• Penn Smith

BB Glow: exactly what is it? And is it safe?

Updated: Sep 19

You may have heard of 'BB Glow', a treatment that infuses pigment into the skin in order to create a 'glow'. BB Glow is a trend that started several years ago in Korea and has become increasingly popular in the west, both treatment rooms and at home.

If you do a bit of research on BB Glow, you'll find that it's a treatment that evokes 'passionate' opinions. On one side you'll find enthusiasts (both practitioners and consumers) who push the product/proceedure into the 'semi-permanent makeup' category, effectively microneedling a mix of pigment and other ingredients into the epidermis to provide coverage, color and glow that might last upwards of a month. On the other side, you'll hear from people who think it's a terrible idea - 'microneedling pigment into your face? Too risky!'

Well, I'm here to weigh in (again) for a balanced approach! Is it a good idea to use a 0.3+mm Microneedle to directly infuse the epidermis (rich with live, growing cells and lots of cell signalling magic!) with a cocktail of pigments? Absolutely not!! (You'll see that I cosmetically needle at .25mm prior to the application of pigment to feed the skin. These superficial channels close extremely fast). The stratum corneum, the very top layer of our skin, consists of dead cells. When we Nano the solution, we're not creating channels into the epidermis, but simply separating the outermost dead layers in the stratum corneum in order to temporarily place a bit of pigment. The result? Think of it as a 'weekend of glow'. Note that allergic reactions are always a possible with any makeup application. Because this is taking that up a notch it is imperative that you patch test prior to embarking on an entire application.

Below you'll find my own personal protocol. I'm sharing for fun and for educational purposes, please do your own research and decide whether BB Glow is right for you. Hopefully this post will answer all the FAQs. So let's get glowing!

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I hope you enjoy this "facial" as much as I do!



  • Can impart a radiant complexion

  • Can camouflage irregularities

  • Cosmetic needling can feed the skin active ingredients (addressing a number of skin conditions)

  • May help with the reduction of fine lines (via the cosmetic needling and the visual illusion of even complexion)


  • Someone with an uneven complexion

  • Someone with hyperpigmentation (the BB Glow can camouflage some minor hyperpigmentation)

  • Someone with post acne marks (cosmetic needling may help address the cause and the pigment may camouflage the spots)


(all products linked at the end of the post)

1. Exfoliate: I used am at-home microdermabrasion tool but a great scrub will work. It is important to get the surface dead skin off to retain some BB Glow results for a couple days. You may substitute mechanical exfoliation with GENTLE chemical exfoliation (not a chemical peel but rather a gentle AHA to remove surface dead cells to allow for an even pigment distribution).

2. Cosmetic microneedle: I use a Dr. Pen A6 and a 36 pin cartridge to get a very superficial microneedling in. This should be .25mm or more shallow depending on the device that you have. I use salmon DNA in this step as it is supposed to be brightening and hydrating. This can be substituted with any serum that you love for cosmetic needling. I think the best serums are the hydrating serums and peptide type serums (no vitamin C or acid serums in this step-they may accelerate the loss of pigment).

3. Pigment: I added pigment relatively soon after I finished needling (although in my experience the shallow channels close extremely fast-they are not meant to take on the pigment. You can choose to wait a few minutes if you’d like to be sure). Be generous with the pigment. When in doubt, go a shade lighter than you think you need. I used about 2/3 of the vial of pigment during this step and could have used even more!

4. Nano the pigment in-you will change the cartridge on your pen to a nano cartridge and nano over the pigment. I do 2-4 passes in each area using circular motions.

Occlude the pigment when you are done with a silicone reusable mask. I gave the pigment 20 minutes under the mask to "set".

5. Remove the mask and PAT the excess pigment off. This is important! Do not wipe it off. If there isn't too much pigment just leave it (no patting at all).

6. Now pat in the final serums-I used Bradceuticals GF serum and Isntree HA in this step.

If it is daytime sunscreen is a MUST.

I used the Thank You Farmer Sun Project Shimmer Essence (a huge favorite of mine)


avoid all of these for 24-48 hours:

  • Taking hot baths

  • Swimming in a chlorinated pool or useing a hot tub

  • Acid washes or detergent type soaps (try to just rinse with warm water and PAT dry, no wiping vigorously!)

  • Using AHAs/BHAs

  • Using manual scrubs

  • ˚Performing another microdermabrasion or microneedling

  • ˚Touching/rubbing or picking at your face

This treatment is only safe if you research your potential contraindications, adhere to shallow needle depths only prior (no deep needling...that is not safe in my opinion and you may SKIP the cosmetic needling altogether if you'd like and choose to microderm only prior to pigment) and then...only NANO the pigment,

not needle it.


  • Do not perform if you have had botox in the previous 2 weeks

  • Do not perform if you have active acne or active herpes (cold sores)

  • Diabetes is a contraindication for traditional BB Glow. Please Do your research if you are diabetic as to the suitability of this treatment.

  • Do not preform on skin with eczema or psoriasis

  • Do not perform a chemical peel before a BB Glow. This will not only sensitize the skin but also will cause further exfoliation (negating the treatment).

  • Do not perform in the presence of skin cancer

  • Consider any contraindications for microneedling a contraindication for BB Glow

  • If you have a condition not listed but are unsure, consider skipping this one


*Penn Smith Skincare is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate program. Many links are affiliate links, meaning I am compensated when you shop through these at no extra fee to you.


Touch 10% Glycolic face wash (this is perfect for pre-treatment as prep and to begin the exfoliation process. Normal, oily, combo skin types would love this. Dry-skinned people may not like this day to day but would enjoy it in this protocol...This brand has my attention. I have ordered several things from the line and will be doing a thorough review soon) https://amzn.to/3twNbQS


PMD Elite (the one that I showed) https://amzn.to/2YCfaQT

I am going to list less expensive PMD options (in descending order of cost):

PMD Pro https://amzn.to/3cHwcW5

PMD Classic https://amzn.to/3arUDEa

Cosmetic Needling:

Salmon DNA options:

Stayve: https://amzn.to/2MWNpAc

Dr. Drawing https://amzn.to/3tTiRAa

IF YOU OWN BRADCEUTICALS it will work in this step https://amzn.to/3aVeHyN (Unavailable)

Dr Pen A6 https://amzn.to/3vNctLh

Nano and Pigment:

Dr Pen A6 Nano cartridges https://amzn.to/2OqEyqN

Stayve BB Glow kit is sold out. This is the Avery Rose kit (looks very similar to Stayve) that comes WITH serums and pigment:https://amzn.to/377oMaN

This is the Avery Rose kit with the pigment ONLY (all shades, but

no serums )https://amzn.to/3ac1Wka

MESO kit (this one looks excellent!) https://amzn.to/3d4P3KM


Silicone reusable masks https://amzn.to/2ZbpEXv

Finish/Sun Protection:

Bradceuticals https://amzn.to/3aVeHyN (Currently Unavailable)

Isntree HA https://amzn.to/3tP97GN

Thank You Farmer Shimmer Sun essence (SPF 30) https://amzn.to/3p8O7at


Q. Can I mix the colors?

A. Absolutely! This is part of the fun!

Q. Can I buy refills just in my color?

A. Most brands sell single color sets.

Q. Is this something I can do year round or should I reserve for ‘special occasions’?

A. This is not a seasonal treatment, however, I would consider your lifestyle during certain months/seasons. Do you like to swim in the summer? If yes then BB Glow would be less effective. Do you like to do chemical peels in the fall? Then BB Glow isn't great then either. Think of your life and plan this fun treatment accordingly.

Q. Will exfoliation (chemical or physical) reduce the life of my BBGlow?

A. Yes! exfoliation POST BB Glow will shorten the longevity of this treatment.

Q. I don’t have a Dr. Pen. Can I use my derma roller or derma stamp to do a BBGlow?

A. Derma rollers and stamps are needling devices. While they would work for the cosmetic needling portion of this protocol they would not replace the nano portion. So no, a roller or stamp does not work for this entire protocol.

Q. Does BBGlow provide any benefit to the skin, or is it used solely for cosmetic purposes?

A. There is value in the microdermabrasion and cosmetic needling portion in this protocol. The pigment portion is purely cosmetic.

Q. Is it important that my skin is well hydrated before doing BBGlow?

A. Yes. We want the skin to be hydrated so that it looks good but also has a little time before becoming dry and naturally turning over (down the drain...with your BB Glow).

Q. I’m going to be out in the sun a lot (with SPF) is it okay to have sun exposure while I have BBGlow in the skin?

A. The pigment from BB Glow will actually enhance your protection from the sun but the treatment itself may increase sun sensitivity. Diligent sun protection is paramount.

Q. Are there any long term effects of nano’ing pigment?

A. This is unknown. It is important to weigh the risks of the unknown and decide for yourself if it's worth it to do.

Q. Can I use my LED light with BBGlow? How about other devices such as radiofrequency, micro current and high frequency wands?

A. You may do LED in this protocol right after microdermabrasion but before cosmetic needling if desired. Otherwise NO, I would not use any other devices with this protocol. I would wait a few days to re-incorporate devices (just enjoy the glow....But let it BE!).

Q. Who makes BBGLOW? Are there different brands to choose from?

A. There are different brands and I am testing some. I am searching for the best ingredients I can find. Until then, I am treating it like make-up and keeping it very superficial. :)


Disclaimer: This post is not intended to provide diagnosis, treatment or medical advice. Content provided on this blog is for informational and entertainment purposes only. Please consult with a physician or other healthcare professional regarding any medical or skin related diagnosis or treatment options. Information on this website should not be considered as a substitute for advice from a healthcare/skin professional. The statements made about specific products throughout this website are not to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent disease. It is important that you check labels to determine if a product is right for you. Before starting any treatment at home consult a health care or skin care professional to determine if it’s right for you.

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