Complexion makeup has evolved a lot in recent years, even decades. Inside this post, I want to help clear up some of the confusion and help you to understand the difference between tinted moisturizer and foundation.

You may even be convinced to ditch your long-used, much relied-on foundation for a lighter, dewier tinted moisturizer. Especially once you learn the hidden benefits this foundation alternative multi-tasker contains.

So let’s get started and clear up the unique characteristics and differences of tinted moisturizers and foundations.


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Now, obviously, there is much to be said for personal preference when choosing a complexion product. So it’s important not to overlook that, essentially, what you choose to use on your face is ultimately your choice. Or if you are a makeup artist, what your client or performer may choose.
But it’s also important to remember that your skin type can play a huge part in dictating what type of complexion product will be your best option.

What is a Tinted Moisturizer?

Tinted Moisturizer is a makeup that works as a skin care product as well.

It serves to hydrate your skin as well as provide a light coverage.

Skin tints are particularly alluring to you if you prefer a more subtle finish to your complexion and a dewy, fresh appearance. Even if you just like the feeling of wearing less makeup and prefer a natural look.

Coverage and Finish

A tinted moisturizer provides a lightweight, sheer level of minimal coverage. A radiant and dewy finish. This is a dream product if you just want a subtle glow to your face and only need a little evening out of your skin tone to create a casual everyday wear look.

Formulation and Ingredients

Another drawcard for the tinted moisturiser is its formulation. They are usually incredibly lightweight (good news if you like feeling as if you’re not wearing any makeup). Tinted moisturizers are often water-based.

As we know, are always loaded with added skincare ingredients. Strong contenders tend to be hyaluronic acids and vitamins such as vitamin c.

Skin Types and Suitability

Another benefit of tinted moisturizers is that for the most part, they are a great choice for all skin types. In fact, you can even cater your tinted moisturizer choice to your own skin’s needs.

It’s like bespoke skincare in a makeup, right?

But where a tinted moisturizer can be particularly useful is if your skin does lean towards being dry or sensitive (or both). A tinted moisturizer is the perfect product to combat your dryness while you wear your makeup at the same time.

Hydration and Skincare Benefits

If you haven’t picked up on it yet, or if you’re a self-confessed skimmer, yep, tinted moisturizer’s main claim to fame is, well, moisturizing.

So, like a regular moisturizer, your tinted moisturizer contains hydrating ingredients such as glycerin, hyaluronic acid, or perhaps even botanical or sea extracts. These can go a long way to help keep your skin hydrated and supple.

A good tinted moisturizer can also provide you with the added bonus of SPF protection. This is a great option, as we all know how important that can be for your face as a daily behavior!

Longevity and Wear

Now, as you might expect, tinted moisturizer does err on the side of not lasting as long as it’s heavier coverage counterpart.
And depending on the environment you are in, you may have to reapply throughout the day.
In particularly humid conditions, or if you are sweating, be sure to carry your tinted moisturizer with you in anticipation of reapplying.

Occasion and Makeup Look

It’s worth noting that a tinted moisturizer can be more easily associated with day wear, a fresh face, and perhaps shying away from a full face that a traditional foundation provides.
This isn’t to say you can’t or shouldn’t wear a tinted moisturizer for an evening look, a dinner date, or anything that calls for a bit more glam. You do you!!!

But if you do go out and wear an evening gown, are getting photographed or going on camera, it may be worth considering relying on a foundation with more coverage, for all of these reasons; flash cameras, you’ll probably be wearing more makeup on the rest of your face, a more dramatic lip shade, more eye makeup or just wanting to contextualize your face with the rest of your look.


Shop Tinted Moisturizers

white bottle of tinted moisturizer

DRMTLGY Tinted Moisturizer

Saie tinted moisturizer

elta MD bottle

elta md tinted sunscreen

buy here

chantecaille tinted moisturizer



A foundation is a makeup product that forms the basis of your makeup. It creates an even skin tone by covering unevenness in your skin, imperfections, and, essentially, forming the “foundation” for your makeup to come.

While foundation is known more for having a higher level of coverage than a tinted moisturizer, varying levels of coverage are still very popular and available.

Coverage and Finish

Foundations are available in sheer coverage, through light to medium coverage, and then a high-coverage finish as well.

So, in a nutshell, tinted moisturizer will give you a lightweight and lighter coverage. And a natural dewy, radiant finish to your complexion.
And to contrast, your foundation will generally provide you with heavier coverage and can give you a variety of finishes from anything like a matte foundation to a velvety satin finish, plus so many more as well.

If you’re after a flawless finish to your skin, a high coverage foundation is an excellent choice.

Formulation and Ingredients

Our power player of the complexion world, foundation is available in many different formulations. These are liquid, wax and oil-based, powder, and cream foundation.

And evidently, these different formulations are all created to work together with your own skin, depending on its condition and type.

Liquid foundation is very popular for it’s versatility and blendability. While a cream or stick foundation can provide far heavier coverage.

Skin Types and Suitability

Foundations truly cater to so many different complexion needs and types.

Whether you have oily skin, normal, combination, or anything in between, with a bit of detective work, and some trial and error, you can really find the right foundation for your skin’s needs.

Hydration and Skincare Benefits

Now, let’s say you prefer more coverage than a tinted moisturizer allows, but you also have dry skin.

Rest assured, there is good news ahead. Because you can find your ideal foundation product that also contains hydrating properties.
How lucky are we to live at a time that you can essentially find the perfect foundation for you, regardless of your own individual skin’s needs and condition!

So the lesson here is to really spend some time reading labels, and get to know your own skin well.
If this is still super confusing, find yourself a dermatologist or an aesthetician than can help you identify your skin’s type and target any concerns or things you want to improve.

Longevity and Wear

Foundations tend to last longer due to higher pigment concentration and they can often contain ingredients that are specifically designed to help increase the longevity of your foundation.
Appropriate skin prep prior to your application, setting sprays, and for some, primers can go a long way to help keep your foundation on longer as well.

Occasion and Makeup Look

Foundations can be your preferred complexion makeup of choice for events such as special occasions, parties, or photoshoots. And are worth considering for a more polished and flawless appearance.

As we explored earlier, if you’re sporting an evening gown, going on camera, or being photographed, you’ll no doubt be looking for stronger coverage to help give your face a heavier level of even coverage and color for the camera.


Shop Foundations

armani luminous silk foundation

kevyn aucoin foundation balm

hourglass stick foundation

buy here

Lancome powder foundation


So What’s Best For You?

Here are your key takeaways for Tinted Moisturizers and Foundations:

Tinted Moisturizers

  • offers hydration
  • contains key ingredients for skincare
  • generally has sheer to light coverage
  • dewy, natural finish
  • may include sun protection
  • ease of application


  • coverage can range from sheer to full buildable coverage
  • available in a variety of finishes from matte, satin, to radiant
  • different formulations such as liquid, powder, cream or stick
  • caters to various skin types; oily, dry, and combination skin
  • can be long lasting

So while there are some similarities between tinted moisturizers and foundation, there are also many differences. And the comparison of tinted moisturizer vs foundations may still not feel entirely clear.

In choosing the right product for your face, remember to consider your skin type, the makeup look or looks you’re going for, and also your personal tastes. And if you’re still on the lookout, you might want to read more on the battle between bb cream and tinted moisturizers while you make up your mind.

It’s also not unrealistic to have a few or each within your complexion products and mix it up. I’m also a big believer in this being good for your skin, too.

But no matter what your choice, remember it’s all about embracing what you got, and that being able to express yourself with your makeup and style choices can be really exciting and also help us feel more, well, more like ourselves. So never underestimate the power of makeup!
It can do you wonders 🙂

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