Youth Code BB Cream Illuminator SPF 15
2.5 fl. oz. for $16.99
Last Updated:06.20.2014
Jar Packaging:No
Tested on animals:Yes
Review Overview

We wanted to rate this higher than we did, but there are two formulary issues that stopped us from doing so: Alcohol and fragrance. The amount of alcohol is potential cause for concern, as alcohol is a known skin irritant (and there's nothing youthful about its use in skin care). The fragrance, which appears at the end of the ingredient list, makes a surprising, unwelcome impact. The scent lingers on skin long after this BB cream has set (see More Info to learn why daily use of highly fragrant products is a problem for your skin).

Texture-wise, this somewhat thick yet lightweight cream is a breeze to apply. It sets to a soft matte finish that contains a hint of shine for subtle illumination, and you'll get some hydration, too, but not enough to quench the needs of dry to very dry skin (this BB cream is best for normal to combination or oily skin). Broad-spectrum sun protection is provided by an in-part titanium dioxide sunscreen, so, like most BB creams, this is essentially a tinted moisturizer with sunscreen. Unlike many tinted moisturizer, this BB cream provides softer, more translucent color from both of its shades. The translucency is good, because both shades err a bit on the peachy side.

In terms of this containing anti-aging ingredients, the biggest portion is the sunscreen actives, which will protect against more wrinkles and brown spots assuming you apply this liberally. Otherwise, this contains more fragrance (in the form of fragrance chemical limonene) than anti-aging ingredients like niacinamide and antioxidant vitamins. Still, it's good L'Oreal included those at all but a greater amount of them without so much fragrance (and no alcohol) would've propelled this BB cream to our best rating.


  • Provides broad-spectrum sun protection.
  • Easy to apply and blend.
  • Provides sheer, natural-looking coverage with a subtle glow.


  • The fragrance this contains is potent and lingers long after the formula sets.
  • Does not provide enough moisture (the finish feels powdery) for dry skin.
  • Amount of alcohol is potentially irritating.
  • Contains more fragrance than anti-aging ingredients, but fragrance isn't skin care.

More Info:

Daily use of products that contain a high amount of fragrance, whether the fragrant ingredients are synthetic or natural, causes chronic irritation that can damage healthy collagen production, lead to or worsen dryness, and impair your skin's ability to heal. Fragrance-free is the best way to go for all skin types. If fragrance in your skin-care products is important to you, it should be a very low amount to minimize the risk to your skin (Sources: Inflammation Research, December 2008, pages 558-563; Skin Pharmacology and Physiology, June 2008, pages 124-135, and November-December 2000, pages 358-371; Journal of Investigative Dermatology, April 2008, pages 15-19; Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, March 2008, pages 78-82; Mechanisms of Ageing and Development, January 2007, pages 92-105; and British Journal of Dermatology, December 2005, pages S13-S22).




Experience 5 complexion-perfecting benefits in a single step.  Youth Code BB Cream Illuminator instantly events, illuminates, perfects, moisturizes and protects skin.  In one week, tone and texture are improved and skin is healthier looking.


Active: Octinoxate 4%, Titanium Dioxide 3.6%, Other: Water, Isononyl Isononanoate, Isohexadecane, Glycerin, Alcohol Denat., PEG-20 methyl Glucose Sesquistearate, Methyl Glucose Sesquisterate, Cetyl Palmitate, Nylon-12, Cyclohexasiloxane, Propylene Glyocl, Hydrogenated Polyisobutene, Stearyl Alcohol, Magnesium Aluminum Silicate, Phenoxyethanol, Caprylyl Glycol, Lithium Magnesium Sodium Silicate, Ethylhexyl Hydroxystearte, Disodium EDTA, Linalool, Benzyl Salicylate, Limonene, Niacinamide, Triethanolamine, Caffeine, Tocopheryl Acetate, Ascorbyl Glucoside, Oxothiazolidinecarboxylic Acid, Benzyl Alcool, Ceraniol, Cellulose Acetate Butyrate, Polyphosphorylcholine Glycol Acrylate, Citral, Ammonium Polyacryloydiemethyl Taurate, Castanea Sativa (Chestnut) Seed Extract, Polyvinyl Alcohol, Sodium Chloride, Butylene Glycol, Sodium Hyaluronate, Fragrance; May Contain Iron Oxides, Bismuth Oxychloride

Brand Overview

L'Oreal Paris At-A-Glance

Strengths: Budget-friendly prices; good makeup removers; wide assortment of self-tanning options; one of the best, most comprehensive makeup collections at the drugstore, with superb options in almost every category; the mascaras are a tough act to follow.

Weaknesses: Jar packaging hinders some of the skincare formulas; many of their skincare formulas contain problematic amounts of fragrance and/or other irritants; exaggerated anti-aging claims.

L'Oreal's extensive makeup collection retains its stature as one of the better selections at the drugstore, though they have stiff competition from Revlon and, in some cases, sister company Maybelline New York. In recent years L'Oreal has made significant strides with foundation shades, powder textures, concealers, and, of course, superlative mascaras that rarely fail to impress. Their lipsticks are excellent and you will find many L'Oreal makeup products have a Lancome counterpart, and that the differences are minor—if there are any at all.

L'Oreal's displays in many drugstores reflect better-organized products and shade categories (though testers are still scarce). Given the number of lipsticks they sell, it only makes sense to put them in color families so consumers have a better shopping experience. Their True Match products are also sensibly laid out, but the rest of the foundations aren't as organized, likely due to the smaller selection of shades. Speaking of foundations, L'Oreal has made further strides by offering more that provide sufficient UVA protection. Revlon still has the edge for consistently launching impressive foundations with sunscreen, but at least L'Oreal is (finally) catching up.

The bottom line is that every category of L'Oreal’s makeup has some winning (and in some cases, benchmark-setting) products.

Unfortunately, despite the brands’ enormous presence in the beauty industry, L'Oreal's moisturizers and treatment products are a nearly all unremarkable and repetitive. When it comes to moisturizers or serums, just about anything from Dove, Olay, Neutrogena, or Aveeno is preferred. L'Oreal does well with most of their cleansers, along with scrubs and self-tanning products, but given the widespread availability and financial resources of this line, they could be doing so much more. The good news is their makeup has made major strides and now ranks as the best overall color collection at the drugstore—imagine the results if their skin care followed suit.

For more information about L'Oreal, call (800) 322-2036 or visit www.loreal.com or www.lorealparisusa.com.

About the Experts

The new Beautypedia Team proudly and unequivocally maintains the commitment to help you find the best products possible for your skin. We do this by relentlessly pursuing and relying on published scientific research so you will have unbiased information on what works and what doesn't-and the sneaky ways you could be making your skin worse, not better!

The Beautypedia Team reviews all products using the same research, criteria, and objectivity, whether the product being reviewed is from Paula's Choice or another brand.

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