The Difference Between BB Cream, CC Cream, Tinted Moisturizer & the Rest

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

Have you recently taken an interest in diversifying and are you getting confused and can’t decide between BB cream, CC cream, tinted moisturizer, skin tint, 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, skin tints, and even foundations. 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. skin tint vs. foundation. It’s a healthy generalization. But as I said, there will always be exceptions.

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

So keep reading for our guide on BB cream vs. CC cream vs. tinted moisturizer vs. skin tint 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 and, 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. If you want to see what’s out there, check out our round-up of the best BB creams for mature skin.

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 does not always come 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 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 moisturizer has the lightest consistency. It aims 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.

A tinted moisturizer is the most suitable to accommodate all the good stuff you find in a moisturizer such as hydrating, nourishing, anti-aging, and anti-inflammatory ingredients. It can be mattifying or illuminating, depending on the 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.

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.

Tinted moisturizers are so focused on skincare. So they’re the better option for people with sensitive skin. For example, instead of a heavy foundation that might irritate your skin, try tinted moisturizers for rosacea to get nice coverage with major skin benefits.

Likewise, instead of potentially clogging your pores with heavy base products, try tinted moisturizers for oily skin to achieve an even skin tone without dealing with blackheads.

And lastly, if you’re dealing with wrinkles or fine lines but you don’t have a lot of time for makeup or experience with makeup, try tinted moisturizers for mature skin that save you time and trouble.

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.

What is Skin Tint?

A skin tint is a liquid-based product that gives the skin a very natural-looking tint. It’s relatively new to the scene but gaining popularity due to its practicality.

Skin tint aims to bring a healthy dose of radiance to the skin without actually covering up texture irregularities. Most skin tints have a liquid consistency with a weightless texture.

Skin tints offer sheer to low coverage and can contain skincare benefits. But the whole point of a tint is to freshen up the complexion, and look more awake but without the heavy feel of a foundation.

So the primary goal is not to nourish or care for the skin or perfect it. Just like any other face product, skin tints have different finishes and come in different shades to match any skin tone.

Skin Tints vs. BB Creams, CC Creams, and Tinted Moisturizers

Compared to BB creams, CC creams, and tinted moisturizers, skin tints offer the least amount of coverage and don’t necessarily make up for it with anything. They don’t claim to be brimming with skincare benefits or a good amount of sun protection.

However, they’re versatile and more convenient because lack of coverage means you don’t need to be immaculate with your choice of shade.

While it will be noticeable when you’re using foundation a shade darker/lighter than your skin tone, you won’t see much of a difference with skin tints.

Who Should Use Skin Tint?

Anyone, regardless of their skin type or the look they’re going for, could benefit from skin tints. They work great if foundations break you out or irritate your skin.

They’re also great for people with textured skin, or aging skin as skin tints are very light and don’t make uneven skin texture more visible.

Ways To Use Skin Tint

You can use skin tint instead of foundation. It’s a great alternative in summer weather. You can also use skin tint as your base product for no-makeup makeup looks.

What is Foundation?

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.

It’s the one to go for if you expect a perfect 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.

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

Foundations vs. BB Creams, CC Creams, and Tinted Moisturizers

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

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

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

Who Should Use Foundation?

Because foundation is a makeup product, there’s no right or wrong answer to this. Anyone who wants to make a noticeable change in their appearance using makeup can benefit from foundations.

If you’re unhappy about bumps, uneven skin texture, acne, and major redness, try a foundation suitable for your skin type to neutralize everything.

If you need to look your best for a certain occasion and you need your makeup to last long, foundations are very unlikely to disappoint as coverage is the whole point.

Ways To Use Foundation

You can use foundation to achieve a more even-looking base so that the colors you put on, such as your blush or bronzer, look better.

You can also use foundation to smooth out the skin and create a flawless canvas to draw attention to colorful eye makeup or showcase a contour. There’s no limit to what you can do with foundation!

How To Choose Between BB Cream, CC Cream, Tinted Moisturizer, Skin Tint, 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 closer 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, go for a skin tint. Or 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, skin tint, 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 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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