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Yes, skin tints and tinted moisturizers are different! Experts explain how and share their favorite products

They're here to help you choose the best option for your makeup needs.
Ilia; Rare Beauty

Have a day where you feel like skipping foundation, but still want a natural, radiant glow? It might be time to try a skin tint or tinted moisturizer. They may sound similar — and they even have some similar benefits — but these two products are actually vastly different items in your beauty arsenal.

Skin tints and tinted moisturizers are both lighter and sheerer than foundation, bronzer, BB cream and CC cream. (Think: I-woke-up-like-this skin with a fresh-faced, sun-kissed glow.) They can also be paired with other products in your makeup and skincare routine to round it out and create a glowier finish. 

We asked makeup artists to help discern the differences between skin tints and tinted moisturizers. Read on for their top tips and tricks (and find some new product favorites, too).

The main difference | Benefits of skin tints | Benefits of tinted moisturizers | How to apply skin tints | How to apply tinted moisturizers | How we chose | Meet the experts

Shop TODAY Snapshot

Best skin tints and tinted moisturizers

The main difference between skin tints and tinted moisturizers

When discerning between skin tints and tinted moisturizers, it’s helpful to look at the coverage and benefits. Skin tints tend to be more watery and serum-like in texture, while tinted moisturizers have a slightly thicker texture.

“Skin tints offer pigment and sometimes radiance, but no coverage. Tinted moisturizers offer sheer to light coverage and sometimes also have added SPF protection,” says Chicago-based makeup artist and founder of Do Your Beauty Better, Jenny Patinkin.

“Skin tints offer pigment and sometimes radiance, but no coverage. Tinted moisturizers offer sheer to light coverage and sometimes also have added SPF protection."

Jenny Patinkin, Chicago-based makeup artist and founder of Do Your Beauty Better

What are the benefits of skin tints?

Skin tints are very lightweight and typically have a more watery or serum-like texture. “Skin tints are essentially serums with a hint of color, making them the perfect product for one who wants to achieve that barely-there makeup look,” says New York-based celebrity makeup artist Tamara Delbridge. They tend to be sheer in texture and lightly pigmented, without added coverage like foundation or concealer.

Because of the lightweight formula, skin tints are easy to build coverage gradually, says celebrity makeup artist Jenna Nicole, represented by Dew Beauty Agency. “Adjust the amount based on your preference for a natural, dewy finish,” she recommends.

What are the benefits of tinted moisturizers?

Think of a tinted moisturizer like the marriage of skin care and makeup. Tinted moisturizers give you coverage and color while also adding skin care benefits. “Tinted moisturizers are skin care/makeup hybrids,” shares celebrity, influencer and bridal makeup artist Natalie Dresher, who’s based in Miami.

If you’re looking for a radiant glow and a touch of color, a tinted moisturizer is your best bet. “It’s a great option for those who want a natural, dewy finish with a hint of color,” says Joseph Carrillo, a makeup artist based in New York.

While a tinted moisturizer has more coverage than a skin tint, it still falls under the coverage of BB creams and CC creams. “Tinted moisturizers are the sheerest, while BB creams are sheer but buildable, and CC creams offer medium to full coverage,” says Delbridge.

And, even though it’s called a moisturizer, Dresher still recommends applying another one prior to slathering on your tinted moisturizer of choice.

How to apply skin tints

When it comes to applying skin tints, skip the brushes in favor of your fingers. 

“Use a small amount — a little goes a long way — and apply with your fingers in an upward motion,” recommends celebrity makeup artist and brow artist Stevi Christine, who’s based in Los Angeles and New York. “Start on your cheeks, and then move to your forehead.”

Gregory Arlt, a makeup artist based in Los Angeles, agrees. “You can really massage it into the skin and put it where you want it,” he says. “I feel that a brush or sponge would absorb too much of the product.”

How to apply tinted moisturizers

There are multiple ways to apply tinted moisturizers. Dresher and Nicole prefer applying with their fingers, while Delbridge prefers a sponge or foundation brush. “They complete the beauty routine by creating healthy-looking skin,” she says.

Opt for tinted moisturizer on days when you want more coverage than a skin tint, but less than a full-face-makeup day. “I would use a tinted moisturizer on heavier makeup days that don’t quite require a typical foundation,” recommends Dresher.

Best skin tints, according to experts

Maybelline Super Stay Up Skin Tint

What we like
  • Great coverage
  • Awesome staying power
Something to note
  • May be drying

Available shades: 18 | Notable ingredients: Vitamin C

For a skin tint that blends dewiness, brightness and radiance, look no further than this bottle from Maybelline. It’s infused with vitamin C, and it resists sweat, humidity and fading for up to 24 hours. (Perfect for super hot summer days.) 

The weightless formula is a favorite of Dresher’s, who says “it really is long wearing, looks great on the skin, and flawlessly blends with concealer for more coverage.”

caliray Skin Tint 

What we like
  • Lightweight coverage
  • Natural finish
Something to note
  • May be runny
  • May be drying

Available shades: 15 | Notable ingredients: Natural silica, prickly pear extract, glycerin

This lightweight, buildable skin tint includes hydrating ingredients like prickly pear extract and glycerin to create a natural, fresh-faced glow with easy application. Patinkin recommends it for its number of shades and blurring effect, which is thanks to natural silica. It comes in 15 different shades and also promises not to clog pores or exacerbate fine lines.

Glossier Perfecting Skin Tint

What we like
  • Blurring, sheer coverage
  • Smooth finish
Something to note
  • Minimal coverage

Available shades: 12 | Notable ingredients: Diamond powder, glycerin

Dresher calls Glossier’s Perfecting Skin Tint “like a filter in real life.” Let your skin shine through with the sheer color that still smooths and minimizes pores, thanks to diamond powder and moisturizing glycerin. The vegan formula is available in 12 different shades.

Eaze Drop Blurring Skin Tint

Pros:
  • Natural, lightweight coverage
  • Lots of shade options
Cons:
  • May be drying

Available shades: 25 | Notable ingredients: Glycerin

Talk about blurred lines… when it comes to Fenty Beauty Eaze Drop, that is. This skin tint resists sweat, humidity and transfer, while also remaining lightweight and buildable. The brand’s QuickBlur Complex provides a diffused effect for an effortless finish. Not to mention it comes in a whopping 25 different shades.

Nicole is a fan of this skin tint for its blurring effect. “It’s a great option for a no-makeup makeup look,” she says.

Kevyn Aucoin Skin Tint 

What we like
  • Good coverage
  • Dewy finish
Something to note
  • Doesn't contain SPF

Available shades: 10 | Notable ingredients: Hyaluronic acid, vitamin E, butterfly bush extract

If you want light coverage with a seamless, filtered finish, try this Kevyn Aucoin skin tint. “In addition to enhancing your complexion, this serum is enriched with antioxidants, which nourish and protect the skin from harmful environmental factors,” says Delbridge.

The lightweight formula is packed with nourishing ingredients like hyaluronic acid, vitamin E and butterfly bush extract. The 10 different shades suit a variety of skin tones.

Summer Fridays Sheer Skin Tint 

What we like
  • Provides lightweight coverage
  • Contains hyaluronic acid
  • Vegan
Something to note
  • 1-ounce bottle is small

Available shades: 12 | Notable ingredients: Tiger grass, humectant blend, rich emollients

With 12 different shades to choose from and a sheer, weightless formula, this skin tint by Summer Fridays is an ideal choice if you’re going for a no-makeup makeup look. Plus, it’s formulated with a host of hydrating ingredients, including squalane, glycerin and hyaluronic acid.

Patinkin, Dresher and Arlt all call this skin tint a favorite. It “gives the look of added warmth to the skin without being too orange,” Patinkin says.

Ilia Super Serum Skin Tint

What we like
  • Provides lightweight coverage
  • Radiant finish
  • Lots of shade options
Something to note
  • Users complain about the scent
  • Small 1 oz bottle

Available shades: 30 | Notable ingredients: Hyaluronic acid, niacinamide, plant-based squalane, non-nano zinc oxide

Thirty shades. We’ll repeat that: 30 shades. With that many color matches to try, this skin tint by Ilia certainly faces its competition head on. It’s an oft-recommended product by Christine, who says, “It’s my cult favorite. [I] recommend this product to anyone seeking a treatment and light, fresh finish.” She also points out its ingredients that work for sensitive skin, like hyaluronic acid, squalane and niacinamide. 

Unlike some other skin tints, this one also has SPF 40, so your skin will be dewy and protected at the same time. Arlt is a fan of this skin tint, both for its ability to create a sheer finish and its protective capabilities. “It looks undetectable on the skin, and offers a generous amount of sun protection,” he says.

Prime Skin by Gee Beauty

What we like
  • Hydrating
  • Contains hyaluronic acid
  • Breathable
Something to note
  • 1.2 ounce bottle is small

Available shades: 9 | Notable ingredients: Hyaluronic acid

With its ability to help match a variety of skin tones, Gee Beauty Prime Skin stands apart from its competitors. It contains hydrating hyaluronic acid and skin-adapt pigment technology.

Dresher raves about this skin tint. “Love this skin tint for that perfect clean girl aesthetic,” she says. “It doesn’t sit in fine lines or expression lines, and just blurs my skin enough to feel effortlessly beautiful. I love the dewiness of this product as well. My freckles peek out when wearing this!”

Best tinted moisturizers, according to experts

Rare Beauty Positive Light Tinted Moisturizer 

What we like
  • Lightweight coverage
  • Dewy, natural finish
Something to note
  • May be drying

Available shades: 24 | Notable ingredients: Botanical blend, vitamin E

If you’re looking for a thinner tinted moisturizer to wear to the beach, Dresher recommends this one by Rare Beauty. It contains broad spectrum SPF 20, vitamin E and the brand’s signature soothing botanical blend of lotus, gardenia and white water lily (which makes it a favorite of Delbridge, too). Plus, it comes in 24 different shades. What’s not to love?

Saie Slip Tint Tinted Moisturizer 

What we like
  • Great for dry skin
  • Contains hyaluronic acid
Something to note
  • Users complain about smell

Available shades: 14 | Notable ingredients: 100% non-nano mineral zinc oxide, hyaluronic acid, licorice root extract

Saie’s tinted moisturizer is a favorite of both Patinkin and Christine, who praise its coverage and finish. Christine also loves the color range, which is impressive with 14 different shades. This easy-to-apply tinted moisturizer is formulated with a mix of hydrating hyaluronic acid, brightening licorice root extract, and protective SPF 35. 

Clinique Moisture Surge Sheertint Hydrator 

What we like
  • Lightweight coverage
  • Contains SPF
Something to note
  • Not enough coverage for some

Available shades: 7 | Notable ingredients: Hyaluronic acid, activated aloe water

What this Clinique tinted moisturizer may lack in color range, it makes up for in hydration. Its mix of hyaluronic acid and activated aloe water promise to hydrate, plump, dewify and protect skin for 12 hours.

“[It] gives you that surge of moisture with a touch of color,” says Nicole. “I love this product for those wanting a dewy look while maintaining skin hydration.”

This product is also a favorite of Amanda Fama, a commerce editor at Shop TODAY. She says, "I use this every day to help add some hydration to my makeup routine, and it blends so smoothly."

NARS Pure Radiant Tinted Moisturizer

What we like
  • Lightweight coverage
  • Radiant finish
  • Contains SPF
Something to note
  • May be drying

Available shades: 16 | Notable ingredients: Vitamin C, French Polynesian kopara

Delbridge points to this tinted moisturizer from NARS as one of her go-tos, thanks to its combination of protective SPF 30 and hydrating French Polynesian kopara (a natural sugar). It comes in 16 different shades and includes vitamin C to help brighten skin.

Carrillo recommends this tinted moisturizer, too. “[It provides] hydration, light coverage, and a radiant complexion,” he says.

Charlotte Tilbury Tinted Moisturizer

What we like
  • Adds a "glow"
  • Feels moisturizing
Something to note
  • Too "orange" for some

Available shades: 1 | Notable ingredients: Glycerin

What this Charlotte Tilbury tinted moisturizer lacks in shade range, it makes up for in sun-kissed glow. The streak-free formula absorbs easily and leaves you with fresh, radiant color that adapts to your skin tone. “It works on all skin types, and truly does the job of moisturizing and helping to perfect the skin,” Arlt says.

Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturizer

What we like
  • Looks natural
  • Long-lasting product
  • Very lightweight
Something to note
  • Some broke out after use

Available shades: 20 | Notable ingredients: Macadamia oil, kukui seed oil, tamarind seed extract

If you’ve ever heard of tinted moisturizer, chances are, you’ve come across Laura Mercier. The fan-favorite formula features a blend of macadamia and kukui seed oils (to help moisturize the skin for up to 24 hours), tamarind seed extract (to prevent water evaporation from the skin), and broad spectrum SPF 30 protection. The result is a fresh, dewy finish with a hint of color.

“It’s such a lightweight application and leaves your skin with such a beautiful, natural finish,” says Nicole. “It gives sheer coverage and leaves your skin with a gorgeous, hydrated glow.”

U Beauty The Super Tinted Hydrator

What we like
  • Feels hydrating
  • Lightweight on skin
Something to note
  • Pricey

Available shades: 11 | Notable ingredients: Purified oat extract, shea butter, peptides, avocado oil, organic argan oil

While this is one of the pricier options on our list, it is worth including for its host of good-for-the-skin ingredients. Everything from shea butter and peptides to organic argan oil and grapeseed oil combine in a formula that’s worth its weight in gold, while not feeling heavy on the skin. Its SIREN Capsule Technology promises to nourish and hydrate the skin for up to 48 hours and visibly improve texture, too. 

It’s no wonder this tinted moisturizer is a go-to for Patinkin — and many Amazon shoppers love it, too. One wrote, “This foundation is one of the only ones that has blended into my skin and didn’t look cakey, it looks like my own skin but better. It looks natural and it feels weightless on my skin.”

Essence Lash Princess Mascara

This cult-favorite mascara lengthened the lashes of one Shop TODAY writer — and it boasts a $5 price tag.

$4.99

Amazon

$3.49

$4.99

Ulta

$9.68

Walmart

Julep Eyeshadow 101 Crème to Powder

Craft the perfect eye look with this crème-to-powder stick.

$16.00

Amazon

Nivea Skin Firming Lotion

According to the brand, this gel cream can firm and tone skin in as little as two weeks.

$10.00

Amazon

$10.27

Walmart

$12.99

Target

Haus Labs Triclone Skin Tech Medium Coverage Foundation

Suitable for all skin types, this award-winning foundation helps reduce redness and even skin tone.

$45.00

Sephora

Dermaplaning Tool Set

Remove unwanted dead skin and facial hair in one easy, quick motion with this dermaplaning tool set.

$8.99

Amazon

Derm Correxion Contour Cream

This anti-aging moisturizer targets signs of aging and is gentle enough for daily use, says the brand.

$32.99

RoC Skincare

Out of Stock

Amazon

$24.49

$34.99

Ulta

Monochromatic Multi-Stick

Add color to your eyes, lips and cheeks with this cream-to-powder blush stick.

$5.00

Amazon

What The Foundation

This tinted moisturizing balm combines makeup and moisturizer, offering light-medium coverage.

$44.00

Jones Road Beauty

Ogee Sculpted Lip Oil

Nutrient-rich butters and waxes in this lip oil offer a light tint and soothe your lips, according to the brand.

$28.00

Amazon

$32.00

Saks Fifth Avenue

Advanced Neck Firming Cream

Made with hydrating ingredients, the brand says this cream delivers a smoother, firmer neck area.

$54.00

Amazon

$54.00

DRMTLGY

Synchro Skin Radiant Lifting Foundation

This medium-to-full coverage foundation also hydrates skin for 24 hours, helping you achieve a natural glow.

$47.00

Amazon

$47.00

Sephora

$47.00

Macy's

Kitsch Satin Pillowcase

Tired of bed head? This satin pillowcase claims to reduces frizz.

$18.99

Amazon

Kitsch Ice Roller for Face

This roller claims to improve circulation to your face and neck, reducing irritation and inflammation.

$17.99

$23.00

Amazon

Kitsch Satin Heatless Curling Set

Achieve heatless curls overnight with these rollers, says the brand.

$15.98

$18.00

Amazon

How we chose

We chose skin tints and tinted moisturizers based on advice given by experts regarding the benefits of each, including hydration, coverage, shade range and finish. We also considered specific ingredients that help with sun protection and moisturizing.

Meet the experts

  • Jenny Patinkin is a makeup artist, the founder of Do Your Beauty Better, and author of "Lazy Perfection: The Art of Looking Great Without Really Trying." Her namesake line of eco-luxe beauty tools sold at Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue and more.
  • Natalie Dresher is a celebrity, influencer and bridal makeup artist with 10 years of experience. She grew up in New York and has a background in drawing and painting, and her work has been featured at New York Fashion Week, weddings and special events.
  • Tamara Delbridge is a makeup artist with two decades of experience in the entertainment industry. She is a dual-licensed esthetician in New York and New Jersey. Her work has been featured in national publications like GQ and Harper’s Bazaar, and in both film and TV.
  • Stevi Christine is a celebrity makeup artist and brow artist with over 15 years of experience perfecting her iconic natural-looking, effortlessly chic brows. She coined the term, “the un done, done brow.” She began her career as a freelance artist for Laura Mercier before becoming the resident makeup artist at Warren-Tricomi Salon and the brow stylist at Kate Somerville.
  • Jenna Nicole is a celebrity makeup artist with 10 years of experience working for some of the biggest names in the entertainment industry.
  • Gregory Arlt is an Emmy-nominated makeup artist with over 30 years of experience working with some of the most famous faces in the world. He began his makeup career at the prestigious Los Angeles boutique Fred Segal and worked with M.A.C Cosmetics for almost 20 years, holding the position of Director of Makeup Artistry. His work has been featured at New York Fashion Week, TV, editorial photo shoots, makeup master classes worldwide and more.
  • Joseph Carrillo is a makeup artist and facial sculpting expert. His work has been featured on the red carpet, in advertising campaigns and editorial photo shoots for Vogue and more.