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What’s the Real Difference Between Tinted Moisturizer, Foundation, BB Cream and CC Cream?

Is it just me, or has shopping for liquid makeup these days become overwhelming?

If you’re trying to even out skin tone, cover blemishes, or find a good item for maturing skin, there’s a product that can do that job.

But how do you possibly know which one is right for you?

cosmetics cc cream

There are so many types and the selection is ever-growing.

It’s enough to make you throw your hands up in surrender and retreat to your fortress of Netflix and comfy pants where nobody judges your skin coverage skills.

If you’ve ever wondered what kind of liquid makeup you should be using and what they all do, I’m here for you, ladies.

Whether you’re a beginner to the makeup game and want to know the difference between all these products like bb and cc cream with spf 50 BLAH, or you’ve heard mention of the alphabet soup that is BB, CC (and yes even DD) creams and don’t quite know what they all have to offer, I’m gonna break it down.

Today, I’m excited to decode the makeup aisle mystery and uncover some of the features of each of these similar (but oh so different) makeup formulas.

Let’s get to it!

A tinted moisturizer is a pigmented moisturizing liquid-cream natural makeup product. The hardest part is finding one that is actually natural (and not lying about its ingredients or spf coverage) and the right tone for your skin!

Throwing Shade

First things first, let’s talk about how to find the right shade of makeup for your skintone.

color match spf 50

That means 85% are picking the wrong shade!

At some point in our lives, we’ve probably all used the wrong color makeup only to find out later how weird it looked (you should see my ghosty-faced sophomore Winter Formal Dance photo), so it’s imperative that we get this right.

Consider your skin type - Choose a makeup that is best suited to your skincare concerns. If you have oily skin, go for an oil free makeup to reduce shine. Dry? Look for a hydrating formula or a tinted moisturizer. If you have sensitive skin, consider using a mineral-based makeup which typically includes less irritants. Remember, healthy skin is makeup’s best canvas!

Choose for your undertone - You’re not only choosing a makeup shade based on the lightness/darkness of your skin, you also want to base your choice on the undertones of your skin (cool, neutral and warm). A handy way to determine this is to look at the veins at the inside of your wrist. If they look blue or purple, your undertone is cool; if they’re green or olive colored, you’re warm; and if they’re a mix of both, you’re a neutral undertone aka skin tone.

dark spots and foundation skin tonesTest on your jawline - Test three shades that look closest to your skin color along your jawline and choose the one that disappears into skin. Overhead lighting in the makeup aisle can be harsh so, if possible, try to stand near a window or get as close to natural light as possible.

pro tip dioxide 9.0 zinc oxideDifferent Types of Liquid Makeup

Alright, now that we know how to find the right shade of makeup, let’s find out what type of makeup is best for you!

Whether you’re looking for light or heavy coverage, sun protection or anti-aging benefits, there’s one out there for you.

Let’s take a look at what each of these products has to offer!

foundation that does not clog your pores

Tinted Sunscreen

Tinted sunscreens are an excellent way to get smooth coverage with effective sun protection at the same time.

This is the perfect combo for everyday wear since they offer lighter coverage while still nicely evening out skin tone.

This is a great option if you’re not used to wearing makeup or don’t like the feel of heavier foundation.

Plus, it cuts down time in your get-ready routine since it’s basically liquid makeup and moisturizer and in one!

As a busy working mom, I love my tinted sunscreen.

It’s super convenient, but still effectively hydrates and gives me light coverage to even out my skin.

And, it’s nice knowing that my sun protection is taken care of!

Remember, if you’re going to be in direct sunlight for a while, reapply SPF every two hours or more if you’re swimming or sweating!

Use When:

  • You want light coverage or a natural look
  • You’re not used to wearing heavier makeup
  • You want easy, everyday lightweight coverage, hydration and SPF protection like SPF 50 all in one

Pro Application Tip: After you’ve moisturized your face, apply tinted sunscreen as you would your regular moisturizer. Starting in the center of your face, apply a dime-sized amount with your fingers and blend out and up until your face is evenly covered and sunscreen absorbs into skin. You’re good to go!



If you’re looking for coverage, foundation is the name of the game.

It has a higher pigment concentration and thicker consistency than other liquid makeups, so it covers a multitude of blemishes including acne, scars, hyper-pigmentation and age spots and even dark spotswhile giving you a smooth, flawless finish.

Foundations also usually come in a broader range of shades, so if you have trouble matching your skin tone, you might have better luck in the foundation spectrum.

If you have oily skin, an oil-free formula or matte foundation will give you a long-lasting, mattifying look that will keep the mid-day shine at bay.

Pro Tip: If you like your foundation, but find it’s too heavy to wear for everyday, mix a couple drops with your moisturizer for lighter coverage. You can also mattify it a bit (thus, taking away the heavy feel) but sweeping a light layer of setting powder over top!

Use When:

  • Coverage is your top priority
  • You need a wider shade range

Pro Application Tip: A clean and moisturized face is the perfect canvas for foundation, and don’t forget your daily SPF! Wait five minutes for skin to absorb moisture and sun protection before you apply your makeup. As an option, you can start with a primer to minimize pores and give your skin a smoother surface to prevent anything that might clog your pores. Next, apply your foundation with a foundation brush starting in the center of your face and blending out and down. Continue blending with a damp blending sponge, using a rolling motion to press into skin for a flawless finish!



While we’re talking coverage, I have to mention concealer, the hardest working makeup in the coverup business.

Most of us are probably familiar with classic concealer, a thicker cream or liquid used to camouflage flaws, blemishes and undereye circles.

But, I’m super excited to share a couple concealer tips that you may not know!

Not Just Nude

Concealer isn’t just for hiding a zit, it’s also used for color correction!

Have you ever seen a green or yellow concealer and wondered what it does?

It works as a complementary color (colors that are opposite on the color wheel and neutralize each other when mixed) to counter different tones in your skin like redness or eye circles, and evens things out so you can post up flawless.

To find out which areas of your face could benefit from color correction, check out your face in natural light.

Then, refer to the handy color chart below.


To apply: Dot a small amount of concealer onto face after you’ve applied any foundation or liquid makeup. Blend using a clean fingertip, pat lightly to blend into skin. You can also use a concealer brush for beautiful, even results!

Get in the Triangle

When you’re covering up those telltale undereye circles, don’t just sweep concealer under your eyes and call it a day.

There’s a better way!

triangle with bb and cc cream

For an application that will bring instant illumination to eyes, apply concealer in an upside down triangle shape starting under your eyes and extending to a point toward your cheekbone, and blend up and out.

This will give your eyes lift and light rather than just covering those snooze button circles.

BB Cream

BB, or “beauty balm”, creams were born in Germany when they were formulated by dermatologist for patients recovering from facial procedures to offer coverage and promote healing.

They found popularity in Asia before hitting the U.S. marketplace in 2011.

BB cream sales neared $9 million in their first year in U.S. department stores.

They’ve maintained popularity with their reputation of being a one-stop-shop miracle formula.

While they offer light to medium coverage (lighter than foundation but thicker than tinted moisturizer), they also boast a bevy of other benefits:


Anti-aging ingredients to improve skin’s elasticity

Antioxidants to fight and protect against free radical damage



Sun protection

BB creams are basically makeup with some added skincare factors thrown in.

Some target more specific concerns than others, so look for one that will address your skincare priorities.

The only downside? There’s not a very wide range of shades or colors, so you’re kind of limited.

However, because they offer lighter coverage, you may not need an exact match.

Use When:

  • You want light to medium coverage
  • You want a natural look, don’t like the feel of heavy makeup
  • You need a light tint with anti-aging benefits
  • You have acne-prone skin (look for an oil-free BB cream)
  • You have dry skin, want a makeup that offers hydration

CC Cream

The main goal of these “color correcting” or “complexion correcting” creams is to even out skin tone targeting blotchiness, redness, sallow or dull complexions and hyper-pigmentation, melasma, age spots and scarring.

CC creams use light-diffusing particles to neutralize and even out color and skin tone.

Many also include anti-aging ingredients to reduce fine lines and wrinkles and SPF sun protection.

The consistency of CC creams tends to be lighter, like a whipped airy texture, and they offer lighter and more luminous coverage than a BB cream.

These are going to give you a more natural glow with mid to light coverage while evening your skin tone and blurring imperfections.

If you’re looking for a little more coverage, CC creams make a great color correcting primer when used under foundation.

Because they’re lighter, CC creams are also a great option if you have oily skin since they won’t appear as cakey.

Use When:

  • Your main priority is evening your skin tone
  • You want light coverage while still blurring imperfections
  • You want a natural look with anti-aging benefits
  • You have oily skin
  • You don’t like the feel of heavy makeup


Are there really even DD creams?

Yes, the beauty balm alphabet knows no bounds.

A DD cream stands for either “Daily Defense,” “Double-Duty,” or “Dynamic Do-All” depending on who you ask.

It’s still relatively new to the makeup family, so nobody has really nailed it down quite yet.

What we do know is that it supposedly combines the benefits of its BB and CC cream predecessors while offering more sun protection, anti-aging boosters and preventing moisture loss, making them ideal for users with mature skin.

Stay tuned to see if these DD creams grow in popularity.

There’s even rumor of an EE cream….

Here are some of my liquid makeup picks!

My Top Tinted SPF

dermaquest cc cream with SPF

This Dermaquest SheerZinc SPF 30 Tinted Sunscreen provides protection against UVA and UVB rays using the power of Zinc Oxide. Since it’s a physical sunscreen (which I always love!) rather than a chemical one, it’s less irritating to skin. It absorbs smoothly into skin without leaving any residue, plus it’s tinted so it gives you light coverage and evens out skin tone. It’s the perfect combo for everyday wear!

My Favorite Foundation

La Bella Donna Ultimate Pure Perfection SPF15 1oz

La Bella Donna Ultimate Pure Perfection SPF15 1oz is a beautifying cream foundation that gives you a flawless, radiant complexion while nourishing your skin to improve its health. Your skin will look better when you have it on and when you take it off!

My Concealer Choices

dermconceal to help match skin tone

Why just conceal a pimple when you could treat it at the same time? Dermalogica Concealing Spot Treatment is lightly tinted to cover up blemishes, but it also contains ingredients to neutralize acne-causing bacteria, control oil and balance skin. Gentle enough for even sensitive skin, it fights breakouts and conceals while it heals!

camo kit for oily skin

This Glo Minerals Corrective Camouflage Kit allows you to do some easy color correction and neutralize imperfections such as redness, dark circles, hyper-pigmentation, blemishes and more! Even out skin tone and restore balance with this handy little palette!

My Top BB Cream Picks

gm collin bb cream with sun protection

GM Collin Mineral BB Cream offers so many benefits. Its works as both a primer and a foundation to even skin tone and give it a natural glow. The hydrating formula also provides SPF 25 broad spectrum UVA and UVB protection, so it makes a great addition to your morning routine!

Jane Iredale Glow Time Full Coverage Mineral BB Cream 1.7oz

Jane Iredale Glow Time Full Coverage Mineral BB Cream 1.7oz covers blemishes, minimizes the appearance of pores, disguises wrinkles and smoothes and brightens skin. 100% vegan and always cruelty-free.

My Favorite CC Creams


GM Collin CC Cream 1.7oz

GM Collin CC Cream 1.7oz is a silky texture, color correcting cream.

Final Thoughts

I’m glad I got to share the ultimate liquid makeup guide with you today, and I hope you can find one that best suits you! Let’s review what we’ve learned.

I’d also like to note that while a lot of these products boast an all-in-one miracle formula, they’re certainly no replacement for a good skincare routine.

Make sure you’re still giving your skin the proper hydration it requires. Some key ingredients you should focus on for your cosmetics cc cream and tinted moisturizer include ci 77492 ,ci 77491, ci 77499, ci 77492, dioxide 9.0, zinc oxide, titanium dioxide 9.0 zinc and iron oxides.


And, definitely practice good sun protection by weari ng your daily SPF!

What’s your go-to type of liquid makeup? Are you a heavy or light coverage type of gal? Let us know in the comments section!



I read this blog saying, “Gahhhh!” every time you mention SPF. I can’t wear the chemical stuff on my face. Luckily I’ve made some mineral based I can use…though it’s rather shiny, I dont burn.

Thanks for explaining the different types of coverage. I was lost.

Susan Bischoff @ 2020-04-28 6:25pm

This is great information. Thank you! Very informative.

Raven Alba @ 2020-03-10 8:21am

That’s great! :)

Alana Mitchell @ 2020-01-07 3:42pm

I have used this product & I can say its awesome :)

myglammpro @ 2020-01-06 4:24am

Loved your article. I like the lighter coverage of a BB cream. I am 60 and still deal with chin breakouts. I don’t spend a lot of time on my makeup. What would you suggest?

Barb @ 2020-01-02 3:06pm

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