Not a fan of makeup that covers much of your skin? Love the “my skin but better” look? The best tinted moisturizer may be just the product you need to level up your combined skincare and makeup routine.
An Introduction to Tinted Moisturizers
Are you one of those ladies who believe that less is more when it comes to skincare and makeup? Or do you prefer your natural skin to shine through instead of being covered in layers of foundation?
Maybe you want to save prep time in the morning, and you choose a product that can multitask, just like you. Good news: the tinted moisturizer is here to your rescue.
What’s a Tinted Moisturizer?
A tinted moisturizer is simply a moisturizer mixed with a minimal amount of pigments to give a thin, sheer layer of color to the skin. More than covering blemishes and evening out skin tone, the tinted moisturizer‘s number one goal is to provide moisture to the skin (the tint is just a plus).
Tinted moisturizers are perfect for women who don’t like to put a lot of makeup on their face or for those who live in tropical climates (and sweat a lot). Since it is lightly tinted, it is not very noticeable and is perfect for the no-makeup makeup look.
Tinted moisturizers are also a saving grace for the woman who sweats a lot. Just having a touch of color in its formula means that it does not rub off as obviously as BB creams and liquid foundations do. It’s a low-maintenance product that still addresses your skin’s needs.
Numerous tinted moisturizers are available in the market today, each touting great benefits for your skin. There are extra-moisturizing ones for dry skin, ones that fade pigmentation with continued use, ones with hyaluronic acid to add plumpness to the skin.
Others claim to help with your fine lines and wrinkles, while others target the cause of acne and prevent it from coming back.
What are the Common Ingredients in Tinted Moisturizers?
Not every tinted moisturizer is created equally, but they at least contain one or two of the following ingredients:
Humectants make the skin look smooth and dewy by trapping moisture from the air and helping the skin hold it in. It is the key to hydration for most hydrating moisturizers. Some common humectants are glycerol, ceramides, aloe vera, and hyaluronic acid.
Working hand in hand with humectants are the emollients-ingredients that keep the skin baby-soft. If humectants draw moisture into the skin, emollients seal that moisture within to nourish the skin for as long as possible.
Emollients also protect the skin from pollutants and irritants from the environment. Common emollients include glycerin, petrolatum, dimethicone, and some plant oils like jojoba, shea, and avocado.
Plant extracts/special ingredients
Ingredients derived from natural sources, such as plants, nourish and protect the skin, brighten it, eliminate wrinkles, fight acne-causing bacteria, and do much more. Each tinted moisturizer contains a specific set of these special ingredients depending on what issue it aims to address.
Many tinted moisturizers nowadays pack a punch by adding SPF into their formulas. These additions help you become safe not only from UVA but also from UVB rays and blue light from devices. However, skincare experts recommend using another dedicated sunscreen product rather than relying on a tinted moisturizer with SPF.
Fragrance enhances the experience when using tinted moisturizers. Most fragrances are plant-derived. There are a few brands that add synthetic fragrances. For people with sensitive skin, added fragrance might be a problem, even if it is plant-based (for example, lavender can cause irritation for some people). Fragrance-free formulas are available for those who prefer their products unscented for one reason or the other.
Tinted Moisturizers versus BB Creams/CC Creams and Foundations
What’s the difference between slathering on a tinted moisturizer compared to putting on a BB cream or CC cream? The answer is that BB and CC creams focus on covering skin (albeit minimal), and by doing so, imperfections are blurred slightly, giving the wearer a more evened-out skin tone.
BB creams and CC creams do this because they contain a significant amount of pigment compared to a tinted moisturizer, which only has a touch of color/less amount of color pigments than makeup products.
Although BB and CC creams contain moisturizing ingredients, they are not meant to be worn as moisturizers. They are a lighter alternative to foundation or powder but are not meant to be the first thing to touch your face after cleansing and toning.
Tinted Moisturizers versus Tinted Sunscreens
The line between a tinted moisturizer and a tinted sunscreen can be blurry, especially since there are tinted moisturizers that contain an acceptable level of SPF and tinted sunscreen that claims to have a fantastic ability to moisturize your skin. But what makes one different from the other?
The primary job of a tinted moisturizer is to moisturize the skin. The tint and the SPF, if any, are just add-ons to the product. It should moisturize the skin first before anything else, or it will fail its claim.
Tinted sunscreen is still sunscreen. Again, the tint is just a secondary benefit. It would be good if it moisturized while protecting from the sun, but if it fails to shield you from harmful UVA and UVB rays, then it’s not a good product.
So if you’re wondering if you got a tinted moisturizer or a tinted sunscreen, check what the product is claiming to do first. If it touts moisturizing properties first, it is a tinted moisturizer (even if it is marketed as a tinted sunscreen). If sun protection is its main claim, then it is a tinted sunscreen.
Tip: Tinted sunscreens generally have a higher SPF level than tinted moisturizers, but still check the product claims to help you distinguish between the two.
Benefits of Tinted Moisturizers
Tinted moisturizers can be your holy grail skincare + makeup product and for a good reason. Here’s how they can help your skincare routine.
It shortens your beauty ritual
Tinted moisturizers are a lifesaver, especially during rushed mornings. They are a breeze to apply, and since they don’t have much pigment on them, you won’t need to worry much about getting streak marks if you’re putting some on without a mirror. If you have one with sunscreen already built-in into the formula, then you can go out into the sun without worries for an hour or two! That’s a lot of time and effort saved for you.
It saves you money with two products in one
If fresh-faced is your thing, then you are saving money by buying an excellent tinted moisturizer that does two things for the price of one. Not only is your face moisturized, but it is also prepped for other makeup you would like to add (or none).
It eliminates redness and boosts your skin’s radiance
It gives you just the right amount of glow without looking oily or cakey.
It’s easy to get it off your face
Since it is not heavy on the face, a quick splash with a good cleanser and water or some makeup wipes is usually enough to remove it.
Drawbacks of Using Tinted Moisturizers
There’s no such thing as a perfect product, so even if you’re raving about your tinted moisturizer, there are limitations that come with it. Here’s what you need to know.
It can’t cover all your blemishes
We know it’s good for a fresh face, but it’s not going to keep your pimple marks concealed completely or the zits that popped overnight.
It’s not a substitute for SPF, even if it has SPF
So you think the SPF in your tinted moisturizer is enough? Think again. With a good sunscreen product, you need to apply approximately half a teaspoon of it to your face. You can’t do that with a tinted moisturizer, even with lesser pigments than BB or CC creams and liquid foundations, and it will show that you’ve applied too much of the product. Plus, tinted moisturizers usually have lower SPF compared to standalone sunscreen.
You can’t use it at night
Obviously, you don’t need the tint and the SPF when you’re going to bed. That means you need another moisturizer to complete your nighttime routine.
You still have to take it off
Even if it treats your skin to nourishing goodness, you need to take off your tinted moisturizer with a good facial cleanser. You wouldn’t want its pigments to settle into your pores and accumulate there after a long, hot summer day.
Our Best Tinted Moisturizer Guide
To save you from the hassle of trying lots of tubes and bottles of tinted moisturizers, we have rounded up the best-tinted moisturizers in the market. How did we choose them? Here are our short and sweet criteria.
Is it affordable/worth the price?
It’s nice to find a product that’s a steal for its price, provided it works well for you. There’s also nothing wrong with indulging in a product that is priced higher than other products if it delivers excellent results. If the product is cheap, but won’t give you what you expect, or if every squeeze of the tube feels like you’re squeezing every last bit out of your wallet, we won’t recommend it.
Is it easy to find?
Your tinted moisturizer should be easy to find at any physical or online store so that when your last tube runs out you can rest assured that you won’t have a hard time finding it
Does it contain any special/harmful ingredients?
Ingredients like nut oils, plant extracts, and other skin-loving ingredients are all good, but parabens and other chemicals aren’t. We make sure our recommendations are good for you by checking the ingredient list thoroughly.
Does it work for most skin types?
Can anybody use the chosen product, or does it apply to different skin types? We made sure that whatever your skin type may be, there’s one or two from our recommendations that will fit your needs and budget. Our guide helps you to avoid the wasteful situation of having bottles and tubes that are unused in your vanity. We’ll save you precious time as well as money, money that you can spend on other meaningful things!
You will find below our best moisturizers for different skin types and issues. We have carefully curated our selections to make your shopping for tinted moisturizers more like a walk in a park rather than a dreaded chore.
Best for sensitive skin: CeraVe Hydrating Sunscreen with Sheer Tint SPF 30
Here’s a product that tows the line between tinted sunscreen and tinted moisturizer-and even until now, we can’t decide! It is described as hydrating (so it passes up as a moisturizer) and has a good amount of mineral sunscreen in it.
Formulated with naturally occurring minerals that guarantee not to irritate your sensitive skin, CeraVe’s Hydrating Sunscreen with Sheer Tint SPF 30 protects you from the sun as well as keeps your skin’s natural barrier with ceramides. Titanium dioxide and zinc oxide keep the sun’s harmful rays away with a natural, fresh tint that blends well with any complexion.
- Paraben and chemical-free
- Works for all skin tones
- Has Hyaluronic acid to attract and lock moisture into the skin
- A bit heavy compared to other similar products
- It tends to give you grease and shine over time
- It may clog some pores
Best for dry skin: bareMinerals Complexion Rescue Tinted Hydrating Gel Cream SPF 30
This water-based tinted moisturizer serves hydration to parched skin that will flake under thicker makeup products. Broad-spectrum SPF 30 ensures that you can stay in the sun without worries (just remember to reapply diligently!), and it does keep your skin moisturized, even without oil in the formula.
It comes in 20 shades that are buildable from sheer to medium coverage. Plus, it leaves a clean, fresh, and lightweight feel on your skin. Skin just temporarily dehydrated? This product will also restore your skin to its normal condition. You won’t be needing another product after your skin has soaked up all the goodness from this tinted moisturizer.
- It’s water and mineral-based, all good choices for dry and dehydrated skin
- The formula is lightweight and refreshing to the skin — there’s no icky feeling!
- It comes in a convenient tube that you can carry anywhere.
- It can appear streaky in some individuals
- It may not be hydrating enough for extremely dry skin
- It needs powder to set for better-staying power
Best for mature skin: Neutrogena Healthy Skin Anti-Aging Perfector SPF 20
How about a tinted moisturizer that hydrates and keeps the signs of aging at bay? Neutrogena Healthy Skin Anti-aging Perfector SPF 20 ticks all the boxes for mature skin. It smoothes wrinkles with retinol (bye-bye lines!), keeps you safe from the sun with SPF 20, and gives you a sheer finish that lets your skin’s beauty shine through.
- Antioxidants and vitamins nourish skin and give it a dewy, youthful appearance.
- Recommended for mature skin but can also be used with other skin types
- Long-lasting with a hint of sheer coverage
- It has a funny wet paper-bag smell
- The amount of retinol might not be enough to make a difference
- It tends to oxidize two shades darker
Best value tinted moisturizer: Olay Total Effects 7-in-One CC Tone Correcting Moisturizer SPF 15
Want a product that multitasks as well as you do? You’ll never go wrong with the Olay Total Effects 7-in-One CC Tone Correcting Moisturizer. It hydrates, corrects skin tone, eliminates dark spots with continuous use, and even minimizes the appearance of pores. At $18.74 for a 50 ml bottle, that’s quite a steal!
- Contains Vita-Niacin Complex and Vitamin B3 for smooth, younger-looking skin
- It gives dull skin a radiant glow
- It helps prevent further skin damage
- It may come across as greasy for some people
- SPF is lower compared to other similar products
- It leaves an orange cast for some people
Best for combination/hyperpigmented skin: Nars Pure Radiant Tinted Moisturizer SPF 30
We can confidently say we love all of the benefits of this product! It comes in a lot of shades, and you’ll surely find one that matches. It also has kopara, a naturally-derived polysaccharide extract that helps keep skin hydrated, conditioned, refined, and Vitamin C for that irresistible glow.
It’s hard to find a tinted moisturizer with minimal coverage, yet enough to cover spots and freckles. This product is the exception. A favorite among makeup artists, Nars Pure Radiant Tinted Moisturizer with SPF 30 has a luminous finish. Want it to last all day? Stipple it into your skin with a stippling brush and lightly powder areas that get oily first.
- It contains no synthetic fragrance
- A bit more expensive than others
- Not recommended for older skin; settles into wrinkles
- Not applicable to acne-prone skin
Best for those who want a water-based moisturizer: L’Oréal Paris Skin Paradise Water-Infused Tinted Moisturizer
This skin-loving tinted moisturizer spells many good things for you. Not only is it affordable and super-hydrating (aloe vera water gives the product its ultimate hydration surge), it’s also oil-free. Want to have a sheer finish? A small dot for your whole face will do the trick. It is also buildable if you need more coverage and blends well without the cakey appearance and feel.
Its 70% water-infused blend also has witch hazel extract that’s good for your skin and broad-spectrum SPF 19 for sun protection.
- Affordable price
- Intensely hydrating
- It has a wide range of shades to choose from
- It has multiple essential oils/fragrances added, which could potentially irritate sensitive skin
- Tends to transfer to face masks
- SPF content is lower compared to similar products
Best against blue light: Honest Beauty Clean Corrective Tinted Moisturizer SPF 30
Staying indoors working with a computer can also cause dry skin; plus, the blue light that devices emit can also cause premature skin aging. Honest Beauty Clean Corrective Tinted Moisturizer SPF 30 has broad-spectrum sun protection that will help you get shielded from UVA and UVB rays and blue light. It’s fragrance-free and brightens your skin with Vitamin C.
This product is another true multitasker that gives you a great deal for its price, and your skin will love it too! This beauty brand, founded by Jessica Alba, promises “clean beauty that really performs,” and this moisturizer does live up to that promise.
- A multitasking wonder for your skin (primes it, blurs your pores, brightens it up, and even locks in moisture for 12 hours!)
- Contains physical rather than chemical sunscreens
- It has vegan ingredients, no parabens, and no phthalates.
- A little bit on the thick side
- It tends to oxidize to a darker shade or two.
- Has limited shade selections
Best for acne-prone skin: Jane Iredale Dream Tint Tinted Moisturizer SPF 15
Acne-prone skin is essentially sensitive skin too, and finding something that does not irritate your skin nor clog your pores is a challenge in itself. Jane Iredale Dream Tint Moisturizer SPF 15 works like a dream for skin with acne; it has no talc, no mineral oil, and no synthetic fragrance that could potentially cause you to make your acne worse.
It’s made from lightweight minerals and helps lessen fine lines and wrinkles. Did we tell you it’s vegan and cruelty-free, too? Indeed, a dream product come true!
- It has a soft-focus finish that lessens the appearance of enlarged pores and lines
- It is waterproof for up to 40 minutes, and reef-safe formulation ensures no damage to marine life
- Phthalate-and paraben-free
- Slightly more expensive than other products
- Has very light coverage
- It has a strong scent
Best for oily skin: Pixi H2O Skintint
Pixi is a cult favorite among beauty enthusiasts, so it’s not surprising that the Pixi H2O Skintint is another product that delivers its promises. Super-shiny, oily skin gets a semi-matte finish with this product.
The texture is more like a tinted gel than the cream we expect most tinted moisturizers would be; this does keep the oil away. There are no parabens or artificial fragrances in this product, and it has green tea and rose water to treat the skin to hydration and nourishment.
- It gives a smooth, oil-free finish
- Weightless and buildable
- Great price point
- It does not contain sunscreen
- Has only three shades to choose from
- Coverage gets less at the end of the day
Question: Can I wear a tinted moisturizer in colder weather?
Answer: Yes, as long as you pick one that addresses your skin’s needs, especially some extra moisturizing properties since colder weather dries out our skin.
Question: Can I wear my tinted moisturizer underneath my foundation?
Answer: Technically, yes, but there are a few things you have to consider if you decide to wear a tinted moisturizer under your foundation. The following are some factors you would need to decide on:
• Is your tinted moisturizer designed to be worn alone or with other makeup products? Some tinted moisturizers hold well on their own; some work better with a touch of powder here and there, and some are lightweight enough to wear under a compatible foundation. We recommend that you get one from the same brand or line if you opt to layer your tinted moisturizer with other makeup products.
• What kind of finish are you looking for? Sheer? Matte? Full coverage? It is rare for a tinted moisturizer to give full coverage, due to the nature of the product. Layering your tinted moisturizer with other products might help you achieve the finish that you want.
• What shade are your tinted moisturizers and other makeup products? In layering your tinted moisturizer, make sure it matches the foundation and powder on top to avoid a cakey, uneven look.
Question: Are there tinted moisturizers that get streaky when applied? How can I avoid it?
Answer: Having your tinted moisturizer looking streaky after a few minutes of application means that there are parts of your face that are not appropriately hydrated (particularly with those individuals with combination-type skin).
The reason these streaks or patches disappear is that your skin is so dehydrated in places, it tends to immediately soak up the hydrating emollients and humectants, leaving the pigment sitting on top of your skin, looking dry and uneven. The same happens when you’re using BB or CC creams and liquid foundations.
If you get patches and streaks after applying your tinted moisturizer, try using a plain, untinted one until your skin condition gets better. When the lines and patches disappear the next time you apply anything tinted on your face, that means your skin is getting healthier.
Question: I have acne. Can I still wear tinted moisturizer?
Answer: Tinted moisturizers are actually your best bet if you have acne-prone skin. Since its coverage is very light, it allows your skin to breathe and causes less irritation to your acne. It also helps to cancel out redness from your bumps.
Double-check the ingredient list for potential irritants such as fragrance or parabens. Also, check if it is non-comedogenic before putting on a tinted moisturizer.
Question: Is it a good idea to put on a regular moisturizer under my tinted moisturizer?
Answer: No. Your tinted moisturizer is already a moisturizer. In fact, layering two moisturizers may do your skin more harm than good (unless you’re following the ten-step Korean skincare protocol and your products are specially designed for layering).
Question: I want my tinted moisturizer to last all day. Should I use a primer underneath it?
Answer: Tinted moisturizers will naturally sink into the skin, and you will notice that the tint is gone after a few hours or so. That is natural because its primary function is to hydrate and moisturize, not as much as cover and protect (those extra benefits are secondary only).
While it might be tempting to use a primer to maintain the fresh, sheer glow, it defeats the tinted moisturizers’ goal of delivering nourishment and hydration to the skin. So skip the primer and let the moisturizer do its work.
Question: Can I wear my tinted moisturizer to bed?
Answer: We don’t recommend it, as it can cause breakouts. You still need to wash it off and apply a plain moisturizer instead.
Our Final Thoughts
Tinted moisturizers are hybrid products that nourish the skin and even it out, cancel redness, and give a fresh glow. They are an excellent alternative to BB and CC creams when you want just the slightest hint of color and coverage.
They are the perfect go-to product during summer days or during days when you don’t want to look like you’ve made a ton of effort, yet still look fresh and presentable. They let you make your skin breathe and give it a break from heavier foundations.
When it comes to our personal pick, L’Oréal Paris Skin Paradise Water-infused Tinted Moisturizer has been the one that has impressed us the most as a high-quality product at a very economical price.
As we mentioned earlier, this moisturizer is packed with hydrating ingredients that will pamper your skin and give it a smooth finish and leave it smelling wonderful. If you’re looking for something with a higher SPF though, Nars (with its impressive SPF 30) is also a great choice, albeit more expensive.
Various tinted moisturizers are available in the market, and many of them address specific needs. It is good to choose one that caters best to your skin and budget. We hope our guide has indeed simplified your search for the best tinted moisturizer that works for you. Happy shopping!