This Clean Beauty Serum Replaces Sunscreen

Shoppers Say This Anti-Aging Serum 'Turns Back Time' - and I Couldn't Agree More

It makes me look like I just got an oxygen facial.
By Rachel Nussbaum
Jan 20, 2021 @ 10:00 pm
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I have skin that's on the fair end of the spectrum, in a shade I refer to as "printer paper" or "computer monitor glow." Friends have said I look like a vampire, so as you might've guessed, I'm a big fan of sunscreen. It wasn't always so - the classic smell of SPF once triggered memories of heavy, sticky lotion that never felt quite rubbed in. That was, until I discovered a serum that not only brightens skin, anti-ages, and magics away redness, but works overtime as weightless, mineral sun protection.     

Dubbed the Super Serum Skin Tint SPF 40, Ilia Beauty's best-seller is a feat of chemical engineering (everything is a chemical, from the air we breathe to the cleanest of clean beauty). The idea of a weightless mineral sunscreen was once an oxymoron, because from the '60s through the aughts, mineral sunscreens were known for their heavy, visible white finish. Ilia's couldn't be further from that precedent. It goes on like a watercolor, tinting away redness as it eliminates it with hyaluronic acids, squalane, and niacinamide to soften fine lines and even out your skin tone in the long term. 

How'd the brand do it? Per Ilia's founder, Sasha Plavsic, it balanced the serum's zinc oxide protectant with color pigments to make the formula work for skin tones across the color spectrum. So choosing a sunscreen that doesn't destroy the ocean is no longer an option exclusively for people who can work with a sunscreen's white cast.  

ilia skin tint
Credit: Courtesy

Shop now: $46; iliabeauty.com

More immediately, the Serum Skin Tint delivers a level of coverage that's subtle and dewy, but amps up my glow by a factor of ten. I tend to have a couple of post-acne red spots and rosacea-y cheeks on any given day, and the tint cancels them like they just said something deeply problematic and they're not even sorry. 

With the majority of my day spent inside, I've sworn off foundation for the most part - it only rubs off on my face mask when I check the mail. The tint is so natural-seeming that the coverage is easily seamless and doesn't rub off, yet it makes my face look like I just got an oxygen facial when I post an Instagram story, and it protects my skin from sun damage when I sit in front of a window all day. 

For those concentrated on the coverage aspect, one reviewer on Ilia's website says that the serum "melts away into a sheer, fresh, dewy finish that blends right into your natural skin. I get compliments all the time that my skin looks great without any makeup - but I AM wearing makeup! THIS!" She continues: "That's the best compliment in my book! I keep saying it's still me, but in HD." 

The end result is a joyous union, one product filling in for three and excelling across the board. Other people agree: Shape named it the Best Tinted Moisturizer of 2020, while 2,285 reviewers give it five stars on the brand's website. One shopper writes that at 65, her skin feels perpetually thirsty - but "this sunscreen turns back time and leaves a beautiful glow." 

Another 48-year-old reviewer says that thanks to the serum's hydrating care, she has no need for topical fillers; one more person says "there aren't enough words to describe how amazing this skin tint really is." As for long-term results, a different reviewer writes that on top of leaving her skin clear and moisturized, the serum has evened out her skin tone and made it much smoother. You might not have the pre-commute rush to get ready anymore - but anything that allows more time for sipping coffee while staring out the window is a win.