Best Drugstore CC Creams

Updated December 2021
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Buying guide for Best drugstore CC creams

For some people, foundation is an essential part of their makeup routine because it evens out skin tone and covers blemishes. For others, foundation is too heavy and thick for comfort. Enter drugstore CC cream, an ideal foundation alternative that addresses skin tone concerns while providing skin health benefits.

CC cream is color-correcting cream. Unlike tinted moisturizer, which doesn’t offer much coverage, CC cream evens out skin tone while covering dark spots and redness. The feature that really sets drugstore CC cream apart from tinted moisturizer, and even foundation, is the host of benefits it delivers to your skin. 

Drugstore CC cream contains SPF to protect your skin from harmful UV rays. Many CC creams feature anti-aging ingredients that instantly enhance tone and clarity while improving the long-term look of skin.

With so many drugstore CC creams to choose from, it can be tough to narrow your options. Consider your skin type, the degree of coverage you want, the SPF you need, and any other features you require when shopping. Our buying guide provides the tips and information you need to find the best drugstore CC cream for your makeup bag.

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Thanks to its lighter texture, CC cream is usually less likely to clog the pores and cause breakouts than foundation.

Key considerations

Skin type

CC creams focus on color correction, but many also contain ingredients that target visible signs of aging. Variation exists in terms of formula, so you are likely to find a good CC cream regardless of your skin type. The key is to find the right formula for your skin.

  • Mature skin: For mature skin, choose a CC cream that contains anti-aging ingredients, such as peptides and antioxidants like vitamins A, C, and E. 
  • Dry skin: For dry skin, opt for a formula with hydrating ingredients like hyaluronic acid
  • Oily skin: For oily or acne-prone skin, choose an oil-free, non-comedogenic CC cream that won’t clog pores and trigger a breakout. 


CC cream typically doesn't offer as much coverage as foundation, but some formulas cover more than others. 

  • Sheer: If you only need your CC cream to even out your skin tone, any option, even those with sheer coverage, would probably work well. 
  • Light: If you want to cover slight blemishes and dark spots, opt for a CC cream with light coverage.
  • Medium: A medium-coverage CC cream can cover many blemishes and dark spots but isn’t suitable for covering birthmarks or other extreme hyperpigmentation.

Keep in mind that most CC creams offer buildable coverage, which means you can use several layers of the product to customize your coverage depending on your needs. Buildable product does not get cakey or heavy when layered. 


Nearly all drugstore CC creams contain SPF, but some offer greater sun protection than others. Most range from SPF15 to SPF50. For the most effective protection, look for a formula with a broad spectrum SPF of at least 30. 

A sheer or light-coverage drugstore CC cream can work well as a color-correcting primer for your favorite foundation.



Shade range

Drugstore CC cream doesn’t offer the same coverage or pigmentation that foundation does. Therefore, getting an exact shade match isn’t quite as important. As a result, CC cream typically isn’t available in many different shades. That said, some brands provide more shade options than others. 

Some formulas come in just two shades, such as light and deep. Others offer as many as 12 shades. The more shades you have to choose from, the better chance you have of matching your skin tone, which is key for natural-looking makeup.


Most CC creams have a dewy or luminous finish because they're geared toward mature or dry skin, which can often use some help in the glow department. However, you can also find formulas with a satin or natural finish. These formulas aren’t as glowy or shiny — a good choice for those who prefer a subtle makeup look.

If you have oily skin, opt for a drugstore CC cream with a matte finish. It doesn’t add any glow or shine, so it won’t make your skin look greasy. 


Some drugstore CC creams come in a squeeze tube. This is a convenient option if you’re concerned with getting every last bit of product out of the tube. Other creams come in a pump dispenser. It can be harder to get all of the cream out of a container with a pump, but you have more control over how much product is dispensed for each application. 


Like many makeup and skincare products, some CC creams are pleasantly fragranced. Notably, if you have sensitive skin, artificial fragrance may cause irritation or redness. To avoid the chance of irritation, opt for a fragrance-free CC cream. 


If you prefer to buy from brands that don’t practice animal testing, you have a few options for drugstore CC creams. Look for a formula clearly labeled as cruelty-free: most brands use the certified cruelty-free bunny logo on their packaging to specify that they don’t test on animals. 

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While the SPF that CC cream offers can protect your skin, it’s best to wear a dedicated sunscreen under the cream for the most comprehensive protection.


Makeup sponge: EcoTools Perfecting Blender Duo
You can apply CC cream with your fingers, but it’s easier to achieve an airbrushed look with a makeup sponge. We love this option from EcoTools because it includes one sponge for application and a second mini detail blender. Both products are vegan and cruelty-free. 

Facial mask: Freeman Facial Mask Variety Set
A facial mask isn’t just about pampering your skin; it’s about taking care of it. With this set of four masks from Freeman, you have a variety of choices at your fingertips. The cucumber peel-off mask is designed to renew and refresh. The Dead Sea mineral clay mask clears pores. The charcoal mask is designed for cleansing and clearing. The avocado mask cleans and nourishes. Keep your favorite bottle and give the others to friends, or keep them all for yourself. 

Drugstore CC cream prices

Drugstore CC cream varies in price based on ingredients and coverage. Most CC creams cost between $5 and $23

Inexpensive: The most affordable drugstore CC creams are sheer and usually have a low SPF. They typically don’t contain anti-aging ingredients, either. These CC creams generally cost between $5 and $10.

Mid-range: For $10 to $17, you will find drugstore CC creams that provide light coverage and at least SPF15. These formulas typically contain one or two active anti-aging ingredients.

Expensive: The priciest drugstore CC creams typically provide medium coverage and at least SPF30. They contain two or more active anti-aging ingredients, too. These CC creams generally cost between $17 and $23

For a natural, no-makeup makeup look, start with a small amount of CC cream and only apply more in the areas where you need it.



  • Don’t forget to moisturize. While many CC creams contain hydrating ingredients, you should still apply a moisturizer beforehand to create a smooth canvas. This is an especially important step if you have dry skin. 
  • Consider your application method. The best way to apply CC cream is with clean fingers or a makeup sponge. Whichever method you choose, blend the cream in a circular motion to achieve a flawless finish. 
  • Work outward. You’ll get the best results if you start applying the CC cream at the center of your face and blend outward, toward the edges. 
  • Use extra product on blemishes. If there are blemishes or dark spots that you want to cover, you can apply additional CC cream. Make sure to blend well for a seamless finish. 
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Because CC cream is designed to color correct, it’s an ideal foundation alternative if you have redness, blotchiness, or other hyperpigmentation that you want to neutralize.


Q. Do I need to wear a primer with CC cream? 

A. You don’t necessarily have to use a primer before you apply CC cream. If you have enlarged pores or fine lines and wrinkles that you want to fill in, however, a primer can help smooth out your skin to provide the perfect canvas for CC cream. A primer can also help CC cream wear longer, which is important if you need your makeup to last all day. 

Q. Should I set drugstore CC cream with powder? 

A. It depends on your skin type. You’ll probably want to set the CC cream with translucent powder if you have oily skin. This helps eliminate shine and makes your makeup last longer by absorbing excess oil that might otherwise break down the CC cream. If you have dry skin, you may not want to use powder over the CC cream. It can cling to dry patches and tone down the glow that the cream creates. 

Q. What is the shelf life of drugstore CC cream? 

A. It varies from formula to formula, but most CC creams last six months to a year once opened. Throw away any cream that starts to change in terms of texture, consistency, or smell, regardless of how old it is.


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