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The answer lies in the names of the products.
A tinted sunblock is designed to protect your skin from the sun. The tint is usually added to balance out the white cast. As a result of this combination, it also offers light coverage and a smoothing effect on your skin.
A BB cream is meant to offer very light coverage, not much more than what you would get from a tinted sunscreen. It is also supposed to offer multiple benefits depending on the actives used in the formula. However, like with most “do everything” formulas, it isn’t very good at any one thing.
A foundation is meant for make-up and the primary function is coverage. You will also find some foundations with SPF in the market, along with a few other benefits, but you are better off choosing products designed to deliver what you need. Choose a foundation based on the look you want, not for the SPF or other actives in it.
BB cream and foundation are nice to have products. Sunblock is a must-have if you want to protect your skin from sun damage.
To understand layering better, read our blogs on what comes first, foundation or sunscreen, and the order in which to apply the products in your AM routine!