Monday, September 16, 2013

Review: Maybelline Clear Smooth BB Stick

*It has been a killer past two weeks at work. But I'm happy to be back now with a new review.

Clear Smooth BB Stick is a multi-benefit product that combines the benefits of skin care, make-up, and sun block in a stick. It contains salicylic acid that helps clear away pores and imperfections, and mineral clay that helps control shine all day. Dermatologically tested. Recommended for oily or combination skin. Suitable for sensitive and acne-prone skin.

Blemish Balm or BB creams have never held much allure for me. Perhaps its because my first BB cream was a dud. If memory serves me right, the one I used before did give me a flawless finish upon application and blending. It blurred my pores, toned down the redness of my face, and gave a foundation like finish. After 4 hours, though, the product felt heavy and greasy on my skin. As I was taking an exam at that time, there was no way for me to take a peek at a mirror. When I saw my reflection on a public utility vehicle afterwards, I was cake face personified. =( Gone was the flawless, even finish. In its stead was a greasy mess. The pigmentation had become patchy  and I could see parts of my face where the color pigments have moved. The product had also sunk into my pores giving my face an unsightly dotted appearance.

This is why, given my experience, I was surprised to discover a year and a half later that the BB cream trend is still going strong, with Pond's and Celeteque releasing local options. The barrage of reviews by local bloggers discussing the merits of a number of different brands, majority of which are locally available, prompted me to try one again.

So meet Maybelline Clear Smooth BB Stick. It's relatively inexpensive and comes from a reputable makeup brand. Packaging is no-frills but cute and is smaller than standard stick foundations.

Maybelline's BB stick compared with a typical foundation stick

Before I go on, I think it's important to describe my skin type and skin condition and how I use this product. I have oily skin but no pimples. My T-zone is the first part of my face that gets oily, but soon afterwards the rest of my face becomes greasy as well. Depending on the weather, especially if it's hot, I suffer from bouts of facial redness. I also have these broken capillaries on my cheeks and open pores on the sides of my nose. I use this product as I would a regular foundation stick: swiping it on the bridge of my  nose, forehead, chin, and on my cheeks. Then I blend it using my fingers or a sponge. Afterwards, I set it with a generous dusting of loose pressed powder.

I'm not brave enough to post a fully naked face. Besides, I'm doing everyone a favor since it's too early for Halloween. LOL! In this picture I'm wearing some brow makeup and a neutral lipstick.

A profile shot to show the texture of my skin sans any product.
Maybelline BB Stick applied but not blended.

Maybelline BB Stick fully blended but still unpowdered. It looks ghostly pale but the whiteness fades after powder application.

A profile shot to show how it blurs out imperfections and blends with the color of my neck.

Powder applied on top sets it and tones down the ghostliness. 

The consistency and texture of this product is amazing. Owing to the company's use of a blend of ethylhexyl palmitate ("a derivative of palm oil often used as an organic replacement to silicone") and phentl trimethicone (a silicone with a drier finish than most) it has a 'dry-slip' feel, it's lightweight, non-greasy, and applies smoothly. Compared with a traditional stick foundation, I find that the latter almost always has a heavier and somewhat waxier consistency.

Swatch of Maybelline BB Stick (top) compared with a swatch of a real stick foundaton.

This comes in 3 shades. Fresh, the lightest shade and the one I use, is a perfect match. The shade is quite forgiving and could suit skin tones lighter than mine (from fair to light/medium). The downside is it oxidizes after about 3-4 hours. The telltale sign is the darker color of my jawline in contrast with the lighter color of my neck. Call it the reverse 'geisha-face'.

The manufacturing date is also printed on the sticker with the shade name.

Part of the reason why I bought this BB stick is Maybelline's claims about what it can do.
Claim #1: Controls shine - Mineral clay formula helps keep skin shine-free all day
My experience: No. It didn't control shine that much. After 2 hours  I could notice oiliness. Normally, my face gets a bit greasy after an hour using a regular powder foundation. Adding a mere 60 minutes in controlling shine is no achievement and miles away from the 'all day shine-free' claim.

A couple of hours afterwards and I could notice that the central part of my face has started to become shiny. I even used an oil controlling charcoal mask before applying the product. If I forego the mask, the shine or oiliness is much more noticeable

The product does have Zinc PCA, an ingredient that has antibacterial properties and helps control facial oil or sebum without drying the skin. It also has methyl methacrylate crosspolymer, a film former that has oil-absorbing properties. But for unknown reasons, despite these ingredients, the product does not do much to control my oiliness. I think the waxy ingredients of the stick (e.g., Ozokerite, Hydrogenated Polyisobutene, Diisostearyl Malate, all of which are emollients, plus the silicone and the palm oil derivative) outweigh the oil controlling benefits of the others.

Claim #2: Lasts all day - Powder finish resists sweat and sebum for up to 12 hours
My experience: No again. It barely lasted 4 hours on me in a cool (not air-conditioned) environment, I needed to blot and retouch because coverage has faded. What more if I'm in a humid environment, or in local parlance, ma-alinsangan?  The type of weather prevalent in a tropical country during the rainy season and causes you to sweat even when you're just standing still.

Claim #3: Clears - Reduces the appearance of dark spots, redness, fine lines, and wrinkles
Claim #4: Refines - Reduces the appearance of pores
Claim #5: Conceals - Instantly hides flaws and imperfections
Claim #6: Evens - Corrects uneven skin tone
My experience: If you take a good look at these 4 claims, they basically mean the same thing: the product provides enough coverage to provide the illusion of clearer skin. Claim #5 sums it up well, but I would use the word diffuse by slightly blurring flaws and imperfections. After all, open pores, dark spots, redness, fine lines, wrinkles, and uneven skin tone can all be considered as skin imperfections.  It's such a shame that the product doesn't last on the skin because it really does do all this. It provides medium coverage, blurs pores and other skin imperfections, and doesn't sink into the fine lines around my eyes. It's not the best for concealing given that my under eye circles are quite dark but I don't mind since it doesn't claim anything about concealing.

Claim #7: Smoothens - Makes skin feel smooth, soft, and supple
My experience: This claim is vague. Perhaps it's referring to its lightweight and smooth consistency? Or is it about the product's ability to provide a smoother canvas?  The terms 'soft' and 'supple' are unclear. Does it mean that if I use the product I'll get soft and supple skin? Maybe this was included because BB products are supposed to be skincare items as well.As it is, I'm not really sure what to make of this claim.

Claim #8: Protects - SPF 21/PA+++ protects against harmful UVA and UVB rays
My experience: This one, I'm sorry to say, is rubbish. And this probably is the product's worst shortcoming. Sun screen claims are serious business. They are never to be taken lightly.

The PA system, which is short for Protection Grade of UVA, that Maybelline uses is from the Japanese system for UVA protection. To sum it up, there are 4 levels (with 4 as the highest) of UVA protection based on the rate of Persistent Pigment Darkening (PPD). Without getting too technical, since this has a PA+++ it should provide high protection from UVA rays, which is more damaging than UVB rays. Unfortunately, it contains no sunscreen ingredient that provides this kind of protection. Take a very close look at its ingredient list and you'll see that it has no sunscreen ingredient at all. The only sunscreens at the moment that can provide protection from the UVA rays are the following: titanium dioxide, zinc oxide, avobenzone, tinosorb, and Mexoryl SX. And none of these ingredients are present here.

Maybelline BB Stick's ingredients.
(Is it just me, but isn't it weird that no preservative is listed? Cream products such as this always need preservatives to ensure that they don't turn rancid.)

Please, if any one out there is reading this and is using this as their sole source of sun protection, STOP. You will be doing your skin a grave disservice. If, however, this product works for you, I suggest that you layer it over a sunscreen that provides protection from UVA/UVB, which is what I do.

If only the coverage, lasting power, and oil absorbency of this BB stick isn't so short-lived this would have been a real winner. I wish Maybelline would reformulate this product so that these issues and the lack of effective sunscreen ingredients are addressed. I have and love a number of Maybelline products, but this one needs improvement.

Currently, I use this over sunscreen and I layer powder or mineral powder foundation on top. This application process helps the product last longer on me and provides more absorbency, oil-wise.

This was originally priced at P249, but I got mine at P279 for a 10 gram product.  Maybelline is available at most health and beauty section of department stores and at select super markets.

The Original Beauty Bible, by Paula Begoun


  1. Thank you for this mama! Very informative!!!

    1. Good to hear you found the review informative, Mama B! You're welcome. Thank you for dropping by! =)

  2. Nice review! It still looked great a couple of hours! :D

  3. most BB creams ive tried are the same at first - too pale but blends into your skin after it sinks in. thanks for the very detailed review. i like it that you covered different types of girls that may or may not like it, and that you include infos on your skin type :) very helpful!

    1. Hello Shayne! Wonderful of you to drop by. Yes, isn't it funny that BB creams have that effect? I'm happy that you found my review very helpful. I've followed you back and I'm now hopping on over to your blog for a look see.

      Come back soon! =)

  4. Very informative and detailed review you have. I like it. I am reading too Paula Begoun's book and I love it. Now, my problem is I bought a compact BB cream in Etude House with high spf but I have thrown the box already so I don't know the ingredients. My bad! Will search google though for the ingredients!