The 11 Best Drugstore Tinted Moisturizers That Rival (and Sometimes Beat Out) High-End Brands | kzfbfkttn.com

The 11 Best Drugstore Tinted Moisturizers That Rival (and Sometimes Beat Out) High-End Brands

TL;DR

Our favorite drugstore tinted moisturizer is the ColourPop Pretty Fresh Hyaluronic Acid Tinted Moisturizer, thanks to its extensive shade range and natural-looking coverage that’s easy to apply and mix with other products. But the Maybelline Dream Fresh BB Cream and 

No7 Hydraluminous AquaRelease Tinted Skin Perfector are also top-notch performers and universal crowd-pleasers.

While a tried-and-true foundation is a staple in any well-rounded makeup kit, sometimes these formulas offer too heavy a look and feel. Then there’s foundation’s lighter, more breathable cousin—the tinted moisturizer. This hybrid is the little white dress of makeup (because it’s typically lighter). It can be worn alone or layered with colorful add-ons (read: blush, highlighter) and everyone should own at least one that flatters and enhances their natural beauty with minimal effort. Better yet, there are tons of options that not only hydrate, as the name suggests but also come with built-in SPF. “Tinted moisturizers are great for everyday wear as SPF can sometimes pill under makeup or it can be tedious to layer on product on top of more product,” says celebrity makeup artist Natalie Dresher.

While many fall into the prestige and masstige categories, there are plenty of excellent tinted moisturizers at your local drugstore. We set out to find the best ones by testing 35 formulas on different skin types in our New York City lab and at home. At home, we used them three to four times a week over two weeks, keeping tabs on the coverage and hydration (of course) as well as wear, how well it layered with other products, and the final look. The result is this list of budget-friendly tinted moisturizers that truly stand up to the high-end competition.

Our Top Picks

BEST OVERALL:

ColourPop Hyaluronic Acid Tinted Moisturizer at Ulta ($15)

Jump to Review

BEST OVERALL, RUNNER-UP:

No. 7 Hydraluminous AquaRelease Tinted Skin Perfector at No7beauty.com (See Price)

Jump to Review

BEST FOR RADIANCE:

Honest Beauty CCC Tinted Moisturizer at Amazon ($27)

Jump to Review

BEST FOR DEEP SKIN TONES:

Black Radiance Tinted Moisturizer at Blackradiancebeauty.com (See Price)

Jump to Review

BEST SHADE RANGE:

L’Oréal Paris True Match Tinted Serum at Amazon ($20)

Jump to Review

BEST BB CREAM:

Maybelline Dream Fresh BB Cream at Ulta ($10)

Jump to Review

BEST FOR DRY SKIN:

Neutrogena Hydro Boost Hydrating Tint at Amazon ($14)

Jump to Review

BEST FOR FULL COVERAGE:

Wet n Wild Bare Focus Tinted Hydrator at Amazon ($7)

Jump to Review

BEST SHEER:

Pacifica Kind Tint Tinted Serum at Ulta ($14)

Jump to Review

BEST BUILDABLE COVERAGE:

The Lip Bar Just a Tint 3-in-1 Tinted Skin Conditioner at Target ($17)

Jump to Review

Best Overall

ColourPop Hyaluronic Acid Tinted Moisturizer

Ulta ColourPop Pretty Fresh Hyaluronic Acid Tinted Moisturizer

PHOTO: 

Ulta

$15 AT ULTA ULTA$15 AT TARGET TARGET$13 AT WALMART WALMART

What We Like

  • Great for all skin types
  • Lightweight
  • Extensive shade range

What We Don’t Like

  • Doesn’t have SPF

Coverage: Sheer | Shade Range: 19 | Finish: Natural | Size: 1.5 oz | Cruelty-Free: Yes

This pick checked all of our boxes—and then some. It has an extensive shade range, feels weightless on the skin, delivers natural-looking coverage, and holds up all day long. Our tester, Gibreel, loves that it can be worn solo for a no-makeup makeup look, but it also layers nicely with concealer and other makeup for a more full-on effect. Plus, it blends nicely no matter how (brush, fingers, sponge) you apply it. The only drawback? Unlike other products we tested, there’s no SPF built-in, but given that you should be applying a separate sunscreen anyway, that wasn’t a dealbreaker for us.

  • ColourPop Pretty Fresh Hyaluronic Acid Tinted MoisturizerBYRDIE / TAMARA STAPLES
  • ColourPop Pretty Fresh Hyaluronic Acid Tinted MoisturizerBYRDIE / TAMARA STAPLES

Best Overall, Runner-Up

No. 7 Hydraluminous AquaRelease Tinted Skin Perfector

No. 7 Hydraluminous AquaRelease Tinted Skin Perfector

PHOTO: 

No. 7 Beauty

VIEW ON NO7BEAUTY.COM

What We Like

  • Layers nicely with all other makeup
  • Great coverage
  • Works well with all application methods

What We Don’t Like

  • Can look oily if layered over hydrating skincare products

Coverage: Sheer | Shade Range: 6 | Finish: Natural | Size: 1 oz | Cruelty-Free: Yes

This option performed so well that it was hard to decide whether it or the one above should take Best Overall. First and foremost, our tester, Ciara, couldn’t get over how well it covered imperfections; even though it’s touted as having sheer coverage, it camouflaged everything she wanted to hide with just one light layer. (Though it is easy to build up if you so choose.) Still, it felt featherweight and undetectable—and the coverage (and lovely hydration, thanks to the AquaRelease moisture beads) it delivered lasted all day. 

Per the point of hydration, though, Ciara found that the product works best if you skip the moisturizing routine beforehand; when she used hydrating skincare, her complexion started to look a bit greasy.

Before and After using No. 7 Hydraluminous AquaRelease Tinted Skin Perfector
BYRDIE / CIARA GROVERT

Ciara with combination skin

“I love the consistency of this product. It had great coverage while still being so lightweight it didn’t even feel like I had makeup on.”

Best for Radiance

Honest Beauty CCC Tinted Moisturizer

Honest Beauty CCC Clean Corrective with Vitamin C Tinted Moisturizer SPF 30

PHOTO: 

Amazon

$20 AT AMAZON AMAZON$27 AT ULTA ULTA$27 AT TARGET TARGET

What We Like

  • Creates a nice base for other makeup
  • Lasts all day
  • Contains a high SPF

What We Don’t Like

  • Consistency may be a bit too thick for some

Coverage: Sheer | Shade Range: 9 | Finish: Radiant | Size: 1 oz | Cruelty-Free: Yes

This radiance-boosting tinted moisturizer leaves skin ever-so-subtly glowy, with a luminosity that looks totally natural. Our tester, Cathie, appreciates that aside from a mineral SPF (and SPF 30 at that), it contains a host of other skin-loving ingredients, namely brightening vitamin C and allantoin, a great skin soother. 

It’s definitely on the thicker side—Cathie found the texture was closer to that of a foundation. This thickness made it a bit trickier to apply with fingers. That said, the coverage was great for evening skin tone and helping neutralize redness.

Person applying Honest Beauty CCC Clean Corrective with Vitamin C Tinted Moisturizer SPF 30 to face while looking into mirror
BYRDIE / LETICIA ALMEIDA

Cathie with dry skin

“This would be a good foundation replacement, and since it has SPF 30 it’s much better than the SPF 15 that’s found in a lot of [facial] moisturizers.”

Best for Deep Skin Tones

Black Radiance Tinted Moisturizer

Black Radiance True Complexion Tinted Moisturizer SPF 15

PHOTO: 

Black Radiance

VIEW ON BLACKRADIANCEBEAUTY.COM

What We Like

  • Works well with other skincare products
  • Offers light but buildable coverage
  • Helps smooth the look of skin

What We Don’t Like

  • Not very long lasting

Coverage: Light | Shade Range: 8 | Finish: Natural | Size: .91 oz | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Tinted moisturizers, particularly drugstore ones, are notorious for not offering a ton of shade options, particularly for darker skin. (Here’s hoping that changes soon.) Here’s one good exception, which comes in eight shades, the majority of which are geared towards deeper complexions. Our tester, Masego, liked the buildable coverage, and that the product worked well when applied with fingers. It also played nice when layered over other skincare; to that point, she does think it’s best to use a separate facial moisturizer underneath, particularly if you have drier skin. It’s also worth mentioning that it didn’t have the longest staying power.

Before and after Using Radiance True Complexion
BYRDIE / MASEGO MANAMELA

Masego with dry skin

“The product is buildable. You can go with a very light application if you do not need a lot of coverage or apply a bit more if you need more.”

Best Shade Range

L’Oréal Paris True Match Tinted Serum

L’Oréal Paris True Match Hyaluronic Tinted Serum

PHOTO: 

Ulta

$15 AT AMAZON AMAZON$20 AT ULTA ULTA$16 AT TARGET TARGET

What We Like

  • Cream-like texture is very pleasant
  • Easily buildable coverage
  • Very natural-looking shades

What We Don’t Like

  • Can look slightly oily

Coverage: Light | Shade Range: 14 | Finish: Radiant | Size: 1 oz | Cruelty-Free: No

Not only does this come in over a dozen shades, but they deliver very natural-looking color. It layered well with other makeup we used during testing, and the coverage was versatile and buildable with impressive staying power.

The finish is on the glowier side, perhaps veering a bit too shiny for some, in which case we suggest setting it with a translucent powder to help tamp that down. The squirt applicator was also a bit messy, but our tester, Julia, mitigated that by applying it with a foundation brush.

Before and After using L'Oreal Paris True Match Hyaluronic
BYRDIE / JULIA DARINZO

Julia with combination skin

 “I found myself using it as a substitute for my foundation on days where I didn’t want to wear a lot of makeup but still wanted to feel presentable. After about two to three layers of product, I reached the coverage I was looking for. If you are looking for just a base color underneath foundation, one to two layers is enough.”

Best BB Cream

Maybelline Dream Fresh BB Cream

Maybelline Dream Fresh BB Cream

PHOTO: 

Walgreens

$10 AT ULTA ULTA$8 AT TARGET TARGET$9 AT WALMART WALMART

What We Like

  • Layers nicely under other products
  • Very blendable
  • Good at evening redness

What We Don’t Like

  • May pill after prolonged used

Coverage: Sheer | Shade Range: 5 | Finish: Natural | Size: 1 oz | Cruelty-Free: No

Yes, this may technically be called a BB cream (read on for more on the “technical” differences between those and tinted moisturizers) but we still deemed it worthy of a spot on this list. It essentially acts and functions as a tinted moisturizer, moisturizing and delivering coverage simultaneously. It’s oil-free and won’t clog pores, one of our favorite attributes, and the coverage is sheer and dewy; Lauren, our tester, deemed it especially good at helping conceal and camouflage redness. FYI, she did find that it blended better with other products when she layered a moisturizer underneath.

Lauren with combination/dry skin

“The product layered nicely with other products, like bronzer and blush. I found it to be super blendable.”

Best for Dry Skin

Neutrogena Hydro Boost Hydrating Tint

Neutrogena Hydro Boost Hydrating Tint

PHOTO: 

Amazon

$14 AT AMAZON AMAZON$16 AT WALMART WALMART$22 AT CVS CVS

What We Like

  • Included brush makes for easy application
  • Great for evening skin tone
  • Extremely hydrating

What We Don’t Like

  • Tends to sit on top of skin

Coverage: Light | Shade Range: 10 | Finish: Natural | Size: 1 oz | Cruelty-Free: No

This mega-hydrating pick (thanks, hyaluronic acid) is the perfect choice for those with super dry skin. It delivered an impressive level of moisture while excelling at evening skin tone and neutralizing redness. The coverage and hydration lasted a full day, too, and Kelly, our tester, raved about the smooth texture. It did feel like it sat on top of the skin more than melting in, and she did have a bit of a hard time finding her perfect shade match, but those were minor drawbacks.

Kelly with sensitive skin

“I had considered trying an additional moisturizer underneath but didn’t need one at all. My skin felt well hydrated the whole day, with no greasiness or oiliness.”

Best for Full Coverage

Wet n Wild Bare Focus Tinted Hydrator

Wet n Wild Bare Focus Tinted Hydrator Tinted Skin Veil

PHOTO: 

Amazon

$6 AT AMAZON AMAZON$7 AT ULTA ULTA$6 AT TARGET TARGET

What We Like

  • Hydration lasts all day
  • Delivers more coverage than other tinted moisturizers
  • Easy to apply

What We Don’t Like

  • Smells like Play-Doh

Coverage: Sheer to medium | Shade Range: 7 | Finish: Semi-matte | Size: .91 oz | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Tinted moisturizers aren’t typically equipped to fully cover the skin, but this one from Wet n’ Wild absolutely can. It essentially covers and holds up like a foundation with the light skin feel of a tinted moisturizer. Our tester, Stormy, was also impressed with the hydration (it contains hyaluronic acid, along with squalane).

She was less impressed with the scent (which we likened to Play-Doh), and the matte finish. If you’re after a matte texture, this is the perfect pick for you, but if you have larger-looking pores, it might accentuate them a bit.

Before and After using Wet n Wild Bare Focus
BYRDIE / STORMY MILLER

Best Sheer

Pacifica Kind Tint Tinted Serum

Kind Tint Tinted Serum

PHOTO: 

Ulta

$14 AT ULTA ULTA

What We Like

  • Lasts all day, even when not set with powder
  • Doesn’t oxidize
  • Feels lightweight

What We Don’t Like

  • Should be applied with a foundation brush for the best result

Coverage: Sheer | Shade Range: 12 | Finish: Natural | Size: 1 oz | Cruelty-Free: Yes

This pick goes on very sheer, yet still stays put whether you set it with powder or not (tinted moisturizer magic). The texture is light too, which was a win for our tester, Annie, whose skin veers more toward oily. Just keep in mind that how you apply this product will ultimately affect the resulting look and final coverage level. When Annie applied it with her fingers, it was too sheer—she could barely see it. Using a BeautyBlender just moved the product around without building it up; it was a foundation brush that proved to be the winning tool for helping to score even coverage.

Before and After using Pacifica Kind Tint Tinted Serum
BYRDIE / ANNIE PROBST

Annie with combination, acne-prone skin

“I really like that this product is lightweight but provides buildable coverage that lasts all day without making my face feel cakey.”

Best Buildable Coverage

The Lip Bar Just a Tint 3-in-1 Tinted Skin Conditioner

The Lip Bar Just A Tint 3-in-1 Skin Conditioner

PHOTO: 

Target

$17 AT TARGET TARGETVIEW ON THELIPBAR.COM

What We Like

  • Layers great with both cream and powder products
  • Great for evening skin tone and redness
  • Very hydrating

What We Don’t Like

  • Texture is on the thicker side

Coverage: Sheer | Shade Range: 12 | Finish: Radiant | Size: 1 oz | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Versatility is the name of the game with this pick. The coverage is buildable in its own right, though our tester, Megan, found she could tweak and tailor that even more based on the tool she used. Applying it with fingers left a light coverage while using a damp makeup sponge resulted in slightly more coverage. The long-lasting, transfer-proof formula contains hyaluronic acid, and she did notice (and appreciate) how moisturizing it was. Be prepared for a thicker texture, closer to that of a cream foundation instead of the more liquid-y feel of other tinted moisturizers.

A person's face before and after using the The Lip Bar Just a Tint 3-in-1 Tinted Skin Conditioner
BYRDIE / MEGAN WOOD

Megan with dry skin

“It’s nice that this product can be used for lighter (though still good) coverage and for heavier, fuller coverage too. I have never used a tinted moisturizer before as they typically don’t cover my redness, but this product did great.”

Best Multitasking

L’Oréal Paris True Match Lumi Glotion

L’Oréal Paris True Match Lumi Glotion

PHOTO: 

Ulta

$14 AT AMAZON AMAZON$17 AT ULTA ULTA$14 AT TARGET TARGET

What We Like

  • Delivers a beautiful glow
  • Easily layered with foundation or used as a highlighter
  • Very hydrating

What We Don’t Like

  • Doesn’t contains SPF

Coverage: Sheer | Shade Range: 5 | Finish: Dewy | Size: 1.35 oz | Cruelty-Free: No

All tinted moisturizers are multitaskers by definition. But this one takes the cake by offering a gorgeous, iridescent glow. There’s no shortage of ways to use it: Wear it solo for a sunkissed glow, under foundation for an extra radiance boost, or dabbed onto your cheekbones in lieu of a highlighter. Just keep in mind that it doesn’t necessarily offer a ton of coverage on its own, and there’s also no SPF in the mix, so you will want to add some stand-alone sun protection.

What to Look for in a Drugstore Tinted Moisturizer

  • Benefit:  You can always expect hydration, but, depending on the product, there can also be other wins for your skin—sun protection, anti-aging benefits, and more. If you want to up the skincare ante, makeup artist Elaina Badro suggests looking for ingredients such as niacinamide, hyaluronic acid, and vitamin C.
  • Finish: Choose what best counteracts your skin type. If you have oily skin, use a formula that’s oil-free or has a matte finish. On the flip side, a moisturizing formula or one with a more luminous finish is the way to go if you have dry skin. 
  • Coverage: Tinted moisturizers typically provide much lighter coverage than most foundations or concealers—their semi-sheer application makes for a more natural look. However, some products provide medium coverage and are buildable; look for these if you want your tinted moisturizer to act more like a foundation.

FAQ

  • What is the difference between a tinted moisturizer and a BB cream?“Both offer a natural finish and skin benefits, but BB creams tend to have a bit more coverage than tinted moisturizers,” says Badro. Tinted moisturizers hydrate the skin while evening out your complexion. They aren’t heavy like some foundations and provide barely-there coverage. BB creams are also lighter than foundations and help to conceal blemishes and uneven skin tone.
  • How do you apply tinted moisturizers?“My favorite way to apply it is to warm it up with my fingers and apply the product directly to my face, that way it provides the most skin-like natural finish,” Dresher says of tinted moisturizers. “Applying such a light product with a brush can lead to overuse of the product. And applying with a sponge can cause the sponge to eat up the tinted moisturizer, making it too light of an application.”
  • How do you find your right shade in a tinted moisturizer?Tinted moisturizers come in various shades, but since they tend to be pretty sheer, the hue doesn’t have to be a perfect match. However, selecting a shade that most closely matches your skin tone is always ideal.  When picking the right shade, compare it to the skin tone around your jawline. Let the product dry before deciding if it matches your skin since it might appear too light or dark upon the initial application. “Natural light is always best when picking your right shade. I like to always start from the ear to the cheek,” adds Badro. “Make sure to check underneath the jaw so it’s seamless.

Why Trust Byrdie

Alyssa Kaplan is an experienced writer in the beauty industry and a product tester specializing in cosmetics. She has been a Sephora customer for more than a decade and tests dozens of beauty products in all categories on a weekly basis. Alyssa has been a commerce writer at Byrdie since 2022, where she covers all things beauty.  

Byrdie writer Melanie Rud worked on this article as well. A freelance writer and beauty editor, she frequently covers all kinds of drugstore beauty products and is a personal fan of tinted moisturizers (largely for their time-saving qualities). 

Natalie Dresher, a Miami-based celebrity makeup artist who has worked with clients such as Remi Bader, Gia Giudice, and Dylan Mulvaney, contributed to this article, as did celebrity makeup artist Elaina Badro.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Discover

Sponsor

spot_imgspot_img

Latest

10 Summer Handbag Trends to Carry Through Your Warm-Weather Adventures

Summer is almost here, and if you want to stay on top of the latest trends in everything from sneakers to sunglasses, you've come to the right...

The Ultimate Skincare Routine for Oily Skin

When you have oily skin, it can often feel like finding products that work together to keep the glow alive—but the unwanted shine at...

The Ultimate Boxing Workout for Beginners

Exercise is a natural stress reliever, and let's admit it: Sometimes after a hard day, you may just feel like punching something. Boxing is...

How to Protect Hair From Heat Damage for Healthy, Bouncy Strands

Whatever type of hair you have, there's a good chance you've taken a hot tool to it. Whether that's a curling iron, blow dryer,...

Lizzo’s Makeup Artist Gave Us the Best Tip for Cloud Skin That Stays Put on Stage

Ever since Euphoria went off the air, I've been missing that weekly hit of colorful, bright beauty inspo. That is until Lizzo set off on her "The 2pecial...