13 of the Best Tinted Moisturizers for a Flawless Complexion.

SKIN CARE REVIEWS

01.24.22DISCLAIMER
Best best. The Carrot & Stick skincare bundle worth up to $240 for $88. Details below

Everyone loves that no-makeup look, where the skin looks dewy, smooth, even, and glowing. However, it’s very rare to accomplish that naturally. So, what do you do when you want to achieve a flawless complexion without an arsenal of cosmetics? You reach for the best-tinted moisturizer, of course.

What is a tinted moisturizer, you ask? As the name implies, it’s a face hydrator with a tint. Whether you’re looking for an oil-free tinted moisturizer or the best-tinted moisturizer for mature skin, most formulas provide lightweight hydration coupled with a hint of color — even lighter than a BB cream and sheerer than a typical foundation.

Related: Best Face Moisturizers

As a tinted moisturizer is a skincare-cosmetic hybrid, it can be confusing to find the right formula for you. Not to worry. Here at Deep Science, we’ve reviewed hundreds of products with a scientific lens to ensure you’re creating a skincare routine that’s safe and effective — even if that means adding a pop of color. 

From the best-tinted moisturizer for dry skin to the best-tinted moisturizer with SPF, here are 13 formulas for a flawless, radiant complexion. 

Best Tinted Moisturizer: The List 

BEST OVERALL

BEST: Drmtlgy Universal Tinted Moisturizer SPF 46, $25 

Best bet. The Carrot & Stick skincare bundle worth up to $240 for $88. Select 3 products, including our favorite Drmtlgy Universal Tinted Moisturizer SPF 46. Use code DERM20 for 20% off.

FULL LIST

Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturizer Natural Skin Perfector Broad Spectrum SPF 30, $48

Clinique Moisture Surge Sheertint Hydrator Broad Spectrum SPF 25 Tinted Moisturizer, $39.50

Bobbi Brown Nude Finish Tinted Moisturizer SPF 15, $48

Bare Minerals Complexion Rescue Tinted Moisturizer Hydrating Gel Cream Broad Spectrum 

PCA SKIN Sheer Tint Broad Spectrum SPF 45, $50

Cle de Peau Beauté UV Protective Cream Tinted SPF 50, $85

La Mer The Radiant SkinTint Broad Spectrum SPF 30, $100

IT Cosmetics Bye-Bye Foundation Full Coverage Moisturizer With SPF 50+, $42

Dermalogica Sheer Tint SPF 20, $45

Neutrogena Hydro Boost Hydrating Tint, $16.99

Beautycounter Dew Skin Moisturizing Coverage, $45

Nars Pure Radiant Tinted Moisturizer Broad Spectrum SPF 30, $45

How to Choose a Tinted Face Moisturizer

Shopping for a moisturizer or face tint can be challenging enough on its own, so here are a few essential things to consider when choosing the best of both worlds. 

What are the Best Skin Care Products of 2022?

 

Skin Type

Tinted moisturizers tend to provide sheer coverage, so choose one based on your skin type rather than your skin tone — more on that next — because this type of product is still treating the skin, not just covering it up.

For example, if you’re on the drier side and makeup tends to settle in your creases, opt for the best-tinted moisturizer for mature skin or dry skin. Are you worried about aggravating your breakouts? Then the best-tinted moisturizer for acne-prone skin (or an oil-free tinted moisturizer) is for you. Read the package (and our reviews) to determine what type of skin type the product is formulated for. 

 

Skin Tone 

Good news. Because tinted moisturizer is so sheer, it doesn’t have to be a perfect match like foundation. However, if you can sample the formula, test it along your jawline in the same way. If you’re on the fence about which hue to choose, remember, with a tinted face moisturizer, it’s always better to go darker than lighter, so you warm up your skin instead of looking pale. 

 

Coverage

Tinted moisturizers don’t provide the same coverage as a foundation, so they are less apt to conceal prominent blemishes or other imperfections. The coverage good tinted moisturizers provide varies from product to product, though it generally ranges from sheer to medium. 

With that in mind, the amount of coverage depends on your individual needs. For example, if you have an uneven skin tone, you’re better off with medium coverage. If you’re merely looking to enhance your natural complexion, you’ll be happier with a sheerer formula. 

 

Texture

As with coverage, texture varies between products, too. Opt for a formula that genuinely feels like a moisturizer — not a foundation — for easy application. If you’re on the oily or acneic side, look for a formula with a matte or semi-matte finish to help control shine.

 

SPF Protection

By now, you probably understand the importance of sun protection — including the reapplication process — so consider choosing the best-tinted moisturizer with SPF. Ideally, you’ll want a formula with a minimum sun protection factor of 30 if you want to skip this vital step in your morning routine. Anything lower, and you’ll still need to apply your regular daily SPF first. 

How to Apply a Tinted Moisturizer

When using a tinted moisturizer, you might think you can get away without wearing a proper moisturizer — not-so-fast. 

  • Using a moisturizer isn’t off-limits just because you’re using the tinted variety — especially if you have super dry and (or) dehydrated skin. In this case, apply your serum and regular moisturizer, as usual, followed by your tinted moisturizer. 
  • Typical skin types can choose to go from serum directly to tinted moisturizer, but it’s a matter of preference. Those with oily skin can use a serum and water-based or oil-free moisturizer first, perhaps with mattifying and antimicrobial properties. 
  • If you’re going to be in the sun all day long, don’t forget to apply additional protection — the SPF in your tinted moisturizer may not be enough. Even experts agree that moisturizers with SPF and makeup with SPF aren’t as sufficient as layering a traditional sunscreen first. 
  • Harvard Health recommends that everyone use sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or higher when you spend time outdoors. SPF 30 will protect against approximately 97% of UVB rays. Sunscreens with SPF greater than 50 provide only a minimal increase in protection against UV radiation.
  • When it comes to applying a tinted face moisturizer, there are no set rules. Some people prefer their fingers to a foundation brush because it’s easier to blend the product. You can use the brush to buff away any unevenness afterward.
  • Apply the tinted face moisturizer up and outward on the forehead, cheeks, and down around the chin line and into the neck. Make sure it’s thoroughly blended. 
  • Dab a bit of concealer over any areas you wish to have more coverage. 
  • Resist the urge to apply face powder. The goal of a tinted moisturizer is to look like you’re not made up, so embrace your dewy, glowing complexion. If anything, spritz a little setting spray over your skin for the perfect finish. 
  • However, if you’re going out or headed to work and want a more finished look, sweep on a bit of bronzer or blush and complete your face with a bold lip or eye.

Best Tinted Moisturizers

Drmtlgy Universal Tinted Moisturizer SPF 46, $25
This antioxidant-rich Drmtlgy tinted sunscreen is lightweight and oil-free. It’s formulated as an all-in-one-sunscreen and tinted moisturizer that blends seamlessly to match all skin tones, leaving behind a natural, healthy glow. As a bonus, it features a high concentration of hyaluronic acid, niacinamide, and vitamin E to provide superior hydrating benefits while fading the appearance of discoloration from too much time spent out in the sun.  

Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturizer Natural Skin Perfector Broad Spectrum SPF 30, $48
Beauty gurus and consumers alike love this tinted moisturizer from Laura Mercier — it’s genuinely a tried and true cult-favorite product. It instantly gives the skin that healthy, no-makeup look. Coverage is buildable, so you can decide how much skin to show — or conceal. 

Macadamia and kukui Seed oils help increase the skin’s moisture levels long-term for up to 24 hours of hydration while reducing the signs of visibly dry skin. A silica-treated pigment helps create a soft-focus effect for a naturally dewy finish. The formula is suitable for normal, dry, and combination skin.

Clinique Moisture Surge Sheertint Hydrator Broad Spectrum SPF 25 Tinted Moisturizer, $39.50
This oil-free tinted moisturizer from Clinique is formulated with evidence-based ingredients, including hyaluronic acid and activated aloe water to help keep skin plump and dewy for up to 12 hours. A sheer tint perfects and covers a wide range of skin tones — there are seven different shades available. The sweat- and the humidity-resistant formula gives the skin a fresh, natural finish that lasts all day.

Bobbi Brown Nude Finish Tinted Moisturizer SPF 15, $48
Bobbi Brown’s lightweight, creamy tinted face moisturizer invisibly covers redness and unevenness (you’ll still see those freckles, though) as it infuses skin with refreshing, sustained hydration. Nourishing moisturizers hydrate skin for a plump, radiant finish, while SPF 15 provides perfect everyday protection. 

It’s formulated for normal to dry skin types and is available in nine shades that cater to all skin tones. As the sun protection factor is on the lower side, you’re going to want to apply a standard sunscreen first. 

Bare Minerals Complexion Rescue Tinted Moisturizer Hydrating Gel Cream Broad Spectrum SPF 30, $33
Bare Minerals tinted moisturizer (the number one in the U.S.) is a three-in-one multi-tasker. It’s an oil-free moisturizer, skin tint, and mineral-based sun protectant. Hyaluronic acid provides 24-hour hydration for a dewy, healthy-looking glow. All 20 shades offer buildable coverage that evens the skin tone and blurs imperfections.

It’s formulated with 98% naturally derived ingredients and is dermatologist-tested, hypoallergenic, and non-comedogenic. The formula is also clean and void of potentially harmful components. It should be no surprise that this tinted moisturizer is also vegan and cruelty-free. 

PCA SKIN Sheer Tint Broad Spectrum SPF 45, $50
PCA’s formula provides maximum sun protection while leaving skin with a sheer, glowing tint suitable for all skin types. This tinted moisturizer contains UV blocking titanium dioxide, zinc oxide, and ubiquinone, a form of the antioxidant coenzyme Q10 that helps fight UV damage. As a bonus, it also boosts collagen production. The water-resistant formula makes it ideal for outdoor sports and water activities — just be sure to reapply it every two hours. 

Cle de Peau Beauté UV Protective Cream Tinted SPF 50, $85
Cle de Peau’s hybrid cream is a hard-working multitasker, offering high sun protection while delivering flawless coverage. The formula visibly smoothes lines while counteracting the effects of pollution that can accelerate visible signs of aging. Hyaluronic acid boosts moisture while powerhouse antioxidants like Asian ginseng extract help firm the skin’s appearance.

La Mer
The Radiant SkinTint Broad Spectrum SPF 30, $100
This refreshing tinted moisturizer from La Mer delivers instant radiance and a more even, healthy-looking tone. Skin takes on a brighter appearance, and fine dry lines are plumped with hydration as signs of fatigue are visibly diminished.

SkinTint contains the brand’s signature Miracle Broth, a blend of marine extracts that help fight the signs of aging. Available in seven shades, the feather-light cream melts into the skin and leaves it with just a hint of creamy color. Even better, the coverage lasts all day.

IT Cosmetics Bye-Bye Foundation Full Coverage Moisturizer With SPF 50+, $42
The concept of IT Cosmetics company is to say “bye-bye” to foundation and “hello” to tinted moisturizer instead. This tinted face moisturizer is available in 12 shades and provides ample coverage to cover dark spots and acne without a heavy feeling. 

The cream contains several pigments but is lightweight enough that it won’t sink into fine lines and wrinkles. SPF 50 provides exceptional sun protection, while the addition of fermented ingredients such as sugarcane and rice help to plump up the skin.

Dermalogica Sheer Tint SPF 20, $45
Dermalogica’s lightly-tinted moisturizer helps hydrate and protect skin while giving it a subtle wash of color and a “from within” glow. Light-diffusing iron oxides provide translucent color for radiant skin, while broad-spectrum sunscreens shield against damaging UV rays. Hydrolyzed Pearl amino acids, hydrating hyaluronic acid, and antioxidant-rich walnut seed extracts help improve skin texture and reduce the appearance of fine dehydration lines. 

As this tinted face moisturizer only contains an SPF of 20, you’re going to want to apply a regular broad-spectrum sunscreen first — this is why we can’t consider it the best drugstore tinted moisturizer.

Neutrogena Hydro Boost Hydrating Tint, $16.99
This Neutrogena tinted moisturizer is an award-winner — and with good reason. It’s a drugstore-tinted moisturizer (available in 10 blendable shades) that adds flawless coverage while instantly quenching skin with hyaluronic acid, leaving the skin moisturized and plump for 24 hours. Hydro Boost also improves the suppleness of skin with continued use. The formula is oil-free, non-comedogenic, and won’t settle into fine lines. 

Beautycounter Dew Skin Moisturizing Coverage, $45
This sheer-coverage tinted moisturizer from Beauty Counter helps even skin tone while protecting against the sun’s rays with non-nano zinc oxide — an effective mineral sunscreen active that is not harmful to the coral reefs. The formula features a blend of black currant seed oil, peony root extract, and vitamin C to help brighten while leaving skin looking radiant. With continued use, the skin will feel firmer and look more luminous.

As this tinted face moisturizer only contains an SPF of 20, you’re going to want to apply a regular broad-spectrum sunscreen first. 

Nars Pure Radiant Tinted Moisturizer Broad Spectrum SPF 30, $45
This iconic Nars tinted moisturizer is now available in 16 shades to cater to all skin types and tones. The cult-favorite formula smooths on buildable, oil-free coverage infused with SPF 30. It is packed with evidence-based ingredients like vitamin C and French Polynesian Kopara to hydrate, smooth, brighten, and protect. 

It’s considered one of the best-tinted moisturizers with SPF because it’s void of parabens, formaldehydes, formaldehyde-releasing agents, phthalates, mineral oil, retinyl palmitate, oxybenzone, coal tar, hydroquinone, sulfates, triclocarban, triclosan, and contains less than one percent synthetic fragrance.

Tinted Moisturizer: The Bottom Line

As the name implies, a tinted moisturizer is a face hydrator with a tint. Whether you’re looking for an oil-free tinted moisturizer or the best-tinted moisturizer for mature skin, most formulas provide lightweight hydration coupled with a hint of color — even lighter than a BB cream and sheerer than a typical foundation. 

As a tinted moisturizer is a skincare-cosmetic hybrid, it can be confusing to find the right formula for you. Tinted moisturizers tend to provide sheer coverage, so start by choosing one based on your skin type because you’re still treating the skin, not just covering it up. 

When it comes to zeroing in on the correct shade, tinted moisturizers don’t provide the same amount of coverage as a foundation, so they are less apt to conceal prominent blemishes or other imperfections. The coverage good tinted moisturizers provide varies from product to product, though it generally ranges from sheer to medium. 

Ideally, you’ll want a formula with a minimum sun protection factor of 30 if you want to skip the sun protection step in your morning routine. Anything lower, and you’ll still need to apply your regular daily SPF first. 

What’s the best-tinted moisturizer, in your opinion? Let us know in the comments below!

FAQs
No. The “BB” in BB cream stands for beauty balm — or blemish balm. It’s a liquid product that serves as a primer and provides coverage and skincare benefits such as sun protection and shine control. On the other hand, tinted moisturizers give some of the same benefits, but their primary goal is to provide hydration and a subtle tint to even out the skin tone. They’re also typically lighter than BB creams.
Along with the obvious — a moisturizer and a pigmented tint — a tinted moisturizer also contains, in some cases, sun protection (iron oxides, titanium dioxide, etc.) and anti-aging ingredients (retinol, vitamin C) as well as humectants and antioxidants.

Yes, you can — but it all comes down to your goal. If you’re interested in covering up discoloration or acne scars from old marks, a foundation may be a better choice to provide the level of coverage you’re looking for.

On the other hand, a tinted moisturizer is an excellent choice if you want instant hydration coupled with a touch of pigment for a dewy, natural, glowing complexion. It’s also a desirable choice in the summer or if you live (or are traveling to) a warm, humid climate.

No. If you’re going to use a primer, apply it before your tinted moisturizer so it can work effectively.
Tinted moisturizer isn’t bad for your skin, but using it the wrong way could have adverse effects. One of the biggest mistakes you can make is to allow a tinted moisturizer to replace the rest of your skincare routine. Think of tinted moisturizer as providing an extra dose of nourishment—not as something to stand in for your regular moisturizer, serum, or sun protectant.
It’s also vital that you use the best-tinted moisturizer for your skin type. As with any skincare product, a formula that doesn’t match up can cause breakouts, excess oil, or conversely, dryness and sensitivity.
As long as you don’t go in with the expectation that you’re going to be able to cover imperfections completely, good tinted moisturizers are worth it. Along with providing hydration, they’re effective in evening out skin tone and reducing redness while promoting a healthy, glowing complexion with a no-makeup look. As mentioned earlier, don’t make the mistake of neglecting the rest of your skincare routine if you go the tinted moisturizer route.

Sources:
Will Moisturizers With SPF Protect Your Skin,” Consumer Reports.
Sun Protection: Appropriate Sunscreen Use,” Harvard Health.

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