Zinc Oxide, CC Creams and Skin

With many turning to natural makeup looks for quick beauty routines, CC Creams have become increasingly popular.

You might wonder what’s CC cream and just how CC cream works.

As a professional makeup artist, I can say with certainty that CC cream is not like foundation, and it works a little differently. First of all, CC stands for color correcting, so it’s a thicker cream that contains minerals meant to reflect light, counteract redness and conceal dark spots. Also, CC cream can be used as primer under foundation when you’re looking for more coverage. CC cream is great for quick makeup routines and offers a little more coverage versus a BB cream: it’s applied with fingers like skincare, or with a brush if you prefer.

I’m answering both questions in this post, so keep reading for more details. One of the most important ingredients in SAPPHO’S Light Reflecting CC Cream is zinc oxide, with the added bonus of all its benefits for skin, so let's start there. 

Product Overview: Light Reflecting CC Cream, with a photo of a biodegradable cc cream tube over a background of moss in a BC forest

Let’s dive into the use of zinc oxide in cosmetics

Zinc oxide (ZnO) works by scattering the sun's rays, which prevents potentially damaging ultraviolet radiation from getting to the skin. Doctors call sunscreens with zinc oxide “physical” sunscreens because they sit atop the skin and physically block the rays.

Zinc oxide has a long history of human use serving as topical, healing ointment and even as a paint for centuries. It was not until the 1940’s, however, that we saw zinc oxide used in commercial products such as baby creams, due to its fantastic ‘barrier’ qualities. In the 1980’s, it was discovered that zinc had sunscreen properties.

It occurs naturally as the mineral zincite, which is a rare element and commercially unavailable, so zinc oxide is mostly produced synthetically today. There are numerous specialized methods for synthesizing and producing ZnO.

This ingredient is used in many consumer goods, and in cosmetics, it requires a cream or carrier agent for distribution. When applied to the skin, it sits atop and creates a physical barrier to the sun, blocking, reflecting, and scattering harmful ultraviolet rays UVA and UVB. Beside blocking and reflecting rays, zinc oxide is considered photostable which means that it does not react to light and therefore blocks a certain amount of radiant energy in UV light rays.

UVA rays can cause many health issues like skin cancer, wrinkles, problems in immune regulation, eczema flare ups and skin discoloration. UV rays can reach you, even when it’s cloudy out, but sunny days are still the most dangerous, and it’s important to note that since UVA rays are potent enough to penetrate window glass, photosensitive people may even need sunscreen protection indoors.

Products containing ZnO are beneficial for all skin types and wearing it daily can only help skin as it is both antimicrobial and non-comedogenic. Because it sits atop of the skin, it is also better tolerated by those with sensitive, dry or damaged skin.

In Canada, sunscreen, even zinc oxide, is considered a medical drug and for this reason, as we are a Canadian company, we do not claim SPF. We do feel comfortable telling you our formula contains 10% zinc oxide. 

What is CC cream versus foundation?

I would say, if pressed, that CC creams are casual foundations – in that they can go on like a cream, but still have great coverage.

Model holding a CC cream tube close to her face, wearing a natural makeup look


CC stands for color correction, and this is because of the light refracting minerals used in its formulation which gives this creamy base a lot of room between shades. It also stands for the slight olive base to our CC cream, which automatically covers red and leaves you with a beautiful even finish to your skin. Mainstream products like CC cream IT Cosmetics have made this modern makeup item a popular staple that’s now very commonly used.

Our natural CC creams can be put on like a face cream with fingers or with a buffer brush in mere seconds, and the coverage is great! It’s a handy go-to for heading out on summer walks, getting groceries, going to yoga – the casual things in life. It can also be used as a primer for our Essential Foundation, for a smooth base, or even mixed in with it for fuller coverage.

Watch our makeup artist Cristina open and apply the CC Cream HERE. (15 second watch)

The main benefits of our CC cream are that it is tantamount to skincare, chock-full of phytonutrients, contains moisturizing organic coconut oil, and made with ethically mined minerals with low heavy metal content.  

Bonus: Reducing plastic in trash

There are even more benefits to this little tube: it is made using a special additive, so it biodegrades in a landfill significantly faster than conventional plastic without leaving microplastics behind. When finished, whether you recycle it or end up having to throw it out, it brings down our ecological footprint. 

CC Creams with eco-friendly packaging like biodegradable plastic tubes and an open recyclable box

Its box, like all our outer packaging, is not laminated so it is fully recyclable. Lamination is basically adding a thin layer of plastic on card stock, which makes recycling it difficult, if not impossible. This might mean that the box gets scratched a little easier, or its corners might be a little frayed – we think that’s a small compromise to make for the sake of our planet. Plus, it’s still super pretty!

Finding your shade

Shade ranges in CC creams are usually tighter than foundations, which typically offer the widest ranges. We carry 4 tones now: Fair, Light, Medium, and Caramel. See below guide for finding your match. If you’re already familiar with your Essential Foundation shade(s), this will make things extra easy!

SAPPHO CC Cream tubes in 4 available shades squeezed showing colors

Important note: We did have a Dark CC Cream, however – to be honest – when you squeezed some out of the tube it was a weird grayish color because of the zinc oxide. It was also kind of magical, as when you rubbed it into the skin it melted and was beautiful. We had some bloggers do videos on this… However, the initial experience was hard to get over, and just before COVID, we decided to reformulate our dark shade. Between the pandemic plus some extenuating factors, circumstances have kept us waiting to finish this project. We hope to reissue it by the end of the year.


Caramel CC Cream shade range spans across 3 beautiful brown skin tones on models
Medium CC Cream shade range spans across 5 medium skin tones on models
Light CC Cream shade range spans across 3 light skin tones on modelsFair CC Cream shade range spans across 3 pale skin tones on models


Don’t hesitate to drop us a line if you have any questions or need personalized advice at hello@mysappho.com.



This blog post/website is made available by Sappho New Paradigm Cosmetics for educational purposes only, as well as to give you general information and a general understanding of ingredients, not to provide specific legal descriptions or claims.

The SAPPHO New Paradigm blog/website should not be used as a substitute for competent medical advice from a licensed professional or dermatologist in your area.