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Which is better for lightweight coverage?


There are days when you don’t want to deal with foundation, but what should you reach for instead? BB creams, CC creams, tinted moisturizers and more hybrid beauty products all offer light to medium coverage, plus a host of skin care benefits. While both BB creams and tinted moisturizers help even out skin tone and hydrate skin, BB creams also help blur the appearance of fine lines and blemishes.

BB cream

“BB” stands for “beauty balm” or “blemish balm,” and it’s a K-beauty creation intended to balance skin tone and conceal blemishes. While there can be a lot of overlap in what BB and CC creams offer, BB creams generally aren’t as thick, offering medium coverage at most. Prestige brands tend to cost $30 to $55, but good-quality BB creams can be found for $15 to $20.

BB cream pros

BB creams offer many skin care benefits, including hydration, brightening, blurring, antioxidant protection and shine control. They tend to include ingredients that can minimize the appearance of fine lines, pores and blemishes. Best of all, BB creams frequently offer SPF protection, an essential component for healthy skin.

BB cream cons

It can be hard to find a good shade match in a BB cream, especially compared to foundation. While popular foundations can come in as many as 50 shades, many BB creams only come in two to five shades. BB creams can usually be applied with just your fingertips, though some formulas may require a makeup sponge or brush to blend out well.

Best BB creams

Best Dr. Jart+ Premium BB Beauty Balm SPF 40

Dr. Jart+ Premium BB Beauty Balm SPF 40

This rich, medium-coverage formula is a popular pick from a BB cream pioneer. It feels lightweight and hydrating, and it contains niacinamide to help even out skin tone. It comes in three shades.

Sold by Sephora 

Maybelline Dream Fresh BB Cream

Maybelline Dream Fresh BB Cream

This noncomedogenic, water-based gel formula glides on easily to hydrate, smooth, brighten and provide SPF 30 sun protection. Coverage is on the sheer side, but it effectively blurs the appearance of blemishes and pores. It comes in five shades.

Sold by Ulta Beauty and Amazon

Tarte BB Tinted Treatment 12-Hour Primer

Tarte BB Tinted Treatment 12-Hour Primer

This matte-finish, long-wearing BB cream can be worn alone or as a foundation primer. This Tarte tinted treatment builds up to medium coverage and offers SPF 30 sun protection using mineral sunscreen ingredients. It comes in nine shades.

Sold by Macy’s, Sephora and Ulta Beauty

Tinted moisturizer

If you have dry skin and don’t want to wear a full face of makeup, a tinted moisturizer can be a lifesaver. It will showcase your skin and give it natural-looking, sheer coverage. While tinted moisturizers offer lots of skin care benefits, they’re first and foremost hydrators, using ingredients such as hyaluronic acid to help your skin retain moisture. Drugstore tinted moisturizers start around $10 and more high-end options can cost $90 or more.

Tinted moisturizer pros

Since tinted moisturizers are hybrid makeup products, they’ll soothe rather than exacerbate dry, flaky patches that can show through foundation. They feel lighter-weight than BB creams and much more so than foundation. Since they’re so sheer, they can be worn under other makeup products for extra hydration that won’t alter your foundation’s color. Tinted moisturizers are easy to apply with just your fingertips — no brushes required.

Tinted moisturizer cons

Like BB creams, tinted moisturizers tend to suffer from limited shade ranges. However, since tinted moisturizers are sheerer than BB creams by nature, it can be easier to find a shade match that works for you. Tinted moisturizers are less likely to offer sun protection than BB creams. They’re also not as good at concealing blemishes as BB creams are, so you may want to follow with concealer.

Best tinted moisturizers

EltaMD UV Daily Tinted Sunscreen Moisturizer

EltaMD UV Daily Tinted Sunscreen Moisturizer

For excellent protection from the sun, try this dermatologist-recommended brand that offers SPF 40 protection. It’s fragrance-free, and the single shade is sheer enough to work on many skin tones.

Sold by Dermstore and Amazon

Nars Pure Radiant Tinted Moisturizer

Nars Pure Radiant Tinted Moisturizer

Available in 16 shades, this oil-free moisturizer leaves skin with a radiant finish. Vitamin C helps reduce the appearance of dark spots, and the formula provides SPF 30 sun protection.

Sold by Sephora, Amazon, Macy’s and Ulta Beauty

BareMinerals Complexion Rescue Tinted Hydrating Gel Cream

BareMinerals Complexion Rescue Tinted Hydrating Gel Cream

This three-in-one beauty multitasker is hard to classify, but it hydrates skin, leaves a tinted glow and provides SPF 30 sun protection. Hyaluronic acid and vegan squalane help skin retain moisture. Even with its mineral sunscreen ingredients, it doesn’t leave a white cast. It comes in 20 shades.

Sold by Ulta Beauty, Macy’s and Sephora

Should you get BB cream or tinted moisturizer?

For all-in-one skin care and more thorough coverage, go with a BB cream. If your main concern is nourishing dry skin and you don’t mind lighter coverage, a tinted moisturizer is the way to go.

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Laura Duerr writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.

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