Shiseido Perfect Hydrating BB Cream & Pantene Ultimate 10 BB Crème

Shiseido Perfect Hydrating BB Cream & Pantene Ultimate 10 BB Creme

Wait, have you guys heard about this new thing called BB cream??? HAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAH, of course you have! We all have! Even my mom asked me, “What’s going on with BB cream? Should I get one?”—and that was like, four months ago. And now CC creams are coming in, fast and furious, and before we know it, we’ll all be DD/EE/FF creaming ourselves to death. At ITG, we've been a little wary of the whole BB cream craze. There is just something a little fad-y, a little Emperor’s New Clothes about a cleverly named all-in-one, skin-perfecting formula, for our taste. Was there any real difference between BB's and tinted moisturizers? If so, what was it? What was it going to do to us? 

No one could tell us anything that made any sense: most descriptions relied on word pairings like "increased radiance" and "heightened luminosity." Commenters would write in asking for recommendations and we'd assure some of them that a review was in the pipeline: "Hold that thought! Coming soon!" (And I’m sorry guys, because it’s coming now, and now is definitely not “soon,” in that respect). Meanwhile, different models and makes piled up in stacks on our shelves, largely left alone. Admittedly, we were a little afraid of them. “Who wants to try this BB cream?” one of us would say, and everyone would sort of shift in their seats and start talking about how weirdly hot our office is (fun fact: lately it’s been weirdly cold! Will wonders never cease?). Fast forward a few months, and I have six BB creams in my possession. At my home. And now I am oh-so-very-well-versed in the world of BB creams, which are, I'll have you know, defined as products designed to replace serum, moisturizer, primer, foundation, and sunblock. Their aim is to dynamite your skincare regimen and leave one man standing. (Also: The Daily Mail called BB "The Swiss Army Knife of the Beauty Industry" and, in terms of history, the original idea for a so-called 'blemish balm' was apparently that of a German dermatologist, who developed a formula to soothe her clientele's post-surgery skin; the concept took off in South Korea in the '80s and landed with a vengeance on our shores in 2012.) But for me, there would be only one real gateway BB cream, and that’s the one we’re talking about today: Shiseido’s Perfect Hydrating BB Cream ($33). Why did it and I come together? Well, dear reader, FUNNY YOU SHOULD ASK!

While in the trenches reporting on anti-aging and skincare tips and tricks and the best sunscreens for one’s face—because you should be wearing one every damn day, remember—I felt like the SPF in my Somme Institute Daily Defense wasn’t really going to cut it. “You should really be above [SPF] 30,” one of the many dermatologists I spoke to (and I’m sorry, I don’t remember which) said—at this point, I had yet to discover the Elta line—and what do I find on a shelf at the Gloffice but this slippery, silver wizard of a tube: "Broad Spectrum/SPF 35," it read, "Shiseido Perfect Hydrating BB Cream." Well, why not, right? I love all those words, even "BB." Like "BB gun" or someone mispronouncing “baby” in French (“bébé”). So, I brought it home and tried it on and, friends, I never looked back. Shiseido’s BB cream is oil-free, fast-absorbing, smooth, not greasy, with a hint of color that leaves your face feeling evenly glowy, not "made up" or cloaked. (By the way, what makes it a “BB cream"? According to Shiseido, that would be the fact that it's "formulated with Rose Apple Leaf Extract and Thiotaurine to protect skin from environmental aggressors." I don't know why that's different than a tinted moisturizer, and frankly, I wouldn't care if they called it "face-colored goop." I like it.) I kept the rest of my skincare regimen going strong, but use the Shiseido as a last step. It blends well with my skin—I wear Medium—and lasts all day. (I don’t wear foundation but I’m fairly confident that you could use it as one, because the coverage is, while sheer, pretty crazy good.) The first time I wore it, my colleague Elizabeth turned to me and said, “Well, aren’t you looking radiant today!” which is pretty much the best compliment you can get from someone who’s surrounded by beauty products/pictures of models and, often, actual models all day. I have since been flirting with a few other brands (Laura Mercier’s Tinted Moisturizer with SPF, Bobbi Brown’s BB Cream, Stila’s Stay All Day 10-in-1 BB Cream, Diorskin Nude BB Creme) but I keep coming back to the Shiseido. She’s the one that I want (Oooh oooh ooh, honey)!

As for Pantene Pro-V's Ultimate 10 BB Crème—and the latter side of the High/Low spectrum, (it’s 5.99$ at most drugstores)—I learned about it through the wünderbar hairstylist and Pantene ambassador Danilo, who smoothed it into my dry locks during our pre-Academy Awards styling session and called it his latest miracle baby. “We’re the first to do a BB for hair,” he told me, explaining the product was born “out of this practice women normally have of buying five different products to achieve one goal. Now we put all of them—and more—in one bottle. You can use it wet or dry; it's the type of thing that you put in your hands and rub into your hair, and it takes it to a whole new level." He continued, "You’ve got a lot of hair,” he noted, “which can be a problem, but this has heat protection, so it stops split ends, it holds, it starts to sleek it up and it leaves it all ‘Woohoo!’” And he wasn’t kidding. I think that, if my hair could talk, it would have probably said something close to "Woohoo!", if not "Woohoo!" exactly.

But back to the product at/in hand: Pantene’s BB Crème is a 10-in-1 styling cream that vows to repair rough hair, strengthen, add silkiness/shine/manageability, smooth and moisturize, control frizz, protect against heat and fight (fight!? battle?) flyaways. I supposed they're calling it a "BB cream" for hair because it's a multi-use product, which is, I guess, what 'BB' now has come to mean (rather than the innocuously vague 'beauty balm'). Frankly, to me, the best part is that Danilo said I could rub it in to dry hair and sleep with it as an overnight treatment—and unlike any other leave-in I’ve tried, it left no greasy residue or stains on my pillowcase. Plus, it smells great. Generally, I've taken to smoothing it on towel-dried hair before blow drying (an aside: can someone teach me how to blow-dry my hair? I just bend at the waist, flip my hair, and blast it ‘til it’s dry enough so I can walk outside without getting cold), and I've seen softer, sleeker...more ‘finished’ results. The idea of "heat-protection" is also kind of thrilling, like you're dressing your hair in some sort of impervious armor. So, a resounding "Woohoo!" all around, for a pair of BBs that are keeping me going strong and proving me—somewhat, since I'm not totally willing to buy into the BB philosophy, but hey, if it works, it works—wrong.

—Alessandra Codinha

Illustration by Karleigh Sherman.

Let’s Talk About It! JOIN IN
  • Nomadic D.

    I am SO glad you wrote this. I have been feeling so annoyed honestly at all this BB madness. When we have foundations and tinted moisturizers and illuminators and all sorts of other things, why would we all of a sudden need something else? I do think that most of it is hype, but if you find a good one, like you say, it doesn't matter what they call it, good is good. So now I'm totally intrigued cause it sounds amazing and I'm going to have to go and check it out! Thank you!

  • Amy

    Thanks for the pointer/thoughts on Shieseido. Dior's Diorsnow BB cream is SPF 50, and is another lovely addition. Now that Dior has released the Diorskin Nude BB cream that the Diorsnow won't be discontinued. The Diorsnow really does deliver a gorgeous formula. Cheers! :)

  • Alli.Z

    Good morning! You almost just gave me a heart attack about Somme Institute's double defense only having SPF 15! I think it was after andITG review I looked into the line and started using it and am LOVING IT, but...... I live in the Caribbean! (So now you can imagine why the heart attack). I double checked and it is SPF 30+ (what does that + mean??) anyways....just wanted to prevent other reader heart attacks!

  • Tenzin

    Have you tried the BB creams from Korean Brands yet? I haven't tried any other BB creams but Korean ones, and they're pretty damn good, but I have no idea what the ingredients are since they're all written in Korean, I hope they're not crazy ingredients that'll harm my skin in the long run. Does the Shiseido BB cream smell funny? The Missha one I use smells like an old lady, which I don't mind, but everytime I apply it I think I must be applying some weird chemicals, but I live with it.

    • ITGAlessandra

      I have not yet tried any Korean BB creams yet, but I definitely will. The Shiseido does not smell funny or old-lady like at all! (Thank goodness.) It doesn't really smell like anything. xx

      • Hannah

        Alessandra, you should try the Missha Perfect Cover one. Besides for the smell (which does fade, it just is perfumey at first), it is really the standard-bearer of Asian BB creams, and is just a classic. It has really good coverage and color correcting, high SPF, and my favorite feature is that it wears like iron on the face even in high humidity and heat. I don't need to use much, if any, concealer with it. Worth a try! The brand has a U.S.-based site that has free shipping and good offers. I've gone through a few bottles of shade 13, which is paler than a lot of foundations come, so I love it.

    • Samantha Tennant

      Yes! I absolutely LOVE Etude House. You can find it on Amazon. I've been using it for more than a year, and my skin has never looked better! My skin is super sensitive, so it leads me to believe that the ingredients aren't too harsh.

      I've tried Missha too, and you're right, the smell is really... odd.

    • Madeline

      I love the Asian BB creams. They are the originals, so why not go with what came first? I never wore foundation prior to it (hate the feel and look and that it wipes off on clothes), and now I can't go one day without wearing it. If not for the high SPF and the skincare properties, I wouldn't use it. I have Missha Perfect Cover in 23 and 27 (beware of fakes!) and love both of them. Doesn't feel like I'm wearing makeup and SPF 42. The powdery flowery scent doesn't really bother me.

  • Paulina

    I definately need to buy this Shiseido BB product. I've got one from La Roche Posay, but it does not have UV protection- why??? It's ridiculous. I guess BB cream should have one! Generally, I love Shiseido products, especially make up ones.

    Hugs from Warsaw!

  • ITGAlessandra

    <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 x

  • Ivy

    I've tried the Dr.Jart BB creams before (they're all the rage in Taiwan), but I didn't like it-- too cakey, and felt heavy (especially in humid Asian weather). I will definitely check out the Shiseido BB cream though, I love the brand. Do you think it would be okay for more sensitive skin/would it cause break outs?

  • Gina

    I started using the Dr. Jart BB cream last month and I really like the product. I, too, was afraid to try a BB cream (what the HELL is it?!), yet, I received a sample and gave it a try and like the coverage. At first I was thinking it was going to look like a kabuki mask, but it blended really well and I found myself using minimal foundation. The best part is the SPF 45!!

    I tried a sample of the AmorePacific tinted moisturizer and while I loved how glowy and dewy my skin looked it only offers SPF 15 which I felt wasn't enough.

  • Sara

    I started using BB creams in 2008, and since then I have tried and used up tons of them. Korean and Japanese BB creams are absolutely the best, from Missha to affordable Hada Labo. Western BB creams are, in my opinion, not that good as the Korean/Japanese BB creams. I am Caucasian, and have no Asian genes, but they are really superior to Western brands.

  • Guest

    Do they have a shade that is suitable for brown skin tones? I was going to try Iman's BB cream, but it is only SPF 15. Worthless!

    • kneelbeforetigers

      SURPRISINGLY, the Maybelline one (in Dark...*sigh*) has been doing my skin well! I really enjoy the texture, and how it blurs everything into dewy grace.

  • Colleen

    I tried a BB cream sample and it was so heavy and I had to scrub it off. Not a fan.

  • Amysbeautyjournal

    Never tried either of these products but the pantene one's supposed to be good xxx

    Amy |

  • Cat

    Just last week, I found out that Shiseido also has this SPF 43 (more! yay!) tinted moisturizer, which also has thiotaurine and rose apple leaf extract, for $30. Funny they don't call it "BB" though, but "Urban Eviorment Tinted UV Protector" (still don't know what the difference is, and like you, I don't really care haha). Will definitely be trying it soon!

    Right now I'm using Estee Lauder's BB cream. I love the high SPF 35 and the smell is sooo lovely. It is a little bit drier (thicker?) than other bb creams and so is probably not ideal for dry skin types (I avoid it when I have flaky dry zones as it looks cakey then). Otherwise, I have really really enjoyed it so far.

  • Alex

    Shiseido BB cream is my go to product-I started using it and never have looked back.

    If anyone is confused (as I was when I started using it) the lightest shade is Medium. For some reason they only have Medium and Dark-don't know why. Initially, I thought the sales lady was just trying to sell me the Medium colour as she didn't have any 'Light' left but that's not the case (and I have investigated this fully). As it is not too pigmented it blends in beautifully but I can't imagine it working on someone with very pale porcelain or ivory coloured skin.

  • hiddenl_luxury

    Never was a fan with BB cream. Those of us with porcelain skin tones are always shunned.

    • Kat

      That's not true at all. Most original BB cream products in Asia have always been in the porcelain/light skin tones. You should maybe try those. Etude House normally has the light skin tones, also Dr Jart. Plus, I have always found the Asian ones more effective anyway. You can buy them on Amazon if you have a hard time finding it.

  • Francois

    Could a boy use it? DARE a boy use it...?

    • Amy

      If I were a boy, I'd use Armani Maestro Fluid. It literally looks like skin

    • ITGAlessandra

      I don't see why not! Skin is skin, right? x

  • Marla Vender

    How about discussing the difference between sunblock and sun screen? Did you know that reapplying sunscreen during the day doesn't work? It has to be applied to clean skin to be absorbed. No wonder my nose got burned in Colorado this week!

  • em
  • Sonya Fearby

    hey alessandra,

    just regarding your comment about 'needing' SPF higher than 30, this is a great piece by a cosmetic scientist on choosing SPF (in this article for children, but the principles apply for adults as well i think). in his opinion the super high SPFs ie 30 and above are a marketing-driven development...

    • mermaidsdream

      I'm not trying to start an argument on the internet and I know that this guy is a cosmetic scientist with 25+ years of experience but I wish he'd included some links to studies that prove what he says that using 10x more SPF 10 sunscreen is the same as SPF 100. I realize that the difference between, for example SPF 50 and SPF 100 is tiny, but I just find that hard to believe without any proof.

      The article is also 4.5 years old so that information could be incorrect. Again I am not trying to bicker I am genuinely curious!

      • Sonya Fearby

        you should ask him! i've asked him questions before and he's always answered :)

      • Sonya Fearby

        also, SPF50+ was only recently introduced in australia (where i'm from and the country with the highest rate of skin cancer in the world) and the cancer council of australia isn't didn't back the introduction and publicly stated that SPF30+ was all that was necessary.

  • SM

    Oh, BB cream. I have only tried 2 so far. Both drugstore brands and wonder if I will bother to try something a bit more expensive. Loreal's version was way too orange in the lightest color, and didn't feel good on my skin. Other people seem to like it for a budget alternative. Cover Girl's BB Cream seems more like a tinted moisturizer. I liked it well enough, but my face felt itchy after applying. Maybe I will give Shiseido's a try.

  • jenny

    before and after pics with the shiseido bb cream would be great! keep in mind for upcoming product reviews :)

  • tasha

    But . . . the whole point of a BB is supposed to be simplifying 6 steps into one. If you are still doing the entire rest of your regimen, aren't you defeating the whole purpose? And how do we know if it really *works*, then?

    Just experimented with the Garnier ones, by the way, and was completely unimpressed.

  • Alyssa Gapske

    I've been wondering about the Pantene cream. I'll have to try it out. I'll admit though that I haven't found a BB cream for my face yet that doesn't remind me of a tinted moisturizer. What am I missing here?

  • Allison

    a little off topic, but Alessandra-do you use your clarisonic with the Somme Institute face wash?

    • ITGAlessandra

      I do, though not religiously. xx

  • AmbienceChaser

    Dangit! This review sounded so great that I just went out and got the Shiseido BB cream in medium. But I guess this is a new formula and I accidentally got the old one! The one I have is not a broad-spectrum SPF 35, it's a SPF 30 and just UVB, so I'm going to have to wear it over regular sunblock anyway. Blargh.

    Otherwise I love it, though, even though I've also been kinda down on BB creams in general. I love it even more than the Laura Mercier tinted moisturizer I've been using since high school. I'm a very pale redhead, but the medium seems to work just fine on me.

  • Coryn Marzejon

    I purchased both of these products yesterday after reading this review. I love them! The Shiseido BB cream was everything I hoped it would be: good coverage, non-cakey, matte finish, and made my skin look radiant. I was also extremely happy with the Pantene BB Creme. I distributed two pumps throughout my hair before blow drying, and my hair ended up smooth, silky, and so soft. Thanks for the suggestion ITG!

  • Tama Blough

    I'm not a big foundation wearer but I know I could use a little something. I'm reactive to some of the chemical sunscreens and was glad to see that Maybelline's BB is mineral, I picked up a tube last week and have enjoyed it - people also said I looked fantastic, another plus. SPF is 30 but personally I think that's enough for the amount of sun I get.

  • Kat

    I agree, the consistency of the Shiseido brand always felt like it was too sheer, in my opinion. I have always used a Korean brand and always loved the coverage for it, because I don't ever like using foundation and also just put more to cover blemishes like a concealer. But I bought the Shideido brand and was completely underwhelmed because it was just like a tinted moisturizer. Although, if that's what you want -- then yes! The Shiseido one is great!

  • vvn

    In the reviews I've read for BB creams, most said that BB creams produced for the North America market (e.g. Stila BB) have essentially the same effect as a tinted moisturizer. Most reviews said they noticed a significant difference when they used BB creams imported from Asia, e.g. Missha. I've seen pictures/videos of people showing application of Asian brand BBs and frankly, I'm very impressed by them! Asian people are also more conscious about sun exposure because light skin is the ideal in Asian culture, and I find that reflected in the higher SPF I've seen generally with Asian brands. (Seriously, what is the point of spf 15???)

  • Vikkye

    I'm a lucky 22 year old who is still cursed with the oily, gross skin of her teenager self. Does anyone know of a BB cream that has less focus on hydrating and more on blemish-fighting?

  • melaniemybeautycity

    I haven't tried Shiseido's BB cream yet - waiting for it to come in actually - but have tried Missha and Tony Moly. Having said that I use Etude House Precious Mineral Sun because it has a better SPF rating (SPF50+), covers better and lasts longer. I also like the slight sheen it gives me whilst still looking natural - that sheen is rather hmmm - well sexy I guess.

    I think the Asian makeup houses still have the lead against the western brands because they have been serving us 'gotta have white skin' girls for decades.

    As for BB cream for hair!! I am not sure that marketing ploy is going to work for Pantene as it gives me images of massaging in beige colored gloop into my hair which does not seem to me to be a great idea. Could't they come up with another name?

  • ellabella

    i'm still scared of bb creams but i came here to say--girl, i thought i was the only one who still blow-dries her hair EXACTLY LIKE THAT.

  • Ty Tradelius

    sold! i cant wait to purchase both!


Pantene Pro-V
Pantene Pro-V Ultimate 10 BB Crème
Shiseido Perfect Hydrating BB Cream