It used to be that you could walk up to a department store counter and choose between a liquid and a stick foundation. Then came tinted moisturizer and just as we were getting used to that, bb cream entered the picture—which confused us all.

That was a few years ago and since then, we’ve spoken to countless makeup artists, dermatologists and even cosmetic chemists to set the record straight on what the hell a BB cream is. 

Here’s what we know: Foundation typically offers fuller coverage than BB cream does. It’s best suited for ladies who like a more polished finish (or have larger areas of discoloration they want to conceal). BB creams, on the other hand, have more of a sheer effect and usually have added skin-care benefits like antioxidants and SPF in the formula. You can think of them as a supercharged tinted moisturizer of sorts. 

So how do you choose between the two? It all comes down to the level of coverage you want. If you just have a little bit of redness or dullness and want to even things out a smidge, BB cream is your best bet. If you need more heavy lifting or just prefer a more finished look, stick to your trusty foundation.

RELATED: The Best Kind of Foundation for Every Skin Type

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