What beauty companies don’t want you to know about foundation

Emily asks… I’ve read in so many magazines that have said tinted moisturizers are better than foundation on the skin. What exactly is the difference between tinted moisturizers and liquid foundation apart from the fact that tinted moisturizers is lighter? I’ve also heard from some friends that tinted moisturizers are bad for your skin. So are tinted moisturizers good or bad?

The Right Brain responds:

Elizabeth Arden makes both kinds of products so let’s look at the ingredients in their Sheer Lights Illuminating Tinted Moisturizer and Bare Perfection Flawless Finish Foundation as an example. We won’t reprint all of the ingredients here but you can find them on Drugstore.com.

Both products contain sunscreens as active ingredients. They both use water as a solvent and they both contain mixtures of humectants (chemicals that bind water to skin) and emollients (oily chemicals that smooth skin and create a moisture barrier). Since these are emulsion-type products they both use surfactants that keep the water and oil soluble ingredients mixed together in a creamy base. Of course they both contain preservatives and ingredients to control the thickness and pH. And, since both are designed to give your skin a bit of color, they contain pigments. Specifically they both use iron oxides and titanium dioxide.

They sound pretty similar, don’t they? They are similar, but not identical. How are they different? Well, the amount of color they contain will vary and so will the consistency of the products. And the moisturizer version appears to have more humectants so we’d guess it will bind water to your skin better. But overall, they both are basically delivery vehicles for skin tinting pigments.

Given the similarities, it’s hard to imagine why one product would be “bad” for you and the other wouldn’t. Now, if you have very dry skin, you may prefer the moisturizing version. And likewise if your skin is oily, you might want to use the lighter version. But this isn’t a case of “good” versus “bad.” It’s more about finding what you like. (This reminds me of the question we had about the religious implications of using make up.)

The Beauty Brains Bottom Line:

Tinted moisturizers and foundations may look and feel different, but ultimately they function the same way. In case you didn’t realize, the beauty industry often takes similar products and makes them sound very different. There’s nothing wrong with that, as long as they’re honest about the products’ benefits. You’ll have to experiment with different products to cut through all this hype and and find the one that’s right for you.