Since BB cream shade ranges are notoriously terrible, folks with pale-to-light skin often have trouble finding a shade that doesn't make them look like they're wearing a clay mask. So the best BB creams for pale skin, like the five listed ahead, come from brands that carry at least two light shades with options for both warm and cool undertones. And like all good BB creams, they're enriched with a blend of lightweight moisturizing ingredients; most offer sun protection, too.
A suitable shade is probably your first concern when you’re shopping for BB creams, but it doesn't have to be the last. You can also cater your search based on the amount of coverage, type of finish, and any additional skin care benefits you want. For example, you'll find one ahead that contains acne-fighting salicylic acid, and another with skin-resurfacing retinol. For the most part, though, all of the products featured here should work nicely on dry skin, since BB creams are inherently moisturizing. If you do opt for one of the two BB creams that don’t offer sun protection, don’t forget to apply your daily SPF (you can find a list of the best sunscreens for pale skin, here).
With that in mind, scroll on to shop five of the best BB creams on the market right now — all available in shades that are perfect for pale skin.
1. The Cult Favorite
Japanese or Korean BB creams are a smart place to start your search, since their shade ranges tend to cater specifically to pale skin. Among the best Asian BB creams out there, a huge number of beauty lovers on Reddit (home of the most impassioned/obsessive of beauty lovers) count MISSHA BB cream as their holy grail. This K-beauty staple provides a bit more coverage than other BB creams out there, but it imparts the dewy, skin-like finish you’re presumably going for. It works for all skin types, too: The formula is infused with tons of moisturizing ingredients, like jojoba oil, rosehip oil, hyaluronic acid, and ceramides — all great for dry skin — but silicones help mattify excess oil. Plus, soothing zinc oxide provides an impressive SPF of 42.
Shade-wise, a few reviewers have noted that #13, pictured above, is the only BB shade they’ve found that’s light enough to match their alabaster or porcelain skin. But if that’s too pale for you, you’ll likely find a match in the other available shades listed below.
2. Another Fan Favorite
Redditors also frequently cite this purlisse Perfect Glow BB Cream as an all-time favorite. And, for their part, over 1,000 Amazon reviewers have bestowed this gentle, oil-free BB cream with a five-star rating. Across the board, people love its super-smooth application and solid shade range (which includes four shades for light skin, for today’s purposes). This provides a solid medium coverage and a luminous (but not shiny) finish — one reviewer noted that it completely blurs out redness and light scarring, and another said it smooths right over cystic acne — so you can treat it as you would a lightweight foundation. It also contains an SPF of 30, which is right on par with most good face sunscreens.
3. Best For Acne-Prone Skin
This Maybelline BB cream contains 2% salicylic acid — the same percentage you’d find in an OTC spot treatment — so this is a great choice if you’re hoping to calm an active breakout. It’s designed with oily skin in mind, so the finish is matte and slightly powdery, but it provides a wash of sheer coverage that feels comfortable and breathable on skin — not at all like traditional matte foundations, which can feel a little heavy. This also gets high marks from pale-skinned reviewers, but some report that the lightest shade, pictured here, is cool-toned, so it may scan a little gray on people with yellow or olive undertones. Light/Medium might suit you better.
4. Best BB Cream With Retinol
All BB creams have skin care benefits (that’s the actual point of them), but this Neutrogena BB cream takes that job extremely seriously. This “treatment” features both retinol and its gentler derivative, retinyl palmitate — a powerhouse ingredient for encouraging cellular turnover and triggering collagen production, which results in a plumper, smoother, clearer complexion overall — while the sheer tint gives your skin a soft-focused effect in the short-term. SPF 20 provides some sun protection, as well. But because retinol can make your skin more photosensitive, it’s still a good idea to apply a proper sunscreen before you go in with this (ideally with an SPF of at least 30, and the recommended half-teaspoon amount). Pale-skinned reviewers have found good matches in the Fair to Light shade above, as well as Light to Neutral and Ivory.
5. Best Splurge
Anyone who wants to contribute $50 to their BB budget should consider this gorgeous jane iredale BB cream, though it’s an especially smart choice for people with sensitive or reactive skin, since it’s hypoallergenic, dermatologist-tested, non-comedogenic, and made with gentle, mostly naturally derived ingredients. The formula contains lots of skin-soothers and hydrators, like aloe and green tea leaf extract, while antioxidants help boost your skin’s natural radiance over time. (This does contain silicones, however, so skip it if you have a known allergy or sensitivity to this ingredient.) It's also a good option if you want more coverage and a velvety finish, as opposed to the sheer/dewy finish most BB creams have. This range features 10 shades, five of which are designed for fair-to-light skin tones.
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A final option for your consideration: This NYX Bare With Me Tinted Skin Veil. It’s admittedly not a BB cream per se, but it lies somewhere between “light foundation” and “BB cream” on the base makeup spectrum. Reviewers say it feels light and breathable on their skin, while providing light-to-medium coverage and a satin matte finish. (But your freckles, flush, and other evidence of your natural-born skin will still peek through.) A little goes a long way, too, so a very thin layer can approximate the look and feel of a BB cream.
The lightest shade, Pale Light, can suit the absolute palest skin tones, but you’ve also got four more light shades to choose from if that doesn’t work for you.