It is a truth universally acknowledged that the lower the pigment, the more important the texture. Bring down the level of coverage in a product, and the way that it plays on the skin becomes paramount.
Tinted moisturisers are really nothing more than lower-pigment foundations. Let’s breeze past the marketing and get down to it – tinted moisturisers might have slightly more humectants in them for hydration, but barely. The basic formulation concept is the same.
I have always been very wary of them, as in my head I thought that I needed full coverage, all over, to be blended and manipulated as I needed. This year, however, I have become a complete convert to the strategy of tinted moisturiser all over, concealer where needed. Your skin will never look more like skin, trust me.
The choices on the market are now so varied that it can be a little daunting, so below are 7 outstanding choices that really do provide something for everyone. You could choose one and remain faithful, or do what I do, and in a very high maintenance way have options upon options for base, and then choose one for the day according to your skin’s mood, your need for coverage, the climate, your schedule, or pure capriciousness.
I called these a “matte-ish” finish because they definitely aren’t the flat, reflect-no-light finish. They make the skin look smooth, even and non-shiny, but not in an unnatural way like a truly matte formula does. I present to you the Glossier Perfecting Skin Tint, and the Bare Minerals Complexion Rescue Tinted Hydrating Gel Cream SPF 30. Both are supremely easy to apply, just smooth them into the skin with your fingers.
The Glossier is lower coverage, and is a rather unusual formula – once you apply it, you must let it sit for one minute or so before adding anything else. You can brush your teeth or do your brows while you wait, or check Snapchat, whatever floats your boat. The formula achieves some sort of magic, so that when you look in the mirror after one minute you are astounded that the coverage actually seems to be more even than it was when you first applied it, but truly looks like nothing is there. Even with rather a lot of concealer on top, the even-ness remains. Unfortunately, Glossier is only available in the States, and won’t even accept foreign credit cards (grrrrr), so you might have to be rather sneaky if you don’t live there. My poor cousins – such Glossier mules.
The Bare Minerals has the texture of a moussy cream, and leaves the most wonderful finish on the skin. I have to admit, whenever anyone has said to me in the past few months that I have the pregnancy “glow”, more often than not I am wearing this. Of course, I don’t tell them that – “just the hormones”, I say. Ahem.
Next up, we have formulas with a natural finish. By normal, I don’t mean boring. These are the formulas that are most suitable for use all round the year, and in different climates. For people with dryer skin, these formulas will sink right in and look almost matte – for people with oiler skin, they will give a low level of glow, but in a nice way.
The Nars Pure Radiant Tinted Moisturiser SPF 30 and the Chantecaille Just Skin Anti-Smog Tinted Moisturiser SPF 15 are the most like regular foundations out of all of these on the list, in terms of texture, but are as easy to apply as skincare. I like to apply them with my fingers so that they warm up and settle nicely, then blend them in with an Artis brush for super-smooth coverage. They are pretty similar, only the Nars version has higher coverage, and is slightly richer.
Next up, the Perricone MD No Foundation Foundation SPF 30. Look online at this product, and it makes it sound like some kind of undefinable, miracle-inducing treatment. I shall dispel this bubble, and tell you that while it is just a low coverage, rather thick-feeling cream, it also smooths over the skin like a dream and helps everything out without feeling heavy or looking visible. For people with dry skin that want coverage but don’t like the “glowy” look, it is a great option (although there is only one shade of this, weirdly, which is unbelievable unhelpful of them for people with darker complexions).
Moving straight on to the glowy choices, we have two excellent options. I say glowy, but these could alternatively just be called the most moisturising. For those people with actually dry skin, or for people in dry climates, these are the tops.
The Dr Jart Ceramidin Day Tint SPF 15 is a rich cream, which genuinely keeps the skin hydrated and covered all day, without sliding all over the place. My skin also seems to feel soothed even after many hours of running around.
We also have the super dewy and featherweight Maybelline Instant Age Rewind Eraser Treatment Makeup SPF 18. This formula might be a love-it or hate-it one, as it is the most tricky to apply out of all of these, but once you’ve got it right, the results are worth it, in my opinion. I have to admit, I first bought and tried this when I was in Los Angeles earlier this year, and was so excited about how good it looked, that I ran out and bought three more (stereotypical overreaction). Then when I returned to the mugginess and heat of Hong Kong, it did not look nearly as good on my oily/combination skin, but when I try it again in less damp locales, I am continually impressed. All you need to do to apply it well is just roughly smear it over your skin with the attached sponge, then use your fingers to press and blend it in. Don’t use a brush or a sponge, or it will stay streaky. But with fingers, flawless.