Rant & Rave: Tinted Moisturizer

Tell us what you love and hate about...

Tinted Moisturizer

When I feel pretty good about my skin, I enjoy them for quick, slap-on-and-go makeup, but I tend to reach for buildable, medium coverage foundations (whatever I’m currently hooked on) even if I don’t necessarily need the coverage. I wish they had deeper shade ranges/more diverse undertones, though, as most brands have limited shade ranges.

— Christine


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Nancy T Avatar

Rave: If bb/cc creams are code for tinted moisturizers, then I do make use of one particular favorite that I learned of around 6 or 7 years ago from Isabella The Muse. It’s by Lumene, and their Medium shade works on those above perhaps NC35-ish or so? Has very good, smooth coverage, too. Works on me both winter and summer! Also, most BB/CC’s have a high SPF, a huge benefit for protection from aging and burning UV’s.

Rant: Lack of diversity in depths in most brands. Undertones, too. Plus, if one works up a sweat, these just cannot hold up like a foundation can.

Eileen Avatar

Con: You know the old expression neither fish nor fowl? That’s how I feel about tinted moisturizers. They are woefully inadequate and sadly lacking when compared to stand alone moisturizers or foundations so I can’t be bothered with them. They don’t meet my skincare needs and, if I want very light coverage, it’s easy enough to sheer out my medium coverage foundation.

Pro: I suppose they’re better than nothing and could appeal to women who don’t like the idea of wearing makeup. The huge success of brands like Laura Mercier is a testament to tinted moisturizers filling a consumer need.

Ana Maria Avatar

I simply don’t care for tinted moisturizers. I just have a good medium to full coverage foundation, and when I need a more light coverage I mix that with my SPF or my primer (depends on the formula) and I get my tinted moisturizers.
The only tinted moisturizer I ever liked is the Benefit Big Easy (which I just found out it was discontinued, why? why?). Given the shade range I had a surprisingly ideal shade match. I was using it when I was more active (hikes, sports, gardening), but I still wanted some coverage. It stayed put through sweats and rains (and snows) and the SPF was quite decent (didn’t get any burns).

But from what I have tried:
– Comfortable wear
– Natural look
– Fast application. They are basically 2 products in 1 (or 3 in 1 if they have SPF) and most times they look great just applied with fingers.
– Forgiving shades. The low coverage means you don’t have to be so accurate with the correct shade.
– Barely (no coverage). My biggest issues with my complexions are dark undereye circles and spots; otherwise I have good skin. So for me it’s quite useless to use sheer coverage; I could skip it all together if I don’t use a good coverage foundation and just use concealer under my eyes and on my spots.
– Limited shade range / undertones. And it’s not just the number of shades or light vs. dark complexion coverage, they usually don’t cover varying undertones. So for me (light-medium complexion) the issue is that they are either too pink or too ashy.

Seraphine Avatar

For me, just rants. I need more coverage than I can get from a tinted moisturizer. Actually, I guess my rant isn’t actually at tinted moisturizers as much as it is at my own skin for needing more coverage than those products can provide. (But just so I don’t sound like I’m full of hatred at my own skin, I am very happy that I have almost no wrinkles at all on my face. 🙂 )

kjh Avatar

Mostly a rave. I really love the Paula product, as adding foundation or another sunscreen virtually always works, and it has mineral sunscreen. Rant: almost every product is too yellow or has chemical sunscreen; same problem as foundation. I’d try an AB one, minus sunscreen, now that readers have mentioned how ‘too pink’ they are. My skin is arguably better, minus the extra lines from inverse psoriasis, and lighter coverage looks better on us old folks.

Z Avatar

Rant – Need more pale colors with a yellow or neutral undertone
Also Rant – More silicone-free formulations – please!!

Rave – I don’t like/want a lot of coverage on a day to day basis so something *moisturizing* and good for evening out the skin is fantastic.

Maggie Avatar

Rave: Tinted Moisturizers are my makeup life saver! My skin reacts negatively to most foundations: my experience with all foundations (I’ve tried at least a 100 different ones) are breakouts, color change/mismatch, or flakey dehydrated skin. So bareminerals TM has been a godsend: no skin irritation and no color mismatch. It’s light coverage for no makeup days but mixes/layers well with concealer or foundation for better coverage.

Rachel R. Avatar

RANTS: Most brands have very limited shade ranges. It’s almost impossible to find matches for my very fair skin, or for neutral undertones. They don’t always hold up on oily skin or to humid weather.

RAVES: They’re lighter weight, making them nice for good skin days or really hot days. Obviously, they’re more moisturizing. Many have sunscreens.

Currently, the only one with a color/undertone match for me is bareMinerals Complexion Rescue Tinted Hydrating Gel Cream Broad Spectrum SPF 30. I wear Opal 01. It’s a good thing I really love it. It’s not too dewy, and it does a great job at brightening the face. It evens out skin surprisingly well, too.

Tessa Avatar

I have never found a tinted moisturizer pale enough for me. I can’t imagine how frustrating it must be for those with dark and deep skintones, given that tinted moisturizers, BB creams, etc cater largely to the light-to-medium crowd.

I can mix Nars Finland with a pure white mixer (Dreamtone) and create a pretty good match… But then that’s way too much work for a product that’s supposed to save me time and effort. I’m much more likely to skip foundation and just apply dots of concealer over my sunscreen and call it good.

Litha Avatar

I don’t like the look, or feel of full coverage foundation on me at all. Now that I’m older, I’m finding that heavy coverage ages me more than allowing a few imperfections to show through. Light to medium coverage has been the way to go in general, but definitely light coverage in spring/summer. It just plays nicer with all of the sheer, bright, and playful colors I tend to wear when the temperature rises!

My favorite is ‘One & Done’ by Urban Decay. It’s touted for providing a moisturizer/primer/sheer foundation all in one, and for the most part it does. I actually use it year round (in rotation with other brands) however, sometimes in the winter I apply a thin layer of additional moisturizer underneath it or a light dusting of powder on top of it in the summer. The finish really does provide a natural, youthful look.

Like most tinted moisturizers/sheer foundations the shade range is a bit lacking though. However, there are 6 shades which is a bit more than the 3 or so most brands offer. I would love to see this particular line in the brand expanded upon so it would be more inclusive to a wider variety of skin tones.

Marie Avatar

I love the idea of tinted moisturizers, BB creams, and CC creams. I own a bunch of them from Laura Mercier, NARS, and Hourglass bc those brands have large shade ranges. I love that there is SPF and it’s sheer enough to blend with fingers. I love the natural to dewy finish. My skin is dry, so I love the extra moisture (though I still use the regular moisturizer and sunscreen).

But my skin just needs more coverage under my eyes and some melasma splotches. I keep experimenting with concealers on top of tinted moisturizers. But so far, I need full coverage foundation AND concealer.

So basically, I love tinted moisturizers if you look at 2 to 4 square inches of my cheeks along the jawline. But the rest of my face is a disaster.

Ariel Riley Avatar

TM is my jam. I’ve never been a fan of heavy or even medium coverage foundations and at 62, even moreso.

Raves: Light coverage, natural looking, (if I need something covered better, I’ll add powder or a med coverage foundation), easier to work with as far as spreadability

Rants: As you and many others have said, shades 🙁

Wednesday Avatar

The only rave I can think of: it’s easier to get away with a lesser skintone match with tinted moisturizers due to sheerness of coverage.

I don’t care for them personally. I will reach for a CC cream for better coverage with skin benefits or add moisturizer to my foundation. I used to religiously wear tinted moisturizers, NARS, Stila, Laura Mercier had the best, but that was back in my 30’s and early 40’s. My tastes have changed. I think I may still have a NARS tm in my stash which clearly needs to be tossed. I think I hang on to it because???

Phoebe Avatar

They are too sheer, I like at least a medium coverage, and they rarely cater to different undertones. Also, for dry skin it’s probably best to use a proper moisturiser.

However, they often have a nice glow to them and I guess I haven’t tried many so I can’t really judge. They are just not my personal preference

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