Tinted moisturizers might just be the easiest thing to wear when it comes to makeup. Whether you’re going for an easy-breezy look, a lighter alternative to foundation on sweltering days, or even something to wear on a night out, the versatile product has got you set. It pretty much does it all—improves your complexion, hydrates your skin, and leave you with a dewy glow.
“Tinted moisturizer is basically a regular moisturizer, with pigment added,” explains board-certified dermatologist Michelle Henry, MD, FAAD. “It’s lighter than foundation, providing less coverage, but if your skin tone is already pretty even, a tinted moisturizer is a great option to give you a no-makeup (makeup) look. Its primary goal is to moisturize while providing a hint of color to brighten your skin and give a glow.”
The good and bad news, though? There are so many products to choose from out there. Some tinted moisturizers reign supreme over the others. So, if you’re considering one, you’re in luck. We went to the experts to help us choose.
Because tinted moisturizers provide very light coverage, finding one that matches your skin tone is a bit different than shopping for a concealer or foundation. “Shade-matching the tinted moisturizers are different, because most don’t have an exact color match, but more of a shade range,” explains celebrity makeup artist Jessica Smalls, whose clients include Janelle Monae and Yara Shahidi. Keep some of these tips in mind:
1. Mix It Up: “Tinted moisturizers tend to blend into the skin pretty easily, and they are sheer so the color doesn’t have to be as specific when you’re only seeing a tint of color. That’s not to say I don’t use one or two shades even with a tint. I always mix!” says celebrity makeup artist Georgie Eisdell, whose clients include Gwyneth Paltrow and Sophie Turner. “I still match the same way I would a foundation—choose the closest color to the skin on your nose. I like to have the next shade darker to mix in with the color that matches my nose if I need a little more warmth.”
2. Make Your Own: You can also make your own if you can’t find a shade that works for you. “It’s the easiest thing. Anyone can do it! I mix my daily moisturizer with a little bit of Armani Power Fabric Concealer and I get the most beautiful tinted moisturizer ever,” says Andreea Ali, a celebrity makeup artist whose clients include Natalia Vodianova and Izabel Goulart.
3. Think About Your Preferred Coverage and Finish: “Some tinted moisturizers are buildable, which means you can create the type of coverage you need, and some have SPF, which can slightly change the color. Decide which you want and go from there,” Smalls explains.
Again, not all tinted moisturizers are created the same, so it’s important to read the labels and see what ingredients you’re working with for your specific skincare needs. “Try to choose one with SPF for UV protection, along with antioxidants to combat sun damage and minimize fine lines,” Henry suggests. And as for the ingredients you want to avoid, she recommends staying away from anything with fragrance or talc, which can cause irritation.
Keep your skin type in mind when you’re shopping for a tinted moisturizer so you can make sure it’s going to help (and not harm) any skin conditions you have. Henry broke it down for us:
Dry Skin: “Try and look for a tinted moisturizer that has moisturizing ingredients like avocado, hyaluronic acid, squalane, and aloe,” she recommends
Oily Skin: “Choose an oil-free tinted moisturizer. That way, you’ll still get the moisture, but none of the pore-clogging oil.”
Sensitive Skin: Look for something that’s hydrating, fragrance-free, and with natural ingredients.
Normal or Combination Skin: Opt for a balanced tinted moisturizer with ingredients like ceramides for non-greasy hydration.
You don’t need a fancy brush or sponge to apply a tinted moisturizer. All of the makeup artists I spoke to for this story said using your fingers is best. In fact, Ali said using a sponge would waste a lot of product.
“My favorite tip for applying tinted moisturizer is to apply it with your fingers,” Smalls explains. “You’re more likely to apply the right amount when you massage it in with your fingers, the same way you do your day time moisturizer,” Eisdell adds that she prefers to apply a little bit more coverage to her T-zone, so she just taps some extra product to that area to finish.
Need more help choosing one? Here are some recommendations from our editors and the experts.