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The natural makeup trend and no-makeup makeup look aren't new by any means, but they're still going strong all this time later. We can't say we're surprised—there's a definite time and place for full glam, but sometimes a little tinted moisturizer and a few sweeps of mascara is all it takes to feel put together.
A hybrid between a lightweight foundation and a cream, tinted moisturizer does exactly what it sounds like: It hydrates the skin but also leaves behind pigment for light to medium coverage over imperfections. As you'd expect, there are plenty of different tinted moisturizers out there to choose from—from matte to dewy finishes and even options for combination or acne-prone skin. Many are also formulated with SPF, which is never a bad thing in our book.
We scoured the internet for the best tinted moisturizers out there and tapped celebrity makeup artist Tobi Henney for her favorites. Our picks, below.
Best Overall: NARS Pure Radiant Tinted Moisturizer SPF 30
Shade Range: 16 | Finish: Radiant | Size: 1.9 fl. oz.
This NARS tinted moisturizer is at the top of our list for a reason: it basically does it all. Formulated with skin-loving ingredients like vitamin C and mineral-rich seawater, this product brightens and hydrates the skin—not to mention provides broad-spectrum SPF 30 protection—for a flawless finish. Trust. “I love the color range in this collection," says Henney. "There’s definitely a shade for everyone, and it’s such a beautiful formula that can be used daily. The SPF is a bonus too!”
Best Drugstore: L'Oréal Paris True Match Lumi Glotion & Makeup Highlighter
Shade Range: 4 | Finish: Illuminating | Size: 0.28 fl. oz.
L'Oreal's True Match line is a drugstore staple for a reason, and this tinted moisturizer doesn't disappoint either. Its lightweight formula delivers an effortless glow while nourishing the skin, thanks to ingredients like glycerin and shea butter. We also love that it's versatile—you can mix it with your foundation, use it as a primer, or substitute it for your foundation.
Best Budget: Wet n Wild Bare Focus Tinted Hydrator Tinted Skin Veil
Shade Range: 8 | Finish: Semi-Matte | Size: 0.91 fl. oz.
This tinted moisturizer from Wet n Wild is proof that you don’t need to splurge for healthy, glowy skin. The buildable formula provides sheer-to-medium coverage and is packed with good-for-you ingredients like hyaluronic acid and vegan squalane, leaving the skin supple and smooth with a natural semi-matte finish. Plus, it's oil-free, so those with oily and acne-prone skin can slather this on without fear of clogging their pores.
Best Splurge: Chatecaille Just Skin Tinted Moisturizer
Shade Range: 7 | Finish: Natural | Size: 1.7 fl. oz.
Okay, fine—some products are worth the splurge, and this tinted moisturizer from Chantecaille is a prime example. Not only does it provide light coverage to mask imperfections, but it boasts plenty of skincare benefits, too. The formula is infused with tons of antioxidant botanical extracts like edelweiss, honeysuckle, and green tea to soothe and protect the skin from free radicals and smog, while sodium hyaluronate seals in moisture and helps smooth out pesky fine lines. It also offers SPF 15 protection, but don’t forget to apply additional sunscreen!
Best for Dry Skin: Tarte Maracuja Tinted Hydrator
Hyaluronic acid is a naturally occurring polysaccharide found in the human body. It acts as a cushioning and lubrication agent for our joints, nerves, hair, skin, and eyes. When used in skincare, it acts as a moisture binder, which means that it will attach itself to the water in the cells (while also attracting and holding water from the air) making them plump.
Shade Range: 20 | Finish: Natural | Size: 1 fl. oz.
Calling all beauty lovers with dry skin—Tarte's Tinted Hydrator is made just for you. In addition to skin-brightening maracuja oil, its formula contains hyaluronic acid for a burst of hydration while aloe and turmeric root extract soothe any redness. Plus, it's vegan, cruelty-free, and gluten-free.
Best for Oily Skin: Yves Saint Laurent Touché Eclat All-In-One Glow
Vitamin E is an antioxidant vitamin and oil often found in anti-oxidant blend topicals or moisturizers. It also helps soothe the skin and protects the lipid barrier.
Shade Range: 12 | Finish: Radiant | Size: 1 fl. oz.
Have oily skin? Reach for YSL's tinted moisturizer. It's oil-free, for starters, but doesn't skimp on skin-friendly benefits, thanks to hydrating hyaluronic acid as well as vitamin E, which helps shield against free radicals to promote a refreshed, youthful complexion. Also, because it's a medium-coverage formula, it's perfect for everyday wear.
Best for Mature Skin: Smashbox Halo Healthy Glow Tinted Moisturizer Broad Spectrum SPF 25
Shade Range: 12 | Finish: Dewy | Size: 1.4 fl. oz.
If you have mature skin, stock up on this Smashbox tinted moisturizer, ASAP. The ultra-hydrating formula is infused with rose extract, hyaluronic acid, niacinamide, goji berries, gold (!), and peptides to condition, protect, and perfect the skin for up to 24 hours. It has a built-in primer allowing for all-day comfortable wear, and you can trust that it won’t crease, cake, or settle into fine lines and wrinkles. Plus, it provides broad spectrum SPF 25 protection.
Best for Light Skin: Tarte Amazonian Clay BB Tinted Moisturizer Broad Spectrum SPF 20
Shade Range: 7 | Finish: Natural | Size: 1.7 fl. oz.
Seeking a flawless complexion but want to avoid heavy makeup? Look no further than this multitasking BB cream-tinted moisturizer hybrid from Tarte. Thanks to skin-balancing Amazonian clay, chamomile, vitamins A, C, and E, and sodium hyaluronate, it’ll hydrate, brighten, treat, and protect against free radical damage, all while diffusing the look of imperfections with mineral pigments. It comes in ten different shades with plenty to flatter a range of lighter skin tones, plus it offers SPF 20 to protect your skin further.
Best for Medium Skin: Laura Mercier Natural Tinted Moisturizer
Shade Range: 20 | Finish: Dewy | Size: 1.7 fl. oz.
This Laura Mercier tinted moisturizer comes in an impressive 20 shades, with plenty to flatter medium, olive, and tan skin tones. But that's not the only reason we're on board—its skincare benefits are real, too. Macadamia and kukui oils promote healthy skin function, while tamarind seed extract provides antioxidant protection and vitamins C and E shield against environmental stressors. To top it off, it provides broad-spectrum SPF 30 protection from the sun's damaging UV rays. “This is a long time favorite of mine, and many of my model friends love to wear it too,” says Henney. “It comes in a great selection of shades to suit all different skin tones.”
Best for Dark Skin: The Lip Bar Just a Tint 3-in-1 Tinted Skin Conditioner with SPF 11
Shade Range: 8 | Finish: Natural | Size: 1 fl. oz.
This tinted moisturizer from The Lip Bar offers a trifecta of skincare benefits: It hydrates, perfects the complexion, and helps to protect against the sun’s harmful UV rays. The oil-free formula keeps skin supple and smooth and is packed with moisture-boosting hyaluronic acid, rose water, Irish sea moss extract and cucumber extract. The best part? You can wear it alone for a natural glow or under foundation as a skin-protecting primer. It’s available in eight different shades with plenty of options for those with dark to deep skin tones.
Best Shade Range: Fenty Beauty by Rihanna Eaze Drop Blurring Skin Tint
Shade Range: 25 | Finish: Natural | Size: 1 fl. oz.
Rihanna is the queen of catering to all skin tones, and she certainly didn’t disappoint with the launch of the Eaze Drop Blurring Skin Tint. Available in 25 flexible shade options, this lightweight tinted moisturizer instantly blurs skin imperfections and evens out the complexion, making it the perfect choice for anyone looking to achieve an effortless no-makeup makeup look. Plus, the long-wear formula is humidity-, sweat-, and transfer-resistant, so you can trust that it won’t budge.
Best Serum: ILIA Super Serum Skin Tint SPF 40
Shade Range: 30 | Finish: Dewy | Size: 1 fl. oz.
We'll just say it: we're obsessed with ILIA's Super Serum Skin Tint. A skincare-makeup-SPF hybrid, this revolutionary clean serum provides the perfect amount of coverage while nourishing the skin with plant-based squalane, niacinamide, and hyaluronic acid, as well as mineral SPF protection. “ILIA is such a beautiful brand with all-natural ingredients, so this is perfect for someone who is into clean beauty,” says Henney. “I love this formula, as it can be melted into the skin with your fingers and the SPF 40 is great for anyone who’s in the sun a lot.”
Need more convincing? When Byrdie contributing writer Tanya Akim tried this product, it passed her 12-hour wear test with flying colors—in the Los Angeles summer heat, no less! We're sold.
Best Oil: Kosas Cosmetics Tinted Face Oil
Shade Range: 16 | Finish: Satin | Size: 1 fl. oz.
A tinted face oil? Now that’s an innovation we can get behind. The nourishing formula is chock full of skin-loving oils that hydrate, balance, and brighten the skin: avocado, meadowfoam, red raspberry, jojoba, camellia seed, and rosehip seed. But don’t be put off by this product’s oily texture—it’s actually quite lightweight and can be used by oily and combination skin types. The result? Dewy, glowy skin that’s oh so soft and supple.
What Our Editors Say
"It adds a dewy, natural-looking glow to all the high points of the face. But most surprising? It doesn’t feel greasy at all ... I’ve also gotten more compliments on my skin than ever since wearing it, which is the sign of a holy grail product if you ask me." —Byrdie Contributor Olivia Muenter
Best Stick: Milk Makeup Sunshine Skin Tint
Shade Range: 14 | Finish: Dewy | Size: 0.54 fl. oz.
Milk Makeup is known for its innovative vegan makeup and skincare products, but we venture that its Sunshine Skin Tint is one of the brand's best. Formulated with avocado, mandarin, grapeseed, jojoba, and olive oils, it hydrates and protects the skin for an effortless, dewy finish. Plus, because of its creative packaging, it's super easy to throw in your purse or bag.
Best Gel: Pixi H2O SkinTint
Green tea is a botanical derived from the leaves and buds of the tea plant Camellia sinensis. The active components of green tea are polyphenols (also called catechins) that are believed to benefit the skin due to their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
Shade Range: 14 | Finish: Natural | Size: 1.18 fl. oz.
Refreshing isn't the first word the comes to mind when we think of makeup, necessarily, but this water-based tinted moisturizer is exactly that—and we're all for it. Formulated with skin-loving ingredients like green tea, rose water, and lavender, it has a lightweight cooling feel when applied—and because it's water-resistant, it stays put all day, even during the sweaty summer months. It's also fragrance-free, so it's great for those with sensitive skin.
Best Gel-Cream: bareMinerals Complexion Rescue Tinted Hydrating Gel Cream SPF 30
Shade Range: 20 | Finish: Natural | Size: 1.18 fl. oz.
This unique gel-cream tinted moisturizer from bareMinerals is a total game changer. It provides sheer-to-light buildable coverage, is formulated with clean ingredients, and packs in plenty of hydrating benefits thanks to hyaluronic acid and vegan squalane. “I am in love with this formula,” raves Henney. “It’s great for dry to normal skin types and looks super fresh and dewy.” The best part of all? It provides mineral-based SPF 30 sun protection against UV rays.
What Our Editors Say
“In terms of texture, this product has everything else beat. It's whipped (read: feels pillowy) but also cooling and gel-like at the same time ... Plus, it's multitasking, too. Complexion Rescue combines hydrating skincare benefits with the sheer (but buildable, if you so choose) coverage I'd been dreaming of. And it incorporates a mineral-based sunscreen for safe and effective, non-chemical sun protection." —Byrdie Associate Editorial Director Hallie Gould
Best Sheer Finish: Glossier Perfecting Skin Tint
Shade Range: 12 | Finish: Dewy | Size: 1 fl. oz.
When Glossier debuted Skin Tint in 2014 as one of its four original product launches, it made waves immediately for delivering ultra-sheer coverage with a dewy finish. Five years later, at the end of 2019, it got an update that we're not mad about, to say the least. Not only did the brand expand the product's shade range (from five to 12), it also updated its pigment treatment for a smoother application. Basically, it's still that perfect-skin-in-a-bottle vibe, just better.
Best Full-Coverage: IT Cosmetics Bye Bye Foundation Full-Coverage Moisturizer
Shade Range: 12 | Finish: Natural | Size: 1 fl. oz.
Many of our favorite tinted moisturizers provide light-to-medium coverage, but if a full-coverage formula is your thing, look no further than this one from IT Cosmetics. It's designed to cover hyperpigmentation, acne scars, and more—all without any cracking or creasing, thanks to the brand's proprietary 3D Skin Flex Technology, which prevents flexible pure color pigments from sinking into fine lines and wrinkles. This product also contains SPF 50 mineral sunscreen, as well as diamond powder for a naturally radiant finish.
Best Soothing: First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Tinted Moisturizer SPF 30
Shade Range: 10 | Finish: Illuminating | Size: 1 fl. oz.
First Aid Beauty is all about sensitive skin-friendly products that don't just solve problems like acne, dry skin, and excess oil—they prevent them, too. The brand's Ultra Repair tinted moisturizer is no exception. Formulated with colloidal oatmeal, hyaluronic acid, and vitamin E, this product packs a soothing, nourishing punch. An added bonus? It provides broad-spectrum SPF 30 protection.
Best for Tired Skin: Origins GinZing SPF 40 Energy-Boosting Tinted Moisturizer
Shade Range: 1 | Finish: Radiant | Size: 1.7 fl. oz.
It's no secret a cup of coffee is the ultimate (and often necessary) pick-me-up, but according to dermatologists, caffeine can energize the skin, too. For this reason, this Origins tinted moisturizer is our pick for dull, tired skin—it contains coffee and ginseng to promote a refreshed, vibrant complexion.
We can’t stress enough just how great the NARS Pure Radiant Tinted Moisturizer SPF 30 truly is. The formula provides buildable coverage in addition to brightening, hydrating, protecting the skin with SPF 30. Plus, it comes in plenty of shades to flatter all skin tones. And because we're big fans of a dewy complexion, the bareMinerals Complexion Rescue Tinted Hydrating Gel Cream SPF 30 is another one of our top picks. Its unique gel-cream texture is super hydrating, providing glowy, sheer-to-light coverage with ample sun protection. Finally, when we’re looking to keep our wallets in check, there’s no better option than Wet n Wild’s Bare Focus Tinted Hydrator Tinted Skin Veil. For less than lunch, we can get flawless, supple skin with the most gorgeous semi-matte finish—and, more importantly, not a clogged pore in sight.
What to Look for in a Tinted Moisturizer
Amount of Coverage
When it comes to tinted moisturizers, it’s important to remember that they won’t provide the same amount of coverage as your foundation and are less likely to mask any prominent blemishes or imperfections. How much coverage they do offer will vary from product to product, though it generally ranges from sheer to medium. That said, keep your own needs in mind when shopping around—someone looking to address uneven tone will have better luck with medium coverage, while someone looking to simply enhance their natural complexion may prefer sheer.
We all know the importance of applying (and reapplying) your SPF every single day. That said, Henney recommends looking for tinted moisturizers that have built-in SPF. The more the merrier, but look for products that contain SPF of at least 30 in order skip an extra step in your morning routine. Anything lower, and you’ll still need to apply your regular daily SPF underneath.
The beauty of tinted moisturizers is that they’re super hydrating, but much like coverage, the texture of the formula will vary from product to product. Henney recommends looking for a product with a creamy formula that truly feels like a moisturizer. “This way, you can melt it into your skin with your fingers for hassle-free application,” she says. Just look for one with a semi-matte or matte finish if you’re on the oilier side.
What’s the difference between tinted moisturizer and foundation?
When it comes to deciphering the differences between tinted moisturizer and foundation, it’s all about the coverage. While tinted moisturizers add a tint of color, they typically range from sheer to medium in terms of coverage, whereas foundations are usually a better option for masking blemishes, uneven tone, and other visible imperfections. Of course, that doesn’t mean there aren’t sheer foundations and full-coverage tinted moisturizers out there. Additionally, tinted moisturizers also have the moisturizing aspect to them. They’re usually brimming with hydrating ingredients, whereas most foundations aren’t.
Henney looks at it this way: Tinted moisturizers are best for everyday wear when you want a light, effortless look with a natural, healthy glow. For moments you need the extra coverage, reach for foundation.
How do you apply tinted moisturizer?
There's no set rules for how tinted moisturizer should be applied, but according to Henney, it's best to either use your fingers or a brush. “I personally love to apply it with my fingers, but alternatively, you can buff it on with a makeup brush. I love using the It Cosmetics Heavenly Luxe Complexion Perfection Brush #7 for applying tinted moisturizers,” she says.
Do you put tinted moisturizer on before primer?
Because tinted moisturizer is a makeup-skincare hybrid, it can be confusing to know when exactly it should be applied. If you’re going to use a primer as the first step of your makeup routine, Henney suggests applying it before your tinted moisturizer. “This way it’ll do its job, whether it’s to control oil or add more of a glow,” she says.
How do you remove tinted moisturizer?
Because tinted moisturizer is, well, tinted, it should be treated like any other makeup when it comes to removing it. You can pretty much use any makeup remover of your choice, be it an oil cleanser or a micellar water, or anything in between. However, because they’re so light, you probably won’t need to use anything heavy duty in order for it to wash away. “I love to use either Bioderma’s Micellar Waters with a cotton pad or wash my face in the shower with a cleanser like Purity Clean from CosMedix,” says Henney.
Meet the Expert
Tobi Henney is a bi-coastal makeup artist known for creating flawless, glowing skin. Her celebrity clientele includes the likes of Megan Fox and Ashley Graham and her work can be seen across the ad campaigns of major brands and in the editorials of the top fashion magazines. She originally hails from Sydney, where she was previously the L’Oréal Paris Makeup Director for Australia.
According to our Diversity Pledge, 15% of products in our newly-published market roundups will feature Black-owned and/or Black-founded brands. At the time of publishing, we were not able to find enough tinted moisturizers from Black-owned and/or Black-founded businesses to meet this percentage. If you know of one we should consider, please email us at email@example.com and we will evaluate the product ASAP.