Hello Viva, can my BB cream work as a sunscreen?

Alrighty, here are questions I get pretty often: can I use my BB cream as a sunscreen since it has SPF? Do I need to use a sunscreen with my BB cream? If you think my name is Viva, then yeah, you might have posed those questions to me or maybe you’re a BB cream user and you’re thinking about this now. So let me attempt to answer the questions and maybe what I’m about to unveil will help you decide.

Okay, we can’t do this analysis without looking at the ingredient list. Here’s an ingredient list from a BB cream with SPF35. The brand has been deliberately omitted.

Ingredient list of a BB cream with SPF35

Water, Ethylhexyl Methoxycinnamate, Ethylhexyl Salicylate, Dimethicone, Benzophenone-3, Butylene Glycol, Phenyl Trimethicone, Pentylene Glycol, Glyceryl Stearate, Behenyl Alcohol, Trioctyldodecyl Citrate, Polymethylsilsequioxane, Octyldodecyl Steroyl Stearate, PEG-40 Stearate, Polyglyceryl-10 Pentastearate, Ammonium Acryloyldimethyltaurate/VP Copolymer, Titanium Dioxide, Triticum Vulgare (Wheat) Germ Extract, Hordeum Vulgare (Barley) Extract/Extrait D’orge, Cucumis Sativus (Cucumber) Fruit Extract, Laminaria Saccharina Extract, Pyrus Malus (Apple) Fruit Extract, Scutellaria Baicalensis Root Extract, Polyquaternium-51, Acetyl Hexapeptide-8, Trehalose, Oryzanol, Octyldodecyl Neopentanoate, Urea Polyglyceryl-6 Polyricinoleate, Propylene Glycol Laurate, Glycyrrhetinic Acid, Tocopheryl Acetate, Sucrose, Glycerin, Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate, Caffeine, Linoleic Acid, Cholesterol, Lecithin, Squalane, Sodium PCA, Isopropyl Titanium Triisostearate, Propylene Glycol Stearate, Stearic Acid, Polysorbate 20, Sorbitan Laurate, Xanthan Gum, Aluminum Hydroxide, Sodium Hyaluronate, Silica, Disodium EDTA, Pentaerythrityl Tetradi-t-butyl Hydroxyhydrocinnamate, Sodium Dehydroacetate, Chlorphenesin, Phenoxyethanol, [+/- Mica, Titanium Dioxide (CI 77891), Zinc Oxide (CI 77947), Iron Oxides (CI 77491, CI 77492, CI 77499)](ILN37232)

Ingredients offer only partial UVA protection
For this BB cream, the SPF35 protection comes from five ingredients – Ethylhexyl Methoxycinnamate, Ethylhexyl Salicylate, Benzophenone-3, Titantium Dioxide, and Zinc Oxide – a combination of chemical filters and physical blockers. Except for Zinc Oxide which offers full UVA and UVB protection, the other four ingredients offer full UVB protection but only partial UVA protection. But because Zinc Oxide is listed so way down the ingredient list, I really think the content is insufficient to offer much significant protection.

BB cream should be treated as a 2nd line of sun defense
However, the other four ingredients are listed higher up and so taken together, I suppose they do contribute to some level of protection but from what I can tell, they still do not offer full UVA protection. I could be wrong though but personally, I don’t think the positioning of this BB cream differs much from a liquid foundation with SPF protection. And as I’ve mentioned in an earlier entry I wrote, makeup with SPF should really be treated as a second line of sun defense as most of them do not offer broad spectrum protection.

It’s your choice
So unless you’re sure that your BB cream offers full UVA and UVB protection, I would recommend using a sunscreen under your BB cream – provided the texture of both aren’t too heavy for your skin. Personally, I’ve tried that combo and they didn’t feel too heavy for my skin. Then again, it depends on your skin type and your preference. And if using a sunscreen together with your BB cream don’t work, then the final choice of whether to continue using the BB cream or change to something else is really yours.


  1. Swati says:

    good that you posted this, Seasame….i have had issues with as well…it so happened that one of the indian brands released a bb cream which had zinc oxide in the top of the list and i was very excited…i mailed the manufacturer to get more info but it turned out that there was only 3% of zinc oxide approx. in the product!!! such a let down ?
    Swati last post is: Is rheumatoid arthritis hereditary? {Your Opinion}

  2. mair says:

    Just a quick question, how much percentage should there be of zinc oxide in a sunscreen? :s I have never actually paid such attention …

  3. Sesame says:

    3%? Oh dear, that’s not sufficient protection! How come it’s at the top of the list?

  4. Sesame says:

    @mair: At least 16% but the formulation do matters. Personally, I would go for 20%.

  5. Swati says:

    that’s what I was thinking!!! there is some prob with their ingredient listing, I guess!!!
    Swati last post is: I have been a bad blogger!!!

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