Tinted Moisturizer vs Foundation: Which Should You Choose?

Portrait of a beautiful young woman applying moisturizer to her face while looking in the mirror.
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For years, foundation has been the go-to product to create a base for the face and smooth out any imperfections. But more recently, tinted moisturizer has become a popular choice because it feels lighter.

In the battle between tinted moisturizer vs foundation, which side are you on?

Our feeling: if your skin is in really good shape, a tinted moisturizer is often all you need! But if you’re dealing with some skin issues, you may find foundation is more effective than tinted moisturizer.

We’ll go over it all below.


What Is A Tinted Moisturizer?

Tinted Moisturizer by Elta

Tinted moisturizers are getting the spotlight and are trending nowadays because of how lightweight they are. Compared to the usual foundations we’ve all been using, they feel so much more comfortable!

However, that also means that they aren’t as full coverage as your typical foundation. 

Foundations are well known in the makeup industry to provide full coverage. However, sometimes you might not need or want a full-coverage product. That’s when tinted moisturizers shine. 

If your skin looks good and you don’t have a lot of issues or problems that you need to cover, then a tinted moisturizer will work well.

If your skin looks good and you don’t have a lot of issues or problems that you need to cover, then a tinted moisturizer will work well.

It is the best one to use when you don’t want to wear a lot of makeup — just enough to make your skin look better. 

When you use a tinted moisturizer with a concealer that works for you, you can achieve natural-looking glowing skin. 

One of the main differences between tinted moisturizers and foundations is the number of humectants in them. Tinted moisturizers will contain more humectants as they are formulated to hydrate the skin. 

When you use a tinted moisturizer, you won’t be able to fully cover and hide any blemishes on your skin. It is only meant to hydrate your skin and give it a hint of color. They’ll just produce a dewy glow.

What Is A Foundation?


As for foundation, most of us are already pretty familiar with these. Foundation is a makeup product that can be used to create a base for your makeup. It creates an even, blank canvas where you can apply other makeup products to create your desired look. 

It is capable of covering blemishes. It can blur out imperfections and correct discoloration to create a base that’s smooth and even. 

Those who prefer full-coverage makeup should use foundation. However, it is important to carefully choose the right shade of foundation and the right formula that suits your skin type

There are various methods for applying foundation, and you should also find what method suits you best to get the most out of using this product. 

The main reason why foundation is more capable of covering blemishes is that they contain more pigment as compared to tinted moisturizers. With more pigment in the formula, foundation efficiently covers the blemishes that you want to hide. 

Tinted Moisturizer vs Foundation: Which Should I Use?

Is there a “best for all” answer to whether you should use tinted moisturizer or foundation? No. If your skin has significant blemishes or issues, stick to a foundation. If your skin is in great shape, try a tinted moisturizer.

Let’s break it down a bit further.

Your Skin Type

If you have dry skin and are struggling to keep it moisturized while wearing makeup, a tinted moisturizer is a great solution. Tinted moisturizers are meant to help keep skin hydrated and contain a minimal amount of pigment. 

Choose a tinted moisturizer if your goal is to keep your skin moisturized rather than to cover the blemishes or problem areas in it. If your skin doesn’t need full-coverage makeup and if you prefer something lightweight, then a tinted moisturizer could be a good substitute for a foundation. 

Choose a tinted moisturizer if your goal is to keep your skin moisturized rather than to cover the blemishes or problem areas in it.

Foundation could contain moisturizing ingredients. However, they do not contain as much as tinted moisturizers do. 


Those who want a medium to a full-coverage product would be better off with a foundation. Although it feels heavier, it is more capable of covering some of the problem areas in your skin.

Due to the lesser amount of pigments in the tinted moisturizers, it isn’t capable of covering any significant blemishes. It may give a hint of color to the skin, but it doesn’t cover any major discoloration.

It can just produce a dewy finish when used. 

The Climate

Sometimes, wearing foundation can feel too heavy on the skin especially when it is hot and humid. In the hot summer months, many prefer to use a tinted moisturizer instead of a foundation. 

Using foundation and tinted moisturizer alternately will also work. On the days when you want more coverage, go for the foundation. On days you want a lightweight product, then grab the tinted moisturizer. 

Skin Tone 

When it comes to the shades available, the foundation has a greater variety of color tones than tinted moisturizer.

The shade of the foundation that you choose for your skin should match your skin color closely. If you pick the wrong color, your foundation will be very visible. The foundation contains more pigments so the shade will show when used on the skin. 

On the other hand, tinted moisturizers don’t have as many shades available. However, they are more forgiving when it comes to shade mismatch because they don’t provide full coverage. 

The natural shade of your skin plus the color of the blemishes and other skin issues can still show even when tinted moisturizer is used on them. 

Final Thoughts

It’s helpful to have both a tinted moisturizer and foundation on hand. When your skin is in good shape, or when you’re looking for something light, stick to a tinted moisturizer (you can add a primer, too!). When you need a bit more, apply your foundation.

Written by Kayla Young

Kayla is the founder of LuxeLuminous. She has worked professionally in the tanning industry for years. She has been interested in esthetics since childhood, and has tried every hair, skin, and makeup product ever produced (more or less).