We put ILIA's Super Serum Skin Tint SPF 40 to the test after receiving a complimentary sample from the brand. Keep reading for our full product review.
Anyone who knows me knows that I love foundation. Correction–I love certain foundations. When I find ones that I like, I hoard them like some kind of giant Italian river rat gathering bread rolls. My ideal foundation is simple: something that produces perfect, glowing, even skin that’s visually undetectable, even up-close and in daylight. Oh, and it should double as a skin treatment.
Given all this, I was especially excited to try ILIA's Super Serum Skin Tint SPF 40, a foundation-suncare hybrid that comes in 18 shades and features a fancy form of zinc oxide for broad-spectrum SPF 40 protection. In other words, it checks all my boxes—plus, Byrdie HQ is already a fan (it won the title of best foundation in our 2020 Eco Awards). But did it pass my 12-hour wear test? Read on to find out.
ILIA Super Serum Skin Tint SPF 40
Star Rating: 5 / 5
Best For: Normal, dry, combination, and oily skin
Uses: Foundation, SPF, smoothing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles
Key Ingredients: Zinc oxide, plant-based squalane, hyaluronic acid, niacinamide
Byrdie Clean?: Yes
About the Brand: ILIA Beauty is a line of clean, organic makeup products that are packed with good-for-the-skin ingredients.
About My Skin: Sensitive and breakout-prone
I have super sensitive skin that can break out at a moment’s notice. Even though my complexion has been looking pretty good lately, I do have a couple of breakouts healing on my cheek and chin, and my eyes have the same usual veiny discoloration that borders on Frankenstein depending on my sleep quality. Usually, pre-foundation, I prime my skin with either squalane oil or Dr. Barbara Sturm’s Face Cream Rich, but since the Skin Tint has squalane oil already, I skipped any prep.
Ingredients: Clean coverage and sun protection
Many all-natural and organic products break me out, usually thanks to potent or pore-clogging essential oils. When I spoke to Sasha Plavsic, ILIA's founder, at the launch of this product earlier this year, she told me she struggled with the same issues—which is one of the reasons why she wanted to make Skin Tint a treatment and a makeup product. In addition to plant-based squalane, one of the most hydrating and non-comedogenic oils available on the market, Skin Tint also has niacinamide, which is a form of vitamin B3 known to treat breakouts and congestion. This product also contains two forms of hyaluronic acid to deliver a hydrating boost and help smooth the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
In terms of SPF, this formula uses a special form of zinc oxide to provide broad-spectrum SPF 40 protection. For Plavsic, it was the hardest part of making this product. "Most non-nano zinc—when zinc has been reduced to a smaller sized particle—has a silicone coating on the pigment," she says. The result of this is something she calls "ghosting"—or, rather, the product has a white cast when first applied. However, once the product oxides after 30 to 60 seconds, the cast disappears.
This product is also vegan, cruelty-free, and gluten-free, and passes Byrdie's Clean Beauty Pledge with flying colors. It also comes in recyclable (not to mention Insta-worthy) packaging.
The Feel & Scent: Similar to my favorite HA serums
I'm not exaggerating when I say the texture of this product is amazing—it feels like one of my favorite hyaluronic acid serums. The finish is super dewy and the coverage is light-to-medium but very easily buildable. The consistency is liquid-like and reminds me of my beloved Kosas Tinted Face Oil. Also, there's absolutely no fragrance, so it's great for those with sensitive skin.
The Results: A 12-hour wear test
My favorite way to assess foundation is by doing a 12-hour wear test. I work from home, so I rarely wear foundation for longer than three or four hours. However, making sure a foundation can wear throughout the day is important, so a 12-hour test seems like the best metric for me. Read below to see exactly how ILIA’s brand new Skin Tint stacked up.
8 a.m.: Plavsic told me to shake the product really well before applying it. I use my fingers to smear the Skin Tint on dry, freshly-exfoliated skin.
9 a.m.: The product is fully soaked into my skin like a ladyfinger in tiramisu. I dermaplane regularly once a week, so I think that products generally absorb better on my face since it lacks peach fuzz and dead skin.
10 a.m.: I powder my nose a bit because I’m going to an art fair with a guy I’m obsessed with, and I’ll probably be sweating from nerves. To my surprise, my pores look pretty good and unnoticeable. That’s rare for me with a product without silicones.
1p.m.: I go to the bathroom during my day-date to check my face. It looks really even and dewy, despite two glasses of champagne and direct sun. I reapply my beloved Clé de Peau Corrector to a couple of spots of discoloration. It’s a sunny, 70-degree day in L.A., yet my oil levels are not crazy by any means.
3 p.m.: It’s time for sushi after the art fair, and the maître d’ compliments my skin. I’m over the moon. I could use a little bit more powder around my T-zone. Luckily, Laura Mercier makes a translucent powder small enough to fit into my tiny purses (it even comes with a teeny puff!). I re-powder before the green tea mochi comes out.
5:30 p.m.: My skin feels really good, and not cakey like I'd expect after wearing foundation all day. I’m checking for my biggest pet-peeves: creasing and dry patches. I see a little dryness around my mouth, but a dry chin is normal for me, thanks to perioral dermatitis. I head out for an early dinner.
8 p.m.: My day of testing ILIA’s brand new Skin Tint is complete, and the results are clear: this product is that Bengal cat’s pajamas.
The Value: Worth the hype (and the price)
For $46, ILIA’s Super Serum Skin Tint offers 1 ounce of product and a lifelong change in perspective. I’m newly obsessed with micronized zinc thanks to this—I love the way it gives my skin a healthy glow while providing superior sun protection. Many consumers have reported that their certain popular shades have been selling out online very quickly, but I’ve been told by the brand that they will keep regular restocks running, so stay on the waitlist. You’ll be glad you did.
ILIA Super Serum Skin Tint vs. Kosas Tinted Face Oil
While the patent-pending micronized zinc that Sasha Plavsic orchestrated makes ILIA’s Super Serum Skin Tint stand out, there is one industry competitor in particular that comes to mind: Kosas Tinted Face Oil, which is priced at $42 for 1 ounce. While the Kosas product is also a makeup-cum-skincare product, it lacks sunscreen and acne-fighting ingredient niacinamide. And while the packaging is travel friendly, the top can get messy after all of the required shaking before application. Kosas Tinted Face Oil is more liquidy and thin, while ILIA’s product feels more like a hyaluronic acid serum. Kosas offers 16 shades in their Tinted Face Oil, while ILIA offers 18.
Our Verdict: It's that perfect summer glow in a bottle
If you hate looking cakey and you want effortlessly fresh day-to-nighttime makeup with an added boost, ILIA's Super Serum Skin Tint is the only product you’ll need. It's one hundred percent worth it.