Is SPF on BB cream enough? Or do we need separate sunscreen?

Is SPF in BB Cream Enough?

While dermatologists well established that using a sunscreen is a must in our daily skincare routine, the question of how much and in what form remains. It is necessary to protect our skin from sun damage by applying a lotion with SPF daily, whether indoors or outdoors. This action can avoid the formation of skin cancer and prevent the early aging of the skin from UV rays. However, is it necessary to apply a separate sunscreen or get away with merely using a BB cream with SPF?

First, what is SPF?

SPF, Sun Protection Factor, is a measurement unit on how much UV radiation (solar energy) is blocking for avoiding sunburn. In short, when the SPF value increases, the sunburn protection increases. 

Here is a little chart about SPF levels

  • SFP 15 (6.7% of UVB penetration) - provides 15 times the skin's regular protection against the sun's UVB rays. It means SPF15 contains ~93% of sun protection factors, and 7 photons* will enter the skin. 
  • SPF 30 (3.3% of UVB penetration) - provides 30 times the skin's regular protection against the sun's UVB rays. It means SPF30 contains ~97% of sun protection factors, and 3 photons* will enter the skin.   
  • SPF 50 (2% of UVB penetration) - provides 50 times the skin's regular protection against the sun's UVB rays. It means SPF50 contains ~98% of sun protection factors, and 2 photons* will enter the skin.
  • SPF 70 (1.5% of UVB penetration) - provides 70 times the skin's regular protection against the sun's UVB rays. It means SPF70 contains 98.5% of sun protection factors, and 1.5 photons* will enter the skin. 

*photons is a quantum of electromagnetic radiation, a basic unit of all lights. The sun carries light particles and heat - called photons. 

Is SPF on BB cream enough? Or do we need separate sunscreen?

BB Creams

BB Creams are moisturizing creams with a base color that acts as s liquid foundation for day time everyday wear. The reason why BB creams tend to be thicker can attribute to the fact that they contain SPF in them. The higher the SPF, the thicker the formula. Many people prefer using a BB cream only since nowadays many BB creams come with an SPF 30 or above, eliminating the need for a separate sunscreen.

The main aim of BB creams is to act as an all in one product that gives coverage while at the same time provides sun protection as well.

The BB creams with less SPF will be lighter and less thick compared to those with SPF 50 for those who prefer lighter coverage.

Beware of chemicals (Content contributed by Young Living)

Many chemical sunscreens contain avobenzone, oxybenzone, retinyl palmitate, parabens, phthalates, petrochemicals, PABA and 1, 4-dioxane, UV chemical absorbers, artificial colors, and synthetic fragrances. These work by chemically absorbing UV light, but they also present the potential for system toxicity.

The FDA recently ran an exploratory maximal usage trial measuring just how much topical sunscreen products our bodies absorb when following correct usage instructions. Words like avobenzone, oxybenzone, ecamsule, and octocrylene already sound intimidating; it’s even scarier to find out that they are the chemicals found in most common sunscreens and cosmetics. These chemicals are active ingredients in most commercially available products. In a recent study published in a peer-reviewed journal, researchers found that after using sunscreens with these ingredients as active compounds, those chemicals were detected in the bloodstream.


Some women prefer to use separate sunscreen as a force of habit or perhaps an assurance that they are in fact, well protected from sun damage. It is usually the second step after moisturizing and before applying makeup. Some BB creams don't provide the amount of SPF one would want to apply, and therefore they opt to wear sunscreen separately and then use a light coat of foundation to prevent any heavy coverage. 

Both these sunblock offers SPF 50, which is proper sun protection coverage.

BB Cream With or Without SPF?

While it can work, either way, it is more of a personal preference whether one wants to apply sunscreen and BB cream separately or apply a BB cream with an SPF. BB creams with an SPF are just as effective in protecting against UV rays as a regular sunscreen, but one can opt-out of this because an SPF BB cream gives a thicker coverage. Using one without an SPF is more likely to be lighter in texture and provide a more natural and brighter look to the skin. 

These BB creams are lighter on the skin and can be paired separately with a sunscreen mentioned above to give lighter coverage over your sunscreen.

Stefanie September 06, 2018

I’m surprised to learn how common it is layer products! I just do not have any luck when u do this. Id love to hear of any great ‘combos’ people have found .. my latest mishap came when I layered a color adjusting makeup formula over spf moisturizer. I was staying white! Usually they just pull up on the other product :(
Any recommendations let me know!

Stefanie September 06, 2018

Ahh typos, sorry

*I . *Stark white

sarah August 03, 2020

thanks so much for your article! i’ve been confused with so many products coming up that has spf and i’ve been using them (eg bb cream) daily thinking i don’t need to also use sunscreen/sunblock. maybe that’s why i still got these annoying sun spots! :(

Skin18 August 12, 2020

Hi Sarah, Welcome :) and yes, there are many products out there, remember to read ingredients before making any purchase. You can also mix your own BB cream – it is not as hard as you think. Read our blog post about DIY BB cream.

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