When it comes to face makeup, our needs can range from full-on foundation coverage that camouflages imperfections to a subtle, evening-out skin tone for a polished look to a glowy finish that projects a youthful, healthy vitality. Innovative product formulations have made achieving or refining those effects so much easier. Where once it was down to just foundation, and then foundation versus tinted moisturizer, we now have a range of options that include various types of concealers and, more recently, skin tints.
“Skin tint is the lightest possible complexion makeup product that gives skin more of a radiant glow,” says Janice James, field executive training manager for Bobbi Brown. “It’s quick and easy to apply with fingertip application versus foundation, typically applied with a brush or damp sponge.”
Hilary Lloyd, The Body Shop’s vice president of marketing, says skin tint is comparable to tinted moisturizers in that it’s very sheer with a hint of pigment ideal for creating the no-makeup makeup look.
“Face or skin tints have a thinner texture than foundations and feel more like a serum when applying,” Lloyd explains. “The buildable sheer texture melts into your skin for a dewy finish that doesn’t cake or settle into fine lines.”
Both skin tints and foundations can incorporate skincare benefits. James says Bobbi Brown’s newly released Vitamin Enriched Skin Tint SPF 15 features a sunscreen and a signature blend of vitamins B, C and E, pro-vitamin D, Cactus Flower and hyaluronic acid, all aimed at protecting and moisturizing the skin. ILYA’s Super Serum Skin Tint SPF 40 combines skincare to improve overall skin tone over time and sun protection with light coverage for a natural look with more than 30 shades.
Some foundations, James notes, have skincare ingredients while providing the benefits you would want in a foundation, but many “foundations are just for colour and coverage and rely on skincare to prep and hydrate the skin.”
Lloyd says both their tint and foundation have nourishing ingredients. The Second Skin Tint boasts community fair trade shea butter and moringa seed oil, while their Fresh Nude Foundation contains vitamin E and Community Fair Trade organic aloe vera. Both formulations aim to keep skin hydrated for 24 hours and are suitable for all skin types, including sensitive skin.
Estée Lauder Futurist Hydra Rescue Moisturizing Makeup SPF45, as the name suggests, combines an ultra-hydrating formulation with high sun protection in a buildable light foundation in a wide range of hues.
James advises that those with oily skin might find that an oil-free foundation with a matte finish and oil control would better address their needs.
For her personal routine, James says whether she opts for a tint over a foundation depends on the look she wants rather than just seasonal considerations. She admits reaching for a tint more often than foundation during the warmer months.
“Sometimes I want to take the time to apply the extra coverage and long wear of a foundation,” she says. “Sometimes I want a quick natural look—my skin only better—fresh, healthy and glowing. I do opt for skin tint more in the summer when I want to keep my skin protected and glowing throughout the sunny and hot season.”
Although it always comes down to personal preference, age is often a factor when choosing how much coverage to use. For more mature skins, lighter products that don’t settle into fine lines and creases but provide a bit of glow (not shine) might be preferable.
“Age and environment play a large role in choosing the correct cosmetics,” Lloyd says. “Some individuals may seek a lighter weight, more sheer product in the summer months. People who are looking for fuller coverage to conceal specific skin concerns may opt for a foundation year-round. As we age, cosmetic products are more likely to settle into our fine lines. A general rule of thumb is that sheer to medium coverage products are best suited for people looking to freshen their look without experiencing caking or settling.”
With numerous options in both types of products, James thinks more about personal preference and what feels good on your skin rather than just age when selecting a foundation versus a face tint. From a practical point, she says foundations provide more customizable options for colour and coverage. “When selecting a foundation, consider your skin type and complexion needs,” she advises. “Skin tints are typically for all skin types with light coverage wanting a natural-skin-like glow.”