I’m not going to pretend to know anything about makeup. My experimentation only recently began with concealer, but I’ve recently dived headfirst into the world of tinted moisturizer, which has all of the properties of a classic moisturizer (hydration, sun protection, sometimes anti-aging effects) with a smidgen of color. I use it to cover up redness (my biggest problem), mask blemishes, and even make it look like I just got back from Holbox.
Experts and makeup purists are particular about the difference between tinted moisturizers, BB creams, and CC creams, but for the sake of simplicity, I’m going to include them all here because there’s not a huge amount of difference (BB creams are like foundation, sunscreen, and moisturizer all in one, while CC creams have additional color-correcting properties). What I look for is something that evens my skin tone effectively, doesn’t cause me to break out, and feels like nothing. I’ve tried literally dozens of tinted moisturizers and these are the best ones for men that I’ve found.
My all-around favorite tinted moisturizer
Erborian CC Creme was once described to me as the perfect hybrid between Korean technology and French luxury — I don’t know how true that is, but I can say it’s my favorite tinted moisturizer, for being lightweight while still providing great coverage. Of all the tinted moisturizers I tried, it blended most effortlessly and quickly into my skin. The color is encapsulated, which means it comes out of the tube white and turns into a nice skin tone once it’s rubbed in, like magic. A little goes a long way, which is good, because each tube is fairly small.
Best tinted moisturizer for beginners
The color in this one is also encapsulated and the tube is larger, which makes it feel more like a moisturizer than a color cosmetic. It’s like training-wheels tinted moisturizer: There is only a subtle amount of tint — just enough to even out your skin tone, but not so much that you wouldn’t want to put on a regular moisturizer after applying it. It sinks into the skin easily and the finish is powdery and matte, which is great for men. It doesn’t have SPF, though, so it’s better as a layer on top of sunscreen.
Best anti-aging tinted moisturizer
This is a one-and-done: a tinted moisturizer with vitamin C (skin-brightening), alpha-lipoic acid (anti-aging), and a mineral-based SPF 30. You can slap some on and just walk out the door. It kept my skin moisturized and smooth all day without being sticky (though I honestly am not sure I noticed much of a firming effect). It’s also not makeup-y — the tint is sheer enough that if you put a little too much on, it’s not the end of the world.
Best tinted moisturizer for a subtle tan effect
Unisex Glow is a little bit moisturizer and a little bit bronzer. It’s not great at covering up blemishes, but it does give a bit of a sun-kissed look — not quite as much as a self-tanner, but something a bit more “healthy” than “tan.” It’s especially effective when mixed with another moisturizer, since the formula is a little bit thicker.
Best tinted moisturizer for blemish coverage
I’ve found that some tinted moisturizers can be a little drying, which is why I love this face oil. It’s incredibly moisturizing and there is something about the oil formula that makes the color blend in with your skin quicker and more easily than it would with a cream (as long as you shake the bottle first). And once it was on my skin, it was so subtle that I barely remembered it was tinted at all — it’s more like a skin perfecter than something you’d use to darken your color. I was worried it would leave me shiny, but it was surprisingly matte, which could be why Rami Malek has been wearing it on the red carpet lately.
Best tinted moisturizer for spot treatment
It’s called Le Tint, but it’s the most like a foundation out of all the products I tried for this list. It’s a heavier, thicker formula, which is not necessarily a bad thing, since it also provides some of the silkiest, most complete coverage. It’s opaque enough to almost act like a concealer under your eyes or on blemishes if you use a little more in places. (I like to spot-treat with it first, than apply a layer over that to even everything out.) I like it when I need a little extra camouflage, and I’ll mix it with a regular moisturizer for a more sheer effect. It has SPF 25, too, and is easy enough to apply with your hands (if, like me, you have no idea how to use a sponge).
Best tinted moisturizer for acne-prone skin
If you suffer from breakouts, bringing another skin-care product into your life may be something you want to avoid, but that sucks, because acne is what tinted moisturizers cover up really well. This one is super lightweight and you can barely feel it on your face even with the SPF in there. It’s also non-comedogenic (won’t get in your pores) and contains moisturizing hyaluronic acid and anti-inflammatory colloidal oatmeal.