Have you ever asked the beauty gods for a way to keep foundation on your skin longer than a day without facing the consequences of sleeping in your makeup? Your prayers may have been answered in the form of semi-permanent BB cream, a treatment that offers patients a way to wear BB cream without having to wash and re-apply it everyday for up to a year.


Think of semi-permanent BB cream as more of tinted skincare. “It’s definitely not a tattoo for makeup,” says Aishe Balic, aesthetician and founder of GLO Skin and Laser in NYC, which offers its BB Glo ($400 for two sessions) treatment (similar to ones already popular in Asia and Russia). “This pigment is specifically made to go inside the bloodstream, and it’s totally safe.” (Photo via bluecinema/Getty)

The product lends a blurring effect from inside your skin to lighten dark circles, even out skin tones, and reduce the appearance of pores. “You’re not going to walk out of here looking like you have makeup on,” she says. “It completely looks like your skin, but better.”

How It’s Done

Think of it as a hybrid microneedling treatment. “It involves the use of microneedling to deliver a BB cream formulation into the skin for more even tone and brighter complexion,” Claire Chang, an NYC-based cosmetic dermatologist at Union Square Laser, says. The total process can take up to about an hour and twenty minutes.

An aesthetician cleanses and exfoliates the skin and applies a numbing cream. Unlike a traditional microneedling tool, the BB cream version uses a denser needle to hold the pigment and give your skin a more even application. Once the pin-pricking process is over, your aesthetician applies a face mask to calm your skin. You’ll need to make one or two more appointments for the full effect.

If you’re worried about sensitive skin or color matching, schedule an appointment to swatch first. The aesthetician will test the formula on your neck, as it’s close enough to the face but still hidden should you react negatively to it (which Balic says is rare).

After the treatment, expect to stay out of the sun for an extended period of time to avoid fading. Otherwise, you can stick to your regular skin care routine (with SPF, of course). “Similar with other microneedling procedures, I would recommend that you keep the treated skin clean for at least the next 24 hours after the procedure,” says Chang.

The upside

The pigment contains ingredients such as vitamin B3 to give you a healthier looking complexion. And you get the coverage of makeup without the risk of breakouts from wearing it all day. “The foundation is inside your skin,” she says. “It’s not sitting on it and clogging your pores. It has all the anti-aging ingredients, vitamins, and antioxidants, so it’s good for your skin.”

Plus, you reap the same benefits you would from a microneedling treatment, including evened-out tone and reduced appearance of fine lines, pores, and scars.

The downside

This isn’t suitable for all skin types. According to Balic, if you’re acne-prone, she recommends that you wait for any big breakouts to clear before making an appointment so you don’t cause more irritation. “There is also the possibility that the shade may not be right or it fades in some areas faster than in others and you have to wait three to four months for it to fade completely,” says Sabrina Fabi, a San Diego-based dermatologist of the Women’s Dermatologic Society. Currently, there are only three shades available, which they mix to get the right match. Other adverse effects include pain, redness, bleeding, temporary hyperpigmentation, and infection; Balic insists these are rare.

While this may be a breakthrough in the beauty market for those self-proclaimed lazy beauty girls, some dermatologists are wary of it. “I tell patients that permanent or semi-permanent makeup is not always advisable because you are not permanent,” says Fabi. “Your face changes, and the makeup remains the same. It’s best to know how you would proceed if you didn’t like the shade of the product applied. How will it be removed, and what are the costs and risks to do so? This should be factored in when making your decision.”

Derms such as Chang also still advocate for a regimented skincare routine if you want healthy, glowing skin; she says to focus on products that will improve your skin’s health.

Do you think you’ll go and get semi-permanent BB cream? Let us know @BritandCo!

Brit + Co may at times use affiliate links to promote products sold by others, but always offers genuine editorial recommendations.

Featured photo via Lev Savitskiy/Getty