Best Lightweight Summer Foundations, BB and CC Creams Under £50
Best Lightweight Summer Foundations, BB and CC Creams Under £50
by Ceri Saunders
Holiday season is officially here. But even if you’re not jetting away to sunnier climates this year, we can still hold out for at least a week of the good old British summer.
And while us ladies will be reaching for the suncream (safety first), many of us also seek lightweight, long-lasting and protective coverage for our faces for sunny days; something that can offer us protection and a smooth complexion, but also help keep those pesky imperfections at bay.
With that in mind, we’ve tried and tested a cross section of some well-known (and far lesser-known) brands’ offerings to see if they live up to their bold claims. Whether you want to spend nearer £3 or £50, we look at what you can get for your hard-earned cash…
The Product: Nivea Daily Essentials BB Cream 5in1 Moisturiser (£3.99 for 50ml) – Boots
The Claim: ‘Enriched with minerals, provitamin B5 and a hint of make-up, the BB Cream is a 5in1 day cream that moisturises and gives a flawless and beautiful-looking complexion.’
Hmm. Moisturises, yes, but flawless and beautiful-looking complexion? Not so much. Those of your familiar with Nivea’s classic body lotion will appreciate its texture – thick, greasy and sticky. And I’m sorry to say that this is very similar.
Upon application it becomes clear quite quickly that my combination to oily skin won’t hold on to this product for very long. If you want coverage (over blemishes including the odd spot and scarring), then you have you use quite a lot of this, only exacerbating its greasiness. I ‘topped up’ the base layer of this with concealer, and doused off my face with translucent powder to mattify it – which did work, to a point, but removes any the lightweight properties it did have.
I was a bit disappointed by this with my skin, but if you’re lucky enough to have a pretty flawless complexion, a small amount of this would help moisturise and give a pop of colour for daytime wear. It has SPF protection, too (albeit only SPF 10), so would suit a cooler morning, perhaps. Don’t reach for this if it’s decent coverage you’re after.
The Product: Eucerin Hyaluron-Filler CC Cream Light (£28 for 50ml) – Boots
The Claim: ‘Plumps up the appearance of even the deepest wrinkles from the inside and unifies skin’s complexion. An anti-wrinkle day cream with pigments that evens light skin tones for a radiant complexion. This also contains SPF 15, perfect for the summer months.’
Eek – £28. Personally, I’ve never spent this much on foundation, let alone CC cream. However, Eucerin certainly makes a lot of promises with this product, and boasts SPF 15 protection. Despite being marketed for the older woman, I am reassured that this would also work for skin under 30 years old.
Though this product’s ‘light’ shade is initially promising on my hand, on my face, it doesn’t look so great (though everyone’s shade will be different, of course), and the finish seems slightly darker than I’d hoped. It hasn’t done much for my blemishes, either. Once set, however, it does feel smooth and my skin is moisturised, but during a day’s wear, it does gradually become more greasy – so much so that a work colleague noticed a difference from my usual make-up choice.
For me, this is similar to Nivea’s offering – and is £24 more expensive. Its price point and qualities, for me, confirm that this is probably a product tailored towards older skin. Not for me, I’m afraid.
The Product: essence Soft Touch Mousse Make-up (£3.80 for 16g) – wilko.com
The Claim: ‘The make-up range with a super delicate mousse texture gives your face a smooth and natural-looking matt complexion while allowing your skin to breathe freely.’
Fans of Maybelline’s Dream Matte Mousse, rejoice, for essence have got their own take on the market for around half the price. I haven’t touched products like this for at least 10 years, but actually, upon using it, I remembered why they were so popular.
A little of this goes a very long way. For my light skin, the matt ivory shade (it also comes in sand, beige and honey) blends in fairly seamlessly, and sets quickly for a matte finish, although it does feel dry and cakey once it’s set. I’m surprised to see it cover most of my blemishes, however, and I’m not instantly reaching for additional concealer – though I’m not convinced that my skin’s breathing so freely. It’s more gasping for air.
That said, this product would suit a couple of hours out for dinner on a warm evening. I attempted a a full day’s wear, and the matte finish does deteriorate fairly quickly, especially in warmer weather. You won’t manage a commute and an eight-hour day without a little lunchtime top-up, or a fan at your side keeping your look at bay. The lack of SPF protection lets it down, too (which wouldn’t matter so much in an evening), but for the price point, it’s worth using on your hollibobs if you want to leave your expensive foundation at home.
The Product: Benecos Natural BB Cream (£9.95 for 30ml) – Holland & Barrett
The Claim: ‘This non-heavy BB cream will provide light coverage, while caring for your skin, during the summer months. The Benecos BB Cream contains nourishing and anti-ageing ingredients – such as jojoba oil, shea butter, acai oil and pomegranate seed extract – to hydrate your skin and leave it feeling soft. It has a light matte coverage and will keep your skin looking flawless. Available in Fair and Beige.’
Heard of Benecos? No, me neither. However, with a rise in popularity of certified natural products (this is BDIH-certified) and the rise against animal testing, we could well be hearing more about them – but I don’t think this particular BB cream will be taking off any time soon.
It feels surprisingly thick before applying (though I’m not sure what I was expecting), and when it comes to using on my face, what was thick initially becomes thicker still very quickly, and it’s near impossible to blend in to my skin without using extra product – not ideal for hot summer days. This lacks any SPF protection, too, so while it may provide a small amount of coverage and a number of skin-boosting ingredients, actually, it doesn’t do very much for me at all.
The cream doesn’t have much staying power as the day goes on, and feels heavy and greasy near the end of the day. Plus, without protection, you’d need to use suncream as a base, too. It might be okay for an evening’s use – but it’s certainly not the easiest product to use. Perhaps conscience over substance with this, I’m afraid.
The Product: Mary Kay CC Cream Sunscreen SPF 15 (£19 for 30ml) – marykay.co.uk
The Claim: ‘Mary Kay® CC Cream Sunscreen SPF 15 acts like makeup to instantly correct complexion imperfections while formulated like skin care to help nurture skin’s beauty tomorrow. So remarkably lightweight, you’ll look naturally flawless as if wearing nothing at all. From instant brightening to protection against future damage, hours of hydration to diminishing the look of blemishes and redness, this silky formula leaves skin looking healthier, younger and more vibrant all day long.’
Well, there’s very little I can argue with in Mary Kay’s product description. This little beauty comes in four shades – ‘very light’, ‘light to medium’, ‘natural’ and ‘deep’ – and offers fairly decent coverage with the texture of a lightweight cream, setting with a slight dewiness without feeling greasy, leaving you with a more natural, moisturised look. Teamed with a concealer and powder, you would easily get away with this as a hard-wearing foundation.
Though you’d do well to find one out of four shades that blends in perfectly to lighter skin, this product’s light to medium shade would probably work for most with lightly sun-kissed skin in the summer months. For 30ml, £19 is pretty steep (for someone used to spending under £10 on products like this), but for all its qualities, it’s well worth spending that little bit extra.
The Product: Weleda Beauty Balm Tinted Day Cream and 5-in-1 Moisturiser (£18.95 for 30ml) – weleda.co.uk
The Claim: ‘Reflecting the current desire for naturally subtle make-up looks, the latest additions from Weleda help minimise blemishes and even out small imperfections using mineral pigments. The 5-in-1 multi-tasking Beauty Balms also mattify and moisturise, whilst strengthening the skin’s natural protective function.’
While we’re on board the all-natural products ship, I’ll discuss Weleda’s offering. Again, I hadn’t heard of them (they’ve actually been going since 1921, so their website tells me), but in the interest of trying new things (YOLO), I thought I’d give it a go.
I’m initially excited by the texture and shade of this product before I apply it – but you need to be quick while applying as it dries out fairly quickly.
Though the shade is questionable on my skin, it looks okay. My blemishes remain visible (in Weleda’s defence, the packaging does claim to cover only ‘minor’ blemishes), and honestly, I’m not too sure what it’s done when I’m finished applying. The beauty balm’s rose fragrance is pleasant enough, but I’m afraid that’s not enough for me to be convinced. Oh, and there’s no SPF protection, either.
The Product: Garnier Skin Active BB Cream (combination to oily skin) (£9.99 for 40ml) – Boots
The Claim: ‘Garnier BB cream is a daily moisturiser containing mineral pigments to even out the look of skin tone. Along with unifying complexion, BB creams also reduces the appearance of imperfections, contains illuminating properties and provide all important UV protection (SPF 15) to help protect your skin against the harmful effects of the sun. All of this, whilst still allowing your skin to breathe and providing a mattifying healthy-looking glow.’
I’ve actually been using this product for around 12 months, having struggled to find another product that suits my skin any better. Garnier’s range of BB products is actually pretty impressive, ranging from its ‘original’ product right through to ‘90% natural’ and ‘anti-age’ adaptations, with all coming in either a ‘light’ or ‘medium’ shade, along with a tinted moisturiser for even lighter coverage.
Along with Nivea, Garnier is a trusted moisturiser and skincare brand – but, very much unlike Nivea, Garnier seems to have got the grasp of this BB cream game. Its cream for combination to oily skin dries somewhere near matte impressively quickly, and seamlessly blends in across the face and neck while delivering an impressive amount of coverage. My blemishes are (for the most part) covered, and I only reach for concealer in more desperate times. It leaves skin feeling fresh and looking more even, and even throws SPF 15 protection in there for good measure.
My only qualm with this is that it can start to feel a bit greasy towards the end of a full day (that is, until late afternoon), but if you’ve been out and about in the warm sun you don’t mind too much. A great product with a range of options depending on your skin type – and under a tenner.
The Product: Sleek MakeUP Vitality Foundation (£8.99 for 30ml) – Boots
The Claim: ‘Vitality lightweight foundation contains energising formulas, leaving you with a semi-matte finish with moisturising benefits for those still after dewy skin. The generous blend of lotus flower and water lily extracts help to fight dehydration and leaves the skin looking flawless. The soft-focus powders smoothen the surface of the skin for a more even looking complexion – making Vitality the perfect way to ace that natural base. Vitality’s oil free formula allows you to maintain that perfect balance of dewy skin without all the unwanted shine. Perfect for thirsty skin, the light to medium coverage allows for that more natural, healthy glow.’
Sleek offers the perfect mix of sub-£10 price and real results with its Vitality range. Boasting an impressive 24 shades, its more fluid texture allows for seamless application while providing a decent coverage, while feeling light and airy on the skin.
As the day wears on, it does begin to feel tired, however – and there’s no SPF protection, not making it ideal for particularly hot weather. But if you’re after something that will give you a reliable full day of moisturising coverage in a near-perfect shade in more inclement weather, you can’t go wrong for £8.99. I don’t think there’s much else to say. A near winner.
The Product: Bioderma Sensibio AR BB Cream (£15.80 for 40ml) – escentual.com
The Claim: ‘Get tinted coverage and high-tech, dermatological care with the Bioderma Sensibio AR BB Cream, a multi-action skincare and make-up hybrid for a perfected complexion. Providing a ground-breaking seven skincare benefits in one application, the Bioderma BB cream provides excellent coverage and intensive anti-redness care while enhancing radiance, providing lasting moisture, smoothing the skin’s texture, soothing irritation, and protecting against UV damage with organic chemical mineral filters with an SPF of 30.’
Less is certainly more with Bioderma’s Sensibio BB cream – if you can eventually apply it across your skin. Its thick texture means it feels dry and sticky very quickly, and becomes difficult to blend in to the skin – not really what you want on a hot summer’s day.
My skin feels anything but radiant, and the extra pressure I’ve used on my face in applying this product actually means that my skin looks like it’s been irritated, rather than soothed. And while the product boasts SPF 30 protection and covers a few blemishes (I’d be surprised if it hadn’t with this texture), this ‘light’ shade is actually so dark on my skin that it’s useless. Sorry, Bioderma, but you should have a rethink.
The Product: Perricone MD No Makeup Foundation (£45 for 30ml) – perriconemd.co.uk
The Claim: ‘Now available in five shades, No Makeup Foundation is the perfect base for a natural, no makeup look. This lightweight foundation has a buildable coverage to camouflage visible imperfections while delivering a dewy-glowing finish with essential skin benefits. This makeup bag staple is also perfect for spring/summer, as it contains mineral-based broad spectrum SPF 30 providing high-protection against harmful rays that can contribute to signs of ageing.’
Yes, £45 may be a lot to spend on something that has ‘no makeup makeup’ in its name, but if this is proof that you get what you pay for, then so be it.
Perricone MD’s take on this style of product has really impressed me. It provides a light to medium coverage and reduces redness, covering what you wish to hide while feeling fresh and airy on the skin. Its glass pump bottle also allows controlled application, dispensing the perfect amount of product in one fell swoop, if you’re after the lightest level of coverage. If you’re wanting to build up coverage, you can use extra product without affecting the finish on the skin. It blends in and does the job perfectly.
The added SPF 30 protection is a bonus, making it perfect for hot summer days. For me, the only thing letting product down is the price – but if you’ve got the extra pennies to spend, you won’t regret treating yourself.