We Put 21 of the Best Tinted Moisturizers to the Test, These 6 Give Fresh Faced Coverage

NARS Pure Radiant Tinted Moisturizer SPF 30 is the crème de la crème.

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Tinted Moisturizer Testing
Photo: InStyle / Tamara Staples

Of the many, many makeup products out there, none multi-task as well as a good tinted moisturizer. Blurring the line between skin care and makeup, tinted moisturizers do it all: evening out your complexion, smoothing the look of fine lines, masking dark circles and blemishes, hydrating skin, and protecting against the sun's harmful rays. A high-quality tinted moisturizer checks all of these boxes, and then some, while leaving you with a natural-looking finish.

While tinted moisturizers are multi-use by definition, they are far from one-size-fits-all. With ever-evolving formulations, trending ingredients, and distinct finishes to consider, finding the right one for your skin type, concerns and priorities can become overwhelming — that's why we set out to find the best tinted moisturizers of 2022. To do so, we recruited a handful of testers to help research and try out the most popular options to see which actually lives up to the hype.

After thoroughly testing and reviewing 21 top-rated tinted moisturizers — taking into account the product's feel, moisturizing capability, and coverage — we determined the best performing formulas. In the end, the NARS Pure Radiant Tinted Moisturizer Broad Spectrum SPF 30 was the frontrunner thanks to its ease of use and high scores in all of the aforementioned categories.

Keep reading to discover the best tinted moisturizers according to InStyle testers.

The Winners

Best Overall: NARS Pure Radiant Tinted Moisturizer Broad Spectrum SPF 30

best tinted moisturizers
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Also available at Ulta, Amazon, and NARS Cosmetics

What We Love: It blends seamlessly and offers UV protection.

What We Don't Love: It's a bit pricey for a tinted moisturizer.

A cult-favorite for a reason, the NARS Pure Radiant Tinted Moisturizer is the ruler of the multi-taskers. The lightweight, non-comedogenic formula contains SPF 30 (just be sure to apply a hefty coat for full protection) and is free of synthetic dyes, fragrances and parabens. It simultaneously nourishes skin and fades the appearance of hyperpigmentation with repeated use. According to celebrity makeup artist, Mai Quynh, the finish of this product is the real highlight (pun intended). "It leaves a beautiful dewy finish," she says. "It's perfect when my skin is super dry."

In addition to the glowy finish, our tester raves about how effortless it is to apply. "It's lightweight and very easy to spread and buff into the skin," they say. "The consistency feels moisturizing and doesn't crease into your fine lines."

When it comes to coverage, the tinted moisturizer is medium yet buildable. "It left behind the ideal amount of coverage for daily wear," they share. "I was able to get medium coverage to even out my skin tone without feeling like I was wearing foundation."

If we could change anything about this tinted moisturizer, it would be the price. Despite it being more expensive than other options, our tester found it worth the money based on the quality, coverage, and SPF protection.

Coverage: Medium | Shades: 16 | Size: 1.9 fl. oz

Tinted Moisturizer Testing
InStyle / Tamara Staples

Best Value: ColourPop Pretty Fresh Hyaluronic Acid Tinted Moisturizer

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Also available at ColourPop Cosmetics

What We Love: This gives skin a drink with a dose of hyaluronic acid.

What We Don't Love: The coverage is pretty light.

ColourPop's tinted moisturizer doesn't disappoint, especially when it comes to hydration. As the name implies, it's formulated with hyaluronic acid, to help keep the skin moisturized, and coconut water, which is known to support skin softness. "This tinted moisturizer feels lightweight, rather than greasy or heavy, and blends in really nicely," our tester explains. "It feels so good on the skin."

The tester also noted that the coverage is on the lighter side, so if you're looking for a more full-coverage option to even out the look of blemishes or dark spots, this might not be the best choice for you. "The coverage is super light, but after a couple of pumps, I was able to get some more coverage," they share. "It almost looks like you aren't wearing anything."

Coverage: Light | Shades: 20 | Size: 1.45 fl. oz

Tinted Moisturizer Testing
InStyle / Tamara Staples

Best Drugstore: L'Oréal Skin Paradise Water-Infused Tinted Moisturizer

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Also available at L'Oréal Paris, Target, and Amazon

What We Love: It's hard to beat the price at less than $20 per tube.

What We Don't Love: We wish there were more shades, especially in the medium to deep families.

This tinted moisturizer proves that you don't need to break the bank in the name of healthy, glowing skin. The lightweight formula is 70 percent water-based and includes skin-loving ingredients like glycerin, aloe vera, and witch hazel. The coverage itself is sheer-to-light, making it a great pick for someone looking for a subtle tint. "My skin looks blurred but my freckles still shone through," one tester says.

The oil-free, non-comedogenic formula is suitable for sensitive skin types and even includes SPF 19 for extra sun protection. Plus, it feels incredible. "It melted right into my skin and doesn't feel like it's sitting on my face," the tester shares. All this for just shy of $17 sounds like it's too good to be true, but our tester swears the tinted moisturizer exceeded expectations.

While the 12 shades span from fair to deep, we do wish they had more skin tone offerings. However, given the almost-sheer coverage and liquidy consistency, you can build up or buff out a shade close to your skin tone.

Coverage: Light | Shades: 12 | Size: 1.0 fl. oz.

Tinted Moisturizer Testing
InStyle / Tamara Staples

Best Radiant Finish: HUDA BEAUTY GloWish Multidew Vegan Skin Tint Foundation

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Also available at HUDA Beauty and Amazon

What We Love: Skin looks dewy after application.

What We Don't Love: It might not work for oily skin types.

Thanks to this light-coverage skin tint, improving the look of your complexion has never been easier. With the help of plant-derived squalane to hydrate, damascus rose oil to soothe and lock in moisture, and red bell pepper extract to protect against blue light, it's hard to beat the cocktail of vegan ingredients in this pick.

According to our reviewer, it feels breathable and gives skin a natural-looking glow. It works particularly well for normal to dry skin types, but because of its dewy effect, it may not be best for those with oily skin in search of something more mattifying. That being said, it isn't cakey or greasy, and doesn't settle into fine lines or wrinkles.

Coverage: Light | Shades: 13 | Size: 1.35 fl. Oz.

Tinted Moisturizer
InStyle / Tamara Staples

Best Matte Finish: Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturizer Oil Free Natural Skin Perfector Broad Spectrum SPF 20

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Also available at Laura Mercier, Ulta, and Nordstrom

What We Love: There are 20 shades—a pretty wide range for a tinted product.

What We Don't Love: The texture can feel tacky on some skin types.

This wouldn't be a best tinted moisturizer list without mentioning this popular pick from Laura Mercier. "It's a fan- and makeup artist- favorite for a reason — it's great," says celebrity makeup artist Molly R. Stern. "It's easy to apply, builds for more coverage and has good-for-you ingredients with a 20 SPF,"

The tinted moisturizer comes in 20 shades, with plenty of options for a variety of skin tones. Our tester agrees,"I found a shade that was an exact match for my skin, I love when that happens," they said. As far as coverage goes, this pick is pretty light. "It evens out redness, while still letting my natural skin shine through," they add.

The shade options aren't the only reason to love this tinted moisturizer — the skincare benefits are noteworthy as well. Licorice root extract soothes irritated and troubled skin while vitamin E and broad-spectrum SPF protects the skin from environmental aggressors.

During testing, the reviewer found that although the formula was super lightweight and blended easily, it felt a little tacky to the touch. They did note, though, that the product didn't make the skin look greasy or shiny.

Coverage: Light | Shades: 20 | Size: 1.7 fl. oz.

Tinted Moisturizer Testing
InStyle / Tamara Staples

Best Buildable Coverage: bareMinerals COMPLEXION RESCUE™ Tinted Moisturizer with Hyaluronic Acid and Mineral SPF 30

best tinted moisturizers
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Also available at Ulta, BareMinerals, and Target

What We Love: The formula has a unique gel-cream consistency.

What We Don't Love: It's expensive for its size.

This tinted moisturizer is buildable makeup at its finest. The formula goes on relatively sheer but the more you add, the more coverage you'll see. "I love how buildable this formula is in case I have any blemishes I want to cover," says the tester. "It looks so natural, you can't tell I have it on." Not only does it offer coverage and hydration, but it also comes with the added bonus of SPF 30, so you're able to skip a few steps in the morning.

Considering it's on the smaller side, it's pretty expensive per ounce. But, our tester found that the price didn't bother them as much. "I actually needed much less than I thought," they shared. "It's a bit pricier than drugstore varieties but if you're planning on going for a natural look, a single tube could go a long way."

Coverage: Light to Medium | Shades: 20 | Size: 1.18 fl. oz.

Tinted Moisturizer Testing
InStyle / Tamara Staples

Our Testing Process

To kick things off, we spent about a week researching the top-rated tinted moisturizers on the market. After honing in on online ratings, we spent 48 hoursputting the 21 most popular formulas on the market to the test. We had each of our testers try the tinted moisturizers so that they could analyze the performance of each one and write down their insights in the process. In doing so, our testers rated each one on a scale of 1 to 5 for four key categories: feel, moisturizing ability, coverage, and shade range. Once all the data was collected, we were able to narrow down the original pool of products to the top six tinted moisturizers of 2022.

Tinted Moisturizer Testing
InStyle / Tamara Staples

What to Keep in Mind

Coverage

When you're shopping for a tinted moisturizer, it's important to remember that these types of formulas won't offer the same amount of coverage as a foundation. The kind of coverage they do offer varies from formula to formula, so be sure to check out how sheer each option is and match it to your preference. Someone looking for a natural finish to accentuate their complexion may prefer a sheer to light option, whereas someone looking to address redness or hide blemishes might have better success with a medium or buildable formula.

SPF Protection

SPF is a must, every single day. With that in mind, look for a tinted moisturizer that contains SPF of 30 or higher to protect your skin from the sun's harmful rays. With a number lower than that, you'll still need to apply your regular sunscreen underneath, explains Michelle Henry, M.D. a board-certified dermatologist and founder of Skin & Aesthetics Surgery of Manhattan. "If you'll be relying on your tinted moisturizer, be certain that you're using at least a nickel-sized amount and applying it evenly over your face," she says. "If that's not how you're applying, then apply sunscreen first in order to get full protection."

Consistency

One of our favorite parts about tinted moisturizers is that they often provide skin benefits too. The addition of ingredients like hyaluronic acid, squalane, or aloe vera takes it from just a skin-perfecting tint to a hydration station. Like the coverage, the consistency of the moisturizer is different from product to product, so take this factor into account when shopping, especially if you'll be building up the coverage. If you have oily skin, you may need to set the product with powder or look for an oil-control formula to avoid a greasy finish.

Your Questions, Answered

How do you apply tinted moisturizer?

As far as tinted moisturizer application goes, there are no hard and fast rules. Unlike a full coverage foundation that may require a sponge or brush, a tinted product lends itself to a different set of tools: your hands. According to professional makeup artist Kelli Anne Sewell, applying tinted moisturizer with your hands allows the product to melt into the skin. "Using your fingers helps blend the product better, plus it's easier to bring any excess down the neck and chest," she says.

Should you put primer on before tinted moisturizer?

If you normally use a primer to prep your skin or control oil before applying foundation, Sewell says it's not entirely necessary with tinted moisturizer. Instead of going in with a mattifying primer, she recommends a matte tinted moisturizer. If you have dry skin, Sewell suggests using a facial oil before applying your tinted moisturizer to add lumosity and hydration.

How can you build up tinted moisturizer coverage?

If you have heavy scarring, blemishes or dark circles, Sewell says to put on a layer of the tinted moisturizer first and then place a full coverage concealer onto the areas you'd like additional coverage. "Warm up the concealer on your fingertips and gently tap the area that you have blemishes," she adds. This gives the best of both worlds: the ease and fresh faced look of a tinted moisturizer with a bit of coverage where you need it.

What Is InStyle Picks?

Did you notice the InStyle Picks seal of approval at the top of this story? That means our team of testers has reviewed every product on this list using a unique methodology to ensure it's really worth your time, money, and attention. We may get samples for free to try but we never promise positive (or any!) coverage in exchange. Put simply: InStyle Picks are products we love, and we've put them to the test to be sure you will too.

Want more product recommendations? From best-in-class concealer to the black pants you need for work, check out all of our InStyle Picks content.

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