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BB and CC Creams are the new all-in one skin care treatments that utilize the latest in scientific technology and innovation to give you the best skin you’ve ever seen! Well, as WE all know, that is complete BS. BB and CC creams are just tinted moisturizers that may or may not contain beneficial non-vehicular ingredients such as skin lighteners, antioxidants, etc… Both Asian and Western ones contain the same types of ingredients and are not particularly different from each other. However, the one thing they all promise to do is to replace your sunscreen—something that most consumers believe and practice. Let’s see if the most popular ones actually provide adequate*** sun protection.
***Please note that “adequate” is a subjective evaluation, at least considering protection against UVA rays—something that has not been standardized like that against UVB rays. Therefore, what I deem as “adequate” may not be the same as what someone else believes. However, please rest assured that what I deem as “adequate,” is likely above what the average consumer deems as “adequate,” since I’m the type of person who will put on sunscreen even when leaving the house at 6:00 pm in the summer months—that’s how much I care… or how obsessed I am. Mhm, that’s right I said it.
With 1,543 Reviews, this contains (7.5% octinoxate (ON), 4.0% octisalate (OS), 2.5% oxybenzone (OB), and 1.1% titanium dioxide (TiO2)). Well, this provides great UVB protection from almost-maximum amounts of ON and OS, good UVA-II protection from the OB and TiO2, and… very little UVA-I protection from the meager amount of TiO2.
Coming in second with 1,095 Reviews, this contains (6.4% TiO2). As indicated in Part V of the Sunscreen Series, TiO2 does not provide adequate UVA-I protection, except at concentrations higher than about 15%. At that point, the opacity (nanoparticles or not) will be too high to allow for a cosmetically acceptable finish—unless of course, you’re okay with looking like a geisha.
With 954 Reviews, this contains (9.015% TiO2 and 6.035% zinc oxide (ZnO)). With the inclusion of ZnO, this definitely makes the cut for being adequate. While I wish the numbers were reversed for the two UV filters, the resulting formulation is acceptable.
With 717 reviews, this contains (5.0% TiO2 and 5.0% ZnO). Here’s where we get into the gray areas of: Does this provide enough protection? Well in my opinion, I wouldn’t use this on a daily basis. However, I would recommend this for those rare situations when you have to “put on your face” in a rush, since it does provide decent sun protection, light coverage, and is mildly moisturizing for normal-ish skin types. I personally use the Tarte Amazonian Clay BB Tinted Moisturizer Broad Spectrum SPF 20 Sunscreen, which is just a rebranded version of the former Smooth Operator Tinted Moisturizer SPF 20, for these situations. It contains the same concentrations of the same UV filters, but has a better selection of shades and on my very oily skin type, lasts better throughout the day.
Verdict: (Conditional) PASS
Round out the top 5 with 623 reviews, this BB cream (while not specifically labeled as one, but categorized on the Sephora website as so) contains (7.5% ON, 5.0% OS, 2.0% OB, and 1.5% ZnO). As it is quite similar to the Smashbox BB Cream, the same comments apply. This provides great UVB protection, good UVA-II protection, and very little UVA-I protection. While ZnO is a better choice than TiO2, it is far less efficient. At 1.5%, its presence is pretty much negligible.
I guess being the most popular doesn’t mean you’re the best. Wow, that sounded like a comment about high school students… Popularity and hype really know how to derp people. And it’s really unfortunately that so many people aren’t getting adequate levels of sun protection. Hopefully a majority of them will eventually come across this post, or another that “preaches” a similar “doctrine.” Haha!