Tinted sunscreen is perfect in summer. This season is already more than halfway through, so if your sunscreen game is not on point, you’ve got some reckoning to do. My sunscreen obsession exists for a reason – this product protects from cancer and sunburn while also doing a better job to keep the skin youthful and wrinkle-free than the most expensive peptide creams.
However, not all is lost, and perhaps you’ll finally find your holy grail in the form of a tinted sunscreen! Tinted sunscreens somehow manage to avoid the typical pitfalls of SPF products, to offer comfortable sun protection.
I’ve selected the best tinted sunscreens, products that you will not dread to apply every morning. I explain what tinted sunscreen is and outline all of its benefits. I also explain what the difference is between tinted sunscreen and other similar products like tinted moisturizers and foundations.
I’ll help you choose the right tinted sunscreen for your skin based on your skin type, and I finish with a thorough explanation on the best way to apply a tinted sunscreen.
Your Ultimate Tinted Sunscreen Guide: Contents
- 23 Best Tinted Sunscreens for Every Skin Type
- What Is Tinted Sunscreen and Why Do You Need It?
- Tinted Sunscreen vs. Tinted Moisturizer vs. Foundation
- How to Choose the Best Tinted Sunscreen for Your Skin Type
- How to Apply Tinted Sunscreen
1. Coola Suncare Face Mineral Sunscreen Unscented Matte Tint Broad Spectrum SPF 30
This tinted sunscreen has a mineral-based formula that gives great protection against both UVA and UVB. It is made for normal and oily skin, so it has a matte finish and even offers some oil control throughout the day. The formula is still nourishing, however, since it contains a few non-comedogenic botanical oils like rosehip and evening primrose.
The tint is very subtle and is just intended to cancel out the white cast of the minerals, so the formula should work for a wide range of skin tones. It is totally fragrance-free, which is great for those with sensitivities! Buy it from Nordstrom!
2. EltaMD UV Elements Tinted Broad-Spectrum SPF 44
It’s not surprising that EltaMD has made one of the best tinted sunscreens on the market since their sun protection offerings are incredible in general. It is a fragrance-free mineral sunscreen, which usually works best for those with easily irritated skin. It has a natural finish that is neither greasy nor matte, and the universal tint is strictly there to help prevent a white cast. The formula contains some beneficial anti-aging ingredients like hyaluronic acid and vitamin C. Order it online from Dermstore!
3. Peter Thomas Roth Max Mineral Naked Broad Spectrum SPF 45
You cannot go wrong with a PTR product. This is the best tinted sunscreen for just about anyone, with a natural formula loaded with superstar ingredients like vitamin C and willow bark extract, which help every skin type. It is made strictly with soothing zinc oxide for SPF. The tint will work with all skin tones to prevent a white cast. It is nice and natural alone but wears well under makeup. Buy it at Sephora!
4. CoTz Face Moisture Lightly Tinted Sunscreen SPF 35
This simple and gentle tinted sunscreen is made only with zinc oxide, which makes it a very soothing mineral formulation. It is water-free, with a mattifying texture that is fairly nourishing to the skin. It works beautifully under makeup and is very reminiscent of a makeup primer. The tint is nearly invisible, so it should work for all skin tones and types, except for those with extremely dry skin. Buy it from Ulta!
5. Clinique Pep-Start Daily UV Protector Broad Spectrum SPF 50
This elegant tinted sunscreen was made for all skin types, with a demi-matte formula that doesn’t feel greasy. It truly is universal and seems to work beautifully even on very deep skin tones. The formula is as lightweight as we’ve ever seen in mineral sunscreen, but it also means that it doesn’t have as many nourishing ingredients as some of the other sunscreens on this list. If texture and cosmetic elegance are the most important factors, then this will be the best tinted sunscreen for you. It is available at Nordstrom.
6. Unsun Mineral Tinted Sunscreen SPF 30
Unsun is a sunscreen brand founded by Frank Ocean’s mom, Katonya Breaux, who recognized a gap on the market when it came to sunscreen for women of color. She ended up releasing the best tinted sunscreen for women with darker skin, since so often even the “universal” shades don’t work. This time around we have a shade that might not work for those with very fair skin, but it’s not like pale princesses lack for options. It is a moisturizing, fragrance-free formula that will work best for those with combination, normal, and dry skin. Find it at Dermstore!
7. Shiseido Urban Environment Tinted UV Protector Broad Spectrum SPF 43
This super-light product is one of the best tinted sunscreens for those with combination and oily skin. Sun protection comes from a blend of mineral and chemical ingredients. It contains glycerin and xylitol to infuse the skin with moisture all day long, but it also contains quite a bit of alcohol, which gives it a thin texture that sinks into the skin quickly. It won’t dehydrate the skin, despite the alcohol, but you might want to avoid it if you’re very dry or sensitive. The coverage is light but buildable, so it’s good that it comes in three shade options at Sephora.
8. PCA Skin Sheer Tint Broad Spectrum SPF 45
This water-resistant tinted sunscreen has a gorgeous demi-matte finish that will work nicely with all skin types. The light tint evens out imperfections in the skin very slightly, while still covering a wide range of skin tones. It is mineral, fragrance-free, and water-free so it’ll be great for those with sensitive skin. The sleek black-on-white packaging is distinct yet unisex, so if you’re all about posting those shelfies that’s another reason to buy it. It contains a touch of CoQ10 for added antioxidant protection. It is sold at Nordstrom.
9. Avène High Protection Tinted Compact SPF 50
This high-protection tinted sunscreen definitely jumps a bit into the makeup category, and that’s okay! It offers light to medium coverage and comes in a compact, which is great for those on the go. The SPF comes from mineral ingredients and there is no scent to be found, so it is quite gentle on the skin. It is even water-resistant should you go to the beach or pool. Do remember that you’ll still have to apply a lot to get the full SPF. Get it online through Dermstore in either Beige or Honey!
10. Supergoop! CC Cream Daily Correct Broad Spectrum SPF 35 Sunscreen
This product is marketed as both a CC cream and a tinted sunscreen, so you know that it has some coverage. It evens out the skin tone while also hydrating it, but it dries down to a natural finish that will suit all skin types. One of the most remarkable things about it is how well it holds up throughout the day and how resistant it is to water. It can definitely replace your foundation. Get your best match of the four shades available at Sephora!
11. Murad City Skin Age Defense Broad Spectrum SPF 50 PA++++
If you’re on the lookout for serious protection from both UVA and UVB, then we can’t think of a better tinted sunscreen. The subtle peach tint is barely noticeable on the skin, but it ensures that the formula will not leave a white cast. It contains a touch of vitamin C, which helps to stabilize the formula while also giving the skin antioxidant protection. It gives the skin a bit of a glow and contains lots of hydrating ingredients so though it’ll work for all skin types, I think those with dry skin will like it best. You can get it at Nordstrom.
12. Australian Gold Botanical SPF 50 Tinted Face Lotion
You can get excellent sun protection without spending a ton of cash. This is the best tinted sunscreen for anyone on a budget because it offers broad-spectrum protection and intense water resistance. This formula has a matte finish, which is best for those with oily skin, and the tint is quite subtle. The ingredient list is filled with beneficial natural ingredients like shea butter and Kakadu extract. Buy it from Ulta!
13. La Roche-Posay Anthelios Ultra-Light Tinted Mineral Sunscreen SPF 50
This tinted sunscreen is a fan favorite, and it’s easy to see why. It has a very light and liquidy texture that spreads over the skin quickly and sinks in with ease. The tint is just there to prevent a white cast, and the shade should work for most skin tones. It has a very natural finish that is neither dry nor oily, but the formula itself is somewhat hydrating. Order it from Dermstore!
14. Philosophy Renewed Hope in a Jar Skin Tint SPF 20
This is another tinted sunscreen option that sits a little closer to a foundation by offering medium coverage with a demi-matte finish. It comes in a jar, which takes points away, but it has a very moisturizing and silky formula that makes me willing to forgive the packaging. The sun protection comes from a blend of mineral and chemical sunscreens, which makes lightweight. It contains some natural ferments that give a hydrating boost. Pick up your match from 8 shades at Sephora!
15. Sisley Paris Tinted Sunscreen Cream SPF 30
It doesn’t really get any more luxurious than Sisley products. This is the best tinted sunscreen if you like to feel extra taken care of. It offers a light to medium coverage, so it nearly qualifies as a foundation, and the shade will suit medium skin tones. The sun protection comes from mineral ingredients, but it does contain a very mild scent. It has a creamy texture that will work best for those with dry or maturing skin, and the formula contains shea butter and glycerin so it truly is moisturizing. Purchase it at Nordstrom!
16. Dermalogica Sheer Tint SPF 20
This tinted sunscreen is made with a combination of mineral and chemical sun protection agents. It is very moisturizing yet lightweight, so you can use it no matter your skin type. The coverage is light but present, and the finish is on the dewy side. It contains a range of free radical-neutralizing botanical extracts as well as hydrating butylene glycol and hyaluronic acid. It can substitute for a moisturizer, especially if you have oily skin. It has some fragrant essential oils so you might want to skip it if you have sensitivities. It comes in three shades at Ulta, to suit most skin tones.
17. Epionce Daily Shield Lotion Tinted SPF 50
This is a moisturizing, all-mineral tinted sunscreen that is especially beautiful under makeup. It gives the skin a natural glow, with a light but hydrating formula that will work for all skin types. It does take a few minutes to sink in, but its wonderful protection and skin feel are totally worth it. The tint is extremely subtle, and the shade is quite universal. Buy it online through Dermstore!
18. Drunk Elephant Umbra Tinte Physical Daily Defense Broad Spectrum Sunscreen SPF 30
This formula is polarizing and definitely not for everyone. However, if you have dry skin and are looking for serious radiance, then this Drunk Elephant product could be the best tinted sunscreen for you. This is one of the few silicone-free mineral sunscreens on this list, which explains why it feels a little oily for some. It is made instead with lots of botanical oils that nourish the skin and give antioxidant protection. It is worth noting that it used to contain shimmery mica, but that has been removed from the formula so now it just offers a subtle tint. Pick it up at Sephora!
19. Lancôme UV Expert Mineral CC Cream SPF 50
This creamy CC cream offers a 50 SPF, which makes it an excellent tinted sunscreen choice for those who want a bit more coverage. It has a very luminescent and creamy finish, so it is definitely ideal for dry skin. The formula is lightly fragranced and only makes use of titanium dioxide for sun protection, making it very gentle. It is silicone-free and hydrating. It is available at Nordstrom in 5 shades.
20. MyChelle Dermaceuticals Sun Shield Tinted Stick SPF 50
You can easily enjoy sun protection on the go with this tinted sunscreen stick. It is made strictly with zinc, beeswax, and a collection of wonderfully nourishing botanical oils, making for a gentle, all-natural formula that glides on the skin easily. It doesn’t run, so it won’t get in your eyes, but it will take a bit of work to rub it into the skin. It can work for all skin types but pay attention to triggers if you’re acne-prone. The tint is very mild, working to cancel out the white cast. Order it from Dermstore!
21. Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare Instant Radiance Sun Defense Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 40
This is another one of the best tinted sunscreens for those who want a dewy glow. It has a very moisturizing formula that is best suited for dry skin, with a ton of different water-binders and light, antioxidant-rich oils. Sun protection comes from minerals, with a tint that cancels out the white cast and also gives very slight coverage and color correction. It is sold at Sephora in two shades.
22. Glo Skin Beauty Moisturizing Tint SPF 30+
This is a chemical sunscreen formula, so it is extremely lightweight. It is formulated like a primer and offers buildable light coverage. It feels light yet moisturizing on the skin, with a natural finish that will work for all skin types. It’s a great choice if you can’t make mineral sunscreens work for your skin. Find it at Dermstore in four colors!
23. It Cosmetics Anti-Aging Armour Tinted Sunscreen SPF 50+
This tinted sunscreen gives extremely comprehensive protection. It has a gentle mineral formula that also contains some skin-soothers like colloidal oatmeal. This is an anti-aging formula with a whole range of powerful skin rejuvenators, like hyaluronic acid, vitamin A, and quite a few different peptides. The finish is natural, and the shade is best for those with light to medium skin, since it does offer a touch of coverage. Get it at Sephora!
Tinted sunscreen is sunscreen with a bit of pigment in it. They are almost always mineral sunscreens, which contain zinc oxide or titanium dioxide as their active ingredients, which ensure that the formula will offer sun protection.
Both zinc oxide and titanium dioxide are white in color, so a lot of regular mineral sunscreens will leave a “white cast”, which will tint the skin slightly white. This can make a person look like they’re wearing overly light makeup or it might turn their skin purple, gray or ashy.
In order to cancel out the white cast, brands started adding mineral pigments (usually iron oxides) to their sunscreens. These mineral pigments are the same ones used to color makeup products, so in doing so, brands effectively blur the line between sunscreen and makeup. However, usually, the amount of pigment in a tinted sunscreen is just high enough to cancel the whiteness without covering the skin too much.
This is why most brands release just one universal shade of tinted sunscreen that is meant to work for a wide range of skin tones. In some instances, they succeed, while in other instances they end up releasing a sunscreen that will only work for light to medium skin tones, thereby discriminating against people of color.
We’ve focused our list of best tinted sunscreens on either truly universal options or brands that offer multiple colors, but there are still a few brands in there that are not totally universal, which I made sure to point out.
Tinted sunscreens are great for everyone, but especially for folks with sensitive skin! These are the main benefits of tinted sunscreen:
• Tinted sunscreens protect the skin from the sun, thereby preventing sunburn, skin cancer, and premature aging.
• They are usually made with mineral sunscreen ingredients like titanium dioxide or zinc oxide, which makes them better for those who have sensitive skin.
• Unlike untinted mineral sunscreens, they don’t leave a white cast over the skin, but instead, they blend in seamlessly.
• Despite the tint, tinted sunscreens do not look like makeup. They may even out the skin tone slightly but they look completely natural.
• Tinted sunscreens tend to layer very nicely under makeup, so they can double as makeup primers, especially if they contain silicone or coconut alkanes.
While some tinted moisturizers and foundations might offer sun protection that is just as high as a tinted moisturizer, there are actually fairly distinct differences across the three categories. All three products can be sunscreens, in the sense that all three products can have adequate SPF protection. However, when we look at the details we can see that the term ‘tinted sunscreen’ refers to a very specific kind of product.
Tinted sunscreens almost always provide less coverage than a tinted moisturizer. This is because tinted sunscreens are meant to be skincare first and foremost, with the tint in place only to avoid a white cast.
With a tinted moisturizer, the line between skincare and makeup becomes blurrier. While the coverage of a tinted moisturizer is almost always light, it will still help cover some discoloration. It’s very rare that this is the case with a tinted sunscreen.
The second difference between tinted moisturizers and tinted sunscreens is a less rigid one. Generally, a tinted sunscreen is not going to provide enough hydration to the skin on its own, even if the wearer has oily skin.
Some tinted sunscreen formulas can be moisturizing, but most aren’t so you will need to apply a hydrating essence or moisturizer first. With tinted moisturizers, those with oily skin usually don’t have to apply any moisturizer beforehand.
The final difference is when it comes to sun protection. Tinted sunscreens almost always offer at least 30 SPF, whereas tinted moisturizers don’t have to offer any protection at all. Many of them do, and often it is very high. The complication is that tinted moisturizers are often too pigmented to look good at the right quantity.
We have to apply around a ¼ teaspoon of sunscreen in order to get enough coverage, and when it comes to tinted moisturizer that’s just too much product for most of us. It is much easier to apply the correct amount when using the less pigmented tinted sunscreen.
Now let’s talk really quickly about foundations. Tinted moisturizer could be considered a sub-category of foundation since the term can apply to any makeup product that is meant to match the skin tone and be applied all over the face. Since the primary purpose of a tinted sunscreen is to offer sun protection, it wouldn’t fall under the foundation category except perhaps in the very rare cases when a formula happens to be more pigmented than normal.
You should look at the ingredient list while selecting a tinted sunscreen that will work for your particular skin type and needs. This is what you should know:
Best Tinted Sunscreens for Sensitive Skin
Tinted sunscreens are almost always the best choice for those with sensitive skin. They are almost always made with mineral sunblock actives, which tend to be less likely to irritate the skin compared to chemical ones, and they tend to be very low on fragrances. Most of the mineral sunscreens I’ve listed will work well for those with sensitive skin.
You will always want to check the ingredients of a tinted sunscreen for potentially irritating fragrances, essential oils, high quantities of alcohol, and potentially irritating chemical sunscreen ingredients like avobenzone.
Best Tinted Sunscreens for Combinaion and Oily Skin
Since tinted sunscreens are usually not too heavy on the skincare ingredients, the main thing you want to look at is finish. Look for qualifiers like “matte” or “demi-matte” in product descriptions and in reviews (including my reviews).
Avoid tinted sunscreens that have oils or butters near the beginning of the ingredient list. You won’t notice them if they’re listed after the fourth or fifth ingredient, although you might still want to avoid any known acne triggers.
There are two main kinds of tinted sunscreens you could opt for that will have a matte finish.
The first kind has a formula with very little water and that instead contains a lot of heavy-feeling but still matte silicones. You will almost certainly have to use a moisturizer or hydrating serum under this kind of sunscreen, but it will also look especially beautiful under makeup thanks to the mattifying and smoothing effect of the silicone.
The second kind of tinted sunscreens you might want to try will have formulas rich in water, which makes them very lightweight. They are going to be more hydrating, and they might look a little shiny when they go on the skin. They dry down very quickly, though and will usually have a more natural or demi-matte finish. Sometimes they are hydrating enough on their own, though not always.
Best Tinted Sunscreens for Dry Skin
If you have dry skin, you will probably want to use a tinted sunscreen that is closer in formulation to a moisturizer, with lots of water-binding humectants and nourishing oils and butters. Hyaluronic acid is a particularly excellent humectant to look for, while shea butter and coconut oil are fabulous all-natural additions to many tinted sunscreen formulas.
You can also use waterless tinted sunscreen formulations, but make sure to apply a hydrating serum or moisturizer beforehand. Waterless formulas cannot hydrate the skin, but if your skin is already moisturized they can help lock that moisture in.
Beyond that, look for products described as having a natural, dewy, or radiant finish, and make sure to avoid the ones described as being matte. Demi-matte is usually going to be okay, as long as you use a good moisturizer first.
• Depending on your tinted sunscreen and skin type, start with either clean or moisturized skin. You can smooth on a light, hydrating essence if you want a moisture boost that’ll sink in quickly.
• Dispense a ¼ teaspoon of tinted sunscreen in the palm of your hand. This is the amount normally recommended to make sure that you will get the full SPF of the product. Using too little reduces the SPF exponentially, meaning that you can seriously underestimate how much protection you get from your sunscreen.
• I really recommend measuring it out the first time, and then learning what it looks like in your palm. If you have a smaller face and a ¼ teaspoon seems like too much, you can try and estimate what 2 milligrams per square centimeter would be on your face using a tape measuring technique.
• To apply the tinted sunscreen, dot it over your face focusing on the high points like the forehead, nose, chin, and cheeks.
• Then smooth it into your skin in gentle, outward motions, making sure the entirety of your face is covered.
• Be careful not to over-blend or you’ll remove some of the sunscreen and reduce the protection.
• If you find that it’s too difficult to get the sunscreen to blend into your skin in one go, you can split the amount of sunscreen and put it on in two applications, waiting 5-10 minutes in between each application.
• If your tinted sunscreen is looking a little streaky you can give it a few moments to sink in better, and then go in with a bit more product on your fingers, brush, or makeup sponge to blend things out. By doing this with a touch more product you can ensure a seamless finish but with total sun protection.
• Don’t forget your neck and chest! Dispense more product and apply it to your neck and chest if you are going to be showing a bit more skin.
• Give your tinted sunscreen enough time to dry down (at least a few minutes, but the longer you wait, the better) before applying a primer or makeup.
Photos via @jasminedowling, @honeyandvelvet, @raffaellaferrigno, @fromsandyxo, @sortofscientific, @tailashawn