Mar 04, 2020 · 4 min read
You’ve probably heard of beauty balms — or BB creams — but what is a CC cream, anyway? The “CC” stands for “color-correcting,” and these creams are hybrid makeup-and-skincare products. Applied as the last step of a skincare routine (but before your makeup primer), these creams target skin discoloration to even out skin tone. For this post, I looked at the South Korean brands that originated these creams to find the best CC creams based on their ingredients.
CC stands for “color-correcting,” but not all CC creams work the same! Most of the time, a CC cream is designed to be both a makeup and skincare product, having features of a good moisturizer as well as coverage similar to a light-to-sheer foundation. And because “CC cream” is a marketing term, there might not be a huge difference between any given CC cream vs BB cream. That said, for the purpose of this review, I decided that any CC cream worth its salt needs to have at least one of the following features in order to be considered truly color-correcting.
Sun protection of SPF 30 or better — sun damage is a big culprit when it comes to hyperpigmentation! Keep in mind that you may need to lay the product on thick to achieve the marketed SPF.
Niacinamide as a key ingredient to help fade dark spots and hyperpigmentation over time.
Color theory. If a CC cream comes in a colorful tint (as opposed to a skin-colored one), it can help neutralize hyperpigmentation that may look red or purple.
If you’re opting for a CC cream that uses color theory: green cancels out redness on lighter skin tones, orange cancels out purple or blue on darker skin tones, and pink, peach, or salmon colors cancel out purple or blue on lighter skin tones.
Looking for more about skin-friendly k-beauty? Check out the best Korean BB creams.
In three color-neutralizing shades (pink, purple, and green), this CC cream has a mix of lightly hydrating and drying ingredients to help balance moisture on oily skin. It has light-to-sheer coverage, making it great to wear by itself or with foundation.
$55.00 via Sulwhasoo
A color-correcting tinted moisturizer with niacinamide to help fade hyperpigmentation over time. It’s packed with hydrating ingredients ceramides and hyaluronic acid while dimethicone keeps moisture locked in. Comes in one light-coverage shade (natural beige).
$26.00 via Mother Made
This CC cream goes on green and oxidizes to beige to neutralize redness and also contains niacinamide to help fade hyperpigmentation over time. Meanwhile, dimethicone and beeswax help to maintain skin hydration which can improve the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
$52.00 via Dr. Jart+
A non-comedogenic CC cream In three color-neutralizing shades (peach, purple, and green) to help neutralize hyperpigmentation from acne on your unique skin tone. The formula is focused on hydration to help bring out your inner glow and is best used when layered under a concealing product like a medium-coverage BB cream.
$14.00 via Innisfree
While there’s nothing stopping anyone of any gender from using this CC cream, it’s formulated with men’s skin in mind: an oil-controlling, lightly hydrating cream that goes on white and oxidizes to match your unique skin tone, making it easy to apply and wear by itself.
$16.90 via YesStyle
If you’re struggling with hyperpigmentation, breakouts, or other colorful skin woes — you’re not alone. A CC cream is a great place to start, but if over-the-counter solutions aren’t cutting it for you, you can give dermatologist-led skincare customization a try when you sign up for a free month of Curology (just pay $4.95 + tax to cover the cost of shipping and handling).
Product Links: Empowering you with knowledge is our top priority. Our reviews of other brands’ products in this post are not paid endorsements—but they do meet our medically fact-checked standards for ingredients (at the time of publication).