Beauty Balm – BB Cream

In my recent reading of InStyle magazine, it seemed like every third ad was dedicated to BB Cream. It took me at least two magazine’s worth of poring over it all to discover this is an acronym for Beauty Balm. After having been brain-washed by sufficient repetition, I began to find the BB concept compelling. I mean, check this out:

BB Cream in shiny package

BB Cream in shiny package

Experience 5 complexion-perfecting benefits in a single step. Youth Code BB Cream Illuminator instantly evens, illuminates, perfects, moisturizes and protects skin.

Illuminates! They’ve come so far with LEDs!

I decided it was clearly part of my job to figure out what this BB Cream was, and whether we are interested in it. Standing in the sultry and alluring lighting of my local Stop-N-Shop I reviewed the five or so BB Creams on offer, and picked the one with the shiny label (Youth Code BB Illuminator ~$15).

I’ve been using it for about two weeks. You put this stuff on a lot like you would a moisturizer/sunscreen. And it does, in fact, claim to do those two things. However, unlike my moisturizer and sunscreen combo, it is tinted. They didn’t have a “practically albino” setting, so I picked up the light version, which still looks unexpectedly dark in my hand.

I took probably 30 pictures this morning in the bathroom mirror (I even cleaned the mirror first!) so you could see the “before/after”. So even though they look identical due to lousy photography, I feel obliged to include them. Here’s the before:

BBB - Before BB

BBB – Before Beauty Balm

This is my morning face. I’m sorry. I’ve seen it look worse, too. Anyway, here’s how I go greet the world on weekends, work from home days, or any time before I started wearing makeup to work. (I actually don’t usually wear makeup to church. It’s funny – I dress up in order to be respectful and honor God, but I don’t wear makeup in order to be less vain and to be honest with God and myself. I get the feeling these two things somehow are not sympatico, but I can’t figure out which one to drop.)

Sometimes when I put on the beauty balm, I put on Regenerist eye cream first. I’m not really sure why, other than that it seems like the thing to do. It takes me a touch longer to put on the BB Cream than it would my good ol’ SPF/moisturizer, but not much. I’m not sure if the shine would wear off by the time I am done with my coffee, but I usually end up putting my powder on over that. When I have this cream on and the powder, I feel like my face has been wiped clean and is now a blank slate. This is the feeling that tempts one to wear a lot more makeup. Still, I only add mascara and eyebrows, and sometimes lip gloss. The end state is this:

After BB and makeup application

After BB and makeup application

Summary:
I like this cream. I think it actually does a lot of what it claims to do. While I feel slightly cakey and make up in the morning, by the time I get to work I feel like my skin looks better. I think the biggest difference is in the evening, when my skin does seem to have a more youthful radiance than it does when left to its own devices. I naturally have pretty decent skin, so this doesn’t make a huge difference to me, but if you have any blemishes/patches/things you don’t like about your skin, this might be really helpful to you. After two weeks of regular use, I have not broken out or noticed my skin seems damaged in any way, so it’s not just plastering over issues.

Use if:
– You have skin you aren’t happy with
– You are already using sunscreen, moisturizer and foundation in different steps
– You have a big public presentation, and there may be photography/unflattering lighting
– You are going to be very good about removing your makeup every night
– You want a solid base for more fun/exciting makeup

Do not use if:
– You don’t like feeling or looking “made up”
– You already have a great skin
– You are not going to use other makeup

To Sunscreen or not to Sunscreen

A few weeks ago, I wrote up a list of three things that a young woman interested in a technical career could do to plan for when that career requires looking professional. I recommended three things: start wearing sunscreen with moisturizer young, cut out sugary drinks while you still have an adolescent metabolism and keep your tattoos discreet.

Now, I knew I was courting controversy with these. Weight is the besetting body issue of our age. Tattoos are the ultimate form of self-expression. I steeled myself for controversy, prepared myself to both listen carefully and support my views, and clicked publish.

And lo! (Extremely mild) controversy ensued! But not about Mt. Dew or tramp stamps. It was about whether wearing sunscreen was a good idea or not. Huh. Not what I was expecting.

Unilateral Dermatoheliosis

Unilateral Dermatoheliosis: or why you should wear sunscreen even when you are inside all day

But my curiosity was piqued. One of the nice things about this topic (fashion & apparance) for me is that it’s easier to be open minded. I mean, do I really have a great reason for thinking I needed to wear sunscreen? There isthe dermatologic-industrial complex and their advertising budget. My mother-in-law. And my extremely desultory browsing of fashion magazines. I concede the possibility that I could be wrong in my advice.

Then I remembered that one of my geek-gaming friends was a dermatologist. I dropped her a line and asked if she’d be willing to go “on background” to educate me – and by extension you – on sunscreen: the whys, whens and hows. After a review of the AMA’s guidelines on MDs talking as MDs on blog platforms, we decided the easiest way to get information from her to you was an informal overview and review. So… all those standard disclaimers about “But talk about it with your own doctor” apply.

The objections to sunscreen raised in the previous post came in the following areas:
1) The chemicals in sunscreen might cause cancer
2) Especially for people in Northern climates, insufficient vitamin D might be produced using a rigorous sunscreen regimen
3) Most technical folks spend their working days indoor anyway and don’t get a lot of direct sun exposure

In discussions with my dermatologist friend, she mentioned a lot of people have been strongly influenced by The Environmental Working Group’s analysis of sunscreens. Their main points are:
1) Maybe sunscreen doesn’t prevent skin cancer, or might cause deadlier forms of cancer
2) Sunscreen blocks the body from synthesizing vitamin D
3) Sunscreens may use antioxidants, which can create free radicals, which can create damage to cells

There seem to be many variations on these themes in their online materials.

My friend and I had a fascinating 90 minute discussion on sunscreen. And I realized: I’m writing for an audience of technical women… women who are probably as interested as I am in the science of how sun and skin interact. So let’s talk about it!

Next up: UVA, UVB and the desk jockey