Do BB Creams Provide Adequate Sun Protection?

by Gio
BB creams do not provide adequate sun protection

BB Creams have taken the beauty world by storm. And why not? Rumour has it, they’re “one-size-fits-all” miracle wonders that do everything.

Moisturiser. Sunscreen. Primer. Foundation. You name it, it swears it does it. But I’m not sure I buy it. In my experience, multi-tasking products always fall short on something.

In the case of BB Creams, that something is often sun protection.

BB Creams don’t provide adequate sun protection

Remember when we talked about makeup products with SPF?

At first sight, they seem like a genius idea. Who needs a greasy sunscreen anymore? Just put on your foundation and you’re all set.

Problem is, there’s NO way you can get the level of SPF stated on the packaging.

Here’s the deal: it does’t matter if you’re getting your sun protection from a foundation, a moisturizer or a sunscreen. You still need to apply 1/4 teaspoon to your face alone to get the SPF stated on the label.

For foundations and moisturisers, that translates to roughly 7 layers. Who the heck applies that much?!

It’s the same for BB Creams (or CC Creams, for that matter). You still need to apply 1/4 of teaspoon if you want it to act as a sunscreen, too.

Easier said than that. BB Creams have thicker textures than foundations and lotions. Using that much can feel quite uncomfortable.

Related: Do Cosmetics With SPF Provide Adequate Sun Protection?

Shop BB Creams

Not All BB Creams Provide Broad Spectrum Protection

To add insult to injury, not all BB Creams provide broad spectrum protection. You see, SPF refers only to sun protection from UVB rays.

If a brand loads its BB Creams with plenty of UVB filters and NO UVA filters, they can still claim the cream provides sun protection. It’s not a lie. It’s just not the whole story.

If you’re into BB Creams and are willing to apply the recommended amount to get the SPF stated on the label, look for a formula that protects from both UVA and UVB rays.

Otherwise, just treat a BB Cream like any other moisturiser or foundation: use it to make skin softer and even out the skin tone and then put on that sunscreen!

P.S. Yes, you can apply sunscreen under BB Creams if that works better for you.

The bottom line

When it comes to sun protection, BB Creams provide a false sense of security. Treat them like any other moisturiser or foundation and use them together with, not as a substitute for, sunscreen.

Do you rely on BB Creams alone for your sun protection?

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MonicaP October 22, 2013 - 4:10 pm

Naw, I don’t even like BB creams .. I just need more coverage that these particular products offer. I do use a separate sunscreen as I love in Calif and it’s much needed.


beautifulwithbrains October 22, 2013 - 6:01 pm

MonicaP, I don’t see the appeal either. I guess they’re ok if you need only enough coverage to even out the skintone, otherwise it’s best to buy separate products. They work better than multitasking ones.

Christina @ Hair Romance October 23, 2013 - 3:49 am

Such a good point! I like using a BB cream when I’m wearing minimal makeup but I also apply a physical suncreen as well

beautifulwithbrains October 23, 2013 - 7:51 pm

Christina, nothing can substitute a good sunscreen, can’t it?

H January 9, 2016 - 6:26 pm

Ya, and if it uses chemical sunscreens you should reapply it every two hours, unless you have another sunscreen to reapply.

Gio January 9, 2016 - 9:04 pm

H, you should indeed. Thank you for the remainder.

Joanne JMallon May 22, 2016 - 3:24 pm

I do add extra sun screen, but any time I don’t then I find that my BB cream does a reasonably good job at protecting my face from the sun. Possibly this is because I use Korean BB creams which typically have a very high SPF and are just better at that stuff than Western creams. I think it’s a good issue to discuss, since there will be many people who think that a BB cream with SPF 15 is enough to see them through the day, when it really isn’t.

Gio May 23, 2016 - 9:50 pm

Joanne, I agree that Korean BB Creams are much better. I would wear sunscreen even with them, just to be on the safe side. But, most BB creams just don’t offer adequate protection, and it’s so worrying that so many people use them as sunscreen. *sighs*

Hilary May 8, 2018 - 7:15 pm

Hi Gio! This is an older post I know, but I’m struggling to figure our a sunscreen that works with my favorite BB Cream. The problem is that even the lightest sunscreens tend to create a block for the BB Cream to adequately absorb, so then it feels like it’s just sitting on my skin (which I hate, that’s why I prefer BB and tinted moisturizers to wearing foundation).
I’m wondering if a solution would be to use BB Cream (I love Stila’s) and then top it off with a powder sunscreen like from SuperGoop. Would that be adequate protection? Mind you I work in an office so I’m indoors most of the day, but I do live in NYC which means I’m outside commuting and running errands for a good chunk of the morning and evening.
Love your site! Thanks!

Gio May 19, 2018 - 12:23 pm

Hilary, I hear ya! Finding the right sunscreen is so tricky! Would it be possible for you to apply the BB Cream before the sunscreen? Powder sunscreens aren’t the best because they cake when you apply the recommended amount plus they’re easily removed from the skin. But if that’s the best you can do, it’s way better than nothing.


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