Aurora Magazine

Promoting excellence in advertising

The BB boom

Is the hype surrounding BB creams is well-deserved?

According to Euromonitor International, the current global beauty market is estimated to be $433 billion; it registered a respectable growth rate of five percent in 2016 and is expected to maintain a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of seven percent (reaching $699 billion by the end of 2023). The market is mainly segmented into skin and sun care (share: approx 30%), hair care (20%), makeup and colour cosmetics (15%), deodorants and fragrances (14%) and others (21%).

Out of these segments, makeup and colour cosmetics is forecast to record the highest growth rate at 9.2% (source: Business Wire) in the next five years. This increase is not surprising. Changing consumer lifestyles, increased exposure to fashion and glamour, accessibility to a wider range of makeup products and rising disposable incomes are some of the reasons behind the growth of this segment. It is this demand that drives constant innovation; to give something new to the fickle and fussy consumer.

One such novel product is the BB (beauty balm) cream, which claims to combine its primary benefits from three different segments – sun care, skincare and colour cosmetics – and provides an all-in-one solution that contains SPF (sun protection factor), moisturiser, foundation and in some cases, even anti-ageing ingredients. The cream, although formulated by a German dermatologist in 1960, gained massive popularity in the Korean beauty market (which is worth $13 billion and is well-known for using ‘natural’ and unconventional ingredients such as snail mucin, green tea, maple tree sap and bee venom in its skincare products), before making its way to the Western markets. Apart from the novelty factor, BB creams’ relatively-affordable price points and multi-functionality (save time) have been the key reasons behind their success worldwide. This is also why the primary target audience of BB creams are women aged between 16 and 35 who don’t have a lot of spare time and often, limited budgets.

In Pakistan, the major players which offer a BB cream in their portfolio include L’Oreal, Pond’s, Unilever Fair & Lovely and J Dot. L’Oreal was the first to launch this cream (under the Garnier brand) in Pakistan in 2013. Maybelline, another L’Oreal brand, also has a BB cream but is not as aggressively marketed in Pakistan as the Garnier BB cream.


“BB creams are a brilliant marketing concept. However, one cream that fits all is a false notion. There is some modest-benefit moisturising, but it should not replace any other vital steps in skincare.”


According to Hassan Umar, Group Product Manager, Garnier skin care, L’Oreal, “we identified a shift in Pakistani women – they wanted to move beyond fairness creams and towards acquiring a healthier, smoother-looking skin. Our research showed that they were mixing at least three different products to achieve the perfect look – a moisturiser, foundation or base and some form of sun protection.” It was these changing needs that were the reason behind the launch of Garnier BB cream in Pakistan.

Keeping in consideration the varying skin needs, Garnier BB cream is available in two skin types; oil-clear and classic. Each type is available in two shades, light and medium. The cream is priced at Rs 699 and comes in a 50 ml tube (classic) and 40 ml (oil-clear).

In contrast, Fair & Lovely is available in only one shade and skin type and is priced at Rs 135 (18 gms) and Rs 299 (40 gms). The cream was initially introduced in India in 2015. “India is a huge market, so most of our new products are introduced there. Later, we decided to roll it out in Pakistan, which is a similar market in terms of consumer behaviour patterns,” says Mehreen Siddiqui, Assistant Brand Manager, Unilever.

Recognising the scope of this product, J Dot Makeup (a Junaid Jamshed company) launched its BB cream in 2016, available at a comparatively steep price of Rs 1,200 (30 ml) and comes in three skin shades (light, medium and dark).

On the subject of the price, Sana Nusrat, Makeup Consultant, J Dot Makeup, says that “unlike other local brands, our BB cream is made from natural, organic ingredients with no chemical preservatives to prolong shelf life. We are as good as any international brand.”

While J Dot’s primary target audience are women from the SEC A and B and the product is only available at J Dot retail outlets, Fair & Lovely’s BB cream aims to reach a wider audience. According to Siddiqui, “our product democratises BB creams; affordable for almost everyone and available even in small grocery or kiryana stores.” Garnier seems to have taken a middle route, with its product available at hyper and supermarkets, cosmetic stores and e-commerce platforms such as Daraz.pk.


Looking forward, with ‘alphabet creams’ such as CC creams (colour control formulations that include a concealer), DD (daily defense, which in addition to concealer contain anti-ageing ingredients) and EE (extra exfoliation) creams gaining traction in the global beauty market, multi-functional creams are clearly a trend that will play a role in the growth of the international, and eventually, the local beauty market.


As the market penetration of BB creams in Pakistan is low (about three percent), brands are focusing on creating product awareness rather than fighting for market share. Fair & Lovely’s campaign, launched in September this year, features actor and model Mawra Hocane and aims to attract and educate young women about the cream. The campaign is digital-only, as according to Nabeel Danish, Account Manager (Digital), MullenLowe Rauf (Fair & Lovely’s creative agency), “the cream’s target audience is 100% present on digital and with careful audience targeting, we have the potential of reaching seven million women – something which is not possible with TV. Choosing Hocane was a conscious decision as she is very popular among young women and has the ‘girl-next-door’ image which we wanted.”

Garnier focuses on BTL activities. “We often visit colleges and conduct product sampling at malls and stores – the purpose is to create awareness about the benefits of BB creams,” says Umar.

Nusrat of J Dot Makeup concurs. “There is room for everyone. Right now we need to educate women on how to use the product, create awareness about how harmful fairness creams can be and why it’s important to use sun protection with your makeup – our beauty advisors do this at the outlets. We haven’t released any major marketing campaign to promote the cream.”

Despite the attention that BB creams have attracted, makeup and skincare aficionados and experts have reservations. In an article published in The Huffington Post, Los Angeles-based celebrity dermatologist Dr Harold Lancer says, “BB creams are a brilliant marketing concept. However, one cream that fits all is a false notion. There is some modest-benefit moisturising, but it should not replace any other vital steps in skincare.”

A Karachi-based makeup artist Rayyan Thomas gives a local perspective: “Pakistan has a very humid climate for which we need a higher value of SPF; the 15 or 20 SPF in BB creams is not enough for sun protection. In my opinion, BB creams should be treated as a light coverage, day makeup solution, not an all-encompassing miracle cream.”

According to dermatologist Dr Mubashra Khan, “every skin has a different pH value which determines its moisture level and in turn, the right moisturiser for it. A one-size-fits-all cannot work for a long-term skincare solution – a BB cream is at best, the ‘panadol’ of skin creams.”

Despite these reservations, BB creams do offer a time- and cost-efficient light coverage makeup solution with some skincare benefits. Looking forward, with ‘alphabet creams’ such as CC creams (colour control formulations that include a concealer), DD (daily defense, which in addition to concealer contain anti-ageing ingredients) and EE (extra exfoliation) creams gaining traction in the global beauty market, multi-functional creams are clearly a trend that will play a role in the growth of the international, and eventually, the local beauty market.