In the beauty industry, there are a handful of tinted moisturizers that are almost unanimously considered the best (NARS' and Laura Mercier's formulas are the two that immediately come to mind). But these prestige tubes aren't exactly cheap, especially if you use tinted moisturizer every day and wind up having to restock on a near-monthly basis. But luckily, you can still achieve healthy, even-looking skin without blowing your budget, thanks to the best drugstore tinted moisturizers (under $20, outlined ahead).
When shopping for a tinted moisturizer, you'll also want to consider BB creams and CC creams, which work similarly. All of these types of base makeup provide light-to-medium coverage, though BB creams usually offer extra good-for-skin benefits, while CC creams offer the added benefit of color-correcting. If you're not into full-on foundation but still want a bit of coverage, tinted moisturizer, BB creams, and CC creams are all great alternatives — and you'll find the best in each category listed ahead.
Just keep in mind, if you don't buy a tinted moisturizer (or BB/CC cream) with an SPF, make sure you're applying sunscreen first. And if your base makeup of choice contains an SPF below 30, you should still wear sunscreen, too, since the American Academy of Dermatology recommends wearing an SPF of at least 30 every single day if you plan on going outdoors (yes, even when it's rainy or cloudy).
With that in mind, scroll on for the best tinted moisturizers under $20.
1. Best Lightweight Tinted Moisturizer
If you're shopping for a lightweight tinted moisturizer that'll keep your skin looking and feeling hydrated all day long, the NYX Bare With Me Tinted Skin Veil is a great, affordable choice. The breathable formula was designed to feel comfortable on skin; aloe and cucumber offer soothing benefits, while traditional humectants like glycerin provide up to eight hours of hydration. The tinted moisturizer is available in 12 shades to suit a variety of different tones. One reviewer wrote, "It's really light so it doesn't feel like you have anything on."
- Available shades: Pale Light, Vanilla Nude, Natural Soft Beige, True Beige Buff, Beige Camel, Golden Camel, Cinnamon Mahogany, Nutmeg Sienna, Deep Sable, Deep Mocha, Deep Rich, Deep Espresso
2. Best Tinted Mineral Sunscreen
Part tinted moisturizer, part sunscreen, the Australian Gold Botanical Sunscreen Tinted Face Lotion is perfect for anyone who spends a lot of time outdoors. With an SPF of 50, it offers an extremely high level of sun protection, while its fragrance-free, mineral sunscreen formula makes it a safe choice for sensitive skin (it's also oil-free, so acne-prone skin types can use it without worry, too). From Australian Gold's botanical line, the tinted lotion is loaded with antioxidant-rich ingredients like kakadu plum, eucalyptus, and red algae. It's nongreasy and leaves behind a matte finish, though it's important to note that the shade in which it comes is designed for light to medium skin tones. Because it's oxybenzone-free, it's a more reef-friendly choice, too.
- Available shades: Only one shade
3. Best BB Cream
Maybelline's Dream Fresh BB cream combines the benefits of a sunscreen, primer, and tinted moisturizer in one. Though the shade range could certainly use expanding, the beauty balm offers plenty of good-for-skin benefits, including an SPF of 30 and a formula that's lightweight, hydrating, and oil-free. The Dream Fresh BB cream was created with drier skin types in mind, so if you have oily and/or acne-prone skin, check out the Dream Pure line, which was formulated with salicylic acid to fight breakouts and clogged pores.
4. Best BB Cream For Dark Skin
Formulated with darker skin tones in mind, the Iman Cosmetics Skin Tone Evener BB Crème is another multitasking formula that combines various makeup and skin-care benefits. Created to even out skin tone while providing light coverage, the BB cream is rich in antioxidants that help prevent free radical damage, including licorice, grape seed, and vitamins A, E, and C. It also contains aloe vera to soothe and hydrate skin; however, it only has an SPF of 15, which is on the low side — so be sure to apply a layer of sunscreen first.
5. Best CC Cream For Dark Skin
Another great tinted moisturizer-like option for darker skin tones is the CoverGirl Queen CC cream. Combining ingredients like niacinamide, allantoin, glycerin, and cucumber water to soothe and hydrate skin, it's a great option for any skin type (including sensitive). Being a CC cream, it was designed to help smooth the look of the skin, so expect natural-looking coverage and a more even skin tone.
6. Best Glow-Enhancing Moisturizer For Fair To Tan Skin
For light to tan skin tones, another option to consider is the Jergens Natural Glow Healthy Complexion Daily Facial Moisturizer. Though this moisturizer doesn't provide makeup-like coverage, instead, it works to promote a gradual tan with each application. The color deepens day by day, resulting in a natural-looking, just-came-back-from-vacation glow after about a week. The lightweight moisturizer also hydrates your skin, and it even offers some sun protection with an SPF of 20.
- Available shades: Fair to Medium, Medium to Tan
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