Pale Girl Friendly: BB cream swatches vs NC15 Pt 2

Since my last BB cream megaswatch post was both more than a year and many, many BB creams ago, after receiving several BB and CC cream samples with Haulzilla, it was high time I stopped procrastinating and got swatching!

Swatching is challenging for me; I have short arms, lots of BB creams but minimal swatching real estate unless I want to stripe things up to my armpit and find an assistant who won't think I'm completely crazy (the neighbours already do), and worst of all, I have a point-and-shoot camera that likes to treat my in-direct-sunlight-skin as white balance.   

Take a look at the image below, which was the only picture I managed to get in direct light that didn't wash my skin out to complete white and give it an unearthly nimbus, like some sort of pudgy extra from the vampire scenes in Twilight.

Note: I did not edit this image in any way other than cropping out my scowling face.  I did not adjust the colours, or lighten the image, or anything else that would increase the freakish whiteness of that arm.  That's 100% pure natural pallidness.  Yay.  Click for huge, if you're that brave and/or curious!
As a result, I look forward to swatching with the same excitement as an overdue dentist appointment; something that you dread with only the silver lining to look for of it finally being over.

Why I do it anyway: The perennial question when it comes to BB (and CC creams) is how to pick the right one; I give advice on this daily and it all really comes down to: find the right shade first, worry about the other elements (finish, coverage, texture, moisture, etc) later.  

Since walking into a retail store and testing the shades there isn't an option for most BB cream seekers (unless they live in Korea or happen to be somewhere that has a flagship store) we are left with the uncertain prospect of buying BB creams sight-unseen.  At best case, we can purchase BB creams in sample sizes from stores such as RoseRoseShop, TesterKorea, ebay, etc, but it's still a waste of money if the shade is wrong.   

I use two BB creams out of this whooooole stash.  Sadness
This is why online swatches from real people is so important- combined with what your MAC shade is/would be if they made it (as is in my case), you have a much better chance of hitting a BB cream that works for you instead of hemorrhaging money on BB creams that will sit gathering dust in that forgotten corner of our stash, triggering feelings of guilt and frustration whenever we pass over them in favour of products that suit us better.

As someone whose natural skintone is in a shade Mac doesn't even make (I'd be an NC5 or NC10 if they made it, scroll down for the close up of how dark NC15 is compared to my actual skin tone), even the lightest BB creams are usually too dark for me, which means I go through a lot of trial and error (and money *sobs*) trying to find something that works.  

In fact, only one BB cream that I own (Missha Perfect Cover in #13) actually matches me properly, but it breaks me out.  I wear the Mizon Snail BB cream (reviewed) daily but it's actually too dark for me compared to my neck/chest.  I haven't had a chance to fully test it yet, but the Skin79 Green is also a good colour match for me; sadly I think it also breaks me out.  Pro tip: When matching at a Mac counter, have them match to your neck, not your face.  You can also use to reverse-look up your Mac shade based of foundations you currently own.  Most of us have a face that is 1-3 shades different than our neck/chest area, which is why foundations can look so right in the store (matched to your face only) but when you get it home and apply it all over, your face is a totally different colour than the rest of you.

Still, I've had more success with Korean cosmetic shades than western ones, so I will continue to chase that mythical unicorn- a BB cream that matches me and doesn't make me break out.  I know there are many others on this same perilous journey, and my ill-fitting BB cream bane will hopefully become your BB swatch boon.

So, I braved the sunlight and ventured outside to take swatches of all the BB and CC creams currently in my posession, save one, the Elisha Coy Premium Gold Mineral BB Cream which is ridiculously expensive (almost $50 for a full size) which I have in travel size and still cost $8.  That's more than some of the full sizes on this list, so I'm very annoyed that I can't find it.  You can see it in the original swatch megapost, though, in case you are curious!

Edit: you know what, I'm just going to go ahead and stick the original swatch post close up image in here, so people can see all of them in one place.  I do full breakdowns of each BB cream and how compatible I feel it is to NC15 in the full post though, so I highly recommend you read it if you haven't already.
Original swatch collection, click here to read the full breakdown!
Now on to the new swatches, which I tried to apply less heavily so they would be more realistic to how they'd actually be worn, although the downside is that it's a bit more challenging to see some of the true colour/features of them.  The crazy glitter and ultra sheer coverage of the Skin79 Pearl is somewhat lost, for example.

As I did in the prior megaswatch post, I started with a stripe of Mac NC15 in Studio Fix down the outside edge as a reference point (see below) although it is actually too dark for me.  Unfortunately, due to the sheer number of swatches, the lighting, and my terrible camera skills, you can't clearly see the NC15 stripe clearly in some of the later shots, so I have included this close-up so you have context for what you are seeing in the other pictures.

You can see the clear delineation between the NC15 swatched down the entire length/top edge of my arm, vs my skin.
Click for huge size!
I have also included a picture of everything swatched in the shade as this was easier to distinguish between the shades once my skin was not glaring in the sun.  Scroll down for another image with all the BB creams listed on top of the image, but the labels obscure the stripe of Mac NC15 painted down the side of my arm (on the leftmost edge in the below image, then also on the lower right edge to compare the right lower column to) so I have included this one without labels as it's easier to identify the NC15 and relative shades of the BB creams in comparison.

Click for close up
Entire left edge, from wrist to inner elbow, also lower right edge:
  • Mac Studio Fix in NC15
Top down:
  • Missha M Perfect Cover  BB Cream SPF42 PA+++ in #13
  • Mizon Multi Function Formula Snail Repair Blemish Balm with SPF32/PA++ (reviewed)
  • Skin79 Super Plus BB Cream SPF30 PA++ in Green
  • Skin79 Super Plus BB Cream SPF50 PA+++ Orange (reviewed)
  • Skin79 VIP Gold Super Plus Beblesh Balm SPF25 PA++
  • Skin79 Hot Pink Super Plus Beblesh Balm SPF25 PA++
  • Skin79 Diamond The Prestige BB Cream (although not as glittery as the pearl, it's still more of a highlighter than a BB cream)
  • Skin79 Pearl Luminous BB Cream (this ~sparkles~ and is not recommended as anything but a highlighter, unless you're going as a Cullen for hallowe'en!) 
  • Mizon Correct Combo Cream SPF25 PA ++
-end of full width swatches-

Left column swatches:
  • Holika Holika Pore Clearing Petit BB Cream SPF30 PA++
  • Mizon 10vely Secret Concealer (not a BB cream I know, but it's impossible to find comparative swatches of this online)
  • The Face Shop Clean Face Oil Free BB Cream (apparently does not contain any sun protection at all, boo urns!)
  • Holika Holika Prime Miracle Snail BB Cream SPF 30 PA+++
  • Etude House Precious Mineral Cotton Fit SPF30 PA++ in N02 
  • Nature Republic Super Origin CC Cream SPF30/PA++ (full width swatch which you can barely see with my arm bent, sorry!)

Right column swatches (with NC15 swatched along the right outer edge)
  • BRTC Perfect Protect System Gold Caviar BB Cream SPF50 PA+++
  • BRTC Blemish Recovery Balm SPF28/PA++ 
  • BRTC Aqua Rush Water Drop BB Cream SPF28/PA++
  • Elisha Coy Always Baby BB Cream SPF35 PA++
  • Lioele Super Gold Snail BB Cream SPF50 PA+++
  • It's Skin Prestige Creme D'Escargot BB SPF25 PA++

 Not pictured: Urban Decay in Halo, which was above the crook of my elbow and I just ... gave up.  Taking pictures of your own arms is difficult, ok? *cries, rubbing sore shoulder*

To avoid getting them mixed up and also to have smaller, more realistic volumes of product to swatch, I first swatched them onto a white piece of paper and hastily scrawled what they were.  Let's not talk about my penmanship- at the best of times it's legible and in circumstances like these where I'm racing against fading daylight, it's an abomination.  Ah well!  I know some people like to see them on paper so I'd feel guilty not posting this just to avoid exposing my handwriting shame.

It's actually amazing how much lighter some of them are before you swatch them.  If you hadn't seen my other megaswatch post, you'd think UD's Halo wasn't on a hellbent mission to turn everyone into a pumpkin.

And now for the Real Deal, with labels and all!  Please click on the image to launch it in full size.

And with that, we're done!  Now I get to test how well my new balm cleanser cleans all this stuff off my arm.

Have a BB cream recommendation you think might work for me?  A story about your own struggles to find the perfect BB cream?  Tips on how you use the BB creams that don't work for you?  Drop me a comment below, or connect with me on Facebook or Twitter!

All the best,

**Disclaimer: All products reviewed/mentioned in my blog, are 100% purchased with my own money, with a single exception of a press sample I tested & reviewed in 2015 which swore me off of them forever.  This blog contains  both affiliate and non-affiliate links, and clicking the former before you shop means that this blog may receive a small commission to assist in this blog supporting itself.  Please see my Contact Info & Disclaimer policy for more information.


  1. Pale-NC-15-High-Five! Thanks for the ultimate swatching post! Now I don't feel so bad that I have two foundations and two BB creams sitting here..the skin79 pearl looks really good here, how do you like it on your face..? So far, only the IOPE that I reviewed last week really matches my paleness although Missha works okay for me as well (but I still thinks that it breaks me out a bit....) I also had more luck with Asian foundations, for some reason the ones in my country are always incredibly yellow :/ This was very informative, thank you for your effort! :)

    1. It's sparkly. Really, really sparkly. In that "I used to think body glitter was a good idea in my teens" sort of way. I haven't actually worn it because I swatched it once, and not only was it too dark, it was ... well, sparkly.

      I read your review about the IOPE and was very intrigued! I still worry about the sanitary-ness of cushions although I am tempted to get a pure white base product (like Mac Face and Body) and just go full Mix Master Flash and blend up my own custom BB creams with my Missha DIY Cushion Case.

  2. I recommend the Cover FX BB Gel in the shade N Light. It is a mattifying anti-blemish treatment so it shouldn't cause you to break out and somehow, one applied, it dries down to a lighter shade.

    1. I think I have an irrational phobia of western BB creams after trying a few and being utterly disappointed. That being said, my heart twinges a bit over the fact that they are Canadian!

  3. Have you tried Missha's Mineral BB Base in #1 Light?

    1. I have not, but I seem to be having trouble finding this specific product, do you have a link? I'm always on the lookout for super light BBs!

  4. Hello I really like your blog :) but if I could ask What is the cleanser you use daily for acne prone skin?

    1. I use the Su:m37 Miracle Rose Cleansing Stick (which is hard to find, sadly, and very expensive) as my daily cleanser for AM, PM (2nd cleanser if I double cleanse) as it's the only cleanser I have which is pH balanced for my skin. If you haven't read my post on why the pH of your cleansers matter (especially in regards to acne bacteria) you can find it here:

      There are plenty of low pH cleansers out there, they just take some digging to find. If you are looking for a cheaper low pH cleanser that is s till Asian (western ones are more plentiful) you should check out the Hada Labo Gokujyun Foaming face wash (the round bottle, not the tube! The tube type has a high pH, so beware) which was reviewed by The Beauty Imprint here:

  5. I think body chemistry has a lot to do with how BB's lighten or darken once applied. e.g. I'm NC20-ish and Skin79 Orange turns extremely light on me while Holika Petite Clearing comes out nearly perfect...gah!

    Have you tried any Skinfood BB's? The Red Orange Sun Stick BB comes in what look like very light shades (I've tried shade W1 and it's quite ghostly on me.) I just think their general BB quality is quite nice :-)
    Thanks for posting all these!

  6. I just found your blog and am in LOVE. Also, I have a spreadsheet for my skincare, so I get the obsession. ^.^
    Anyway, just jumping down to ask if you've tried MAC's NW10. That's my shade (I lean more neutral or cool, but in the summer, I warm up instead of tanning - blame the freckles) and it's super pale. Also, if you mix some of their white face & body foundation wit it, or Illamasqua's, it lightens quite well. And extends the life. Win/win!

    1. Spreadsheet love! As for NW10, I have not tried it as the info I found on it indicated that despite the number, it is not actually lighter than NC15, just a different tone. The comparison swatches I saw convinced me. That may also be why they did not come out with an NC10; the NW10 is actually the NW equivalent of NC15.

      Also, I'm pretty firmly an NC; I have tried NW15 and it was just too pink. I need something to cancel out the redness and match to my neck, so NC is my friend. :)

  7. Have you tried the Missha snail BB? Or the skin79 snail BB? :) I'm... hungering for some bb snails.

    I'm super pale, also in the ~15 range, with yellow undertones. (So, NC15, since yellow is "warmer" than pink for some reason, and MAC goes backwards...)

    an older post, I know, but crossing my fingers you will have either tried more snail BBs and found Mizon to be the best, or be interested in trying them. :) I ordered a handful of samples off eBay, among them skin79 green, Skinfood's peach sake pore bb cream in light beige, Etude House's "Bright Fit" in n02, and their "silky" finish CC cream in shade #1, but obviously it's gonna be a while.

    1. I have not tried the Missha, but I did try the Skin79 Snail BB and hated it due to the smell, and it was too dark as well.

      Mizon is definitely still the best BB cream I have tried, but I'm always on the lookout for pale, yellow-toned BB creams that might work! I hope you'll update me when you receive them :)

  8. Hi Snow White, I have the same problem finding a BB cream light enough for my skin tone.
    In addition, my skin is oily and I have big pores and redness so it's not easy to meet all my expectations. So far, the only BB creams that matches my skin tone is the Laneige Pore control bb Cushion in shade 13 (it also has more matte finish so I'm quite happy with it).

    My hg was the Hanskin UV screen BB cream that I got as a freebie (sebum and sweat resistant) but unfortunately it was already discontinued. :-(((
    Too cool for school bb foundation lunchbox and the Etude House Skin fit bb are nice but not light enough for me. It's not easy to be a Snow White... (sigh)

    1. I am glad to hear that you have at least one BB cream that works for you! It's definitely a trial and error process. :(

  9. I know this is an old post, and you may not get a chance to back up to read this, but now I understand why NW20 from MAC never seemed to work as well as I thought it should on my face. Duh - the makeup artist who recommended the shade was looking at my face (which is about 1-2 shades darker than the rest of me...and not purposely - it's just working and running errands in a city year round) - so it never really matched right. I just got the Missha Signature BB cream in N21 and I'm going to see if that's a better match. Plus, the MAC concealers are super drying on me, and I'm hoping that the Missha one is not.

    1. Yeah when I realized I needed to be matching to my neck, everything changed. :)

  10. Thanks for the swatch haul! I'm a BB cream newbie. I tried Holika Holkia's clearing petit, and its a perfect match for me. I'm a NW20, so still on the pale spectrum. It's so great to see all of theses BBs I've been compulsively researching in one place.

    I'm ready to take the snail plunge. I have difficult skin myself. Did have have any thoughts on the Holika Holika snail BB (beyond shade issues)? What are your thoughts on the snail BBs?

    Also THANK YOU for the pH posts, I will put that knowledge to good use. Love you blog, its very informative.

    1. You are very welcome! I don't remember much about the Holika Holika snail, but I remember that the Skin79 Snail BB smells DISGUSTING. Ugh, having flashbacks.

      For snail BBs, my pick is definitely the Mizon Snail BB cream. :D

      Take care! <3

  11. Do you know that you can get white foundation, right? Then just add a little bit of something yellow and voila! I am going to experiment with food colouring. I'll try to add it to my foundation and see how it changes ;D NC15 is a little bit too orangey for me. I tried Estee Lauder Double Wear in Bone and i love it. The only minus is that it can look dry once set. But it is lighter than NC15 and more yellow ^^

    1. I do, but I'd rather find something that I don't have to be all 'mixmaster flash' in the bathroom every morning when I'm half asleep. ;)

      I think if I used liquid foundation, though, I would definitely be DIY Mad Scientist-ing to get the perfect match. :)

  12. Hope it's OK to respond to such an old post! I have the same paleness but I'm NW. Still, I absolutely cannot do pink, so I need a neutral-no-warmth pale shade. Yeah, good luck with that. Anyway, I've found my almost-HG in the VDL Metal Cushion M101, especially for me the EX formulation. The only thing that makes this just shy of HG is the price. Doesn't seem too bad until one realizes that 15g of product doesn't last very long. And availability is so slim. I've gone back to Skin 79 green, but with a pouty air as I've been hopelessly spoiled by VDL!

  13. Have you tried Dr Jart Pink lable? looks NC 13 pale, got that pink undertone (havent tried it but people seem to love black lable which is their darker shade)

    1. I don't think so- I have swatched a few Dr Jart BB creams and they were all too dark for me, but that doesn't mean that there aren't other options that might work. I'm all about cushions right now, though! :)

  14. I love AB products but I'm hella white like you and gave up on BB creams made for Asian skin tone. I found my go-to with Smashbox Camera Ready CC Cream Broad Spectrum SPF 30 Dark Spot Correcting (Fair). Not sure if you've tried it yet, but I highly recommend! It's very moisturizing and stays put well with primer.

    1. If I wasn't all about cushions (and let's be real, cushion cases) I'd be lured back to western brands but I'm in deep and I never want out. XD

  15. Wow that's a huge collection, lucky you :D I'm surprised you didn't have Etude House by the way. It's worth checking out :)

    Feel free to stop by the latest post about Korean BB Cream

  16. can you tell me the skinfood royal honey cushion that may suit nc15 skin tone? Thank you

    1. Unfortunately I have not tried that cushion, so I wouldn't be able to advise what shade to use. Maybe try googling for the name + NC15?

      Take care

  17. That sad moment when you're pale, yet none of these brands are available in South African stores...

    1. :( eBay? International KR website maybe? There must be a way! :(

  18. Just found your blog, I'm also a pale girl but with pink tones and oily skin. I just got a tube of the Etude house Cover and Bright fit BB in light beige, have you tried any of the Etude house line? And now I've fallen down the rabbit hole of blogs and Amazon products. :D

    1. I haven't tried any Etude House BB creams lately, but I have been eyeing their green primer cushion! ;)