Tinted Moisturizers: Which Ones Are the Best?

by Sue Chung Patient Expert

Reader: I like the idea of tinted moisturizers, but I still haven't found one I like. What are some good tinted moisturizers and how can I use them with makeup?

I used to think that tinted moisturizers were for those lucky few women who have no undereye circles and sprout maybe one pimple within a calendar year. The rest of us mere mortals must need more coverage than that. Of course, this was back when tinted moisturizers were a new trend and the formulations weren't quite as well-developed as they are today. In fact, even with my dry patches and redness issues, I use tinted moisturizer frequently.

Today, the term "tinted moisturizer" can cover a broad range of products, from "moisturizer with flesh tint" to "just shy of full-out foundation." The common denominator, however, is that they all manage to even out skin tone and hide minor blemishes while maintaining their light, breathable feel. While you may want to stick with foundation for those moments when you have to look impressive, try tinted moisturizers for everyday settings and casual outings.

Have a fairly even complexion? Stick with a basic formula that offers very sheer coverage. If you have oily skin, try CoverGirl Smoothers, an oil-free tinted moisturizer with SPF 15. If your skin is on the sensitive side, Kiehl's Ultra Facial Tinted Moisturizer also boasts SPF 15 and it contains chamomile, a skin-soothing ingredient.

For those with drier skin, stick with a slightly heavier formula that offers extra hydrating benefits. Neutrogena Healthy Skin Enhancers is a creamy tinted moisturizer with SPF 20 and the added boost of retinol, which increases skin cell turnover. Bobbi Brown offers a luxurious Tinted Moisturizing Balm with SPF 25 and a blend of moisture-rich shea butter, squalane, and glycerin.

Unlike foundations, tinted moisturizers don't need to be matched to your exact skin shade. However, if you've never tried tinted moisturizers before and are afraid the colors will end up too pink or too ashy on your skin, go with a tried-and-true favorite with a wide selection of colors.

DuWop's Revolotion Face was formulated for fans of the company's enormously popular tinted body lotion, Revolotion. It contains the requisite SPF 15 and also enhances the appearance of skin with light-reflecting pigments. Laura Mercier's Tinted Moisturizer is the grande dame of the category and often tops "Best of" lists in the cosmetics world. The line features seven shades ranging from porcelain to walnut and comes in both original and oil-free formulas.

When adding makeup on top of a tinted moisturizer, keep the look light and dewy. Powder blush may stick, concentrating color in one spot instead of diffusing it over the skin. Apply cream blush with fingers (Julie Hewett's Cheekie line blends beautifully) to the apples of cheeks and use a moisturizing lip gloss instead of lipstick. Keep eyeshadow on the light side so that it doesn't contrast with the overall low-key palette.

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Sue Chung
Meet Our Writer
Sue Chung

Sue wrote for HealthCentral as a patient expert for Healthy Skin.