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The 8 Very Best Tinted Moisturizers

Photo-Illustration: The Strategist; Photos: Retailers

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It’s getting to be that time of year — when it’s too hot to do or wear anything and a full layer of foundation can feel like a heavy, suffocating mask on your skin. Enter the tinted moisturizer. As someone who has generally blemish-free skin and a fairly even skin tone (shout-out to genetics), I typically reach for a tinted moisturizer, which adds a little coverage but doesn’t feel heavy on my skin. As the late makeup artist AJ Crimson put it, tinted moisturizers are a great option for someone who “wants to look polished but not made up — or just wants to even out their skin tone.” If you’re new to makeup, tinted moisturizers are nice because they’re difficult to mess up. The light coverage makes it incredibly forgiving, easy to control, and a breeze to apply. I’ve put it on with my fingers, sponges, and brushes, all of which have worked exceedingly well. Most tinted moisturizers have a dewy finish, so you’ll get that summertime glow we’re all after year-round, but if that’s not your thing, there are oil-free formulas for a more matte look.

What we’re looking for


Foundations are designed to cover and perform, but tinted moisturizers tend to contain additional skin-care ingredients like hyaluronic acid and SPF to hydrate and protect the skin. This can be meaningful if you want your face makeup to do double duty or another layer of sun protection.

Shade range

Tinted moisturizers offer the lightest coverage, so the shades tend to be a bit more flexible, meaning it doesn’t need to be an exact match to work. You still want to get within a stone’s throw of your skin tone, though, so the higher the shade range, the more likely you are to find something that works for you.

Best overall tinted moisturizer

Ingredients: Avobenzone 2.5%, octinoxate 7.49%, octocrylene 2%, oxybenzone 1%, Macadamia and kukui-seed oils, tamarind-seed extracts | Shade range: 20 shades

The first time I tried Laura Mercier’s tinted moisturizer, I was working at Nordstrom as a web-order fulfiller and spending most of my shift lurking around the cosmetics floor. One of the Laura Mercier reps turned me on to the product after I commented on her flawless, glowy skin. She pumped a few squirts into a sample tube for me to take home, and the rest is history. In the time since, it has been my go-to for special occasions and days when I want a more-even overall look. The “walnut” shade is a near-perfect match for my skin, the finish is natural and not overly dewy, and it doesn’t irritate my finicky skin.

It’s a celeb-favorite, makeup-artist-approved, consumer-loved tinted moisturizer. Rio wrote about it back in 2019; it tops the Strategist UK’s list of the best recommended tinted moisturizers; and two of the experts we spoke to raved about it. “Laura Mercier is usually what most people think of when it comes to tinted moisturizer,” says Crimson. “It’s a classic and I almost feel like LM invented the tinted moisturizer.” He likes it because it’s creamy but still lightweight and thinks it looks great on both men and women. Makeup artist Jamie Greenberg is a fan of this OG product and says it’s super-hydrating, which was one of the standout qualities Rio noted as well. “A dime-size amount of this product (rubbed all over my skin after my morning skin-care routine) gives the perfect amount of daytime coverage — it takes the edge off of any dark marks, redness, and under-eye bags, and makes my skin look like it has nothing on it at all,” she wrote. “It’s intensely hydrating — it’s the only makeup I’ve ever felt comfortable putting over eczema flare-ups; it doesn’t stick or cling to any dry patches (my guess is that this has something to do with those hydrating oils).” She’s talking about the macadamia and kukui seed oils — which allegedly have skin-replenishing and hydrating properties — that it contains. The latest version is formulated with SPF 30.

Our experts say that Laura Mercier works with all skin types and tones. It comes in 20 different shades, as well as an oil-free version, which I’m a fan of. “Oil-free is great for people that have oily skin,” says Greenberg. “Usually you can find a tinted moisturizer that’s perfect for your skin type: If you’re looking for a more blurred, matte skin look — oil-free is the way to go. But if you prefer a more ‘dewy’ look (great for people with drier skin), Laura Mercier’s original formula is perfect.” Just note that the oil-free formula has a slightly lower SPF of 20.

Best affordable tinted moisturizer

Ingredients: Glycerin, diamond powder | Shade range: 12 shades

At $53, the Laura Mercier product above is fairly pricey. For a cheaper alternative, Glossier’s fan favorite is a more-than-solid option at half the price. The product’s motto is “more skin, less makeup,” which is exactly what you get. Writer Mbiye Kasonga describes it as “the lightest possible touch of makeup” with a “blurring, filterlike effect.” The shade range is moderate at 12 shades, but according to Kasonga, Glossier really gets the undertones right and it’s barely detectable. On the ingredient front, it’s pretty straightforward. The main ones are diamond powder (this gives skin a blurred effect) and glycerin, which helps with moisture.

Best tinted moisturizer and serum

Ingredients: Hyaluronic acid, niacinamide, squalane, zinc oxide | Shade range: 30 shades

Three of the experts we spoke with name-dropped Ilia’s Super Serum Skin Tint. Just like the name suggests, it’s a tinted moisturizer with a lot of skin-care benefits. “It’s a combination of skin care, SPF, and coverage that makes Ilia a triple threat and first of a kind for its formula,” says artist Jaleesa Jaikaran. It’s infused with plant-based squalane, niacinamide, hyaluronic acid, and mineral SPF 40 — the highest sun protection on this list. The point of tinted moisturizer is that it’s lightweight, but Jaikaran says this one “feels super thin and light —essentially a veil of coverage.” Makeup artist Rose Siard loves the way it blurs imperfections: “It’s less pigmented and melts into the skin seamlessly,” she says. It comes in 30 different shades, which celebrity makeup artist Jonet Williamson says “are flexible and take a minute to adjust after applying.” She recommends going one shade lighter than you normally would.

Best tinted moisturizer for oily skin

Ingredients: Vitamin C, French Polynesian kopara | Shade range: 16 shades

This is another classic tinted moisturizer, but it’s now available in more shades to support more skin tones and skin types. Jaikaran likes how lightweight the formula is and how well it blends. Lori Taylor Davis, Smashbox’s global pro lead artist, is obviously a fan of its Halo Healthy Glow Tinted Moisturizer, but thinks this one from Nars is another solid option. “It has a sheer-to-medium-sheer coverage and high SPF and is extremely radiant,” Davis says. This oil-free formula is packed with vitamin C to help with brightness and even out the skin tone. And while the SPF 30 is definitely a plus, sometimes sunscreen can affect the formula’s finish, but Jaikaran assures that there’s no issue here.

Best tinted moisturizer for dry skin

Ingredients: Hyaluronic acid, squalane, SPF 30 | Shade range: 19 shades

“I absolutely love the whipped-cream texture of this formula,” says Williamson. “It goes on like butter and melts into the skin, giving light to medium coverage.” She says it works great on all skin types, but those with dry skin might see an extra boost from the hyaluronic acid in the formula. And while it’s oil-free, it will still leave you with a healthy-looking glow. Williamson recommends that those with oily skin set their T-zone with translucent powder just to avoid any extra dewiness.

Best tinted moisturizer for mature skin

Ingredients: Hyaluronic acid, aloe water | Shade range: 7 shades

This Clinique tinted moisturizer with SPF is Greenberg’s pick for mature skin. She likes it because it’s not drying and has a semi-matte finish. It’s made with hyaluronic acid and activated aloe water, which the brand claims will keep the skin hydrated for up to 12 hours. “It stays in place once applied and doesn’t get caught up in fine lines, which would cause a creasing look or emphasize fine lines,” says Greenberg. “It still looks breathable, dewy, and youthful.”

Best tinted moisturizer for darker skin tones

Photo: retailer

Ingredients: Baobab-seed extract, hibiscus extract, pumpkin-seed extract | Shade range: 6 shades

Ami Colē skin tint comes in six flexible shades that work with a variety of skin tones. “This formula is so creamy yet lightweight,” says Jaikaran. “The effect is ‘my skin but better,’ in terms of coverage. It’s light but you can get a different finish based on the tools you use.” It’s packed with ingredients like pumpkin seed extract, hibiscus flower extract, and baobab seed extract, which is why Jaikaran says it’s a great option for those with normal to dry skin. It’s something you can wear all day. She says “the formula doesn’t oxidize and sits well on the skin.”

Best tinted moisturizer with coverage

Ingredients: Dimethicone, glycerin | Shade range: 25 shades

Williamson says those with dry skin might want to prep with a face oil under this one. Fenty’s Skin Tint has more of a semi-matte finish and the formula is buildable to provide medium coverage, so if you are looking for something lightweight but with more of a foundation look, this might be for you. But don’t worry about it melting off. “It’s humidity- and sweat-resistant, making it a great option for hot summer days,” says Williamson.

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The 8 Very Best Tinted Moisturizers