The Difference Between BB Cream, CC Cream, Tinted Moisturizer, and Foundation, Explained

BB Cream vs. CC Cream vs. Tinted Moisturizer vs. Foundation - Differences Explained

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Have you recently taken an interest in diversifying and are you getting confused and can’t decide between BB cream, CC cream, tinted moisturizer, and foundation? Not to worry! Here’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to help you understand what each of these products does, how they work, and what they offer. That way, you can better decide which one is the right one for you.

But there’s one thing I’d like to bring up. There’s no literature or regulation regarding what can officially qualify as a CC cream, a BB cream, or a tinted moisturizer. Though certain things are public knowledge, I’ll also refer to my own experience with these products.

And I won’t get into the history of the products either. You’ve got Wikipedia for that. But trust me, the origin of a CC cream or a BB cream is completely irrelevant at this point. Because they’ve come a long way from what they used to be.

There’s so much confusion around the differences between CC creams, BB creams, tinted moisturizers, and even foundations. And now we even have skin tints! As if that’s not enough, you’ll see basic tinted moisturizers offering more coverage than foundation!

So know that there’s always an exception to any rule. What I’d like to do is give you a general idea about what to expect from each of these products and the best way to decide how to pick one.

Once you know what you need, things get easier. Because it’s easier to choose between different CC creams instead of choosing between CC creams, BB creams, and others.

You can take a look at this chart below for overall differences between BB cream vs. CC cream vs. tinted moisturizer vs. foundation. It’s a healthy generalization. But as I said, there will always be exceptions.

BB Cream - CC Cream - Tinted Moisturizer - Foundation - Comparison Chart
Comparison Chart For BB Cream, CC Cream, Tinted Moisturizer, Foundation

So keep reading for our guide on BB cream vs. CC cream vs. tinted moisturizer vs. foundation.

What is BB Cream?

Otherwise known as a beauty balm or a blemish balm, a BB cream is a base product. It can offer skincare benefits but its major focus is coverage. So it’s more of a cosmetic product than a skincare product.

And in terms of skincare, a BB cream offers SPF protection almost always. But you won’t see a lot of antioxidants or vitamins in a BB cream.

Regarding consistency, BB cream is actually the one that’s closest to a foundation. It’s not always as good as a foundation, but the coverage is given. And the secret is in the name.

It’s a beauty balm. So BB creams tend to be a little creamier, making them more emollient, therefore, very moisturizing for the skin. And that texture is why a BB cream offers more coverage than other products we’ll mention below.

In terms of finish, BB creams are usually dewy, radiant, and illuminating. And regarding shade range, BB creams could do better!

BB Creams vs. CC Creams and Tinted Moisturizers

In comparison to CC creams and tinted moisturizers, BB creams are the thickest of the bunch and offer the most coverage.

Who Should Use BB Cream?

You can use BB creams if you don’t like the feeling of traditional foundations. And they’re great when you want coverage but still need something very moisturizing and emollient on the skin.

Though there are oil-free options, BB creams are overall more popular among people with dry skin rather than people with oily and acne-prone skin.

Ways To Use BB Cream

You can use BB creams instead of a foundation. So it can be your base makeup. You can also use it as a multi-purpose product to bring SPF and makeup together.

Additionally, BB creams are great for mature skin types as they’re thinner than foundations, which can increase the visibility of wrinkles.

What is CC Cream?

Otherwise known as a color corrector or a complexion corrector, CC cream is a skincare-makeup hybrid with a focus on evening out the skin tone and not necessarily with coverage.

Let me elaborate. Color correcting is more about changing the skin tone whereas coverage is about adding texture to cancel out the existing texture on the skin. Think silicones to blur out pores.

So a CC cream not always comes in a creamy, skin-blurring consistency. And for that reason, we have CC creams that come in a universal shade that adapts to any skin tone. Does that mean CC creams don’t provide coverage?

They do. But as I said, the focus is on evening out the skin tone and reducing the look of redness or hyperpigmentation. And because CC creams are not laser-focused on coverage, they offer more skincare benefits.

They can contain sun protection in addition to humectants and antioxidants. They can have a matte, dewy, or natural finish. So in sum, a CC cream corrects the skin tone, cares for the skin, and offers light-medium coverage.

CC Creams vs. BB Creams and Tinted Moisturizers

In comparison to BB creams and tinted moisturizers, CC creams are lighter than BB creams but usually thicker than tinted moisturizers. Also, CC creams usually offer less coverage but more skin benefits than BB creams.

Who Should Use CC Cream?

CC creams are the better option when your primary concern is uneven skin tone. So if you’re dealing with rosacea, overall facial redness, or dark patches you’d like to cancel out, you can try CC creams.

And there’s no skin type limitation. Whether you have oily skin, dry skin, or combination skin, a CC cream can help you even out your skin, and reduce redness while providing skincare and coverage.

Ways To Use CC Cream

You can use a CC cream as a color-correcting primer before applying your foundation. You can use it to color correct redness and amplify the coverage of your foundation.

Plus, you can use CC creams to spot-conceal blemishes and redness. And finally, you can use them alone as your makeup base.

What is Tinted Moisturizer?

A tinted moisturizer is primarily a skincare product. It’s a moisturizer that is tinted. Compared to BB creams and CC creams, tinted moisturize has the lightest consistency. So the aim is to moisturize the skin with ingredients suitable for the skin type.

When shopping for a tinted moisturizer, you sort things out by deciding between oil-free, suitable for acne-prone skin, or oil-based -just like your regular moisturizer.

In addition, a tinted moisturizer is the one that’s most suitable to accommodate all that good stuff you find in a moisturizer.

Hydrating, nourishing, anti-aging, moisturizing, anti-inflammatory ingredients -whatever you need. And they can be mattifying or illuminating, depending on their finish.

Tinted Moisturizers vs. BB Creams and CC Creams

In comparison to BB creams and CC creams, tinted moisturizers usually offer the least amount of coverage but the most amount of skincare.

Who Should Use Tinted Moisturizer?

A tinted moisturizer is a great option for anyone who’s not necessarily looking for coverage but for a little bit of tint to warm up the skin while moisturizing the skin.

So if you’re not really dealing with a major skin concern and don’t want the hassle of a foundation, go for a tinted moisturizer suitable for your skin type.

Ways To Use Tinted Moisturizer

You can use a tinted moisturizer as your daily face moisturizer. You can also get one with a dewy or matte finish and use it as a makeup primer to modify the finish of your foundation.

Similarly, you can use it as a multi-purpose product to combine tint, SPF, and skincare together. You can also use it alone as a foundation alternative if you need minimal coverage.

BB Cream, CC Cream, and Tinted Moisturizer vs. Foundation

In comparison to BB creams, CC creams, and tinted moisturizers, foundations offer the most coverage and the least skincare benefits.

A foundation is a makeup product that addresses cosmetic concerns. You won’t be disappointed when your CC creams don’t cover up your pores. But you will be if your full coverage foundation doesn’t.

So coverage is the name of the game and foundation is the one to go for if you expect to really perfect your makeup base.

A foundation, depending on the formula, can smooth out your base, reduce texture irregularities considerably, and really make a huge difference in your complexion.

Unlike others, foundations, ideally, come in a ton of shades to match every skin tone. They can be liquid, cream, powder, or even spray with natural, matte, dewy, satin, and neutral finishes.

The coverage depends on your product. And some foundations can contain skincare benefits too. But you don’t expect that from a foundation; it’s just a bonus.

There is a foundation for every skin type, and tone with a variety of coverages and finishes. So if coverage, a flawless base is what you’re going for or there’s a special occasion coming up, foundations are the ones to rely on.

How To Choose Between BB Cream, CC Cream, Tinted Moisturizer, and Foundation

Things get very confusing very quickly when you start to sort out stuff depending on skin type, coverage, or ingredients. So here’s the best way to decide which one to use.

Decide what you need first. What’s it that you’re trying to deal with? If you start from there, then you can sort out other stuff like formulation and coverage along the way.

For example, if you want overall flawless coverage, stick with foundation. Then decide how much coverage you want, what consistency you need, and what finish you like.

If foundation is out of the question, try BB creams as they’re closest to a foundation than anything else. Then choose between different finishes and levels of coverage.

If redness, uneven skin tone, and dark patches are your concern, go for CC creams because that’s what they primarily do: color-correct! You can then decide if you want SPF or more coverage.

And lastly, if you’re into the no-makeup makeup look, start with a tinted moisturizer to get a healthy amount of coverage with major skin benefits.

The Takeaway

Hopefully, you now have a better understanding of the differences between BB cream, CC cream, tinted moisturizer, and foundation.

It’s almost a waste of time to focus on the characteristics of each of these products. The line between a CC cream, a BB cream, a tinted moisturizer, and a foundation is hanging by a thread. And brands coming up with different names are not helping!

I feel like brands gather together and make decisions like “if it color corrects without coverage, then we’re going to call it a CC cream”. And some jerk always cooks something in the back and comes up with a super high coverage product and calls it a CC cream to rise above and makes everybody look like a bunch of fools.

If it covers like a foundation, and acts like a foundation, then why call it a CC cream? Right? Brands may have their reasons. Maybe calling a product foundation will require a wide shade range, which will be too expensive to formulate when the product first hits the market and they don’t know if it’s going to work.

Maybe they play with the formulation of an existing foundation and rebrand it as a BB cream just to stay relevant and not miss out on anything. Who knows?

So there’ll always be new names, and different labels like CC sunscreen or BB tinted moisturizer or skin tint or something like that. It’s just marketing. Ignore them and stick with what you need as opposed to what they’re selling.

Read Next: The Differences Between Silicone-Based and Water-Based Foundation

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