10 Your-Skin-But-Better Tints That Will Have You Rethinking Foundation

By Ashleigh Cometti
Dare to go barely-there? These lightweight skin tints let freckles, beauty marks and natural texture shine. Photo / Pinterest

While we’re happy to embrace a handful of nostalgic ‘90s beauty trends, full-coverage, caked-on foundation isn’t one of them.

Millennials and older Gen Zs may remember the chokehold Maybelline New York Dream Matte Mousse had on us all during the turn of the century, but in the years since we’ve

Cue skin tints — the perfect makeup-as-skincare hybrid that works double duty to offer light coverage while hydrating with skin-benefiting ingredients like hyaluronic acid, niacinamide, squalane and glycerin.

As one of the prevailing beauty trends of 2023, skin tints are accoutrements to a light, glossy complexion, designed to bridge the gap between traditional foundations and serums.

Promising a skin-like, radiant finish, skin tints are lightweight and low-maintenance, meaning you don’t need to fuss around with brushes and can easily blend them in with your fingers.

What’s the difference between a skin tint and a tinted moisturiser, I hear you ask? Skin tints are much more sheer and highlight a texture that resembles a serum rather than a moisturiser.

Traditionally, skin tints contain less oil than tinted moisturisers, which is precisely why they’re adored by beauty enthusiasts and makeup artists along with celebrities like Sofia Richie Grainge and Hailey Bieber to create a barely-there beauty look.

Here, our picks of the best skin tints sure to help you embrace your natural beauty.

Best Hybrid

This award-winning tinted face serum combines makeup, skincare and SPF, boasts an impressive shade range with 30 skin tone-flattering shades to select from, and contains ingredients that address the appearance of pores, fine lines and wrinkles. It does so thanks to the blend of hyaluronic acid, niacinamide and plant-based squalane, which visibly plumps, smooths and boosts skin elasticity while replenishing hydration levels and refining uneven skin tone, as revealed in an independent clinical study of 52 women across 28 days. It works in a similar way to fake tan, harnessing a guide colour which then dries down after 30 to 60 seconds to reveal its true tone. Should you wish to mattify the formula slightly, consider layering it with translucent powder on top.

Shades | 30. Finish | Dewy. Coverage | Sheer.

Best Glow-Giving

Clinique Sun-Kissed Face Gelee Complexion Multitasker, $63.

Good news, beauty lovers! Clinique’s cult-favourite gel bronzer is back, delivering its I-just-returned-from-Ibiza glow to all skin tones. While it’s only available in one shade, the beauty of this skin tint lies in its versatility. The silky formulation can be used one of three ways: applied to bare skin, blended with your choice of moisturiser or SPF, or on top of makeup to create a warmer shade.

Shades | 1. Finish | Dewy. Coverage | Sheer.

Best New Zealand Beauty Buy

Inspired by her daughter Olympia, local entrepreneur Mimi Gilmour Buckley developed IAMMI — the New Zealand-made skincare brand with purpose. Blurring the line between beauty and wellness, each product is designed to act as a daily reminder to engage in self-care. A summer beauty essential, the IAMMI Sun Kissed Tinted Serum imparts a healthy glow to all skin tones, minus the shimmer or sparkle. It contains a powerhouse of locally sourced ingredients, including the skin-restoring New Zealand Bioactive Blend, jojoba oil for hydration, evening primrose to soothe, glycerin to support a healthy skin barrier, antioxidant-rich Kakadu plum and an oxide mica blend to lend a light wash of colour to skin with a soft-focus effect.

Shades | 2. Finish | Dewy. Coverage | Sheer.

Best Under $30

Feeling the pinch? Morphe’s buildable skin tint costs less than a weekend brunch and promises to perfect the complexion with a skin-like finish. Whether you like to keep things ultra-sheer, or have areas you’d rather conceal, the buildable formula can be layered gradually without looking cakey. It’s water-, sweat- and transfer-resistant for up to 12 hours, plus the non-comedogenic formula won’t clog pores, making it a perfect match for acne-prone skin.

Shades | 20. Finish | Radiant. Coverage | Light to medium.

Best Luxury

Anyone who’s ever used Hourglass makeup can attest to its performance, quality and finish. So, while this skin perfector is expensive, the impressive ingredients list makes it a worthy investment, especially if you subscribe to the makeup-as-skincare movement. Containing a cocktail of plant derivates including meadowfoam seed oil, hyaluronic acid, plant-based squalane and naturally derived rambutan blend, this lightweight formula promises to boost the skin’s moisture levels by up to 52 per cent, keeping it hydrated and comfortable all day.

Shades | 18. Finish | Dewy. Coverage | Sheer.

Best With SPF

If your morning makeup routine typically consists of you swiping it on in the car, then consider this rollerball format as your new go-to. It rolls on easily to deliver hydrating skincare ingredients that promise to even out the complexion while imparting a healthy glow. Containing non-nano zinc, the formula is rated SPF30, which is good news considering the state of our ozone layer (though it doesn’t replace the need for applying sunscreen beforehand). The antimicrobial rollerball features a refillable airtight chamber (replacement cartridges are sold separately) in a move by Milk to cut down on 66 per cent of its plastic waste, while protecting the tint from contamination or oxidation.

Shades | 14. Finish | Dewy. Coverage | Sheer.

Best For Fair Skin

Illuminate a fair complexion with Shiseido’s intuitive skin tint, which harnesses the brand’s Responsive Sensory Technology to adapt to skin’s condition, tone and texture upon application and throughout the day. Though the shade range is limited, those on the fairer end of the spectrum will likely find their match. It offers a layer of protection with its ActiveForce Technology to defend against heat, humidity, oil and repetitive facial movement for all-day flawlessness.

Shades | 6. Finish | Radiant. Coverage | Light.

Best For Deep Skin Tones

Trust Fenty Beauty to blow other formulas on this list out of the water with its (once again) impressive shade range. The inclusive beauty brand unveiled its blurring skin tint in 25 adaptable shades to suit a wide range of skin tones, including deep skin tones. While some foundation formulas can make deep or dark skin tones appear ashy or grey, Fenty Beauty’s blurring skin tint contains a unique QuickBlur Complex to diffuse light and even out all complexions. Not to mention the formula is humidity-, sweat- and transfer-resistant, meaning it’s an excellent option to stash for your next tropical getaway or to swap into your daily makeup routine as the mercury rises.

Shades | 25. Finish | Radiant. Coverage | Light.

Best For Dry Skin

A foundation and serum in one, Mecca Max’s newly launched skin tint couples the coverage of a foundation with the skin-caring benefits of a serum. The your-skin-but-better formula contains two ingredients said to fortify the skin barrier — niacinamide and squalane — which work overtime to soothe and retain moisture levels within the skin. For best results, allow the formula to warm to your skin temperature by applying with your fingertips, or pounce with a beauty blender from the centre of your face outwards.

Shades | 20. Finish | Dewy. Coverage | Sheer.

Best For Oily/Combination Skin

If the thought of a skin tint sliding off your face by 12pm puts you off, then consider Maybelline’s demi-matte offering, which melts seamlessly into skin for up to 24 hours of continuous wear — resisting sweat, humidity and fading. The buildable formula dries fast so you’ll want to work quickly — apply a few drops to fingers or your beauty blender before smoothing it onto the skin. Infused with vitamin C, independent testing by the brand showed that up to 95 per cent of users said skin appeared healthy and radiant after four weeks of daily use.

Shades | 10. Finish | Radiant. Coverage | Medium.

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