Wednesday, November 7, 2012Choosing your cosmetics well

BB Creams: Moisturizing? ... Not that obvious!

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BB Creams, more and more trendy, are said to be "all-in-one" products, and pile up claim after claim: up to eight different claims, from a complexion evenness to UV protection, including imperfections correcting or anti-ageing actions … Can we take all these promises at face value? Françoise Nielloud, a Doctor in Pharmacy and a cosmetologist, an expert for CosmeticOBS-L’Observatoire des Cosmétiques, has carefully examined their formulae to check the moisturization claim, displayed by almost all the BB Creams. Her conclusions are more than mixed …

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~ 5 minutes

Everybody knows the importance for our skins to be well hydrated. A guarantee for their suppleness, smoothness, balance, and an increased resistance to outside aggressions and to ageing signs, hydration is at the core of claims for cosmetics, be they care creams, make-up or personal hygiene products.

BB Creams are no exception, when they put forward the hydration claim among so many others. Imported from Asia, more and more used in Western countries, this cosmetic is designed, after Mélanie Lindon in her paper " BB Cream: myth or reality? ", as "a multi-function product, which combines care/make-up/sunscreen", in one movement.

Only one product every morning to do all the tasks, one easily understands the usefulness of the concept. However, are BB Creams enough to assure our skins of their needed daily hydration?
Françoise Nielloud , who regularly works on the evaluations of products performed by CosmeticOBS-L’Observatoire des Cosmétiques, has put her magnifier on the formulae of a score of them, available on the French market.

An analysis of the formulae

What are BB Creams made of?
As for any cosmetic emulsion, they contain mainly an aqueous phase, associated with an oily phase.
Further, they do have important quantities of mattifying powders, colourants and pigments (to make the complexion even) and anti-UV filters (for a sunscreen effect).
Their formulae contain also preservatives and perfumes, which always come with more or less allergenic molecules.

The oily phase
A thing in common to all the BB Creams is the nature of their oily phase: most often, it is made of silicones (INCI: Cyclopentasiloxane, Dimethicone, Cyclomethicone …) and of fatty esters, dry on touch (INCI: Isononyl Isononanoate, Hexyl Laurate, Dicaprylyl Ether, Cetyl Palmitate …).
This basis is designed to ease the spreading on the skin, to give a non-oily, pleasant feeling when applied … but, in no way, it helps moisturize our skins.

Powders
Most of these BB Creams are high in different powders.
First, as sunscreens (INCI: Zinc Oxide, Titanium Oxide) complementary to synthetic UV filters (INCI: Ethylhexyl Methoxycinnamate, Ethylhexyl Salicylate, Benzophenone …).
Then, for the mattifying effect (INCI: Argilla/Magnesium Aluminum Silicate, Talc, Disteardimonium Hectorite, Aluminum Hydroxide …).
As a last point, to have the complexion evenness effect, as is the case with a "true" foundation, using colourants and pigments (iron oxides: CI 77491 - CI 77492 - CI 77499, Mica, Titanium Dioxide: CI 77891 …).
So many powders on your skin? You guess: a strongly drying potential.

Moisturizing agents
Right, they are the first ingredients that one is looking for in the formulae, to assess the skin moisturizing potential. The least that can be said is … one has to look carefully.
Well, glycerol (INCI: Glycerin) is in almost all the BB Creams. Nevertheless, it is often the main, even the only, moisturizing agent!
Even if sometimes some other ingredients (INCI: Propylene glycol, Pentylene glycol) may help.
The Françoise Nielloud ’s opinion: insufficient! Especially when a "24/24 hydration" is claimed.

Alcohol as a preservative
Even more insufficient when the preservative system of the formula is based on alcohol (INCI: Alcohol Denat.). Though it is a custom in Asian formulae, using this ingredient, which dries skin and is potentially an irritant and sensitizing leads to an even less moisturising complex.

Let us assess BB Creams

Conclusion: BB Creams are not, strictly speaking, moisturizing products; if they are, their action is, by far, too insignificant, especially in winter. Françoise Nielloud advises to apply a "true" moisturizing cream prior to the BB Cream to make your skin nourished and protected enough, along with a good night cream, which allows it regenerate and be back to balance.
Right, this is somewhat against the "one-action-only-to-do-everything" philosophy, obviously …

As for the other claims (care, anti-imperfections, anti-ageing …), our expert has detected very few active ingredients, or almost without any action ones to support them. Mélanie Lindon already reported that the claim about the complexion radiance is not that often answered .
Further, Françoise Nielloud questions the sunlight protection spectrum of these formulae, designed especially against UVB, and not that much against UVA. An additional concern is their allergenic potential: she has noted up to eight allergenic aromatic molecules in a formula … as many as claims on the front label!

Is it better to ban BB Creams from one’s range of cosmetics?
Up to now, almost all the formulae are not that interesting, to say the least. In their evaluations for the Guide des Meilleurs Cosmétiques 2013-2014 (Guide of the Best Cosmetics, 2013-2014), our experts have noted only one, thanks to the richness of its oily phase (which comprises vegetable oils and waxes, shea butter …), its balanced claims, its good cutaneous tolerance and its very favourable toxicological profile. To be discovered by clicking here .

On the other hand, currently, more and more BB Creams are marketed, as leaves fall in autumn. That is why one may hope to see quite soon better formulae, better designed and more in line with the displayed claims. CosmeticOBS-L’Observatoire des Cosmétiques will give you the information when it finds them.

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