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Tinted moisturisers for a tanned look? Product comparisons

Tinted moisturisers, often seen as magical hybrids of skincare and makeup, have risen to superstar status. And for good reason. They offer a plethora of benefits, from sheer, dewy coverage to lightweight hydration - all while simplifying your beauty routine. Many consider them an excellent instant tanning solution.


Gone are the days of cakey foundations and heavy concealers. These moisturisers boast a lightweight, breathable formula that melts seamlessly into your skin.


Sunkissed skin achieved with a tinted moisturiser

Before we look at their use as an instant tan solution, let’s digest some other benefits:


  • Natural-looking coverage: unlike heavy foundations, tinted moisturisers provide sheer to light coverage, evening out skin tone and camouflaging minor imperfections while still letting your natural beauty shine through.

  • Hydration hero: packed with nourishing ingredients like hyaluronic acid and antioxidants, some of these moisturisers deliver a much-needed dose of hydration, leaving your skin feeling plump and dewy.

  • Multitasking marvel: ditch the multiple products! Tinted moisturisers can come with built-in SPF protection, saving you a step in your routine and shielding your skin from harmful UV rays. Check before you buy for SPF.

  • Convenience king: perfect for busy mornings or on-the-go touch-ups, a tinted moisturiser offers a quick and easy way to achieve a flawless, no-makeup makeup look.


Finding your perfect match: tinted moisturisers for every skin type


The beauty of tinted moisturisers lies in their versatility. No matter your skin type or concerns, there's a perfect formula out there for you:


  • Dry skin: opt for creamy, hydrating formulas enriched with oils and emollients to combat dryness and flakiness.

  • Oily skin: look for oil-free, non-comedogenic options that won't clog pores or exacerbate shine.

  • Sensitive skin: choose fragrance-free, hypoallergenic formulas to minimise the risk of irritation.

  • Mature skin: seek out tinted moisturisers with anti-aging ingredients like retinol or peptides to address wrinkles and fine lines.


Pro tips for a flawless tinted moisturiser application:


  1. Prep is key: start with clean, moisturised skin for optimal results. A gentle exfoliation beforehand can further enhance the application.

  2. Less is more: apply a small amount of product and blend it outwards with your fingers or a damp beauty sponge. You can always add more for buildable coverage.

  3. Conceal strategically: for stubborn blemishes or dark circles, use a targeted concealer after applying your tinted moisturiser.

  4. Set it and forget it: dust a light setting powder to lock in your look and prevent shine, especially if you have oily skin.


tinted moisturisers
The tinted moisturisers I tested on fair skin

Embrace the glow: tinted moisturisers put to the test


With glowy looks set to trend all year, a tanned complexion is a must - even for the peach theme that is coming through in makeup.


It is never worth risking sunbed skin damage just to give your face a warmer look. Meanwhile, DIY tanning solutions can be a pain to apply with variable development times - and results. If you are looking for an instant glow, a tinted moisturiser could be your best bet. 


I put two products to the test - a premium moisturiser from Perricone MD and a bargain basement offering from MLSmile.


The more expensive product retails at around £64 for 59mls and is considered ‘no-makeup makeup’. It promises to ‘finish’ and firm the face while delivering skincare benefits plus a warm tint. It also includes SPF 30. 


Tinted moisturiser with SPF 30 by Perricone MD
Tinted moisturiser with SPF 30 by Perricone MD

I applied it early in the morning to cleansed and toned skin. The medium-weight cream felt luxurious and was quickly absorbed. Result? Glowing skin with a hint of a tint. It offered a slight blurring effect but not much of a visible 'lift'.


This product delivered even coverage that was opaque. It also delivered quite a glow. I felt it left my skin looking just that little bit too shiny. And, while the tint was golden it was also vague. It did not conceal imperfections as well as a BB or CC cream.


Purely for a tanned look, this tinted moisturiser did not deliver - even though it took quite a lot of cleansing to remove! However, I would use it as a primer under a foundation a couple of shades darker than my natural skin. Bottom line - expensive for that particular use.


The MLSmile product retails for under £3 and is sold in a small tube. It is suitable for the face and body and is available in a range of finishes. I opted for the light tan, having very fair skin. The manufacturer claims it delivers a warm, hydrated, sunkissed finish. 


MLSmile tinted moisturiser for fair skin
MLSmile tinted moisturiser in the lightest shade

While disappointed with the size of the tube, I quickly discovered you don’t need to use a lot of product for the face. I estimate the tube will last a couple of weeks, if used daily. 


I applied the product to cleansed and toned skin and over SPF (there is no mention of the tinted moisturiser containing any sun protection). It has a sheer, silky formula that is pigmented to the chosen shade. A pea-size amount will cover all or most of the face.


This product felt moisturising and left my skin with a dewy light tan. While the coverage was good, with no streaks, there was no disguising any imperfections on my face. For this reason, I would consider building the product up and setting with powder. Alternatively, I could use it over a concealer or light to medium coverage foundation. For the price, I felt it did deliver on some but not all of my requirements. 


So, for a tanned look, a tinted moisturiser is likely to require a bit of building or be used in conjunction with makeup. That is, of course, unless you have naturally flawless skin. But, bottom line, it can work. It is a case of experimenting to get the right finish for your desired look.


Swatch of MLSmile tinted moisturiser
Swatch of MLSmile tinted moisturiser before it was massaged into the skin. It delivered a sheer, transparent light tan look

Why use a tinted moisturiser?


Whether you're rocking a casual daytime look or want a touch of radiance for an evening out, tinted moisturisers are beneficial. Here are some inspiration-focussed ideas:


  • No-makeup makeup: for a fresh-faced look, apply a sheer tinted moisturiser, a swipe of mascara and a touch of lip gloss.

  • Dewy goddess: embrace the 'glass skin' trend with a hydrating tinted moisturiser, highlighter and dewy lip tint.

  • Sun-kissed glow: add a touch of warmth with a bronzer and coral blush alongside your tinted moisturiser for a summery vibe.

  • Polished professional: achieve a sophisticated look with a light-medium coverage tinted moisturiser, defined brows and a neutral lip.


Why not ditch heavy makeup and embrace the effortless beauty of tinted moisturisers? With their blend of skincare and makeup magic, they'll leave your skin feeling hydrated, protected and radiant – all while simplifying your routine. 


Remember, the key to rocking a moisturiser with a hint of colour is finding the perfect formula for your skin type and desired coverage. Experiment, mix and match and have some fun!



Disclaimer: Always carry out a patch test before using a new product on the skin. Discontinue use if irritation occurs. This is not a substitute for qualified medical advice.

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