12 best tinted moisturisers
From barely there to polished perfection, cheat your way to flawless summer skin without a heavy foundation
Time to pack away the foundations and heavy bases and trade in for something lighter for summer.
Full makeup can slide around in the heat, so a tinted moisturiser is a better option for keeping skin looking perfect all day.
But what do we want from our summer base? From a soft wash or veil of colour, to medium to full coverage, tinted moisturisers cover all preferences.
Choose one with an inbuilt SPF to save a step in your makeup, and some of them also multi-task as a primer, serum and illuminator too. We’ve tested more than 50 products to bring you the very best from the tinted moisturiser market.
Lumene Invisible Illumination Instant Glow Beauty Serum: £27 for 30ml, Birchbox
Lumene Beauty Serum is by far and away the most beautiful, natural-looking makeup product that has ever landed on my desk. New to the UK market, this Finnish brand dates back to the 1970s and takes its inspiration from the unique radiant skin we associate with Nordic women.
The serum is so sheer and lightweight the coverage seems invisible, but the hint of colour is just enough to enhance your own skin and create an astonishingly radiant, dewy look. A water-based formula means it’s easy to apply and feels barely there. Hydrating arctic spring water and anti-oxidant rich cloudberry give it some serious skincare benefits too.
It doubles up as a serum and primer as well as a radiance boosting illuminator and we found it can be worn under foundation or alone. There are only three shades, but they have a wide colour spectrum – I can wear the light and I’m not a light shade in any other brand I have ever used, as I have quite golden olive undertones. The medium also currently blends perfectly, as I have a bit of summer colour. One to buy if you love a barely there, radiant makeup look.
Perricone MD Face Finishing Moisturiser Tint SPF 30: £59 for 59ml, John Lewis
Unusual packaging for a tinted moisturiser, this one comes in a pot and is a soft mink-grey shade - it looks more like skincare than makeup and goes on slightly disconcertingly white. But once you’ve blended it in (which is absolutely effortless, as it sinks in like a dream), the results are stunning. Subtle coverage, but such a pretty glowy sheen on the skin.
And here’s the best bit, it also delivers powerful anti-ageing benefits with some strong wrinkle busters and collagen boosters, at the same time as brightening (thanks to vitamin C) and diffusing imperfections caused by sun damage. It also has a non-chemical SPF 30, but isn’t sticky or tacky, and is oil-free. The colour pigment capsules release when it’s applied, so this universally flattering shade seems to adapt easily to all different skin tones. Choose this if your priority is anti-ageing and you want to undo previous sun damage and protect from future UVA and UVB damage.
Algenist Repairing Tint & Radiance Moisturiser SPF 30: £34 for 40ml, Feel Unique
If the dewy look isn’t for you and you want more coverage than just a radiance veil, then this is your go-to base. It requires a little more work to blend this lightweight tint into your skin, but once it’s on, the coverage is even, consistent and blurs away fine lines and imperfections brilliantly.
It also balances tone, so if you’re prone to high colour on the nose or cheeks it knocks out any redness. It leaves a beautiful, more matte finish than some of the other tints tested, so if you’re shiny by lunchtime or have an oily complexion, then this would be a good one to combat breakthrough oil.
It manages to incorporate a high SPF to protect from ageing UV, but without any stickiness. And it’s also paraben and sulphate-free for those looking for beauty products without nasties.
Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturiser SPF 20: £34 for 50ml, Space NK
A multi award-winning tinted moisturiser, which has achieved cult status thanks to makeup artists all over the world carrying it in their kit since 1996. Eight shades with a good colour range caters for all skin tones, plus it’s packed with anti-oxidant skincare goodies vitamin C and E to soften fine lines instantly and over time. Ultra-lightweight sheer coverage, during testing it blended easily, and delivered a silky matte finish with a slightly dewy look.
It’s also available in an oil-free version to help control shine. We found it doesn’t make you look made up - just your own skin, simply better and more beautiful.
Hourglass Illusion Hyaluronic Skin Tint SPF 15: £50 for 30ml, Space NK
This medium to full coverage tint, needs to be worked in more significantly than some of the other tints, but the coverage on blemishes and imperfections is unsurpassed. But the best bit? The brilliance of adding hyaluronic acid to plump, tighten and fill in fine lines.
We found it visibly gave a smoother, lifted, more youthful complexion and delivered a radiant glow for a really polished, perfected look. It’s available in an impressive 12 shades, so there’s a colour for everyone – warm, cool, neutral and golden undertones are all catered for here.
Nars Pure Radiant Tinted Moisturiser SPF30: £30 for 50ml, Nars Cosmetics
A short and long-term solution to hyperpigmentation and dark spots as this tinted moisturiser works to deliver a translucent veil of colour for instant coverage, but also contains key ingredients to reduce imperfections in the skin in just four weeks.
It’s ultra lightweight, but actually surprisingly good coverage for such a delicate textured cream. It leaves a matte look, but with an underlying radiance and glow and kept shine away all day. It’s oil-free, but contains excellent hydrators for dry and dehydrated complexions. It also has an SPF30 and the 11 shades cover a very comprehensive range of skintones.
Bobbi Brown BB Cream SPF 35: £29.50 for 40ml, Bobbi Brown
The coverage of this award-winning BB cream is buildable, so you can go as light and invisible, or as heavy as you need. You can also build up the coverage in some areas of the face that might need more due to high colour or imperfections and leave the rest of the skin more sheer.
It’s easy to apply with fingers – no brushes or sponges needed here – and it stays put all day and well into the evening. We found it was slightly sheeny with a semi-matte finish and the high SPF makes it good for warm sunny days when makeup is likely to slide off by lunchtime. From extra light to rich, the nine shades cover most skin tones.
La Mer The Reparative Skintint SPF30: £70 for 40ml, Creme De La Mer
If money is no object and you’re a Crème de la Mer fan, you’ll be snapping this up faster than I can say sheer lightweight tint. For the rest of us who would love to be La Mer fans, but the purse strings don’t stretch that far, this particular product has a few serious pluses going for it.
For starters, a little goes a very long way with this sheeny, but good coverage wash of colour which delivers a stunning luminous glow. It comes in 5 colours – but their colour spectrum is good and each shade blends into several skin tones. And being Crème de la Mer, it’s packed out with anti-agers and anti-oxidants blended to deliver maximum results.
The reduction in the look of fine lines and wrinkles is undisputedly superb. Not only for instant blurring, but also for long-term softening of fine lines and wrinkles, reducing surface dullness, and evening and perfecting the skin – during testing we found it left us with a smooth, hydrated, almost pillowy complexion.
We found it visibly improved the tone and look of fine dehydration lines especially around the eyes in just a couple of weeks of use. This is a powerhouse anti-ager, masquerading as makeup, so it could be argued is actually a money saver!
Cosmetics a la carte Complexion Enhancer in Sunkiss: £40 for 30g, Cosmetics A La Carte
This one takes a bit of getting used to as it’s so much more runny than the others, but once you do, it’ll be a permanent fixture in your makeup bag. Three colours with three different jobs.
Nude Kiss calms redness in cool toned complexions, Rose Kiss brightens dull or sallow complexions, and Sunkiss is just that – a sun kissed touch of holiday all year round for a really gorgeous golden sheen. Incredibly each shade actually works across most skin tones as the colour is so sheer and easy to work into the skin.
Not one to use if you want coverage for imperfections and blemishes, but if you want to enhance naturally good skin and get a really pretty airbrushed look, this gives you a serious shot of youthful radiance. Not only is it a colour corrector, it’s also a hydrator, primer and brightener in one. A good multi-use holiday essential for space saving in your makeup bag this summer.
By Terry Cellularose Moisturising Multi-Tasking Sheer Tinted Cream: £58 for 40g, Space NK
Another high-end brand that merges its skincare and makeup in one fabulous offering. The By Terry colour control technology works on redness, blemishes and imperfections and neutralises sallow dull skin, so it appears more glowy and radiant.
We found fine red veins on the cheeks and nose completely disappeared once it’s on. A little goes a long way with this non-oily and extraordinarily light-weight fluid, which dries to a semi-matte finish with really good coverage. And to top it all off, it’s packed with anti-ageing, hydrating vitamin E for longer term skincare benefits.
Bare Minerals Complexion Rescue Tinted Hydrating Gel Cream SPF30: £28 for 35ml, Bare Minerals
Buildable coverage from sheer to medium makes this a flexible tinted moisturiser that can be used for a natural day look or a more made-up evening look. It’s also a good one to go for if you have dry or dehydrated skin as it’s packed with hydrating marine botanicals and unique water encapsulations that give a burst of water to the skin on application.
Also no parabens, fillers, silicones or oils, instead it’s full of anti-oxidants and skin replenishing calcium, magnesium and potassium. The superb 18 shades ensures Bare Minerals covers a comprehensive range of skin tones.
Garnier SkinActive 90 per cent Natural Origin BB Cream: £11.99 for 50ml, Boots
This brand new formulation, (based on their first launch in 2011 that brought the BB cream to the mass market), is great if you want a more medium to heavy coverage, with a similar feel to a very light foundation. Easy to apply with fingers or a sponge it sinks in fast, and delivers a silky finish that feels more like a high-end product and holds its own against some of the tints which are 4 to 5 times the price.
A really impressive formula that evens out the skin tone, boosts radiance and luminosity and contains anti-oxidant and anti-pollution green tea and vitamin E. 90 per cent of the ingredients are from a natural origin (the other 10 per cent are for fragrance and essential preservation of the formula), there are no parabens or silicones, 100 per cent recyclable packaging and the cardboard comes from sustainably managed forests. For natural beauty fans, or those on a budget, this is a really good choice.
The Verdict: tinted moisturisers
Hourglass gives skin sheer but full coverage, to blend away imperfections and blemishes, Laura Mercier is an award-winning cult classic that has stood the test of time, Algenist is great for balancing tone and knocking out redness, while Perricone MD delivers their usual powerful high-tech anti-ageing benefits. But Lumene sweeps the board in this Indy Best for radiance, invisible sheer lightweight coverage, skincare benefits and for multi-tasking as a serum and primer too.
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