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While foundation is a staple in any well-rounded makeup kit, sometimes, heavy formulas can feel suffocating when skin just needs to take a breather. One way to provide some air is by swapping your foundation for a lighter, more breathable formula like a tinted moisturizer or BB cream—alternatives that provide pigment without the heaviness of many foundations. What’s more, a good tinted moisturizer or BB cream is like the LBD of makeup—it can be worn alone or layered with colorful add-ons (read: blush, highlighter) and everyone should own at least one that flatters and enhances their natural beauty without much effort or thought.
Tinted moisturizers and BB creams usually provide more than just pigment and hydration; depending upon their ingredients, the often multi-tasking products can impart additional skin-loving benefits, including sun protection, a luminous glow, and even built-in acne-fighting formula—all with a sheer, more-natural-than-foundation finish to help achieve that “no-makeup makeup” look.
Below, the top tinted moisturizer and BB creams for every skin type.
Best Overall: Maybelline New York Dream BB Fresh Cream
It can be difficult to find a drugstore tinted moisturizer that checks all the boxes for your best-looking skin (read: moisturizing, concealing, non-comedogenic, anti-aging, sun protection), but this one from Maybelline makes the cut. This gel-like formula smooths over skin with ease while delivering sheer coverage with a dewy finish. It’s oil-free, non-comedogenic, and contains SPF 30, so you don’t have to think twice about applying sun protection before you head out the door.
Best for Hydrating: No7 Dual Action Tinted Moisturizer SPF 15
One of the best aspects of tinted moisturizer is, well, moisture. If you’re looking for a formula that provides superior, all-day hydration, look no further than this one, which not only deposits a wash of sheer, natural-looking color but also keeps skin looking and feeling supple and hydrated. In other words, think of this formula as a moisturizer that also happens to contain a flattering tint.
Best With SPF: Neutrogena Healthy Skin Glow Sheers Broad Spectrum SPF 30
Glycerin is a naturally occurring compound in the body; in topical skincare, it is derived from plants. It functions to draw water to the skin and continue hydrating it, making it a great ingredient for extreme dryness.
It’s no surprise that a brand boasting a plethora of sunscreen formulas also offers a tinted moisturizer with a dose of broad-spectrum SPF 30. Not only will this tinted moisturizer give your skin a natural glow, but it also quenches skin with hydrating glycerin. Plus, with regular use, skin-illuminating vitamins are meant to work to brighten skin tone and further protect against sun damage. Unlike some SPF-infused formulas, this one is never chalky or cakey; instead, it reads dewy and luminous for an “I woke up like this” radiance.
Best for Radiance: L'Oréal Paris True Match Lumi Glotion & Makeup Highlighter
This aptly named “glotion” imparts an immediate, iridescent, celestial glow. That said, it gives skin more of a lit from within look than a holographic, strobed effect, making it ideal for daily use. One pumps-worth of this formula spreads smoothly and evenly over the skin. What’s more, it’s incredibly versatile: it can be worn alone for a sunkissed glow, under foundation as a radiance-boosting base, or layered over foundation to add a more targeted highlight. One note: This tinted moisturizer does not contain SPF, so be sure to layer protection over top.
Best for a Matte Finish: COVERGIRL Clean Matte BB Cream
Fans of stay-all-day matte—but not flat—coverage will love this formula, which dries with a velvety, shine-free finish. What’s more, the smooth, oil-free canvas lasts all day without separating or allowing shine to peek through.
Best for Mature Skin: Neutrogena Healthy Skin Anti-Aging Perfecto
Retinoids are the crème de la crème of anti-aging ingredients. That said, some forms of the ingredient can be drying and potentially irritating to the skin. This tinted moisturizer, on the other hand, promises to provide a dose of retinol without causing irritation or redness. Instead, it washes skin with a sheer, hydrating tint that works to fade lines over time, conceal them at the moment, and protect against future sun-induced wrinkles, thanks to SPF 20.
Best Natural Formula: Burt's Bees BB Cream
Burt’s Bees is more than just their iconic smoothing lip balm; the natural beauty brand also boasts a host of color cosmetics, including this hydrating BB cream, which functions as a next-level tinted moisturizer. Not only does this formula quench thirsty skin and leave it satisfied throughout the day, but it also protects against environmental skin stressors, thanks to antioxidants and SPF 15. Best of all, this formula is 98.9% natural—a level of cleanliness that’s practically unheard of in the realm of drugstore tinted moisturizers, according to the brand.