Deciphering the alphabet of beauty creams

Chicago TribuneJanuary 22, 2014 


Olay Total Effects CC Cream


Dear Answer Angel Ellen: You’ve explained BB cream, thanks! Now I’m seeing CC cream. What is it? – Peggy Ann

Dear Peggy Ann: After testing all those BB creams (aka beauty balms), I decided that BB cream is really just a new name for tinted moisturizer. You’re seeing CC creams because cosmetics companies are always putting out new products hoping you’ll spend more dough on the latest miracle beauty aid. (How else to explain the 10,000 different mascaras?) So, as the glow of BBs fades, you’ll be seeing more about CCs, which stands for color correction. These purport to do what the BB creams do plus even out your skin tone, whatever that means. I just finished testing five CCs available at drugstores, and here’s what I found: They’re just tinted moisturizers, too. I liked BB creams, and I like the CCs, but I sure couldn’t tell the difference between the two (and I can’t wait for the inevitable DDs).

In my CC test, those with the most coverage (although not as heavy as regular foundation) were Almay (Smart Shade, $9.99/ounce) and Yes to Grapefruit ($15.99 for 1.7 ounces). L’Oreal (Visible Lift, $12.99 for ounce) was barely detectable and definitely did not do any visible lifting. Coverage by Physicians Formula (Organic Wear, $14.99 for 1.2 ounces) and Olay ($19.54 for 1.7 ounces) were in the middle range and gave a slight glow. None of them evened out or color-corrected my skin tone, and I’m not sure I’d want them to anyhow. If I had to pick a favorite, it would be Olay.

Add volume to eyebrows

Dear Answer Angel Ellen: My eyebrows are getting thinner and sparser. What is the best way to camouflage this? What is the best eyebrow brush or pencil? – Skimpy

Dear Skimpy: Over the years, I’ve tried an array of brow kits that come with complicated instructions, stencils, tools, various powders to blend and blah blah blah. Some are better than others, but the best solution I’ve found – this is going to sound weird but I swear by it – is a Maybelline blond eyebrow pencil, the one that looks like a real pencil (red on the outside). Official name: Maybelline Expert Wear Twin Brow & Eye Pencils. I’m not blond (at least not naturally) but the blond color (really, a very light brown) lets you go overboard or make mistakes without looking like a cartoon character (or Groucho Marx). If you don’t believe me, do just one eyebrow and then compare in the mirror. (Use light feathery strokes for best results.) If blond doesn’t do the trick, you can always go one shade darker until you find what’s right for you. It’s only $3.99 or so for a two-pack at the drugstore. As for the best brush to keep your eyebrows going in the right direction? You can’t beat a toothbrush.

And speaking of eyebrows …

Dear Answer Angel Ellen: Have you ever done a comparison test on eyebrow tweezers? I keep trying different brands, and they keep not gripping the hairs. – J.

Dear J.: I’m sticking with Tweezerman (, and I especially love the free sharpening pledge, which I’ve used more than once when the tweezers lost their oomph. (That’s how I justify the initial $20-plus tweezer cost.) I tested the Revlon Spotlight tweezers with a small LED light built in. The light was great, but the tweezers were only so-so.

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