Mary Kay's jumping into the CC cream game with an entry that has a lot to like… but unfortunately doesn't make our list of "BEST" CC creams because of one glaring problem!
First, a little primer on BB and CC creams for the uninitiated: mainly, it's all about marketing. For the most part, BB creams from U.S. cosmetics brands are similar to a tinted moisturizer, whereas BB creams from Asia are generally thicker and have a high SPF rating. CC creams are more like liquid foundations, but that's not always the case. BB and CC creams typically but not always provide sun protection and may or may not include beneficial ingredients like antioxidants or skin-lightening agents. Neither BB nor CC creams are as revolutionary as they are made out to be, and there is certainly no consistency among products from different brands, making sorting through them tricky indeed!
Mary Kay's take on CC cream is much closer to a tinted moisturizer than an actual foundation, with sheer to light coverage of skin's imperfections. It's great as a lightweight option for evening skin tone, and feels moisturizing while it's on. CC Cream Broad Spectrum SPF 15 has a soft, dewy finish that doesn't highlight wrinkles or pores, and does contain some beneficial ingredients for skin like niacinamide and vitamin C. It's also fragrance-free, which is always a plus!
The downfall? Sun protection. Mary Kay makes many claims on its packaging that its CC cream helps prevent sunburn, early skin aging, and lowers the risk of skin cancer with SPF 15. However, the only active sunscreen ingredients are homosalate, octinoxate, and oxybenzone, which protect against the sun's UVB rays, but don't provide enough UVA protection on their own, leaving your skin vulnerable to damage. For a sunscreen to provide true broad-spectrum protection, it must contain ingredients that provide better UVA screening than what this CC Cream can. See More Info for details.
Although this does contain titanium dioxide, a mineral sunscreen (and cosmetic pigment) ingredient that can protect against UVA rays, it's not listed as an active, so you can't rely on it for UVA protection. Because this doesn't have the primary anti-aging benefit it should, we simply cannot recommend it. See our list of Best Tinted Moisturizers/BB Creams for superior options.
There are four shades of this CC cream available for light to medium skin tones, though the darkest shade is too orange to appear natural.
- Moisturizing, lightweight option for evening out skin tone.
- Attractive dewy finish that doesn't emphasize pores or wrinkles.
- Contains some skin-beneficial ingredients, like niacinamide.
- Does not provide good enough UVA protection, making the broad spectrum claim suspect.
- Darkest shade is too orange to appear natural on its intended skin tone.
This CC cream does not include the ingredients needed to shield your skin from the sun's entire range of damaging UVA rays, which is essential for anti-aging benefits. The sun's UVB rays are what cause sunburn, and the SPF number reflects that protection, but there is no rating for the sun's silent, though more penetrating (and in many ways more damaging), UVA rays. Any SPF-rated product should contain one or more of the following UVA-protecting ingredients listed as "active" to ensure you are getting UVA protection: avobenzone, titanium dioxide, zinc oxide, Mexoryl SX (ecamsule), or Tinosorb (Sources: Photochemical and Photobiological Sciences, December 2011, pages 81–90; Cosmetic Dermatology, Second Edition, Baumann, Leslie MD, McGraw Hill, 2009, pages 246–252; American Journal of Clinical Dermatology, Supplement, 2009, pages 19–24; The Encyclopedia of Ultraviolet Filters, Shaath, Nadim A., Allured Publishing, 2007; and Photodermatology, Photoimmunology, and Photomedicine, October 2003, pages 242–253).
Active: Homosalate 5%, Octinoxate 6.5%, Oxybenzone 1.2%. Inactive: Water, Cyclopentasiloxane, Butylene Glycol, Glycerin, PEG-9 Polydimjethylsiloxyethyl Dimethicone, Niacinamide, Mica, PEG-9 Dimethicone, Magnesium Sulfate, Ascorbyl Glucoside, Silybum Marianum Fruit Extract, Tocopheryl Acetate, Salix Nigra (Willow) Bark Extract, Salicylic Acid, Adenosine, Dimethicone/PEG-10/15 Crosspolymer, Disodium Stearoyl Glutamate, Xanthan Gum, Dipropylene Glycol, Disodium EDTA, Cyclohexasiloxane, Sodium Citrate, Tocopherol, Sorbic Acid, Sodium Benzoate, Benzyl Alcohol, Aluminum Hydroxide, Titanium Dioxide, Iron Oxides.
The last few years haven't been glamorous for one of the world's largest direct sellers of cosmetics. Mary Kay lost a lawsuit filed by TriStrata, the company whose founders hold over 100 patents on the use of AHAs in skin-care products. It was revealed that Mary Kay's former AHA products infringed on three of these patents, and, after some back-and-forths in court, Mary Kay ended up paying royalties of over $40 million (interest included) to TriStrata. Perhaps because they're still licking their wounds after this defeat, the company has not launched any new AHA products, and no longer sells the ones that were in question during the legal battle (Source: www.bizjournals.com/dallas/stories/2006/04/03/daily26.html).
However, the company's spin on the issue of AHAs is that they no longer use them because skin-care technology has advanced. That's an interesting twist, but the fact of the matter is that AHA products, when well-formulated, are still considered advanced and capable of doing far more for skin than the alternatives Mary Kay has devised (including an at-home microdermabrasion scrub and products with vitamin C derivatives).
Although they're not a company for you if you are looking for exfoliants (though you should be looking for a good exfoliant), Mary Kay has recently developed a surprising number of excellent products. With over 1.6 million Mary Kay consultants selling products in 30 countries, this family-owned company (founder Mary Kay Ash passed away in 2001) has slowly been proving that they intend to remain competitive with the best of the best. A refreshing change of pace is the omission of fragrance from almost all of the products. Now that is what we call progress!
Despite its size and capital (wholesale figures were $3 billion in 2012), Mary Kay still has a lot to learn. For instance, although their guiding philosophy of empowering women is admirable, the assortment of products still leaves much to be desired. Yes, things are looking up, but there are several weak spots that keep Mary Kay from being in the same league as Avon, Estee Lauder, Procter & Gamble (Olay), and Johnson & Johnson (Neutrogena, Aveeno, RoC). These include outdated cleansers, toners, and moisturizers, along with letdowns in products designed for oily, blemish-prone skin. The TimeWise product range has expanded considerably, and offers a few state-of-the-art products worthy of its name (although, as with all skin-care products, they're not going to turn back the hands of time and erase all signs of aging).
If improvements like those in Mary Kay's latest products were translated to the entire line, it would be standing much taller, at least as far as what current, substantiated skin-care research indicates is optimum for creating and maintaining healthy skin. As is, this is a line to approach with a keen understanding of what to focus on and what to avoid. One last bit of good news: Mary Kay offers well-packaged samples of selected products, either directly or from your consultant.
Unless mentioned otherwise, all Mary Kay products are fragrance-free.
Note: Mary Kay is categorized as a brand that tests on animals because their products are sold in China. Although Mary Kay does not conduct animal testing for their products sold elsewhere, the Chinese government requires imported cosmetics be tested on animals, so foreign companies retailing there must comply. This requirement is why some brand’s state that they don’t test on animals “unless required by law”. Animal rights organizations consider cosmetic companies retailed in China to be brands that test on animals, and so does the Paula’s Choice Research Team.
For more information about Mary Kay, call (800) 627-9529 or visit www.marykay.com.