BB creams have become the breakthrough product of the past 12 months, shattering retailers’ sales expectations and causing makeup and skincare companies alike to swiftly jump on the trend. But will BB creams become an everlasting category in the beauty market? Or are they just another passing fad?

“We are seeing a potentially emerging category and what’s really interesting is that [BB creams] are resonating with younger customers who haven’t always been involved in skincare,” said Karen Grant, beauty analyst at The NPD Group, who noted that BB creams are also a favorite among the less-serviced black, Hispanic and Asian populations.

“The market has been skewing so much older for so long and only toward one ethnic group. Since this product resonates, it’s helping to expand the base of the skincare user, so people of different ages and races are finding a product within the market which appeals to them,” added Karen, who said that while Caucasians make up 71 percent of all beauty sales, they only account for 48 percent of BB cream sales. In the 12-month period ended March 2012, BB creams generated nearly $9 million in U.S. department stores, added Karen.

But what exactly is a BB cream?

Multiple companies said a BB Cream is “a multi-beneficial product often providing SPF protection, makeup coverage, anti-aging properties and hydration.” Sometimes, it’s referred to as a Blemish Balm or a Beauty Balm. BB creams originated in Asia and have come to the U.S. full throttle, being touted in both the prestige and mass beauty markets as the new all-inclusive “it” product.

Carolyn Holba, Senior Vice President of Marketing for Maybelline New York*Garnier*Essie, said she had been watching the trend unfold in Asia over the past several years and studied how to cater it to the American consumer.

“We realized we could do an ‘instant treatment’ for American skin. You see instant results, there’s SPF, it evens out skin tone,” Carolyn said, adding that she thinks BB creams are here to stay.

“It’s so versatile. It allows for layering of product. And if anything, it serves as an entry point to foundation.”

Jerrod Blandino, co-owner and creative director, Too Faced Cosmetics, agreed. “I’ve seen lots of trends in the industry come and go and the fusion between skincare and makeup is more than a trend. It’s the future.”

“It was the first product that knocked us upside the head. In the first two to three weeks we had sold out of what we had for the first four to sixth month launch. It blew Sephora away. It blew Ulta away…It’s what tinted moisturizers wanted to be,” added Jerrod. has already taken the liberty of giving BB creams their own category in the skincare genre; a multitude of companies, including Dior, Boscia, Clinique, Dr. Jart+, Dr. Brandt, Stila, Smash Box, Too Faced and Omorovivicza, are all making the products.

“The BB creams are our bestselling product. We can’t keep them in stock,” said Sarah Haynes Heath of Boscia. “I definitely think they’re here to stay.”

Despite all of their recent attention and success, not everyone is convinced that BB creams will be long-term powerhouse players.

“Honestly, I think it’s a fad,” said Lily Garfield, owner of Cos Bar, a high-end retail boutique with 12 locations across the country. “My personal feeling is that I don’t think one product is the end-all of anything. I think [BB creams] are a great intro product to get someone into skincare, but we hope they would move beyond that,” said Lily.

While it’s still too soon to determine what role BB creams will end up playing in the industry, Lily said they could become the product for the “woman on the go,” but it’s important for companies to determine their ideal usage and educate the customer accordingly, especially since the NPD Group found that over 70 percent of BB cream users are trading off from other products.

“Marketing it as the ‘only product you need,’ is not exactly a win-win situation for retailers or manufacturers,” explained NPD’s Karen.