The introduction of CC creams closely followed the huge popularity in Europe of the Asian beauty trend for BB creams around 2011.
The exact difference between the two and the old-school tinted moisturiser is not easy to discern as they’re all essentially marketing terms, but the general consensus is that while no one can decide what BB stands for (is it beauty balm or blemish balm?), CC stands for colour correcting.
While BB creams offer a little coverage plus skincare benefits, CC creams are specifically designed to - temporarily - neutralise redness and increase radiance. They’re lighter than foundation, and therefore many people find them more comfortable to wear, but also have a fair level of coverage and many are buildable.
You will require a concealer as well to cover dark circles or blemishes. Many also offer skincare benefits – such as vitamins or hyaluronic acids – but be careful of their SPF promises: most people simply don’t apply enough of a make-up product to get the protection they need, so you should use a separate SPF.
We tested a range of CC creams, considering coverage, reduction of redness, skincare benefits, and how each wore throughout the day to find you the best buys on the market.
You can trust our independent reviews. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formed from real-world testing and expert advice. This revenue helps to fund journalism across The Independent.
IT Cosmetics your skin but better CC+ cream: £31, Cult Beauty
IT Cosmetics has a range of CC creams, with some containing highlighter or others without oil, but the original is our favourite. It gives great coverage with a smoothing, blurring finish and also contains collagen, peptides, niacin, hyaluronic acid and vitamins, so it’s a real skincare boost. It comes in a phenomenal 12 shades.
By Terry cellularose moisturising CC cream: £58, Space NK
By Terry’s CC Cream has replaced foundation as our daily go-to for medium coverage as it is buildable over areas with more redness, but has a thin, light texture. It feels silky smooth on the skin and reflects light all day long. It also has the brand’s signature rose scent.
Erborian CC creme: £17, Erborian
Erborian combines the Korean beauty kudos with French pharmacy luxury. Its CC cream is colour-adjusting magic: it’s milky white in the tube but, as you massage it into the skin, tiny beads of pigment burst and somehow adjust to your skin tone. It also includes vitamin E and anti-inflammatory tiger grass.
Clinique moisture surge CC cream: £30, Clinique
From Clinique’s ever-popular line of super-hydrators, this is thick and creamy, and keeps skin plump and soft throughout the day. The coverage is lighter than some we tried but does cover most redness. It comes in a fairly broad (for CC creams!) range of four shades.
Armani prima CC cream: £37, Armani
The Armani prima range is designed for those who find that, no matter how glowy your make-up looks at the start of the day, skin ends up looking dry and dull within hours. Combine the range’s staying power with a pearlescent, luminous fluid with natural, buildable coverage and you’re on to a winner. It comes in five shades.
Omorovicza complexion perfector: £60, Cult Beauty
As we’d expect from luxury skincare pros Omorovicza, the complexion perfector wins for skin-friendly benefits: microspheres of hyaluronic acid release moisture over time as you wear (helping counter the afternoon office dryness) and vitamin C brightens, smooths and protects from environmental factors. It has a light, gel-like texture and gives light coverage with a glowy finish.
Estee Lauder revitalising supreme CC creme: £45, John Lewis & Partners
Like Erborian’s cream, this is grey on first application and has beads of pigment that burst when applied to the skin and adjust to suit it. It’s designed for more mature skins, and is packed with hyaluronic acid that has an immediately plumping effect, along with enough coverage to cover all redness.
YSL top secrets CC creme: £32, YSL
YSL’s CC cream has a milky texture and comes in three shades that aren’t named after skin tone variations; rather the apricot, lavender and rose shades are designed to provide healthy glow to uneven tones, neutralise sallowness and liven up a dull complexion respectively. Choose according to your main concern, but our favourite is the brightening lavender.
Darphin CC cream: £35, Darphin
Botanical beauty brand Darphin’s CC cream had a more satin, matte finish than the rest we tried, making it a good choice for those with oily skin or who tend to shy away from dewy-finish foundations. It is a thick cream with good coverage and blurs out pores and fine lines well.
Bourjois 123 perfect CC cream: £9.99, Boots
This is the only lower-price CC cream we tried that matched up to other premium offerings. It claims to have three different kind of colour neutralisers: white for dark spots, apricot for dullness and green for redness. We’re not entirely sure how much difference the three make, but it certainly gives good coverage and radiance.
The verdict: CC creams
For great coverage and a smoothing, blurring finish to the skin, our favourite CC cream is by It Cosmetics. For more of a splurge, we love By Terry’s offering for the perfect combination of light texture, dewy finish and coverage.