Over the last month, we received two questions from our readers that are pretty similar, and we’re going to answer both of them together:

Do I still need to apply sunscreen if I already put on BB cream?
-Winonah

The moisturizer that I’m using already contains SPF. Do I still need to apply extra SPF separately?
-Zach

sunscreen for women

Sunscreens are formulated for a specific purpose – to fend off the effects of UV rays. As such, they’re usually waterproof, so the formula cannot be easily washed away even when you’re swimming, or perspiring from sports.

This is the first reason why BB cream and moisturiser with SPF (or other makeup products with SPF) are inferior compared to sunscreen when it comes to sun protection, because they may not be formulated to be waterproof.

Also, the SPF stated on your product may not exercise its full effect unless you apply the recommended amount. The general guideline is to apply an amount as much as the size of your entire thumb on the whole face for your sun protection to work to its full SPF value.

We typically don’t apply so much moisturiser or BB cream (heaven forbids!) because it may be too oily or pasty on the skin.  On the other hand, if you’ve chosen a lightweight sunscreen with a texture that you like, it is possible for you to apply as much as you should. Reapplication is also possible with sunscreen – another reason why moisturiser can’t perform as well.

One more point to note: BB cream, like foundation,  is usually not applied evenly on the skin because it’s used for coverage – you usually apply more on the darker areas like around your nose and lips, and also more on blemishes to hide them. This means you’re giving your skin patchy sun protection – in the long run, this can lead to uneven complexion.

To summarize,

Winonah: While it is tempting to skip sunscreen and use BB cream as a substitute, you should still apply sunscreen. This makes sure that your skin tone will be kept even, and you’ll get adequate amount of sun protection, considering you won’t apply as much BB cream as you’d have required for the sun protection you need, since the formula is tinted.

Zach: If you’re indoors most of the time, and are using a moisturiser with super high SPF (like, 50), I’d say, you may perhaps skip your sunscreen. But if you’re going to be exposed in the sun for long hours – don’t stint on the step and remember to slap on a sunscreen with SPF50, PA+++,  after your moisturiser, for adequate protection.

Daily Vanity is passionate about sunscreen application and has spoken a lot about sunscreen, UV damage and sun protection – go read them!

The expert is Kristen Juliet Soh, co-founder of Singapore’s beauty-only website, Daily Vanity.