Now’s the Time to Swap Your Foundation for a Tinted Moisturizer


When you want that natural, your-skin-but-better kind of coverage

Because most of us are spending the majority of our time indoors, many of us have renounced foundation in favour of lighter coverage. (Full face of makeup? Don’t know her.) Plus, with the weather *finally* warming up, there couldn’t be a better time to consider the humble tinted moisturizer. 

In a world of foundations, BB creams and CC creams, tinted moisturizers are pretty straightforward about what they do: they offer hydration (which you don’t always get from foundations) and lightweight coverage in one convenient tube. “It’s makeup but can also be subbed in for a moisturizer,” explains Sheri Stroh, a Toronto-based makeup artist. “You’re getting skincare benefits, plus a bit of coverage.” BB creams, on the other hand, offer a bit more coverage along with skin-nourishing ingredients, while CC creams focus on colour correction like evening out redness and dark spots. 

Tinted moisturizers are also the minimalists of the beauty world. You can use it in place of a moisturizer, or layer it on after—it all depends on your personal skincare routine and skin type. If your skin is on the drier side, you may find that a separate moisturizer works best. You can also skip makeup brushes and sponges and just use your fingers to apply tinted moisturizers, letting the warmth of your fingers melt the product into your skin. Just make sure your hands are clean before application; diligent hand washing isn’t just good for skin health, but more important than ever before because of COVID-19, says Stroh. Start with a little and build up to the coverage you need.

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Tinted moisturizers don’t do any of the heavy lifting of a foundation so if you’re looking for full coverage, you have to look elsewhere else. That being said, you can still cover that stubborn zit or blemish by reaching for your concealer in addition to your tinted moisturizer. Apply tinted moisturizer first to even out your skin, says Stroh, and then go in with your concealer. “It’ll show you exactly where you need it.” 

An important caveat about using tinted moisturizers with SPF: “Never ever rely on a makeup product for sun protection,” advises Stroh. Even though many formulas come with SPF, they’re not an adequate substitute for actual sunscreen. “The actual amount of product you’d need to meet the SPF requirement is way beyond how much tinted moisturizer you’d normally apply.” Your sunscreen goes on first, followed by your tinted moisturizer. 

Now that you’re up to speed on their many benefits, here are the best tinted moisturizers for every skin type and concern:

If you have dry skin

the best tinted moisturizers: bare minerals complexion rescue

BareMinerals Complexion Rescue Tinted Hydrating Gel Cream, $40,

Mineral electrolytes like calcium and magnesium power up this hydrating tinted moisturizer with a gel cream texture that promises not to cling to dry patches. It also packs olive-derived squalane to keep moisture in your skin and offers light to medium coverage in 16 shades.

the best tinted moisturizers: tarte maracuja tinted hydrator

Tarte Maracuja Tinted Moisturizer, $38,

This vegan formula is your ticket to a natural-looking glow, thanks to maracuja oil, an antioxidant-packed superfruit. It’s also infused with a bevvy of other skin-nourishing ingredients like hyaluronic acid, collagen, aloe and skin-brightening turmeric.

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If you have oily skin

the best tinted moisturizers: laura mercier tinted moisturizer oil free

Laura Mercier Oil Free Tinted Moisturizer, $59,

Die-hard tinted moisturizer fans always name-drop Laura Mercier as one of their all-time faves. The OG tinted moisturizers was recently reformulated, but you can still get your hands on the oil-free version, which keeps unwanted oil slicks at bay with a demi-matte finish, and won’t slide off your face.

the best tinted moisturizers: lancome skin feels good tinted moisturizer

Lancôme Skin Feels Good, $46,

This non-comedogenic, oil-free formula hydrates using hyaluronic acid and vegetal glycerin, and protects skin against environmental pollution with antioxidant-rich moringa tree extract. It’s best for when you want a fresh-faced finish with none of the greasy aftermath. 

If you have sensitive skin

the best tinted moisturizers: la roche-posay toleraine sensitive le teint creme

La Roche-Posay Toleriane Le Teint Crème, $27,

For temperamental skin that cringes at the thought of heavy makeup, this tinted moisturizer’s main job is to keep your sensitive complexion happy. It contains the French brand’s prebiotic thermal water to soothe and rebalance the skin’s microbiome, anti-inflammatory niacinamide, glycerin for hydration and purified mineral pigments for coverage. 

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If you have dull skin

the best tinted moisturizers: Beautycounter Dew Skin Tinted Moisturizer SPF 20

Beautycounter Dew Skin Tinted Moisturizer SPF 20, $56, 

For days when you want a soft-focus filter effect, but still want your skin to look like your own, this clean beauty brand’s creamy formula is spiked with black currant, peony flower root extract and vitamin C for their skin-brightening benefits. 

the best tinted moisturizers: NARS Pure Radiant Tinted Moisturizer

NARS Pure Radiant Tinted Moisturizer, $58,

Lightweight and dewy, this dermatologist-tested and oil-free tinted moisturizer goes beyond its immediate skin-perfecting benefits and also helps skin look brighter with natural polysaccharides from French Polynesia and mineral-rich seawater.

the best tinted moisturizers: Burt's Bees Goodness Glows Tinted Moisturizer

Burt’s Bees Goodness Glows Tinted Moisturizer, $16.99,

This tinted moisturizer uses antioxidant green extract to conceal redness and create a calm and even skin tone. Meanwhile, glycerin, squalene and sunflower seed oil team up to keep your skin hydrated.

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