Finding a beauty product that combines multiple benefits into one can help simplify your beauty routine. Enter, BB creams with sunscreen:* The ultimate multitaskers for your skincare and makeup needs. BB creams, short for beauty balms or blemish balms, can provide coverage, hydration, skincare benefits, and extra sun protection, all in a single product.
Protecting our skin from the sun’s rays is one of the most important things we can do to keep our skin healthy and prevent signs of aging.¹ But with all the fantastic BB creams containing SPF that are on the market, it can be tricky to know which to choose. So, we asked Curology’s team of dermatology providers to unpack some of the best options for your SPF needs.
But first, a bit about BB creams! Although BB creams are usually associated with Korean beauty, they originated in Germany in the 1960s. Dermatologist Christine Schrammek, MD, created them to help patients heal after face peels and other dermatological procedures. BB creams later became popular in Korea in the 1980s and are now a staple product in K-beauty.²
BB creams differ from traditional foundations in several ways. They tend to have light and natural coverage, although many are buildable to medium coverage. They may also contain ingredients that benefit skin health, such as SPF for sun protection, antioxidants including vitamins C and E, niacinamide to improve the skin barrier, and hydrating components like glycerine and hyaluronic acid.
Day-to-day use of BB creams can hydrate skin while evening out the complexion. Even better, ingredients in BB creams that shield skin from the sun and minimize free radical damage offer long-term skin health and anti-aging benefits.
BB creams can be great for people with dry or sensitive skin as many offer sun protection and nourishing skincare ingredients. Here are two BB cream options that may work well for dry and sensitive skin types:
Purlisse Ageless Glow Serum BB Cream offers lightweight coverage, hydration, SPF, and gentle ingredients that can improve the appearance of skin. It contains bakuchiol, a gentle retinol alternative that may be better tolerated for those with sensitive skin. Bakuchiol has been shown to minimize signs of aging, such as wrinkles and dark spots.³
It also contains marine algae collagen, which has been shown to help combat dry skin and reduce inflammation.⁴ It also contains arbutin, which is a brightening agent that may help even out skin tone.⁵ Purlisse Ageless Glow Serum contains a mix of chemical and physical sunscreens that help protect the skin against the skin-damaging effects of ultraviolet rays, including sunburn and signs of aging.⁶ It’s available in 11 shades.
This Bare Minerals BB cream is another great choice for dry, sensitive, and mature skin. It not only provides SPF 30 mineral-based sun protection, but it also contains hyaluronic acid to increase skin hydration and give the complexion a healthy, luminous glow.
This tinted moisturizer can be used by almost everybody, as it comes in twenty diverse shades from the lightest to the deepest. Coverage is sheer to light and evens the skin tone while reducing the appearance of blemishes.
Although BB creams are known to have a dewy finish, there are plenty of options for those with oily and acne-prone skin. Many BB creams can offer all the skincare benefits and sun protection you expect while minimizing shine.
Tarte BB Blur Tinted Moisturizer comes in 15 shades and has a smooth matte finish. It contains Tarte’s triple B complex, a blend of light-diffusing ingredients, to help minimize the appearance of fine lines and enlarged pores. It also contains hyaluronic acid, an ingredient that hydrates the skin (essential even for oily skin) while helping to regulate sebum production.⁷
This product also offers a broad spectrum physical sunscreen of SPF 30 and contains the antioxidant vitamin E, which may help protect the skin from DNA damage caused by UV light.⁸ Research has shown that antioxidants boost the effectiveness of sunscreens when used at the same time.⁹
Clinique Age Defense BB Cream has a matte finish that gives moderate to full coverage while being oil-free and non-comedogenic. Unfortunately, it only comes in limited, warm-toned shades from very fair to moderately fair, so it will only work for some.
This BB cream contains a hybrid broad-spectrum sunscreen of SPF 30 and the antioxidant caffeine. Like many other antioxidants, caffeine offers increased sun protection by minimizing DNA damage caused by UV rays.¹⁰
Here’s a BB cream for those whose skin is neither oily or dry.
Missha M Perfect Cover BB Cream works well for normal skin types. It has a lightweight formula with a radiant finish but can build to heavier coverage. It contains ceramides to moisturize and strengthen the skin barrier.¹¹
It comes in seven shades, but it might not work for darker skin tones. It offers great sun protection in the form of chemical sunscreen with an SPF of 42.
CC creams are an excellent option if you want all the benefits of a BB cream but are looking for a little more coverage. CC stands for color correction, which covers redness, postinflammatory hyperpigmentation, and more. You can apply it lightly for a natural glow, but you can also build up to heavier coverage than BB creams for those days when you want more. Here are a couple of CC creams that you may want to consider.
IT Cosmetics CC+ Nude Glow Lightweight Foundation has medium, buildable coverage and an excellent shade range. It contains niacinamide, an ingredient loved by dermatology providers for its many skincare benefits. Niacinamide can minimize signs of aging and even out skin tone while also protecting the skin from free radicals.¹²
This CC cream also contains the powerful antioxidant green tea to help reduce skin inflammation and sun damage.¹³ It provides moisture to the skin with hyaluronic acid and further protects it with a broad spectrum 40 SPF chemical sunscreen.
This CC cream has the longest-lasting, fullest coverage of all the products that have been mentioned. It’s non-comedogenic, can be used on all kinds of skin, and is available in fourteen shades. Dermablend Continuous Correction CC Cream offers an SPF 50 broad-spectrum chemical sunscreen and the antioxidants niacinamide and caffeine.
Today, BB creams are easy-to-use products that can benefit many skin types and concerns. Regardless of what kind of skin you have, incorporating a BB cream with sunscreen into your daily beauty routine can improve the appearance and health of your skin with a single product. By using a BB cream with broad-spectrum SPF, you can achieve a natural-looking, even skin tone while giving your skin extra protection from harmful UV rays.
For optimal sun protection, consider The Sunscreen by Curology. This sunscreen offers broad-spectrum SPF 30 UV defense and is designed to not clog pores.
Yes, sunscreen in makeup is not enough protection.¹⁴ BB creams with SPF can give you an extra layer of protection, but they should not be relied upon alone. Remember to also apply sunscreen, like Curology’s The Sunscreen.
Most BB creams don’t have the staying power of heavier foundations, and how long it lasts will be dependent on how oily your skin is, your activity level, and what kind of BB cream you’re using. You can typically expect BB cream to hold up for 6-8 hours of wear.
If you want sheer coverage with added skincare benefits, you can certainly use BB cream on its own. You can also layer it under foundation on days you want more coverage.
Shanbhag, S. et al. Anti-aging and Sunscreens: Paradigm Shift in Cosmetics. Advanced Pharmaceutical Bulletin. (2019, August 1).
Rigano, L. The Anatomy of BB Creams. Global Cosmetic Industry. (2013, April 26).
Dhaliwal, S., et al. Prospective, randomized, double-blind assessment of topical bakuchiol and retinol for facial photoageing. British Journal of Dermatology. (2018, September 21).
Kim, J.H., et al. Beneficial Effects of Marine Algae-Derived Carbohydrates for Skin Health. Marine Drugs. (2018, November 21).
Boo, Y.C. Arbutin as a Skin Depigmenting Agent with Antimelanogenic and Antioxidant Properties. Antioxidants (Basel). (2021, July 15).
Sander, M., et al. The efficacy and safety of sunscreen use for the prevention of skin cancer. CMAJ. (2020, December 14).
Jung, Y.R., et al. Hyaluronic Acid Decreases Lipid Synthesis in Sebaceous Glands. J Invest Dermatol. (2017, February 3).
Keen, M.A. and Hassan, I. Vitamin E in Dermatology. Indian Dermatology Online Journal (July-August 2016).
Jesus, A., et al. Antioxidants in Sunscreens: Which and What For?. Antioxidants. (2023, January 6).
Li, Y.F., et al. Caffeine Protects Skin From Oxidative Stress-Induced Senescence Through the Activation of Autophagy. Theranostics. (2018, November 10).
Berkers, T., et al. Topically Applied Ceramides Interact with the Stratum Corneum Lipid Matrix in Compromised Ex Vivo Skin. Pharmaceutical Research. (2018, February 6).
Boo, Y.C. Mechanistic Basis and Clinical Evidence for the Applications of Nicotinamide (Niacinamide) to Control Skin Aging and Pigmentation. Antioxidants. (2021, August 21).
OyetakinWhite, P., et al. Protective Mechanisms of Green Tea Polyphenols in Skin. Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity. (2012, June 26).
American Academy of Dermatology Association. Sunscreen FAQs. (2023, October 19).
Erin Pate is a board-certified Family Nurse Practitioner at Curology. She earned her Masters of Science in Nursing at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, FL.
Here at Curology, we currently focus on diagnosing and treating acne, rosacea, and anti-aging concerns. We do not treat many of the conditions mentioned in this article. This article is for information purposes.
Erin Pate, NP-C