Along with everything else, our beauty routines and what we demand from make-up products has changed drastically over the last year. When the UK went into lockdown, and so many of us started working from home, out went the need for heavy coverage and bold make-up looks.
After all, who needs a full face of foundation for a stroll round the local park? Easy to use and multi-purpose became our new focus, and which beauty product embraces this more than a tinted moisturiser?
According to data from Google Trends, UK search interest in tinted moisturisers is currently at the highest it’s ever been. Notably, interest in the products also spiked at the start of the first lockdown, when many of us were looking to pare back our make-up routines and, understandably, keep things simple.
Combining the hydration of a moisturiser with a hint of colour to even out the complexion, add glow and a smidge of coverage, tinted moisturisers are indeed the perfect option for an effortless, natural look.
Essentially, they’re a little helping hand but without the heaviness or fuller coverage of a foundation. How much coverage they provide though really depends on the brand and product – those we tested varied from the most subtle tint to formulas worthy of creating an airbrushed base. While many tinted moisturisers come with sun protection, not all do, so it’s always worth checking the label.
When it comes to shopping for a tinted moisturiser, it’s worth keeping in mind what exactly you’re after, as there is such a vast variety of options on the market. Do you like your coverage light, medium or heavy? Are you after added luminosity or prefer something with a matte finish? Is it a natural boost you’re after or do you want to add a bit of colour?
With hundreds of products out there, we’ve tried a range of the best tinted moisturisers taking note of their formula, application, finish, lasting power, shade range and price. Hopefully you’ll find your fit among our favourites below.
You can trust our independent reviews. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formed from real-world testing and expert advice. This revenue helps to fund journalism across The Independent.
Milk Makeup sunshine skin tint
Whatever magic Milk has infused into its sunshine skin tint; it works. The brand has managed to nail the perfect level of glow without leaving you looking shiny or like a disco ball. The vegan-friendly formula has coral reef safe broad spectrum SPF 30 and is free of parabens and silicone. We loved everything about this tint: it blends seamlessly, is easy to build up and gives the most beautiful and radiant natural looking glow. It also works well to balance out the complexion without masking the skin. Moisturising ingredients such as grapeseed, avocado, jojoba, mandarin and olive-derived squalane oils help create a hydrated and youthful luminosity.
The packaging won’t be for everyone, though. Milk’s sunshine skin tint comes housed in a rather chunky plastic applicator with a glass rollerball. Simply click the button at the base to release the formula, then roll the applicator across your face. It’s straightforward enough to use but can be a little frustrating to apply, which we’re sure is not the intended purpose of the design. It’s also quite bulky, so won’t be ideal for any slimline make-up bags. Although it feels like a lot of plastic packaging, Milk has just launched refill cartridges for the skin tint, in a bid to reduce waste. It’s also a dedicated cruelty-free brand.
Buy now £39.00, Cultbeauty.co.uk
Laura Mercier tinted moisturiser natural skin perfector
An absolute cult classic, the award-winning Laura Mercier tinted moisturiser is one of the first products continually recommended by beauty editors when you’re after a lighter coverage and an all-natural glow. Coming in 20 shades, the product delivers a dewy, fresh appearance to the skin. It also has a slightly cooling texture, leaving skin feeling hydrated and invigorated. Easy to apply, simply squeeze a few drops onto fingers and blend into the face.
If you’re looking for something to slap on and go without the need for brushes and blenders, then this is an ideal choice. It’ll instantly leave you looking and feeling refreshed. It’s a perfect option for those stretched for time or always on the move, plus it contains SPF 30.
Buy now £35.00, Cultbeauty.co.uk
Fenty eaze drop blurring skin tint
As pointed out in our recent in-depth review of Fenty’s latest drop, the brand’s new skin tint really stands out on the inclusivity front. There are 25 shades in the range, all beautifully matched to its well-loved foundation selection, so if you’re already a Fenty fan, the product will fit right in with your collection. We loved how seamlessly the lightweight skin tint blended in and it was an absolute breeze to apply, with an easily buildable formula.
The light to medium coverage is great for offering an almost filtered version of your natural skin: pigmentation appears reduced, skin looks smoother and lit from within. Although the bottle is small (30ml) it’s a nice compact shape that is perfectly designed to sit in the palm of your hand and to be slipped into the smallest of bags. Just what we need now socialising is back on the radar.
Buy now £25.00, Boots.com
Code 8 radiate beauty balm
Perennial style and beauty muse Alexa Chung, who is an ambassador for Code8, is a big fan of the London born brand’s award-winning BB cream, and frankly, that gave us enough reason to give it a try.
Lightweight, cooling and silky in texture, the formula is delightfully pleasant to apply and blends easily. Coverage is on the light side, but skin was left feeling beautifully hydrated and velvety smooth. Not to mention, it has the most luxurious scent to it that made us instantly feel more sophisticated.
Designed to be deeply nourishing thanks to the inclusion of argan seed oil, the fast drying and buildable formula comes in 11 different shades and also contains SPF 15. It’s a perfect choice for creating a light, natural base in the warm summer months – just add a dot of concealer on areas where you need a little more coverage or colour correction and you’re good to go.
Buy now £41.00, Net-a-porter.com
IT Cosmetics your skin but better CC+ cream
As a CC cream, or complexion corrector, the IT Cosmetics CC+ your skin but better does exactly what it says on the tin. Covering pigmentation, blemishes and evening out skin tone, there’s a reason so many fans have eschewed traditional foundation formulas for this cult hero. Interestingly, co-founder Jamie Kern Lima, who suffers from rosacea, worked with plastic surgeons and dermatologists to develop a formula that would deliver a flawless yet natural base but without forgoing the hydration and protection of a great skincare product .
Its coverage was one of the most concentrated we tried, and we found it particularly good for days when our skin really needed a helping hand. We liked that, despite the high coverage, the hyaluronic acid infused formula didn’t leave skin feeling cakey, dried out or weighed down.
Offering broad-spectrum SPF 50 UV protection, the cream is also a great everyday go-to and is especially useful if you’re looking to swap to a tinted moisturiser but don’t want to give up the coverage of foundation and concealer. We were also impressed at how a little of the product goes a long way (one or two pumps blended across the face worked for us), which is important given that the product isn’t cheap. There are 14 different shades in the original CC+ cream, plus there are two newer products worth giving a whirl too: an illumination focused formula to give a subtle glow and an oil-free matte version.
Buy now £32.50, Boots.com
Origins ginzing SPF40 energy boosting tinted moisturiser
This low-maintenance beauty buy offers, to put it simply, exactly what you want from a tinted moisturiser: gorgeous hydration and a natural looking tint. It doesn’t provide the deeper coverage of some of the others we tested but what we loved was how the sheer releasing tint develops as you spread the moisturiser across your face. It also helps protect skin against UV rays as it includes SPF 40 (the brand also offers a similar product with SPF 15).
Designed to wake up the complexion with skin-boosting ingredients such as coffee beans and panax ginseng, there’s a reason this is such a bestseller for the brand. A drop or two of this moisturiser is all you’ll need to cover the face and is a go-to if you’re after a little lift but don’t want to mask the skin.
Buy now £32.00, Lookfantastic.com
e.l.f. camo CC cream
There’s been much excitement on TikTok over the resemblance of e.l.f.’s camo CC cream to the cult classic, and higher priced, It Cosmetics CC+ version. You can see why beauty fans have been raving about the supposed dupe – they do look very similar in style, and both provide a comparable level of coverage, with the aim of providing an airbrushed finish .
At under £15 a pop, it is certainly more affordable than its pricier competitor, but we found it also to be a little less dewy, leaving us with a drier and more matte finish. Again, different formulas suit different skin types so this might be perfect for some. It could also be combined with a highlighter or glow-giving primer if you like more of a sheen.
Like the IT Cosmetics formula, the cream is infused with niacinamide, peptides and collagen but importantly for vegan customers, it doesn’t contain any animal derived ingredients (such as the “snail secretion filtrate” – a K-beauty fave – that features on IT Cosmetic’s list of ingredients). There’s also an impressive 20 shade range of colours, with a good variety for dark skin tones too. So often shade ranges cater for light skins so it’s great to see that e.l.f. has made an effort here. The CC cream, which also contains broad spectrum SPF 30, was easy to blend and stayed on well throughout the day.
Buy now £14.00, Boots.com
Drunk Elephant umbra tinte physical daily defence SPF30
More of a sun cream with an added hint of colour rather than a standard tinted moisturiser, Drunk Elephant’s umbra tinte is a lovely daily SPF to have in your arsenal. Containing broad spectrum UVA and UVB protection, the formula is also non-toxic to marine life.
With just a light hint of a tint, the product is a fabulous final layer on no-make up days when you want some protection, plus a little glow boost. We loved how easily the lightweight formula sank into skin and liked that it didn’t leave any chalky or greasy residue. Instead, skin was left looking refreshed, hydrated and radiant, thanks to a cocktail of ingredients including grape juice, sunflower shoot extracts, raspberry seed and marula oils. We also mixed the daily defence with the brand’s famous D-Bronzi anti-pollution sunshine drops (£30, Cultbeauty.com) for the days when we were in need of a deeper sun-kissed glow. Trust us, it’s a dream combo.
Buy now £30.00, Cultbeauty.co.uk
Decorté sheer brilliance soft tinting tint
Reportedly used by Kate Moss, Decorté’s sheer brilliance soft tinting tint is a luxury buy: it normally retails at £90 (but is currently half price at Lookfantastic). It’s a much more fluid formula than others we tried, but we liked how easily it could be swept across skin for a sheer finish. The weightless formula, which contains broad spectrum SPF 30, also sinks in really easily, giving a light to medium coverage that is great for recreating the glow of your favourite Instagram filters.
It does dry quite quickly so we found that you have to work with it rapidly to get an even coverage, but a small drop of the tint goes a long way – good news given the price tag. We’d also happily stand behind the Japanese brand’s claim that their skin tint contains “just the right touch of luminosity”: it’s enough to boost tired-looking skin, but with a slight matteness to it that means shiny patches or slippage isn’t an issue. An bugbear though is the very limited range of four shades, which only stretch from “fair” to “tan”.
Buy now £90.00, Lookfantastic.com
Vita Liberata beauty blur
Best known for its range of self-tanning products, Vita Liberata’s beauty blur delivers a real hit of radiance that’ll have you looking like you’ve been soaking up the rays, but without the damage. Coming in four shades, ranging from extra light (café creme) to dark (latte dark), the primer and tinted moisturiser combo contains nourishing ingredients such as organic aloe vera, vitamin E, hyaluronic acid and natural shea butter.
It blended easily and gave a nice, healthy looking glow, but to cover dark spots or imperfections you might want to follow up with a dab of concealer or reach for a CC cream. We think the beauty blur would be a fab option at the start of a summer holiday to fake a sun-kissed glow and then used throughout to boost a natural tan. Make sure to top off with a sun cream though as the beauty blur doesn’t contain SPF.
Buy now £23.70, Feelunique.com
Max Factor miracle touch second skin
Technically, this offering from Max Factor is a hybrid foundation, so it provides a heavier and richer coverage than a traditional tinted moisturiser. That said, it still retains a key focus on hydration. Blended with naturally derived coconut milk, the formula is infused with pre- and probiotics, and is designed to leave skin moisturised, while providing concealer-like coverage for dark spots and uneven skin tone. You can use your fingertips to apply it, but a blender or foundation brush works well with the formula too.
If you’re keen to try out something lighter than your regular foundation but the thought of sheer coverage leaves you cold, then this is a great starting point. It’s also suitable for a range of skin types and sits well on the skin throughout the day. Costing less than a tenner, it’s also a purse friendly option, plus it contains SPF 20.
Buy now £6.45, Feelunique.com
Chantecaille just skin tinted moisturiser
This tinted moisturiser is a classic beloved by many beauty editors, and was recently chosen by skincare guru and beauty industry veteran Caroline Hiron’s in an edit of her favourite beauty products from Space NK.
Hirons praised the light texture of the formula and its fresh, dewy appearance on the skin. It certainly gives skin a boost and we think it’s particularly good at adding to an already sun-kissed glow. We know it’s one we’ll be reaching for come summer. Available in eight shades, the product, which contains SPF 15, is simple to distribute onto skin and the tube is slim enough to be slipped into a make-up bag which is always a bonus.
Buy now £72.00, Spacenk.com
Chanel les beiges water fresh tint
Know that refreshing feeling of when you break through the water’s surface when swimming on a sunny day? Well, this is that bottled. Thanks to a formula where pigment micro-droplets are suspended in a formula that is 75 per cent water, the texture of Chanel’s water fresh tint is cool and lightweight, leaving skin feeling invigorated.
The product is housed in a cylinder within quite a bulky plastic tube with a pump, so it’s not the lightest beauty item to take with you on the move. It comes with a handy brush, which helps apply the product evenly – you’ll want to make good use of this to prevent any streakiness. We were pleased with the natural-looking finish and subtle glow that the tint gave our skin and would happily reach for this on days when our skin was behaving itself.
It’s a lovely option that lets skin breathe and looks beautiful on clearer complexions. You won’t get much coverage for dark spots or blemishes though, so save this for days your skin is feeling peachy or add in a dot of concealer where needed. It doesn’t have SPF incorporated into it so keep that in mind also.
Buy now £48.00, Johnlewis.com
Nars pure radiant tinted moisturiser SPF30
Another classic and a favourite among beauty fans. Available in 16 shades, it also contains SPF 30 and is a great option if you like the coverage of a foundation but are looking to swap it out for something that looks a little more natural. Vitamin C helps even out the skin tone and leave your complexion looking brighter, while the hydrating formula helps condition and smooth skin.
We loved the feel of the product and how lightly it sat on skin, while also providing a good level of coverage. We can see why fans of the product are swapping their usual foundation for this skin tint – it does the job but without any cakiness. It’s perfect for the warmer months ahead.
Buy now £31.00, Boots.com
The verdict: Tinted moisturisers
Picking a favourite from this selection of tinted moisturisers was a tough ask: each of the products work exceptionally well and cover varying needs. We were really impressed with the radiance and light-to-medium coverage that the Milk Makeup sunshine skin tint delivered, although we would love to see it in less bulky plastic packaging.
For those who want a tinted moisturiser which offers a bit more coverage and is great for evening out skin tone, then Fenty’s eaze drop blurring skin tint will quickly become your new best friend. We also think the Laura Mercier tinted moisturiser skin natural skin perfector is an absolute make-up bag staple and love it for its easy slap on and go formula, which also contains SPF 30.
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