Review: Dr. Jart+ Premium Beauty Balm SPF 45 PA+++

By Voxy  

Since May is National Skin Cancer Awareness Month (right, I knew that, of course I knew that, how dare you suggest that my previous posts on sunscreen were just happy coincidences), I thought I might as well keep on with another review of a tinted sunscreen. Or a tinted primer with sunscreen. Or a sunscreen primer that’s tinted. Whatever.

If you cruise around the billions and billions of makeup blogs on the interwebz, you are sure to come across a mention or two of a mysterious product called a BB (beauty balm) cream, which hails from the Asian markets. BB creams are touted to moisturize, act as a primer, provide sunscreen, lighten the skin, heal blemishes and minor skin injuries, act as a tinted moisturizer, record all of your favorite shows on TV, do your dishes, change the oil in your car, bake oatmeal cookies, walk the dog, and predict the winner of America’s Next Top Model (DidYouWatchThatLastCycleOhMyGodSheTotallyDidn’tDeserveToWin). I am only slightly exaggerating. They’re like Jesus in a tube.

Since these are so popular in the Asian market, you would figure it would only be a matter of time before they are released into the wild — which is to say, into the slavering barbaric lands of the West. And indeed, within the last several weeks, the eagle has landed for a couple of these products. Unfortunately, saith the blogosphere, these Westernized BB creams lack most of the awesome power of the originals. Having never tried the originals (but hoping to pick one up someday), I can’t vouch for that. However — just because they aren’t the same as Asian BB creams doesn’t mean they aren’t worth exploring in their own right. I am here today to defend one of these products: Dr. Jart+ Premium Beauty Balm SPF 45 PA+++.

First of all, I don’t know why Dr. Jart+ has a + after his name. It makes me want to add something there too. You know, like Ke$ha. I could be Vøxy. Or, Vöxy. Or Voxyº, which symbolizes that I am hot hot hot. Or Voxy± to signify my ambivalence about something. Ideas?

Right. On to the actual review. Forget anything that you might have heard about what other BB creams are like and just see if you like this product for what it is. I have to say, I really love it. (Løve it.)

I would describe this as a tinted primer with SPF. It is heavy on the silicone, so those who are not ‘cone-a-holics may want to avoid this one. It is also, I am delighted to say, definitely, defiantly pink in tone. Hä! We çool-tonéd girlß will tâke contró£ oƒ the wö®l∂ 1 of thésè dª¥z. You wait and see.

While in Hell recently, I used it as a primer in the morning over a liquid sunscreen by Cosmedix, and used the previously-reviewed e.l.f. mineral powder sunscreen as a finishing powder and for touchups during the day. The combination worked great; I didn’t come home with any tanning of facial skin. Now that I am no longer in Hell, and neither the heat nor the UV exposure are quite as extreme, I can eliminate the Cosmedix and just go with the Dr. Jart and the e.l.f.

As a primer, I find it not *quite* sufficient for the areas of my face that really need help in terms of camouflaging larger pores — that is to say, my nose and surrounding territories. This is easily remedied by applying my favorite primer (Too Faced Primed & Poreless) either on top or beneath the Dr. Jart. That is seriously my only complaint about the product. The color is a great match for me; it has enough coverage to even out skin tone but not so much that it looks fake-ly opaque; it wears well through the day; it’s easy to blend — in short, it’s a big tube of WIN. (No Jesus, though. Sorry.)

For those who are wondering about the “+++” business, this is one part of the Asian-market sunscreen effectiveness designation. Not for them our measly UVA/UVB  or “SPF 15” designations (though the Dr. Jart people do tell us that this is SPF 45). US sunscreen designations tell us the strength of the UVB protection, but not that of the UVA protection; we are merely warned to choose a sunscreen that says it has “broad spectrum” protection. The PA system (which comes in +, ++, or +++) is like its European compatriot PPD (Persistent Pigment Darkening) in that it measures the strength of protection against UVA rays, the part of American sunscreen designations that’s woefully missing. PA+ products offer “some” UVA protection, and correspond to a European PPD grade of 2-4. (Note that’s not at all the same as an SPF of 2-4!) PA++ products are generally what’s touted as your everyday sunscreen, and correspond to European PPD 4-8. PA+++ is the top mark and corresponds to European PPD of 8 or above; obviously this is the kind you want to pick up if you can get it. The product under review today both has an SPF of 45 (UVB) and is designated PA+++ … so, definitely worth picking up from a protection point of view.

This was a dream to apply and blended well with my skin (but remember, I am both light and pink). It lasted all day but was not stubborn when it came time to remove it. The packaging is neat and clean, with a pump top under the black cap. I do wonder a little bit how well the pump will dispense product when the tube starts to approach empty, but that’s a problem for a future date. I will definitely repurchase this, since it can fulfill most of the functions of my foundation and gives a higher level of sun protection to boot. Note that I’m thinking of it as a foundation replacement, not a primer replacement — I’ll still use my Primed and Poreless in conjunction with it to make sure that areas that need extra primer coverage are, well, covered.

The blurriness in the photo at the top is not that I was drunk while I was taking the picture (come on, you were thinking it, you know you were) but is instead due to the odd way the printing is applied to the tube. It’s cool-looking but doesn’t photograph well.



Dr. Jart+ Premium Beauty Balm SPF 45 PA+++: $39 at Sephora

Provenance: Purchased

Price/Value Ratio (high-end: poor/fair/good/excellent): Fair. A bit pricey.

Purchase again? Yes (though I’ll also be checking out other BB creams as they hit the U.S. market)

(Have you used this product? Love it? Hate it? Want it? Give a holler in the comments!)

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  1. avatar a biologist
    Posted July 6, 2011 at 7:33 pm | Permalink | Reply

    In case any BIs missed the email: Sephora Beauty Insiders can get a free mini BB using code BBCREAM online, $25 minimum purchase.


  2. avatar a biologist
    Posted June 6, 2011 at 7:06 pm | Permalink | Reply

    What are the ingredients that make it a BB, specifically?

    I’m definitely interested in learning more. It seems like some of the things that would appeal to the Asian beauty market, like good sun protection, would be right up my alley.


    • avatar Voxy
      Posted June 6, 2011 at 7:46 pm | Permalink | Reply

      I’m not entirely sure, to be honest. A lot of them say that they are “whitening,” but I don’t see hydroquinone in the ones I have, so maybe they just mean it’s whitening while you have it on. The origin myth of the BB cream is that it was developed for use after cosmetic procedures, so it has both cosmetic and skincare functions (kind of like an ultimate tinted moisturizer, I guess), and then Korean actresses started to use it and thus the enormous BB cream market was born.

      (Just for the record, that is pretty much the same creation myth as La Mer. That’s not a criticism — I’m just pointing out that there are an increasing number of things on the market that are spinoffs of products developed for scar healing or post-procedure care.)

      But! I ordered two other brands of actual authentic Asian BB creams (one full-size from a brand called Missha and then a sample kit from Skin79 that has one mini-tube each of four of their different varieties) and they arrived today. I swatched them to photograph but haven’t started using them yet. I may try one tomorrow.


      • avatar Voxy
        Posted June 6, 2011 at 7:49 pm | Permalink | Reply

        And since I’m already replying to my own comment, let me add on the question of ingredients that just for grins, I typed out the ingredient list of the Missha cream I got today, so I could post it when I do the review.

        How many ingredients do you think there are?

        Answer: 147. Seriously. It has more ingredients than any other skincare or makeup product I have ever seen.


      • avatar a biologist
        Posted June 6, 2011 at 8:55 pm | Permalink | Reply

        I’m definitely not interested in whitening for my face–I have little to no sun damage and of course in the US I’m unfashionably pale.

        Sadly, though, I’m looking for products for healing sun damage on my hands. I am terrible about remembering to re-apply sunscreen to my hands before walking out for afternoon coffee or going home for the day. Perhaps a BB would be perfect for repairing and protecting my hands as well as protecting my face.


        • avatar Voxy
          Posted June 6, 2011 at 9:39 pm | Permalink | Reply

          Protecting, perhaps, but probably not repairing, and for the money you might as well use something you’ll get more of for the price. Once you have noticeable sun damage, topical products probably aren’t going to cut it. In awhile I’m going to be doing some posts on IPL treatments for sun-damaged skin but I’m going to wait until I’ve had several of them. Thus far the experience has been enlightening (no pun intended).

          How about a sunscreen spray for your hands? Those are super-easy to apply, and quick to boot.


          • avatar a biologist
            Posted June 7, 2011 at 12:34 am | Permalink | Reply

            I look forward to the reviews! For a woman my age who has been tanning, the damage is nothing, but I have always been protective, so those little signs of aging (= danger) are bothering me.

            I have a little 1 oz refillable tub for lotion in my day bag–I just have to remember to PUT IT ON my hands when exiting the building. I’m not so good at routine, and with my skin and in the locations I have lived (especially the location prior to this one), it is really necessary that I obsess.

            I often wish white cotton gloves and parasols were still acceptable–or that I had tenure and could get away with them!


    • avatar Voxy
      Posted June 6, 2011 at 7:47 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Oh, and the “blemish” in the “blemish balm” title doesn’t mean “pimple.” It means a scar or discoloration or whatnot. So BB creams are not acne treatments.


  3. avatar chaosbydesign
    Posted June 2, 2011 at 5:01 pm | Permalink | Reply

    “It makes me want to add something there too. You know, like Ke$ha. I could be Vøxy. Or, Vöxy. Or Voxyº, which symbolizes that I am hot hot hot. Or Voxy± to signify my ambivalence about something. Ideas?”


    (I have no idea what that symbol is, but it’s pretty.)


  4. avatar Inthelab
    Posted June 1, 2011 at 7:12 am | Permalink | Reply

    Doesn’t look so cool-toned to me in your photo; this peaches and cream gal might be able to wear it.
    I’m interested in learning more about BBs.


    • avatar Voxy
      Posted June 1, 2011 at 7:28 am | Permalink | Reply

      “I’m interested in learning more about BBs.”

      Me too! I’ll be in Europe later this summer and am hoping that I can pick up some of the Asian ones while I’m there. There are some Asian sites that will ship to the US but I’d like to actually see the product before buying if possible.

      Smashbox has a BB cream coming out soon — next month, maybe?

      (And I would love it if this would work for you, but I would definitely swatch before buying if your local Sephora has it in stock. It really is cool-toned. I’ll try to get another photo.)


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