What’s a CC cream? (and DD, and EE…)

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All the way back in April 2012, I wrote a post on BB creams. Fast forward almost two and a half years and the “alphabet cream” market has exploded! What does it all mean?

BB CC DD EE Creams

What’s a BB cream again?

BB stands for beauty balm, blemish balm or beblesh balm. They’re multipurpose products that provide colour and coverage, as well as additional skincare benefits – almost all BB creams will contain sun protection and moisturisers. Some will also contain anti-acne, anti-inflammatory, anti-ageing or pigmentation-fading ingredients. Essentially, they’re moisturising light foundations combined with skincare treatment and a sunscreen.

Unless they’re actually a hair product.

Alright, I get it… then what’s a CC cream?

CC stands for colour/complexion control/corrector. These get rid of spots immediately by covering them up, or by being a different colour from your skin so it can correct undertones (e.g. purple to correct yellow tones). A lot of CC creams are meant to be used as a base for foundation, but many can also be used as sheer foundation. Some CC creams are full coverage.

OK then, how about DD creams?

DD stands for daily defense or dynamic do-all or daily detox, amongst other things. They tend to focus on anti-ageing skincare.

EE cream?

Here’s where it starts to get really weird. No one on the EE bandwagon can agree what an EE cream should be – there’s “extra exfoliating”, which are wash-off cleansers; there’s “energy enhancing”, which is a night cream; there’s “elemental emulsion” which is a regular moisturiser; and there’s “enlighten even effect” which is one of the regular foundation + skincare alphabet creams.

I’m so confused. What’s the point of it all then?
The products themselves are great if you want to save time or money or shelf space, but:

(a) The “BB” “CC” “DD” “EE” labels don’t mean anything much anymore, except that it’s multipurpose make-up and skincare. (probably).

(b) You should approach “alphabet creams” as you would any other foundation – don’t assume they’re anything like each other just because of the label. Look up reviews on the individual products and test them yourself!

(c) They tend to come in less shades than regular foundations, which is a bit of a pain, but if you find a good formula that suits you then you’re golden.

(d) Keep in mind that it’s hard to make a formula that does everything really well (think about 2-in-1 shampoo/conditioners, for example) – the tradeoff for convenience is that some of the components might not be as effective as if you layered a bunch of products.

My experience with CC creams so far

I’ve had a few BB creams on high rotation (mainly Skin79 Pink Label and Maybelline Dream Pure BB), so I thought it was high time to try some CC creams. Here are 3 I trialled:

ulta3 CC cream – I was really excited to see ulta3 come out with more make-up since their nail polish is so good, but unfortunately the scent of this was too strong for me to handle. It applies very smoothly and it’s SPF 30 which is great, but it only comes in two shades (light-medium and medium-dark).

Essence All-in-One CC cream – This is also SPF30, and only seems to come in one shade, Natural. Unfortunately this shade is just a little too pink for my skin, although it does a great job of correcting my entire face to that shade of a-bit-too-pink. The finish is even and slightly dewy. Not a great fit for yellow-toned skin like mine, but worth a go for people with pinker skin.

Arbonne Intelligence CC cream – This one comes in 4 shades, more than the average alphabet cream. It’s amazing as a concealer – I applied very light smudges to some of the dark acne scars on my face and they disappeared immediately! Over my whole face though, Fair is a bit too pink, and I think I would’ve done better with Light instead. This is my favourite of the CC creams I’ve tried so far, but there’s still that annoying issue with colour matching and small shade range that plagues alphabet creams.

All in all, due to the limited options for shades with alphabet creams, I’m probably best off sticking to Asian brands which are more likely to cater for my skintone. 


Which of the alphabet creams have you tried? Which is your favourite?

The products in this post were provided for editorial consideration, which did not affect my opinion. For more information, see Disclosure Policy.

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