Finding the best tinted moisturizer is not as easy as it might sound. With so many different options available — from familiar BB cream and CC cream formulas to the latest skin tint — narrowing down to what works for you could be challenging. If you are a fan of the no-makeup makeup look, this tinted moisturizer guide will help you to identify products that deliver the results: a lightweight base that embraces a healthy glow.
What is Tinted Moisturizer?
A tinted moisturizer is exactly what it sounds like: a moisturizer with a slight tint to it. It’s two-in-one skincare and makeup product. From a skincare standpoint, you get well-hydrated skin – just like with your typical facial moisturizer. From a makeup perspective, expect a radiant, dewy finish that is so ideal for everyday makeup looks.
My personal favorite is a tinted moisturizer with SPF. It’s a handy product to have if you want to quickly reapply your sunscreen without ruining your makeup. If you don’t get your tinted moisturizer with a powder, you can layer it throughout the day for added sun protection. Keep in mind that it doesn’t mean that you can skip on a traditional sunscreen. I think of a tinted moisturizer with SPF more as the icing on your skincare cake.
Some ingredients to look for in the best tinted moisturizer formulas:
- Hyaluronic acid: Plumps and boosts skin’s moisture levels.
- Vitamin C: Evens out skin tone and brightens the complexion.
- Niacinamide: Helps to smooth skin texture and minimize the appearance of pores.
- Aloe: Soothes and provides anti-inflammatory benefits.
- Glycerin: Softens and hydrates the skin; ideal for dryer skin types.
Tinted Moisturizer, BB cream, CC cream, Skin Tint – What’s the Difference?
While the texture of a tinted moisturizer, BB cream, and CC cream could be similar, these formulas are different in their own unique ways. BB cream emphasizes a handful of skincare benefits, CC cream color corrects, and skin tint provides a thinner product coverage.
There is also a difference between a foundation and a tinted moisturizer. Some lightweight foundations (light-to-medium coverage) are similar in texture to a tinted moisturizer, but they are NOT the same product. Typically, the goal of a foundation is to camouflage skin imperfections. While in the case of a tinted moisturizer, skin hydration comes first, and natural-looking blurred skin second.
Also known as a “beauty balm,” BB cream is a light coverage foundation alternative that features, among skin tinting qualities, also smoothing, blurring, and protecting benefits.
BB cream is a beauty powerhouse that condenses a 3-5-steps skincare routine into one, non-irritating product. Typically, a BB cream provides moisturizing benefits as a tinted moisturizer does and delivers even more skincare benefits.
BB cream options that I tried and recommend:
- Missha Perfect Cover BB Cream is a long-lasting product that provides sun protection and looks very natural on the skin.
- Tarte BB Tinted Primer SPF 30 is the product that started the brand’s dominance in the tinted moisturizer niche. It’s a barely-there-tint product that is ideal for the days when you don’t want to wear any makeup.
Color correcting cream (aka CC cream) is a multi-tasking product that focuses on color correction and evening out the skin tone. The goal of a tinted moisturizer is to hydrate and tint. While CC-creams are for camouflaging skin redness and dark under-eye circles.
Popular CC cream options to consider:
- Erborian CC Cream is my absolute favorite color correction cream as it layers effortlessly and stays on all day. It doesn’t offer a great shade range, but if you find the one matching you, you’d love this lightweight redness correcting product.
- IT Cosmetics CC+ Cream is a perfect everyday color correction cream that looks natural and brings you that “glow from within.” Please keep in mind that sometimes this product provokes breakouts in people with acne-prone skin.
- Dr. Jart Tiger Grass CC Treatment SPF 30 has a slight green tint to it which is perfect for color-correcting skin redness. It’s a lightweight barely-there product that is suitable for sensitive skin.
There is a difference between the terms “tinted moisturizer” and “skin tint.”
Skin tint is a more lightweight, sheer formula than your typical tinted moisturizer. This type of formula also doesn’t necessarily emphasize the “moisturizing” part, which would require proof of skin hydrating properties. Rather, skin tints are focusing on skin “tinting,” i.e. slight change of the original hue.
In comparison to classic tinted moisturizers, skin tints are easier to apply with your fingertips as they rarely cake. Some of the most-loved skin tints also add an SPF bonus.
- ILIA Beauty Super Serum Tint SPF 40 is a clean-beauty tinted moisturizer with SPF that applies effortlessly and brings that “glow from within” we are all are looking for. This product comes with a handy applicator that allows you to distribute just one drop of a serum tint: all you need for the entire face.
- Kevyn Aucoin Stripped Nude Skin Tint is the one you’d want to use till the last drop. It has a creamy, skin luminosity-enhancing texture that applies in the most natural-looking way.
Tinted Moisturizer: Pros and Cons
If you are not sure if a tinted moisturizer is what you are looking for, glance at the reasons to choose or skip this makeup formula.
- Tinted moisturizers look more natural on dry skin types compared to typical foundations.
- They provide a dewy, glow-enhancing coverage; your skin looks and feels hydrated.
- If applied properly, tinted moisturizers don’t emphasize wrinkles and look like your skin, which is ideal for those trying not to draw attention to the expression lines.
- Tinted moisturizer with SPF adds an additional layer of sun protection to your daytime routine.
- Tinted moisturizers might smudge depending on a product formula and your makeup-setting routine.
- Some tinted moisturizers break me out, especially the ones with thicker formulas. If you have sensitive, acne-prone skin like mine, I recommend sticking to oil-free formulas that expressively state to be non-comedogenic.
The 5 Best Tinted Moisturizers to Try
I recommend using tinted moisturizers as a more natural-looking alternative to foundation for everyday makeup looks. There is a big difference between the type of coverage that you need for an editorial photoshoot and an at-home Zoom call.
In real life, we are physically closer to each other so all the “cake” you might enjoy in your Instagram photos might look too “overdone.” In my opinion, a dewy finish tinted moisturizer always wins for most daytime occasions.
These are some of my favorite tinted moisturizers I recommend.
Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturizer Oil-Free SPF 20
This Laura Mercier product started my love for tinted moisturizers. It provides a sheer, natural coverage, that lasts all day long. Its oil-free formula works perfectly for my acne-prone skin.
Smashbox Halo Tinted Moisturizer SPF 25
The hero product of this formula is hyaluronic acid which adds skin hydration throughout the day. It’s light, it’s dewy, it’s easy-to-apply: everything you are looking for in a perfect tinted moisturizer.
Nars Tinted Moisturizer SPF 30
This tinted moisturizer has the highest number of positive reviews on the list. And for a good reason: this natural-looking product brightens out the complexion and offers buildable coverage.
Bare Minerals Tinted Moisturizer SPF 30
If there is a product that started everyone’s obsession with tinted moisturizers, it’s this one. It applies like a foundation but feels very lightweight on your skin. Staying on-brand with Bare Minerals’ approach to beauty, it features a mineral SPF.
Chantecaille Tinted Moisturizer SPF 15
This lightweight non-toxic moisturizer enhances the skin complexion with a subtle tint. It applies effortlessly and stays on all day, giving you the most radiant and glowing skin.
How to Apply to Apply Tinted Moisturizer: Best Tools
My favorite way to apply tinted moisturizer is with a damp beauty blender. Applying face coverage products with a sponge provides more natural, flawless coverage, which is exactly what we are looking for in a case with a tinted moisturizer.
When traveling, I often use a dual-ended IT Cosmetics Heavenly Luxe Complexion Perfection Brush #7. It’s a soft, luxurious brush for blending foundation products; I had mine for years, and it’s still going strong. I love that I can use the other side of this brush to apply concealer. This dual-ended brush is convenient when you are traveling and trying to save space in your makeup bag.
Fingertips application is also an option, especially when you are in a hurry. Sometimes I just put a few dots of tinted moisturizer on my skin and spread it as I’d do with a serum or a moisturizer. After that, I’ll go around the strategic areas around the eyes and nose to ensure that the product is distributed evenly.