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What It Is: Before we delve into lettered creams, it's important to start with this one since many women can't seem to figure out if it's still even needed. Think of tinted moisturizer as one grade below a foundation and remember that it still contains color. One of the best comparisons between the two comes from Valerie Monroe, Beauty Director at O Magazine.
"A tinted moisturizer is like a fancy espadrille, and a foundation is like a patent leather pump," Monroe wrote on oprah.com. "Meaning, the former gives you just a little less polish than the latter."
Monroe went on to explain that a tinted moisturizer hydrates and evens out the complexion. Tinted moisturizers usually contain less color pigment than foundation. A good choice is Bobbi Brown SPF 15 Tinted Moisturizer Oil Free ($42, bobbibrown.com).
Why You May (Or May Not) Need It: While it's important to keep in mind that you should always stick to using whichever formula feels best for your skin, remember that tinted moisturizers work wonders for women with dry skin who don't need tons of coverage. If more coverage is needed, use a concealer and then apply the tinted moisturizer on top.
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What It Is: The best description for BB Creams we found comes from Allure magazine editor Elizabeth Siegel.
"BB Creams are like tinted moisturizers on steroids," she wrote on allure.com.
The "BB" stands for beauty balms or blemish balms and they were first developed in Germany by a dermatologist who wanted one cream to protect skin and provide coverage after laser treatments, according to webmd.com. The creams then became a major hit in Asia before hitting the United States in 2011.
Why You May (Or May Not) Need It: Many BB Creams contain sun protection (usually SPF 30 or higher), anti-aging components, moisturizers, and light reflectors to help smooth out skin and leave a luminous finish.
However, BB Creams can be thicker than a tinted moisturizer and come in a limited shade range, so you may have to try a few brands before finding the perfect shade. Also, if you need an anti-acne product, these may not be for you as most don't contact acne fighting ingredients.
The great thing about BB Creams is that you can layer them underneath your current foundation because most act as a primer (meaning they help to keep your makeup looking fresh longer). Some women will find that a BB Cream is all they need and wear them alone since it meets all of their skincare and makeup needs. We like the Garnier BB Cream Miracle Skin Perfector ($10.79, target.com).
What It Is: Color Control cream (or Color Correcting cream) is a more refined version of the BB Cream. Unlike BB Creams, these don't have to be worn on top of your foundation if you need more coverage.
"To be worn on top of your moisturizer, instead of your foundation, CCs are an inspired new approach to base make-up," wrote Marie Claire UK's Jessica Lacey on marieclaire.co.uk.com. "Rather than cover up the good skin along with the bad, they have a sheer coverage that evens everything out. So any annoying redness, dullness and sallowness is all neutralized."
Why You (May Or May Not) Need It: If you have acne, dark spots, dull skin, or want something to prevent wrinkles, pick a CC Cream! Most women will find that CC Cream is just a lighter version of BB Creams. However, they definitely give more coverage and feel tons lighter. Plus, we've found that there's a better shade range so you're more likely to find a great skin tone match. We like the Clinique Moisture Surge CC Cream ($35, clinique.com).
What It Is: Just when you thought it was all going to end, a new one hits the market! Beauty brand Julep is the first we've heard of to launch a "Dynamic Do-All" (or DD) Cream in the U.S. this year.
While there are DD creams available in the U.K., according to cosmeticsdesign.com, a cosmetics news and information site, DD creams are actually defined in the U.S. as "heavy duty body and foot creams." It will be interesting to see if a broader range becomes available here.
Why You (May Or May Not) Need It: Since there is only one DD Creams currently on the market, it's hard to tell if this is the best pick. According to Julep, their DD Cream promises to "tackle signs of aging while diminishing fine lines, balancing uneven skin tone and protecting delicate areas of the face."
For now, it's probably wise to stick with your favorite tinted moisturizer, BB, or CC.