natural makeup
Tired of heavy base makeup? Give your skin a breather with light to medium coverage tint moisturisers. Image Credit: Unsplash/Jessica Felicio

Let's be honest - a full coverage foundation isn't for everyone. With the beauty industry shifting away from flawless base makeup to bare-skin canvas, tinted moisturisers have shot to popularity. We're growing more comfortable with letting our acne bumps and pores shine through, texture and all.

Along with minimal (breathable) coverage, tinted moisturisers add a sheer glow to the face, creating the perfect marriage of skincare and makeup. You're getting sun protection, added hydration and skin-like application - what's not to love? Start your skin positivity journey here, where we feature the best product recommendations from the pros.

Is tinted moisturiser better than foundation?

Can a tinted moisturiser replace your foundation? If you prefer to conceal blemishes and discolouration, then, the answer is no. Kimia Nourtajalli, a Dubai-based makeup artist and stylist, with 12 years of industry experience in editorial and TV commercials, explained: "Foundations are much more pigmented, with a wider shade range. Those with medium to full coverage can cover most blemishes and pigmentation easily. However, a tinted moisturiser is almost like a skincare product that has a bit of pigment. It gives the skin a really fresh and sheer finish, which allows the texture underneath to shine."

So, while tinted moisturisers are not heavy-duty foundations, they're an attractive alternative for a 'no-makeup makeup' look. Nourtajalli says the product is more suitable for everyday makeup, mature skin types, and anyone who wants to achieve a natural base.

How do I apply a tinted moisturiser?

Believe it or not, you can rub the product in, much like your regular moisturiser. Anoushka Kamboj, a bridal makeup artist based in Dubai, better known by the alias Elani, uses a tinted moisturiser as a quick fix in the mornings, before heading to work.

"Since it's lighter than foundation and is moisturising, it blends easily. I personally love using a tinted moisturiser in the mornings, when I know I don't have enough time for full coverage. If you don't want a full glam [look], but want to cover spots without a cakey layer, apply the moisturiser with your fingers. Your fingers are the best natural medium for a skin-like finish," advised Kamboj.

Besides fingers, the application also works with sponges and buffer brushes. When it comes to priming the skin, Kamboj says you can skip this step. She added: "But if you have large pores that you want to blur, you could use your primer beforehand, to fill them in."

It's always a good idea to pick up a tinted moisturiser that has a sun protection factor (SPF), to boost your sunscreen. Nourtajalli also looks for hyaluronic acid and green tea oil in the ingredients, when she shops for tinted moisturisers.

Take your pick from the list below, some tried and tested by our experts and others by reviewers on Amazon. You can get free, same- or next-day delivery, with a Prime membership. 

1. Best Overall: Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturiser, 50ml

Picked by both makeup artists is Laura Mercier's widely popular range of tinted moisturisers. It comes packed with beneficial skincare ingredients, so it's no wonder that Nourtajalli has been loyal to the tint for the past few months. Available in warm, neutral and cool shades, this hydrating formula is infused with macadamia and kukui seed oils to fend off any dry patches on application. Tamarind seed extract retains moisture to keep the skin plump for 24 hours. Last but not least, the broad spectrum SPF 30 sunscreen, with vitamins C and E, shields the face from free radicals and pollution. The brand suggests using a primer for best results.

2. Best for Dewy Finish: Huda Beauty GloWish Multidew Vegan Skin Tint Foundation, 05 Medium

Huda Beauty's GloWish tint is Kamboj's personal favourite: "It gives me the perfect amount of coverage in the morning, and has a good range of shades, as well." Get a sheer 12-hour coverage that enhances your natural complexion to the fullest. GloWish Multidew skin tint is made with plant-derived squalane, soothing and moisture-locking Damascus rose oil, and antioxidant red bell pepper extract. The formula is vegan, fragrance-free and doesn't clog pores. Its reflective pearl pigments give the tint highlighter properties, so much so that you can add a few drops to your foundation or cheeks for a dewy look. Because it doesn't contain a sun protection factor, make sure to wear sunscreen before application.

3. Best Buildable Tint: Nars Pure Radiant Tinted Moisturiser SPF 30, #03 Groenland/Light

Another solid choice, per both experts, is the Pure Radiant Tinted Moisturiser by Nars. If you're a fan of Nars foundations, then you must be closely familiar with their skin-like finish, says Kamboj. The tint has an SPF 30, backed by vitamin C for skin brightening, and the naturally hydrating sugar Kopara. It offers buildable coverage, so you can control the desired opacity. Long-term users of the Nars tint leave five stars and say they mix it with their foundation for a dewy application. It's also non-clogging for acne-prone skin types.

4. Best Tint with Mineral SPF: Bareminerals Complexion Rescue Tinted Hydrating Gel Cream, SPF 30, Chestnut 09

Vegan and free of sulfates, parabens and fragrance, the Bareminerals Complexion Rescue tint is made for dry, normal and combination skin types. Hyaluronic acid delivers 24-hour hydration, while olive-derived squalane prevents moisture loss. Your skin will be protected from sun damage, thanks to the addition of mineral-based SPF 30. This means the tint should be applied 15 minutes before sun exposure, for the sunscreen to work. Buyers who've been using the gel cream tint for years say they prefer the sheer look over heavy foundations that end up emphasising their pores. The product glides on smoothly and blends into the skin well, they add.

5. Best Serum Tint: L'Oreal Paris True Match Nude Plumping Tinted Serum, Shade 2-3 Light

For extremely lightweight coverage, consider a serum formula, like the L'Oreal Paris True Match Nude tinted serum. Formulated with 1% hyaluronic acid, the skin tint brightens and plumps the face from within and uses luminous mineral pigments for a sheer cover. It even comes with a pipette applicator, for quick and easy application. Rave reviews recommend the skin-like product for everyday makeup; some mention how it has singlehandedly replaced their expensive foundation ranges.

6. Best Budget: Neutrogena Hydro Boost Hydrating Tint, 60 Natural Beige

Shade-match from the 10 options available on Amazon, and get yourself an entry-level skin tint, on a budget. The Neutrogena Hydro Boost Hydrating Tint comes in an oil-free water gel formula with hyaluronic acid. The tint keeps your skin hydrated for 24 hours and doesn't clog pores with its breathable coverage. Since it has a watery texture, expect little coverage, say reviews. Neutrogena also advises moisturising and priming the skin, prior to application. Those with mature skin leave five stars, saying that the product doesn't settle into their fine lines.

7. Best for Blemishes: Urban Decay Hydromaniac Tinted Moisturiser, 80 Deep Warm

Here's another tinted moisturiser with an easily available palette for shade matching. Urban Decay's Hydromaniac comes in 12 shades, from ultra fair to ultra deep, all of which promise medium long-wear coverage. In this vegan formula, you'll find kombucha filtrate and hydrating marula oil to keep the glow intact for 24 hours. It blurs your pores and evens out the skin tone, thanks to the creamy texture. Though the tint isn't as sheer as the other options in our list, it does conceal blemishes without being too greasy or heavy, note reviewers.

Our recommendations are independently chosen by Gulf News editors. If you decide to shop through links on our website, we may earn an affiliate commission, as we are part of Amazon Services LLC Associates Program.