Hot, sticky summer days are made for light bases and tinted moisturizers, and no one loves these kinds of products more than me. Tinted moisturizers are pretty much my go-to base product for all times of the year to be honest; I like the moisture they lend my dry skin, the sheer-to-light coverage they provide, and the added skincare/sun protection properties they have. My holy grail for years has been the Bare Minerals Complexion Rescue, which ticks all the aforementioned boxes. I’ve talked about it loads on here already, so I’ll link up a bunch of posts below if you want to deep-dive.
What should be noted is that not all tinted moisturizers are created equal. Some have more coverage than others, more SPF protection than others, some actually have different finishes, and so on. I’ve long been on the hunt for a more affordable version of the Complexion Rescue (or something like the Complexion Rescue), but have always come up short. Drugstore tinted moisturizers just don’t seem to do much of anything for me in terms of hydration, finish or shade range. I never lost hope that I’d find a decent one one day, but I’m always quite skeptical it will beat out my holy grail.
However, when I heard Emilynoel83 talk about the Neutrogena Radiant Tinted Moisturizer in a recent YouTube video, I was immediately intrigued. I do love Neutrogena on the whole (particularly their skincare), so I was happy to promptly pick up a shade from my local CVS and start testing it against the Complexion Rescue. I believe this is a relatively new launch from them this year.
So let’s dive into the comparison of these two products now, category by category, and at the end I’ll discuss whether or not I think they are good dupes for each other, or simply just different-cost alternatives.
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There’s really not much between the two in this department. Both products are housed in plastic squeeze tubes that are very lightweight and super easy to throw in your handbag or makeup travel bag. The only real difference is that you can see the actual shade through the tube with the Neutrogena, whereas the Bare Minerals packaging is totally opaque. (I assume Neutrogena does this to make the shopping experience easier in the drugstore, where historically there have been no testers available.)
TEXTURE / CONSISTENCY
BARE MINERALS – thinner cream
NEUTROGENA – thicker cream
APPLICATION / BLENDING
Some housekeeping notes I need to mention first. Firstly, I apply and blend both with my hands and fingers. Secondly, I’ve applied both tinted moisturizers over the same base, namely the Supergoop Unseen Sunscreen SPF 40.
BARE MINERALS – easily glides over the skin, plus I’ve noticed that the product itself stretches further than the Neutrogena due to its thinner consistency (i.e. a little goes a long way).
NEUTROGENA – easily glides over the skin, but I’ve noticed that it starts to do weird things when you try to build up the layers. It clings to dry patches particularly around my nose, and can clump up if not blended properly.
BARE MINERALS – buildable sheer-to-light coverage. A total sweet spot for me!
NEUTROGENA – super sheer coverage and not buildable at all really. Suitable only if you truly love “no-makeup makeup.”
BARE MINERALS – what I’d call “naturally radiant”. Just enough glow to notice it, but not enough to look greasy. No shimmer in sight.
NEUTROGENA – definitely more radiant than the Bare Minerals but also contains a small amount of shimmer, which you can only see at close range in a mirror.
Of course, you always need to take into account weather conditions and your own skin type. My results may not match yours.
BARE MINERALS – solid wear throughout the day (i.e. 9-11 hours, un-powdered on my naturally dry skin).
NEUTROGENA – for as sheer as this is, it lasts on me quite well through a whole day’s wear; even through sweating!
Both products are similar in this department. Both contain an SPF of 30, although you probably shouldn’t completely rely on your makeup for sun protection; that’s why I usually layer this over the Supergoop. Plus, both products are quite hydrating as well, as you would hope and expect. My skin feels lovely and moisturized after applying both.
BARE MINERALS – 20 shades total, which is awesome for a tinted moisturizer range. The shades are quite well distributed between light to dark too. I wear the shade Opal, which is the lightest in the range.
NEUTROGENA – 3 shades total, and they all look quite similar to each other both online and in-store. I have the shade Sheer Ivory 10, the lightest in the range. Now, I realize this is a very sheer product so having 20 shades might not be necessary, but 3 is pretty atrocious. They should at least have brought out 5-7 well-distributed shades. Neutrogena is notoriously bad when it comes to this, which is so disappointing.
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BARE MINERALS – $33.00 for 35 ml of product.
NEUTROGENA – $14.99 for 32 ml of product
ARE THEY DUPES?
Unfortunately the Neutrogena Radiant Tinted Moisturizer and the Bare Minerals Complexion Rescue are NOT dupes for one another. If you want even a modicum of coverage and a much more robust selection of shades and undertones to choose from, you’ll go with the Complexion Rescue. If you don’t care much about coverage (especially during the summer), and just want the slightest bit of evening-out with lots of radiance, you’ll go with the Radiant Tinted Moisturizer. But just know that you have to fit into the fair/light to light/medium bucket to have any success with the latter.
Overall, the Radiant Tinted Moisturizer gets a solid “like” from me. I like the effect and hydrated feel it gives to my skin, but I wish it had just a bit more coverage. I also don’t see why it contains micro-shimmer either, because it has lovely glow anyway. Lastly the shade range massively needs to be revisited. I still prefer my holy grail Complexion Rescue!
Do you have a favorite drugstore tinted moisturizer? I’d love to know!
xo, and be well, Erica