Because skintone is not a universal shade, Kiehl’s BB Cream comes in 3 shades!

by Paris B on · 32 comments

in BB Cream,Makeup,New on shelves,Product Reviews

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Paris B

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On May 2, 2013
Last modified:May 20, 2013


kiehls bb cream Because skintone is not a universal shade, Kiehls BB Cream comes in 3 shades!

Hot on the heels of the CC Creams come a new wave of BB Creams. We’re going to be seeing more of these pop up under the many different brands in the market, so let’s just say that BB Creams are here to stay. I can’t escape them either so I will be telling you about the different ones I come across from time to time. If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em you know icon razz Because skintone is not a universal shade, Kiehls BB Cream comes in 3 shades!

Today is the Kiehl’s Actively Correcting & Beautifying BB Cream which has received pretty good press so I have to confess I was quite interested in this one. The Kiehl’s BB Cream (as I’ll call it) is released as a part of their sunscreen range so if you can imagine, this is like a tinted version of the sunscreen. I believe there was a tinted moisturiser available (which was not available in Malaysia, I believe) but that’s been now discontinued. The only tinted item in the Kiehl’s arsenal will be this BB Cream. I played about with this sometime in December 2012 but have only now had a chance to trial run it properly.

I have to say that I liked the Kiehl’s UV Defence sunscreen. It was a little heavy so a common complaint was that it would turn oily on most people. I never quite found it very oily but that could be because I’m quite used to oily sunscreens. I was introduced to the Kiehl’s one after using La Roche Posay Anthelios and that one is much oilier (although I do still like it) so perhaps I’m not your best person to ask. Bearing that in mind, and the fact that most BB Creams do tend to have a slightly oilier texture, I was curious to see if this one would combine to be a disaster.

Happily, I’d like to report that it isn’t a disaster at all! In fact, I have to say that I do like the texture a lot. It does not oil up on me, and neither does it feel heavy or slip and slide around on my skin.

kiehls bb cream tube2 Because skintone is not a universal shade, Kiehls BB Cream comes in 3 shades!

The Kiehl’s BB Cream comes in 3 shades – Fair, Light and Natural – and this is something I appreciate in a bb cream. It is a fact that we do not all have the same skintone (If we did, cosmetics companies would go out of business!) so I can never understand brands that do not cater for different skintones and steadfastly insist that one tone can work for every skintone. Face it, it doesn’t.

That said, from recollection, the 3 shades available under the Kiehl’s BB Cream do tend to be for the light-medium skintoned. If you have very dark skin then you will still be hardpressed to find a BB Cream in your shade. I took a look at the international site and saw that their BB Cream comes in 4 shades.

I take the shade in Fair, which is a fair, slightly pink toned shade that blends well into my skintone. Here’s a swatch of the product straight from the tube.

kiehls bb cream swatch2 Because skintone is not a universal shade, Kiehls BB Cream comes in 3 shades!

On left is the swatch applied more heavily and on right, is the product blended. Fair blends right into my skintone. The other shade up in Light, from memory, has a touch more yellow tone.

In tube, it does look quite dark which belies the colour when applied on skin.

kiehls bb cream size Because skintone is not a universal shade, Kiehls BB Cream comes in 3 shades!

Packaging wise, it has the same packaging as that of the sunscreen, which is a flat, small, wide tube. This makes it very portable, but it also means that it is quite small. Considering the asking price of RM140/30ml tube I’d say its quite high priced, the same way the sunscreen is a bit too pricey even for me.

Kiehl’s says that this BB Cream will conceal imperfections with lightweight buildable coverage and correct skintone irregularities with the vitamin C ingredient in there, that helps clarify the skin. It also comes with a high SPF50 PA+++ rating for sun protection, and is paraben free, fragrance free, silicone free and mineral oil free. I think the latter is good news for those who may find that their skin is sensitive to those ingredients.

I however, dispute the claims of coverage. I have used this BB Cream off and on for nearly 2 months and I can tell you that I can never get it to go past being just “sheer coverage”. I would say in fact, that it doesn’t even cover much for me, even if I try to build it up. I’ll show you what I mean.

kiehls bb cream2 Because skintone is not a universal shade, Kiehls BB Cream comes in 3 shades!

On left, with bare skin, you can see the pigmentation on my cheekbones and some redness around my nose area, and blemish marks around my chin. Blergh! icon razz Because skintone is not a universal shade, Kiehls BB Cream comes in 3 shades! On the right, with a layer of the Kiehl’s BB Cream, the pigmentation marks is still there but you may notice that the tone is more even. The pink tones also help make skin look a little brighter. All these aren’t noticeable from a photo I’m afraid. Skin in person reflects better nuances than a photograph can ever approximate. I usually go out with this BB Cream on, a touch of blush on cheeks and a light gloss or tinted lip balm and brows. Looks as “natural” as I get.

This is what it does best, for me – even out the tone. So my skin looks even toned and a little radiant, as if I walked out the house without any makeup on, yet my pigmentation is still on show, which gives the same impression. That I didn’t bother to cover up icon wink Because skintone is not a universal shade, Kiehls BB Cream comes in 3 shades! So don’t get your hopes up.

This Kiehl’s BB Cream isn’t as thick or as opaque as many other BB Creams out there. This is why I prefer it to many Korean brands (which I generally do not go for). I do sometimes question the transparency and the need to even wear anything on skin if it isn’t going to conceal my imperfections but I get why I need it sometimes. For me, it just gives a slightly better appearance to my skin without the obvious “makeup look”. I do however, tend to use this only on weekends or if I’m on holiday. I can dab on some concealer to conceal, and apply some powder foundation over for better coverage. It works. But not if I want proper coverage.

kiehls bb cream tube Because skintone is not a universal shade, Kiehls BB Cream comes in 3 shades!

In the market now are the CC Creams which aim to correct colour and tone without making too many claims about coverage. In some ways, I feel there is an overlap in this area so perhaps this would have been better marketed as a CC Cream (Colour Correcting Cream) than a BB Cream (Blemish Balm Cream).

Monikers aside, I consider this a fairly good tinted sunscreen. The high sun protection can absolve you from wearing a separate sunscreen (although I always do so it doesn’t matter to me) and the tint is sufficient to absolve you from wearing foundation (if you have very good skin, or just want to even out your skintone without having to0 much coverage)

For an idea of shade, here are some shade comparisons and a quick comparison with some other BB Creams I have. As this is a Western style BB Cream I have only compared it to other Western brands. I do not use Korean BB Creams.

kiehls bb cream swatch Because skintone is not a universal shade, Kiehls BB Cream comes in 3 shades!

(1) Kiehl’s BB Cream in Fair (2) Bobbi Brown BB Cream Extra Light (3) Revlon Photoready BB Cream in Light (4) Diorsnow BB Creme in 010 Light (5) Garnier BB Cream (Asia version) [all links lead to reviews]

I found it interesting how the shades vary quite widely in the different BB creams I do use. They all work interestingly enough! You may notice that the Kiehl’s BB Cream and the Bobbi Brown BB Cream are the most similar in texture and tone although the Kiehl’s one in Fair is a bit pink compared to the Bobbi Brown in Extra Light. So, you may want to consider this when deciding.

The Revlon Photoready BB Cream in Light has more ochre tones as does the Diorsnow BB Creme which appears to be the “darkest”. The Dior also has the thickest texture but also the best coverage out of the 5 featured here. One of my faves, the Garnier BB Cream (Asia Version) also has a slightly thicker texture compared to the Kiehl’s, and a more neutral tone.

In a nutshell

The Kiehl’s BB Cream behaves rather like a tinted sunscreen and comes in 3 shades locally – Fair, Light and Natural. I take the shade Fair, which has slighty pink tones that gives the skin a bit of radiance. The texture is quite nice and it spreads easily. I also find that it does not make my skin oily through the day and the high sun protection factors is very impressive. However, to me, coverage is very very sheer. It will even out skintone, cover up a bit of redness but blemishes and pigmentation will still show on skin. If I want a more flawless look, I go for liquid foundation and a concealer. But for a grab and go weekend look, this works very well for me. The high price however will be a major factor to consider. This isn’t a bad product provided you don’t expect too much out of it, but at the asking price, it will be hard to convince people to buy this when they can buy a high quality liquid foundation for the same price, and get better coverage out of it.

Pros: Skintone is evened out well without looking thick and unnatural, Skin looks a touch more radiant, Light texture, Not oily and does not turn oily on skin

Cons: Pricey, Sheer coverage does not cover skin blemishes

Who will like this: Anyone who has good skin and only needs a little tone correction, Anyone who does not want to layer on too many products as this has high sun protection factor and a decent tint

Kiehl’s is usually very good at giving out samples and I believe there was a sampling exercise going on a few weeks ago for this BB Cream. I’d get a sample before buying just to see if you like the texture and the sheerness of the coverage. Although there is a money back guarantee now, a sample will save you the hassle of returns icon smile Because skintone is not a universal shade, Kiehls BB Cream comes in 3 shades!

Ingredients: Aqua (Water), Homosalate, Dicaprylyl Ether, Glycerin, Alcohol Denat., Octocrylene, Ethylhexyl Salicylate, Polyglyceryl-4 Isostearate, Ascorbyl Glucoside, Silica, Nylon-12, Disteardimonium Hectorite, Tribehenin, PEG-30 Dipolyhydroxstearate, Sodium Chloride, Phenoxyethanol, Disodium Stearoyl Glutamate, Adenosine, Aluminium Hydroxide. May contain: Ci 77891/Titanium Dioxide, Ci 77491, Ci 77492, Ci 77499/Iron Oxides F.I.L D54108/1

Have you tried the Kiehl’s BB Cream and do you like it? Are you still using any BB Creams?

I usually use my BB Creams only on weekends or when I’m on holiday and don’t need or want to put on full base makeup. I do use the ones with better coverage on days when I don’t want to wear liquid foundation. I personally treat BB Creams as foundation so perhaps I’m not making as much use of the multi-tasking qualities touted but I can’t compromise on my sunscreen!

Paris B

Kiehl’s Actively Correcting & Beautifying BB Cream comes in 3 shades – Fair, Light, Natural Price: RM140/30ml Availability: Kiehl’s stores and counters

Disclosure: Featured product was provided by PR for consideration. For posting guidelines please read my disclaimer.

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[ 32 comments… read them below or join the discussion ]

LeGeeque May 2, 2013 at 8:42 am

I’ve a sample of it and I’m about to purchase a full size, I liked it that much. Then, I realised I have so much foundations that I really shouldn’t. Like you, I treat BB creams as base makeup, not skincare. I actually found this BB cream to be a little dry on my parched skin. I might revisit this in summer.


Paris B May 3, 2013 at 5:34 pm

pish! We need more foundations! More! ;) I found this ok, hangs on better than some others I’ve tried but it must be said, our weather here might have something to do with it :D


Firn May 2, 2013 at 9:13 am

I tried the sample but it was too drying for me and the homosalate smell was too much! I am now on the La Roche-Posay Uvidea XL melt-in BB cream which is a dupe for my pricey and heavy dermatologist-prescribed tinted sunblock. They also do a less tinted melt-in suncream which has a beautiful texture too!


Paris B May 3, 2013 at 5:35 pm

Eee I wish we had La Roche Posay here! I saw the brand in a pharmacy overseas but they had it behind a glass cupboard and I didn’t know how to ask to see any items. I will have to check it out when I’m in Singapore :D I didn’t notice a smell but then unless its offensive to my nose I don’t usually notice it much :)


Lily May 2, 2013 at 9:54 am

I wanted to try the La Roche Posay Anthelios but if it’s oilier than Kiehl’s, then, I won’t bother. I’ll stick to my Shiseido :-) This BB cream sounds lovely and light! And it’s great that there’s shade selection. One shade fits all doesn’t really fit the bill, I’m afraid >_<


Paris B May 3, 2013 at 5:36 pm

Yeah, LRP is definitely heavier. My skin does like it though but I gave up on it since we don’t even get the brand here. I’m sticking to Shiseido too. Why mess with something that works ;)


synical May 2, 2013 at 10:24 am

Got a sample. Colour’s fine, I suppose, but it’s too greasy on me by itself unless I powder. And I notice that this one’s only for people with (relatively) blemish-free skin because of the skimpy coverage, so I’ll pass.

That, and I personally just refuse to pay 3 digits for BB cream.


Paris B May 3, 2013 at 5:37 pm

You nailed it – only for those with perfect skin because anyone who needs coverage need not apply! A bit disappointing on that front. I can make it work, but its definitely not for days when I want a better, smoother base. I just go for foundation then :)


Teri May 2, 2013 at 10:34 am

I received this as well, in the shade natural iirc. I do like it but it’s not my favourite out of the bb creams that I tried. It tends to get a bit oily on my skin so I really need to set it with powder. The high SPF is a big plus tho, I really appreciate that! ^^


Paris B May 3, 2013 at 5:38 pm

Yes! I love the high SPF too :D Useful for those who don’t like using SPF (yes, they do exist!) Like you, I like it, but am not in love with it. It works, but just barely and I’d rather use something that works better :D


shannen May 2, 2013 at 10:46 am

The high SPF is a plus. But it is far too sheer. Still my Korean ones gives better coverage. And the smell.. good thing it goes off in a while. And it is the most oily among all the bb cream I used. I got mine during the sampling promo. Bring any old BB cream bottle to get it. Used a few times, still not done with my small tube. Does not break me out either. But nor purchasing, I need better coverage.


Paris B May 3, 2013 at 5:40 pm

Funny, I didn’t notice the smell! I’m going to have to smell it again LOL I do think the Korean BB Creams are the more “all in one” products that offer better coverage. I generally don’t use them hence I can’t compare but I find the Western brands tend to make it almost as a tinted moisturiser or tinted sunscreen more than a traditional BB Cream. Guess it depends on what we want it for :) I have found the Diorsnow one quite close to the Korean style BB Creams, offering much better coverage, high SPF and skin treating ingredients. But that one has a pretty strong scent >.<


shannen May 7, 2013 at 11:03 am

I like garnier and sunplay too. Diorsnow is too white for me. Dont work. Yes, Dior smells too.. haha


liyeun May 2, 2013 at 12:17 pm

Thanks for this review. I was lookin around for bb creams cos I cant be maintaining my wallet if I kept buying chanel’s cc cream!!! Lol…. anyway how do u compare this with bobbi brown’s? Have u tried the one from clarins? I am so torn btween these three…..


Paris B May 3, 2013 at 5:51 pm

LOL you like the Chanel CC Cream, I remember? Between this and Bobbi Brown, I’d do Bobbi Brown because I think it offers a touch better coverage than the Kiehl’s. However, for best coverage, I’d go for the Dior one. As for the Clains, I’m in the process of trying it out. The colour is a bit dark for me, but texturewise, its not bad. Definitely better coverage than the Kiehl’s. So in terms of coverage it would be Clarins > Bobbi Brown > Kiehl’s :D


Tracy May 2, 2013 at 1:30 pm

I found La Roche Posay Anthelios oily too! I like the Bioderma one now a lot-it’s moisturizing and not greasy.
I still don’t get why Kiehl’s did this and discontinued their Tinted Moisturizer which had pretty good coverage. Luckily we still have some in the stores here so I got one to stock away!


Paris B May 3, 2013 at 5:52 pm

Ahhh you too Tracy?! But I didn’t! Ok, maybe I didn’t notice I was a walking oil slick eh? :D We don’t get Bioderma locally but I’m told most of the products from there are pretty good. We didn’t get the tinted moisturiser from Kiehl’s either you know. I find it so weird how these brands operate >.<


Sunny May 2, 2013 at 6:42 pm

Hey Paris, so sorry to hear it’s a meh for you but we can’t like it all!

I have this in Natural, though it is too beige and not yellow enough for my skin tone, so I can’t use it as makeup. I think it’s better to look at it as sunscreen with added benefit (I do like the SPF50 PA+++ part) rather than makeup. I’d wear it when I’m spending time outdoor in summer no doubt!


Paris B May 3, 2013 at 5:54 pm

Nope, we most certainly can’t like it all, Sunny – that’s what makes life so interesting right? :D I think if you use it as a base, then use a powder over it it would make a lovely base. I do like the texture even if others find it oily. I actually find it a bit dry LOL! I’d wear this mostly as a tint only too. Worked well for me playing in the theme park, but probably not for something more formal


lisa May 2, 2013 at 11:37 pm

I’m currently trying out the hada labo air bb cream. It’s quite good in this humid weather. I’m surprised that i’m quite liking it coz i can’t really use the brand’s skincare and hence quite skeptical. Yes…i am thinking bb cream and cc cream or whatsoever are here to stay.


Paris B May 3, 2013 at 5:55 pm

That’s another one on my list to get to. I have it on my dresser but haven’t gotten round to picking it up and putting it on my face! >.< I have heard that its really good so I’m quite excited to try it since I am quite happy with most products I’ve tried from the brand :D I think we just have to suck it up and acknowledge the existence of BB/CC Creams! :D


Jennifer May 4, 2013 at 10:55 am

I am a littled concerned over tinted and cream in texture products because I have oily skin (currently best controlled with Biore – UV Perfect Face Milk SPF 50) and I don’t touch up at work. So there feels like a layer of grime by the end of the day…or that’s just my perception. I still have a full bottle of L’oreal True Match foundation that I have not used. But this Kiehl’s one sounds like a promising product because of its sheer coverage lol. I have awful skin and yet not a pro in make up etc, anything sheer sounds good for now. Thanks for sharing the review and swatches comparison :)


Paris B May 10, 2013 at 11:17 am

Heh its pretty much just makeup, Jennifer so it’ll feel just like that ;) I know what you mean though about that layer of grime. On days when I happen to be outside and sweating all I want to do is crawl into a shower and wash everything off. When I reach home and clean off my makeup, it almost feels like my skin is heaving a sigh of relief “Ahh… finally, I can breathe!” :D Kiehl’s does samples so head on down and ask to try – they shouldn’t say no! :D


Jyoan May 4, 2013 at 11:28 pm

Quite attracted to Kiehl’s BB cream and the sunscreen. A bit disappointed at seeing alcohol in this. Big fan of Asian BB creams, so I guess, will probably skip this.


Paris B May 10, 2013 at 11:23 am

If you are used to Asian BB Creams, definitely skip this one because you’ll just be disappointed :)


Sarah May 13, 2013 at 11:41 am

For someone with skin tonw NC40-NC42 in MAC, which one do you think works better? The Bobbi Brown or the Khiels? I love both of the brands. Do you think Bobbi Brown will have more choice in colour matching for me? How about coverage differences? Thanks


Paris B May 13, 2013 at 3:37 pm

I think you’d be best to go for a liquid foundation as most BB Creams may be too light. That said, I have been told that Bobbi Brown may be releasing a deep shade (or they may already have a deeper shade) of BB Cream available so I’d suggest you look there. Kiehl’s will definitely be too light.


Esther Neo May 13, 2013 at 6:05 pm

I tried the sample in Natural ( am a Bobbi brown oil free compact natural shade) and the oil control is really good cos I survived a lunch session in a hawker centre and didn’t get a shiny nose. It does have a herbal smell but the coverage is really so so. But it is buildable and I piled up quite a lot and still look natural. Hooray for the SPF50!


Paris B May 15, 2013 at 3:55 pm

Yeah, the coverage for this one sucks >.< But I do like how it doesn’t slip off at the first opportunity and that SPF50 can’t be laughed at either!


Kris Li May 23, 2013 at 11:59 am

I first like it, so bought a full size. However after few days, I realised that it actually made my face look sick. Everytime I put it on, my colleagues would ask me if I’m unwell. So now I just out it to my drawer.


Paris B May 23, 2013 at 5:05 pm

Hi Kris, it sounds like it might be a shade problem. Have you tried taking it back to Kiehl’s and see if they can exchange it or maybe give you a refund? Kiehl’s has a return policy here so its worth checking :)


Chriss October 24, 2013 at 3:18 pm

I used Kiehls BB cream this summer and I found it quite
nice . The reason I bought it because by that time I was have a lot
of acne on my forehead and so many blackhead on my nose, also some
cover-up acne on my cheek. I went to Kiehls store and tell them my
problem (also I switched my skin care products to Kiehls by that
time) , and they said this BB cream doesn’t have any mineral oil
neither alcohol in it. I had no problem with it until now , the
fall/winter time. I found it would be bit dry after couple hours.
So I am looking for another product which is suitable for me in
winter. Kiehls is definitely good BB cream for summer! By the way
all my acne on my forehead went away after I switch my skincare
product into Kiehls non-oily products .


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