10 best tinted moisturisers for healthy glowing skin without the heavy coverage
From barely there to polished perfection, cheat your way to flawless summer skin without a heavy foundation
Whether you’re crammed tight on an overcrowded train or sipping a cocktail by the beach – wearing a full-coverage foundation during summer can be a struggle: heavy make-up can sweat straight off when it gets hot and feels uncomfortable to wear in warmer climes.
If you’re looking for something a little lighter, opt for a tinted moisturiser to achieve a glowing summer complexion.
Designed to enhance the look of your skin rather than to cover it up, tinted moisturisers are a make-up/skincare hybrid that colour correct, smooth texture and add radiance while letting your natural skin shine through. Many also offer added skincare benefits.
During our rigorous testing we looked for a sheer, luminous, natural finish that would suit a range of skin tones. We wanted to see skin that looked like skin, but a better version of itself. We also wanted our freckles to show through.
The formulas had to be easy to blend and with relatively little or no scent – a surprising number of tinted moisturisers (especially those with a high SPF) smell plasticky. Out of the range of formulas we tested, many didn’t make the cut – but these superb offerings did.
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Lumene invisible illumination instant glow fresh skin tint, 30ml: £32.90, Feel Unique
This incredible make-up skincare hybrid gel cream is packed with skin-caring treats including hydrating Arctic spring water and radiance-boosting, antioxidant-packed Arctic cloudberry. Dreamily sheer, it smells gorgeous, gives the most amazing natural glow, blends away imperfections, but still lets your own skin shine through. It’s simply your own skin, perfected. We found applying with fingertips gives a more sheer look, but using a foundation brush delivers slightly more coverage. It comes in four shades, they’re surprisingly universal and cover most skin tones.
Decleor sun-kissed cream green mandarin, 50ml: £58, Decleor
Open this pot and you’re met with a slightly disconcerting bronze gel. Don’t be deterred, this is simply stunning. A day moisturiser meets make-up, Decleor’s sun-kissed melts into the skin and blends away to nothing except a gorgeous glowy radiance. Natural origin hyaluronic acid plumps and smooths out fine lines, while green mandarin works its antioxidant magic to revitalise dull skin and help reduce the signs of ageing. The gel is enriched with beta carotene and ultra-light natural pigments to create a universal shade, so it’s seamless on all skin tones. The scent is beautiful – a gorgeous zesty kick to your morning thanks to sweet orange, grapefruit and lemon essential oils – while the light, airy texture is heavenly to apply and wear, especially on a hot day. For anyone who truly wants their skin to glow with a no-makeup make-up look, this is for you.
Laura Mercier tinted moisturiser illuminating SPF 20, 50ml: £35, Cult Beauty
From the multi award-winning family of tinted moisturisers at Laura Mercier, this illuminating version infuses the original with a radiant glow. Since its launch in 1996, the Laura Mercier tinted moisturiser has achieved cult status, and is a must-have in make-up artist kits all over the world. It’s lightweight, silky and effortlessly covers blemishes, blurs fine lines and wrinkles, but still leaves skin looking like skin. It’s also packed with antioxidant vitamins A, C and E to calm and soothe the skin. We found that many tinted moisturisers with a high SPF can be sticky, making them difficult to apply – but this cream is incredibly easy to blend despite being SPF 20. This cream is ideal if your skin needs help controlling shine and you like a little more coverage, it’s also available in an oil-free version.
Bare Minerals complexion rescue SPF 30, 35ml: £29, Debenhams
Effortless to apply with great luminosity, complexion rescue feels light and airy considering the coverage you can achieve. From sheer to medium buildable coverage, this flexible tinted moisturiser can be used for a natural day look or a more made-up evening look. It leaves skin with a silky matte finish – covering blemishes and blurring away fine lines, and is a good choice if you have dry or dehydrated skin as the hydrating marine botanicals and unique water encapsulations deliver a burst of hydration. No parabens, fillers, silicones or oils – instead, it’s full of anti-oxidants and skin replenishing calcium, magnesium and potassium. An extensive 16 shades ensures it covers a comprehensive range of skin tones too.
Nars pure radiant tinted moisturiser SPF 30, 50ml: £31, Cult Beauty
Ultra-soft and creamy, this blends into the skin effortlessly and leaves a sheer veil of colour so your skin can shine through, but is also buildable if you need more coverage. The SPF 30 keeps skin protected and claims to help to reduce hyperpigmentation and dark spots in just four weeks – we found our skin tone definitely looked more even and glowing during testing. Skin under stress or looking dull and in need of a boost will love the lush botanicals and hydrators that give a shot of moisture here. We found it made our complexion look that bit brighter and more radiant even after removing make-up.
Clarins skin illusion natural hydrating foundation SPF 15, 30ml: £30, Clarins
Available in a staggering 22 shades, skin illusion is called a foundation, but the serum-like texture gives such a sheer finish – it behaves more like a liquid tinted moisturiser as it delivers a bare skin effect. It offers more coverage than a traditional tinted moisturiser (hence the need for so many shades), but is no way near as heavy as a foundation. It’s dry to the touch almost immediately and leaves a glowy sheen on the skin that looks very natural. As there are so many shades available, this is a great choice if you can’t find a universal tint to suit you from other brands.
Elizabeth Arden prevage city smart SPF 50 hydrating shield, 40ml: £55, Look Fantastic
According to Elizabeth Arden, 80 per cent of ageing is due to environmental aggressors – including pollution, UVA and UVB rays and smoke. Simply put, air pollutants generate excess-free radicals, which interfere with the skin’s ability to retain moisture and produce elastin and collagen – the building bricks of our skin that keeps it plumped up and youthful looking. The result? Accelerated ageing of our skin. If lines, wrinkles, hyperpigmentation and age spots are your skin concern, or you’re an urban dweller, then this high-tech, environmental anti-ager is for you.
Their triple action protection technology uses three steps to create more resilient skin – protect from the environment, prevent and neutralise free-radical damage and strengthen the skin’s natural repair processes. Optical diffusers blur away imperfections, while the universal tint suits all skin tones. It’s also paraben-free and non comedogenic – meaning it won’t block your pores. We found it delivered a really beautiful sheen to the skin, but very little coverage, so possibly not for you if you want to cover any imperfections. During testing, our skin looked brighter and more rested.
Perricone MD no make-up foundation, 30ml: £45, Perricone MD
This is another product calling itself a foundation, but again it’s much closer to a skin tint. Sheer and weightless, this luminous radiance-booster manages to deliver SPF 30 while being effortless to blend. If your complexion needs a little correction, your pores need minimising, or your skin tone just needs evening out, then this is a great choice as it carries just a little more coverage than the ultra-sheer tinted moisturisers. It doesn’t settle in the fine lines around the eyes and mouth like many of the higher coverage products we tested, making it suitable for more mature skin. It leaves a plump-looking, glossy glow to the skin. And with five shades, there’ll be one to suit a broad range of complexions.
Chantecaille just skin anti-smog tinted moisturiser SPF15, 50g: £64, Net-A-Porter
Admittedly this is in the upper price bracket for a tinted moisturiser, but if money is no object, then this is particularly great and for city dwellers. It has a relatively low SPF so you might need to wear extra sun protection in the height of summer, but we found what it lacks in SPF it more than makes up for in covering imperfections seamlessly. The lightweight airy texture means you can use it as a primer in the winter under your usual foundation as well. Sodium hyaluronate helps skin retain its natural moisture, while the anti-oxidants protect the skin from pollution and other environmental aggressors. The seven shades it’s available in cover a good spectrum of skin tones.
Clinique moisture surge sheer tint hydrator SPF 25, 40ml: £30, Clinique
Super light and airy, this blends relatively easily but you can feel it contains a high SPF – so takes a bit more effort to apply. We found a silicone sponge or foundation brush was easier than using our fingertips. Hyaluronic acid and activated aloe water work hard all day to keep the skin hydrated, so if you’re prone to a dry or dehydrated complexion, this is a good option for you. Clinique claim this tint is sweat and humidity resistant too, so we tested it while running on a fairly warm day and impressively, it absolutely stayed put. It gives a sheer natural glow and can be worn alone without your usual moisturiser. For thirsty skin, you can still apply on top of a light moisturiser too. It’s currently available in five shades, with two more launching soon, and is also oil and fragrance-free.
The verdict: Tinted moisturisers
Our top pick is Lumene invisible illumination instant glow fresh skin tint. A lightweight gel, that’s packed with antioxidants, seamlessly blends away imperfections and still lets your own skin shine through. Bare Minerals is also great for dry or dehydrated skin and if you like buildable colour. While Decleor is a zesty summer skin treat that hits just the right spot if you want an incredible radiant glow.
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