Can You Recommend a Tinted Moisturizer for Dry Skin?

Published in: Makeup Tips/How To

Emma, a new bride (congrats!) and MBB reader, recently emailed with a question about tinted moisturizers — something right up our alley!


Emma writes:

Hi Karen,

Hope you’re having a nice day. πŸ™‚

I got married yesterday! How exciting is that?! It was perfect at the courthouse and then a brilliant dinner afterwards.

Anyway, that’s beside the point. I wanted to ask you and the readers what tinted moisturiser (with SPF of course) you’d recommend? I have been using Benefit You Rebel Lite but I find that the colour is too yellow and it sits on my face (I’m NW 15-20). I also tend towards dry skin (but never break out) so I’m looking for something that moisturizes well.

Can you help me?

Hi, Emma!

Ah…tinted moisturizers. I put ’em right up there with Nutella as one of the greatest inventions of all time! Seriously, I never leave home without a tube (or two or three).

But first things first — they can really vary in coverage. In general a good fitting tinted moisturizer should offer enough coverage to even out your complexion without appearing (or feeling) heavy on your skin.

I’ve used quite a few over the years, but here are three I flat-out lurve:

1. Laura Mercier Oil-Free Tinted Moisturizer SPF 20 ($42, available in nine shades)

I know I probably sound like a broken record, but I’ve been wearing Laura Mercier Oil-Free Tinted Moisturizer FOR YEARS. It’s the barometer against which I measure tinted moisturizers because, frankly, it’s tops! I’m talking sheer-to-medium coverage that’s easy to build wherever I need some extra help, and it doesn’t bug my sensitive, acne-prone skin.

I also love how natural it looks (despite containing SPF 20). Downsides? Well, it’s pricey, and it only comes in nine shades.

2. Tarte Smooth Operator SPF 20 ($36, available in 11 shades)

If you’re generally happy with your skin and just need a little help here and there, Tarte Smooth Operator might be the way to go. It’s quite sheer, having just the faintest hint of color, but it’s usually enough to eliminate any redness I might have and/or to even out my skin tone.


3. Dior HydrAction Deep Hydration Skin Tint SPF 20 ($38, available in four shades)

Okay, this one’s a little hard to find these days (it looks like Dior’s replaced it with a new product called Hydra Life Pro-Youth Skin Tint SPF 20), but if you can still track it down and happen to have a skin tone that works with one of the four shades (VERY limited shade selection), you’re in luck!

This highly pigmented tinted moisturizer offers fantastic coverage and rich hydration without feeling heavy (see my original review here) on my skin. I’m serious — it’s great stuff, especially if you’re looking for full coverage.

What do ya say, homies? Do you have any other recommendations for Emma? Which tinted moisturizers do you like, and which ones do you loathe?

Please share in the comments. πŸ™‚

Your friendly neighborhood beauty addict,



Like this post? Tell your friends!

So far, 47 people have commented on this article. How cool is that?

  1. Radhika says:

    Lush Colour Supplements?? Mix with a moisturizer with SPF and you get a TM perfect for dry-skinned people – am assuming it would because it made my combi-oily skin oily πŸ™

  2. Laura Mercier! All the way. I use and LOVE it! I’ve also added my regular moisturizer to the Loreal True Match, when in a pinch. It’s great because they have tons of colors and you can control how heavy the coverage is on a case by case basis.

  3. Jenn says:

    I’d say to go with Hydra Life Pro-Youth Skin Tint SPF 20, too! But the color range is very limited.

    Have you tried BB creams? They’re like tinted moisturizers that have moisture, anti-aging properties, SPF, and skin soothing action to help fade scars. The only problem with that is that you can only get it online, so you can’t test it out. I would recommend Skin 79 Super BB Triple Function (hot pink), if you’re still interested, though!

    Best of luck! πŸ˜€
    Jenn recently posted … Viva Glam VI SE Lipglass Swatches

  4. Lisa says:

    I was gonna say try Laura Mercier but then you already said that πŸ™‚

  5. mkdallas says:

    Kiehl’s tinted moisturizer all the way, baby! I was a Laura Mercier devotee for years but one day I wandered by a Kiehl’s store and took a look at their TM; I’ve never looked back & think it’s the best stuff EVER! Why, you ask?

    It’s cheaper than LM…$24 versus $42, plus you get more product.
    Significantly better coverage then LM; comparable to a medium-full coverage foundation.

    OK, here’s the (minor) downside. Kiehl’s only comes in 3 shades: light, medium & dark. The medium is great for me for summer, but in the winter, I buy a Light and dribble a bit into the Medium bottle to accomodate my paler complexion. Also, while it has an SPF of 15, LM has SPF 20. Other than those 2 small inconveniences, Kiehl’s is to TMs what Nutella is to late night chocolate frenzies…the answer to your prayers!

  6. Marian says:

    My favorite is Bobbi Brown

  7. Daniela says:

    Clinique’s Moisture Sheer Tint SPF 15. Very hydrating!

  8. Nina says:

    Laura Mercier is great. I love it and use it almost everyday. However, I also have some drugstore tinted moisturizer loves that I alternate w/ my LM. Let’s face it – LM is very spendy, so good drugstore alternatives are a must have for me.

    I particularly love Physician’s Formula Healthy Wear Tinted Moisturizer. Its got SPF50 which is essential for our hot and sunny Houston summers. The drawback is the shade selection is a bit sparse: Ivory/ Fair, Light/Natural and Natura/Tan. I have the both L/N and N/T and I find that N/T is great for me in the summer while L/N will totally work for the winter.

    Another one that I love is the Sonia Kashuk Tinted Moisturizer: this I find a bit oilier than your usual tinted moisturizer so this is great for dry skin. Its got SPF15 and is totally buildable and the coverage is pretty long wear.


  9. Aleksis says:

    Cosmedicine honest face skin tint and treatment, it actually moisturizes and binds with my skin, rather than sitting on top. LM was way too orange for my skintone and I also experienced the ‘sitting-on-skin’ effect. Just wanted to give another view point! =)
    Aleksis recently posted … Fall fixation- Skinny Cargo Pants 91310

  10. Gen says:

    i am a tinted moisturizer junkie but my favorites are Lancome Aqua Fusion Teinté, Boots No.7 Illuminating Tinted Moisturiser and Clarins Hydra-Care Tinted Moisturizer . they really keep my skin fresh and moisturizing.

  11. Liza says:

    I’ve had good luck with Lancôme’s Bienfait tinted moisturizer (SPF 30). I’m not sure whether it’s oil-free, but my skin feels fine when I apply it without lotion underneath, so I’d say it’d be good for dry skin.

  12. FauxFlush says:

    I also love LM Tinted Moisturizer, but several years ago I started mixing my own TM and I’ve never looked back. I make a “light coverage” batch in a glass jar, and then adjust it in my hands with extra foundation if I need a little extra coverage one day. I started it as a way of simplifying my makeup collection, since I always have a few different foundations to choose from, but I find I just flat-out prefer the results. The color is always PERFECT if your foundation is a good match, and I can vary the components according to the season. A lighter lotion with higher SPF mixed with an oil-free foundation creates the perfect summer base, while a heavier lotion mixed with dewy foundation keeps my skin feeling calm and moisturized through winter. I love the flexibility!

  13. lexi says:

    Actually I use the Dior HydraActive. I bought the #2 shade and when I got tan in the summertime (still shocked at that) I blended a sample of #3 to it to make it a bit darker. I suffer from eczema and this works great on me!

  14. Mariko says:

    I just started using Time Balm’s tinted moisturizer and I really like it, and it’s a lot cheaper than the Laura Mercier I used to use πŸ™‚ I have redness and acne scarring on my cheeks and it provides just enough coverage, and feel super light weight too!

  15. Trisha says:

    Thanks for the tips! I’ve actually been wanting to know about tinted moisturizer. I’d much rather use that than straight-up foundation.
    Trisha recently posted … What Eye Shadows Colors Do You Use Most

  16. Essie says:

    I second the laura mercier! I use laura mercier primer for my clients, and have always had good results with it. Good tinted moisturizers can be difficult to find since problems are usually 1. not moisturizing enough, or 2. being too sheer , but laura mercier definitely makes the grade.

    Love your blog by the way! Feel free to check out mine and follow/comment!
    Essie recently posted … Imperfect – Why women SHOULD NOT be going crazy for MAC cosmetics

  17. Maddy says:

    This is irrelevant… but KAREN I FOUND YOU A PERFECT CAT LIPSTICK.

    I was looking in a magazine, and this company called “Paul and Joe” has a cat shaped lipstick!! Aaaaah! Isn’t that amazing? It has 3 shades, and supposedly, it’s ears work as lipliner. Really cute, though!!

  18. SkinALicious says:

    Aveeno’s Tinted moisturizer if great. It really moisturizes without leaving the skin feeling greasy and it has an SPF 30.

  19. Tiffany says:

    I’d suggest Stila or the regular (not oil-free) Laura Mercier ones as well!

  20. Cat says:

    I add a half-pump of Dr. Hauschka’s Translucent Bronze Concentrate to any moisturizer I am using. A little goes a very long way. I also love the tinted SPF from Juice Beauty.

  21. Van says:

    Stila Tinted Moisturizer is great too! It evens out the skin tone and has medium coverage. Since I have combination skin, I use the oil-free version. But if you have dry skin, use the regular one.
    My other favorite is BB cream. I like it more than tinted moisturizer. I recommend Mioggi. They are widely available in Asia (I get a few tubes when I go there), but you may also be able to find it online. They are great!

  22. Eileen says:

    Laura Mercier makes a tinted moisturizer formula specifically for dry skin. It’s lightweight with good coverage just like the original, but is more emollient.

  23. Bobbi Browns EXTRA SPF 25 Tinted Moisturizing Balm!
    House of Accessories recently posted … Caramel Brown Fringed Afghan Home Decor Throw Blanket

  24. Emmy says:

    If you ever wanted to get splurgy, the Chantecaille Just Skin tinted moisturizer is a dream for dry skin (or wrinkly skin). Seriously, some of the most beautiful I’ve ever tried, but it’s $62!

    If I had dry skin I’d do the Laura Mercier illuminating or regular formula. Or the MD skincare. If your tinted moisturizer is sitting on your face, you probably need a little more moisture in there, not the oil-free!

  25. Kelley says:

    I’m not a huge fan of the Laura Mercier tinted moisturizer. I find it hard to blend it in before it dries. For dry skin, I highly recommend the BB tinted moisturizer. It is what I always go to in the winter months!

  26. Rachael says:

    I know people complain that they need to bring back the old Sonia Kashuk TM at Target, but I like the one now. Though there are only 4 shades, I surprisingly fit into the palest shade and even have to add a slightly darker shade, at least for now. I like that they’re brightening, works great with my school schedule and I need to fake that “just slept for hours and hours instead of 3).
    Rachael recently posted … Time for Cuteness

  27. tanveer says:

    Ponds Age Miracle Tinted Mosituriser is quite good. It has spf 15 and is a lil bit on the heavy side in terms of moisturisation. Perfect for my dry skin πŸ™‚
    tanveer recently posted … Skin Burns – Home Remedies

  28. amanda says:

    I just picked up the Jemma Kidd moisture tint spf 20 at was $26, kind of pricey for a drugstore product, but this tinted moisturizer is seriously nice, light coverage and evens out my skin tone!

  29. I love Neutrogena Healthy Skin Enhancer! It contains SPF20 and it makes my skin so smooth! πŸ™‚
    Stavroula Plag recently posted … Random Tip of the Day 14092010

  30. Appu says:

    I know nothing can beat the Laura Mercier one…but, another affordable alternative is the Mark get a tint Tinted moisturizer…It’s awesome πŸ™‚

  31. Kim says:

    I usually use a regular moisturizer (Clinique Dramatically Different) and a tinted sunscreen (Murad) but it’s only SPF 15 and the coverage is very sheer. I’ve tried a couple of tinted moisturizers but they felt very heavy to me. Of course, my skin is combination and acne-prone, not dry. I think I’ll check out the Laura Mercier though since it’s getting such good reviews. πŸ™‚

  32. Emma says:

    Thanks for all the great suggestions from everyone – and the wide price ranges. I will certainly go out and have a look at the suggested products. Van, I will get my Mum to look out for Mioggi for me because she lives in HK. I find that Asian products tend to be paler than Euro products due to their love of fair looking skin tones.

  33. puff says:

    I have dry skin too and while for most things makeup I prefer the higher-end brands I gotta tell you I loooove Organic Wear tinted moisturizer. First of all, for a product I use every single day you can’t beat $9-11 a bottle. Best of all the entire Organic Wear line (by Physicians Formula) comes from all natural, mostly organic, sources. Plus the packaging is cute and earth-friendly. I can’t tell you how excited I am that there’s an affordable drug store brand that’s not full of chemicals.
    It has spf 15, is completely weightless, really moisturizing, and has sheer light to medium coverage. It’s very buildable if you need more coverage. It blends in perfectly with my skin and looks totally natural.
    It’s silky, not oily, and evens out my skin tone and texture naturally. It’s my tinted moisturizer of choice, and for the price I think it’d be worth a try for you too!

  34. corinne says:

    It’s not a tinted moisturizer but feels like it…and does the exact same thing…it’s MAC’s Face & Body Foundation…first, the bottle is HUGE so u definately get your money’s worth and second…its’ sheer to medium buildable coverage and doesn’t make you cakey looking at all!!

  35. Terri says:

    Just so you know: I’m NOT a Mary Kay consultant so have no financial stake in this endorsement –
    my favorite TM for dry skin (my winter skin) is Mary Kay TM with SPF 20. I use Ivory 2. I also have Beige 1 for my darker summer skin, but generally find it a bit too oily in summer. I’d definitely recommend it for dry skin. It’s sheer enough to blend nicely but has enough tint to even imperfections. If you can find an MK consultant in your area, I’d give it a try.
    I hardly ever wear full foundation any more; just sunscreen moisturizer and/or TM with sunscreen, and a good concealer on the dark areas, then dust sheer powder down the shiny middle of my face. Much less aging! BTW: my new fave concealer is Cover Girl Simply Ageless! Creamy but blends wonderfully and not greasy.

  36. Betsy says:

    Neutrogena Healthy Skin Glow is super affordable and has good coverage. Good luck! πŸ™‚

    • Taylor says:

      omg i second that! i also really luv clinique’s supermoisture makeup cuz it has MUCH better coverage than their sheer tint one and manages to be really light on your skin too! But to be fair i haven’t tried LM’s one yet….;p

  37. Cathy says:

    Congrats on your wedding! My search for the perfect tinted moisturizer ended when I discovered Bobbi Brown Tinted Moisturizing Balm. It is VERY rich. It comes in a few different shades also, which will work with most skintones. Best of all, it contains an SPF of either 20 or 28 (sorry, the writing has worn off the bottom of my jar and I can’t read it lol). Warning: when you open the jar you will detect a fragrance that is not entirely pleasant, but trust me, it does go away once you apply it.

    Hope this helps, and good luck finding the perfect product for your skin πŸ™‚

  38. G says:

    Tried tons – the best is Chanel’s – a little goes a long way plus its got hydramax in it which is used to hydrate the skin -check it out.

  39. Alexandra says:

    I use Smashboxs tinted moisturizer . Maybe you could get some samples and try them out that way πŸ™‚

  40. Rozae says:

    I so understand your problem, I have dry skin and finding something that matches my skin tone and hydrates. After doing some research I found something I really like, liked it so much I did a utube video. Check Karen’s review of the line and watch my utube videos. Hope that helps.

    Review of Becca

    How to Use Becca’s Tinted Moisturizer

    • Emma says:

      Great video Rozae! I like the look of that Becca product (also I’m a Kiwi so partial to anything from downunder). Where can you get these products? I looked at Sephora and they weren’t listing anything under the product. I wouldn’t like to buy online without testing for colour first.

      There are just so many great suggestions. Has anyone tried the MAC by the way? I read their ingredients list and it sounded quite natural.

  41. Jessica says:

    Clarins has a great one too, but again, limited selection in colors.

  42. Ava says:

    I like Jouer Luminizing Moisture Tint. It provides more moisture than Laura Mercier, excellent coverage, and it really does illuminate the complexion.
    Ava recently posted … Jouer

  43. Ling says:

    Mine is New Zealand – Livng Nature – CLEAR LIGHTS TINTED MOISTURISER Teinte hydratante* . It has a sweet scent that doesn’t offend no matter how many times I’ve used it. I’m not sure about the cost though, my sub-conscious brain chose to forget the exact price as it was way over my budget . This product ” contains only ingredients created by nature and is synthetic and animal free.”
    Do tell me what you guys think if you’ve tried it {:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge