Base 101: When to Use Foundation, Tinted Moisturizer, or BB/CC Cream

Stylisted - Base 101: When to Use Foundation, Tinted Moisturizer, or BB/CC Cream

Choosing a base product can be tough and choosing the right one for the right occasion can be even more confusing. Top it off with words like CC and BB and who knows what you’re applying to your face! So we thought we’d break it down for you and offer some handy advice on what to use when to use foundation, tinted moisturizer, or BB/CC cream.


We love foundation for days you need a little extra coverage. While it doesn’t always have to be like this – some foundations are actually pretty light! – the heavy amount of pigment in a foundation makes them stand apart from tinted moisturizer and bb/cc cream. When choosing to wear foundation, we prefer a demi-matte finish to combat any oiliness without making our skin look cakey/excessively dry. For going out or an occasion of flash photography, we turn to Charlotte Tilbury’s Magic Foundation or Dior Airflash Foundation, though we’re dying to try the new Urban Decay All Nighter, which we’ve heard such good things out! Our #1 tip: stay away from SPF for any flash photography occasion so you don’t look too washed out! Stay tuned next week for our favorite secret foundation trick!


We love tinted moisturizer for our most casual days, like a Sunday at home or running errands. With the least (or customizable!) amount of coverage, we find it evens out our skin tone rather than perfecting or concealing it, which can be great! Though it can be tough to use on its own when you’re having a particularly bad skin day and concealer alone can’t solve the problems. To get around those days, without having to wear our normal foundation, we like using a powder foundation like BareMinerals Original, on top of the tinted moisturizer for extra coverage without the cakey feel. Like many women, our go-to tinted moisturizer of choice is Laura Mercier’s Oil-free, though you know we love the Jouer Matte one, too! We teamed up with Stylisted artist, Alexandra Garrett, to even show you how to make your own tinted moisturizer! This routine is perfect for when you run out of your current one, or if you just feel like playing scientist for the day! It’s especially helpful when you want a makeup artist to give you a “full-face” effect, without the heavy feel, because it’s entirely customizable!


While technically 2 entirely different products, we like to lump BB and CC Cream together, as they have a similar background. BB Cream *typically* has more coverage, though many Western BB Creams don’t entirely fall into the traditional BB Cream category. A good BB Cream should have skin-enhancing and benefiting properties and a high SPF, unlike most tinted moisturizers. We tend to choose a BB Cream for our everyday use, having continuously repurchased Dior’s Diorskin Nude BB Cream time and time again. Though Dior’s isn’t the most traditional BB Cream out there, we love it for its convenient packaging, spot-on color match (though the color range is VERY limited!), and addition of SPF. It’s the perfect lightweight, creamy base that can be easily blended in with fingers, a brush, or a sponge. It also provides us just a touch more coverage than most of our tinted moisturizers, making it work double-duty as our everyday concealer, too.

You might notice our lack of comments on CC Cream. It’s true, we’re not the biggest fan and still don’t understand them ourselves. They’re very light coverage and typically do have skin-benefiting ingredients or skincare properties, but we’re much happier just turning to a BB or tinted moisturizer, rather than adding another product to the mix. And don’t even get us started on DD or EE!

Base 101: When to Use Foundation, Tinted Moisturizer, or BB/CC Cream

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