Makeup » What Is Tinted Moisturizer and How to Use It?

What Is Tinted Moisturizer and How to Use It?

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On the days when you want a “my skin but better” natural makeup look, you can’t go wrong with tinted moisturizers. Below, we explain what tinted moisturizers are, and how they differ from foundations and BB creams. If you’ve ever wondered if a tinted moisturizer can replace your regular moisturizer, we’ve got the answer to that as well. We’ll give you the low-down on how to apply tinted moisturizer perfectly, as well as a few other application tips.

In this article:

What Is a Tinted Moisturizer?

A tinted moisturizer straddles the space between foundation and moisturizer. It offers the skin hydration, but it is also pigmented to slightly even out the skin tone. Most tinted moisturizers offer light coverage, so they are insufficient for concealing major discoloration.

Tinted moisturizers are great for anyone who would like to feel a little made up but doesn’t want the heavy look or feel of a foundation. They are often made with a variety of skin-loving ingredients, and generally, provide some slight sun protection as well.

Tinted Moisturizer vs. BB Cream vs. Foundation

Tinted moisturizers, BB creams, and foundations are product categories that are not clearly separate from each other. There is a lot of overlap between the various products, so it is better to understand what the usual rules are when it comes to classifying each one.

What Is a Tinted Moisturizer?
  • A foundation is more of an umbrella category, as it refers to any makeup product that is meant to be applied all over the face in order to even out the skin tone and cover imperfections. Foundations can range very widely in coverage levels as well as textures and finishes on the skin. They can have skincare benefits, but they are makeup products first and foremost.
  • A tinted moisturizer essentially bridges the gap between foundation and moisturizer. You could think of it as a moisturizer with a bit of coverage, or a very moisturizing, light-coverage foundation.
  • BB creams (and, more recently, CC creams) are also touted as products that bridge the gap between makeup and skincare. Their skin benefits are often blown a little out of proportion, but they can certainly be great for the skin. The main difference is that the original alphabet creams coming out of South Korea offered medium to full coverage, as opposed to tinted moisturizers, which offer light coverage. They also tended to offer fairly high SPF. However, many Western brands essentially repackaged their tinted moisturizer formulas as BB creams, thereby muddying the distinction and also changing consumer conceptions of what a BB cream should be.

Should You Still Use Moisturizer with Tinted Moisturizer?

Depending on your skin type, you may find yourself needing to use both a moisturizer and tinted moisturizer. This totally depends on your skin type, your total skincare routine, and the time of day when you are putting on a tinted moisturizer.

As always, I have to talk about sun protection first. If we’re talking about applying tinted moisturizer as part of your daytime routine, no matter your skin type, you want to make sure to apply a product with SPF first, even if your tinted moisturizer offers sun protection.

This is because the amount of product required to get the full level of sun protection listed is much higher than the amount of tinted moisturizer you would want to reasonably apply to your skin. If you were to put on the full ¼ teaspoon of SPF required for comprehensive protection, your skin would inevitably look a little cakey and overly made up.

If you have oily skin, you will likely find that the combination of a product with SPF and a tinted moisturizer is all the hydration you need to last you throughout the day. However, if you have dry or normal skin you might find that this is not enough moisture.

If you have oily skin, your daytime routine could include cleansing your skin or toning, applying sunscreen or light moisturizer with SPF, and then applying your tinted moisturizer.

Tinted Moisturizer vs. BB Cream vs. Foundation

If you have dry skin, you could cleanse or tone, apply a hydrating serum or dedicated moisturizer, a dedicated product with SPF, and then your tinted moisturizer. It’s all about experimenting and building a personalized routine that makes your skin look and feel good all day long. You can also experiment with applying a primer between the SPF and tinted moisturizer, or finding a primer that offers sun protection.

How to Apply Tinted Moisturizer

  • As always, begin with clean skin. If you’re going out in the daytime, make sure your skin has been prepped with a protective layer of SPF. If you’re getting ready to head out after the sun has set, you can simply apply a primer, or opt for a hydrating serum or moisturizer if you have dry skin.
  • Choose your tool for applying the tinted moisturizer.
  • You can use your fingers if you’re a low-maintenance kind of person, but make sure your hands are clean. Simply dot your tinted moisturizer over your skin, and then use the pads of your fingers to warm it up and smooth it over your skin, working your way from the center of the face outwards. The result will be very well-blended.
  • To avoid getting your fingers dirty, use a flat-topped foundation brush. It will give you a natural and blended finish with typical light coverage. You will want to dot the tinted moisturizer over your skin.
  • You can dispense product directly on the face, or dispense it on the brush and then dot it lightly over the face. Then, to spread it and blend it out, use circular buffing motions, making sure to pull the product all the way to the hairline, as well as to below the jawline and potentially even down the neck.
  • To get a sheerer and dewier look, use a damp makeup sponge. Once again, you will want to first dot the tinted moisturizer over your skin. Instead of using a buffing or blending motion, however, you will want to use a tapping or bouncing motion to spread the product over the skin.
  • Use the pointy end of the sponge to get coverage in hard-to-reach areas like around the nose and under the eyes. You can also use a sponge after applying a tinted moisturizer with a brush, in order to sheer out or blend things out better.
  • Once your skin is fully covered in a very thin layer of tinted moisturizer, you can now use a concealer to add more coverage only to the areas where necessary, like under the eyes or over areas of blemishes or discoloration. Apply your concealer with a brush or a finger, and then use your brush or sponge in a tapping motion in order to meld it with your tinted moisturizer.
  • If necessary (particularly if you have oily skin or if you need to ensure longevity), set your tinted moisturizer with a setting powder. Use a fluffy brush to avoid over-applying powder. You may choose to only set the areas where foundation usually wears off or your skin gets oily.
  • Finish off your makeup as you normally would, although a tinted moisturizer is thankfully light enough that it can also be worn on its own without looking strange.
Should You Still Use Moisturizer with Tinted Moisturizer?

Other Tinted Moisturizer Facts & Uses

  • Because tinted moisturizers offer such light coverage, one shade can blend nicely into a range of skin tones. Even if at first it looks like a brand doesn’t have your skin tone, you can still test out the closest match and you might be surprised that it fits.
  • To test a tinted moisturizer, apply it along your jawline and then blend it into both face and neck. You want something that will match your neck, as the face can sometimes be a little darker or redder than the rest of the body.
  • A tinted moisturizer can be applied almost exactly like foundation, although it’s important to note that whereas you can normally build up your coverage with a foundation by adding more layers, this is a little harder to do with a tinted moisturizer.
  • Tinted moisturizers are awesome mixing mediums. You can blend them with a foundation to sheer out its coverage.
  • Remember that in order to get the full SPF benefits of a tinted moisturizer, you have to use around a ¼ teaspoon to cover your whole face. This can look okay sometimes, but other times it might feel like too much product. In that case, you definitely need to apply a dedicated SPF first.
  • If you think you need more coverage, simply layer a bit of concealer on top of your tinted moisturizer.
  • To keep your skin extra dewy and hydrated throughout the day, feel free to spritz on some hydrating face mist over your tinted moisturizer. It’ll help you keep that radiant glow.
How to Use Tinted Moisturizer

Photos via @xomissdanielle, Instagram