Blemish Balms (BB creams) have taken America by storm, generating close to $9 million dollars in revenue in US Department stores from March 2011 to March 2012. Industry experts project further growth of these multi-tasking creams with only 50% of US beauty shoppers having purchased a BB cream by May 2012.
BB creams were originally formulated in Germany in the 1960’s by dermatologist, Dr. Christine Schrammek, as a topical treatment for post laser/post surgery patients. These “all-in-one” beauty products were later introduced to Japan and South Korea in the 80’s., and prized by Korean actresses for their skin-whitening properties.
In 2011, Western cosmetic companies began to introduce “BB creams” to the US however many have been criticized for lacking the nutrients and benefits found in the original BB formulations found in Germany, Japan and Korea leaving today’s US consumer with nothing more than a “glorified tinted moisturizer” inappropriately marketed as a miracle “one-size-fits-all” product.
BB creams are promoted as multi-tasking products combining moisturizer, primer, foundation and sunscreen in most formulations while also providing anti-inflammatory and soothing effects to the skin.
In a study conducted by NPD, a leading North American market research company, the top five benefits women expect from a BB cream include:
- Natural looking coverage (52%)
- Moisturizes and hydrates the skin (47%)
- Nourishes and treats the skin (42%)
- Provides adequate SPF sunscreen protection (42%)
- Improves skin texture (38%)
Studies also discovered that consumers lack complete understanding of BB creams. Beauty industry experts advise American shoppers to consider their needs and expectations prior to purchasing a BB cream. For beauty shoppers looking for skin-lightning properties in a BB cream, Dr. Nathan Newman, a Beverly Hills dermatologist and cosmetic surgeon, suggests looking for BB creams that contain titanium dioxide and zinc oxide as a sun block, since any lightening ingredients would be ineffective without proper sun protection.
SPF is a critical and controversial subject when it comes to BB creams as many shoppers have the misnomer that SPF in a BB cream provides enough SPF protection to forego applying additional sunscreen protection.
Experts recommend 1 ounce of SPF for the body and 1 full tsp of SPF for the face (reapplying every two hours) with SPF 15 being the minimum SPF recommendation and preferred protection SPF 30 for both face and body.
According to Neil Sadick, clinical professor of dermatology at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York, only 1 in 5 people wear sunscreen properly on a consistent daily basis. In addition, Dr. Deborah Sarnoff, senior vice president of the Skin Cancer Foundation and clinical professor of dermatology at NYU Langone Medical Center states that using inadequate amounts of sunscreen results in inadequate protection. For example, an SPF 30 sunscreen becomes SPF 15 or SPF 10 if less than the recommended 1 ounce of SPF for the body and 1 tsp of SPF (nickel sized dollop) for the face are applied.
With BB creams claiming to be “all in one” products, consumers make the assumption that no further sunscreen protection is needed and are at risk of damaging UVA and UVB exposure. Given the recommended “1 tsp of SPF protection for the face”, it is obvious why using a BB cream, tinted moisturizer or foundation as a sole form of SPF protection is inadequate. One of the advantages of today’s beauty products in the foundation category is their light weight formulas requiring as little as “1 pump” per application and far less than 1 tsp of SPF protection alone that is needed to protect the skin from the harmful rays of the sun.
Many beauty and health experts, including Health Magazine, recommend layering the face for optimum protection from the sun.
Steps to layer the face for optimum sun protection:
- Cleanse and tone the face
- Apply a few drops of antioxidant serum to boost skin protection
- Apply a tinted moisturizer, BB cream or foundation with minimal SPF 15 (30 SPF preferred)
- Top with a finely milled SPF mineral powder (mineral sunscreens help mask redness and reflect UV light, keeping the surface of the face cooler)
- Carry the mineral powder in your purse or briefcase for touch-ups during the day and especially before extended periods in the sun
Many dermatologists specifically recommend mineral foundations and powders that contain titanium dioxide and zinc oxide which are physical sunscreens that become effective upon application of the skin and block out a wide range of the sun’s cancer-causing ultraviolet A (UVA) and B (UVB) radiation. Zinc oxide, in particular, blocks all parts of the UV spectrum. Chemical sunscreens must be absorbed into the skin before they provide SPF protection with recommended application being at least 15 minutes prior to sun exposure.
Additional information about SPF
- SPF 15 filters out approximately 93 percent of all incoming UVB rays.
- SPF 30 keeps out 97 percent of all incoming UVB rays
- SPF 50 keeps out 98 percent of all incoming UVB rays.
- (note the absence of UVA protection which is responsible for the advanced aging of the skin. Look for “broad-spectrum” SPF products that provide both UVA and UVB skin protection. No sunscreen, no matter what the SPF percentage, should be expected to provide protection beyond two hours without reapplying)
Think you don’t need sunscreen on a cloudy day? Think again, up to 40% of the sun's ultraviolet radiation reaches the earth on a completely cloudy day