams, are typically oil-free. CC creams are generally not suitable for dry skin types.

Like BB creams, CC creams are still passed over in my book for cogent ingredients in a specialized delivery system. This is not because I manufacture my own vitamin C serum — trust me, I could have a CC cream manufactured easily! Rather, it is because the benefits come from optimized concentrations of ingredients AND the right delivery system.

That said, if you want to try a CC cream, I recommend Peter Thomas Roth CC Cream. It has a high concentration of vitamin C that is significant enough to produce results with consistent use over several months, and that’s good enough in my book.


Called both a “daily defense” and less commonly a “dynamic do all”, the DD Cream is generally even lighter in texture than the CC cream. Like the BB cream and the CC cream, the DD cream generally has brightening and anti-aging ingredients. But because of the “defense” aspect, you rarely find a DD cream without sunscreen.

Are DD creams really different enough from treatment sunscreens, BB creams, and CC creams to warrant their own category? In my opinion, the answer is “no.” It seems to me that what appeared to be the trend of creating the next cream in the alphabet was more important to marketers at the time than actually creating a product that was truly novel.

But I digress. Though not novel, brightening and anti-aging ingredients together with sunscreen are not something I want to complain about, even if they are labeled a bit nonsensically. My favorite is DERMADoctor DD Cream. This cream goes on light, dries well, and has an SPF of 30. I don’t buy that it grants 15 benefits as claimed, however; I just like it as a lightweight sunscreen with some antioxidant benefits!


I’ve only found one EE cream, but I really like it. It is a novel enough product that I’ll accept the name! (But if someone comes out with an FF cream, I reserve the right to knock it down, no matter how good it is!)

From the Jojoba Company, there is a clever rinse-off exfoliant, Jojoba Bead & Bamboo Facial Exfoliant EE Cream. It is a combination of a facial and a exfoliant, leaving the skin soft like a facial, but smooth, like after an exfoliant.

The facial aspect is owed to jojoba, which is proven in studies to deeply cleanse, renew and rebalance skin. Jojoba is a powerful antioxidant, which naturally contains vitamins A, D & E and omega 6 and 9 essential fatty acids.

Jojoba also carries other actives deep into skin, so it acts as its own delivery system. Other moisturizing facial ingredients include Shea butter, vitamin E, and ivory clay.

The exfoliating aspect includes Bamboo, toning witch hazel, and skin-refining salicylic acid.


Despite what the letters may sound like, most of these repetitive alphabet creams are foundations with similar benefits. BB creams are best for dry to normal skin types. CC creams are best for oily skin types. DD creams are suitable for dry skin when used with a moisturizer underneath, and suitable for oily skin when used alone.

EE cream, on the other hand, is a dual facial and exfoliant — a rinse-off product that is different from the rest. I like it a lot, and highly recommend using it to keep skin hydrated and smooth!

Looking for the best skin care? FutureDerm is committed to having its customers find — and create — the best skin care for their individual skin type, concern, and based on your ingredient preferences. Learn more by visiting the FutureDerm shop