Throw Out Your Foundation: The Best Tinted Moisturizers and SPFs For All Skin Types
Is full-coverage makeup really dead? Has the day really come where we abandon our heavy foundations for sheer coverage? After years of makeup tutorials and the cult of contouring (spearheaded by the Kardashian era), we might be entering a new phase. Beauty trends are changing. But is this really good?
At first glance, it seems the answer is yes. Gen Z is pioneering skin neutrality, where we accept our skin for what it is — acne, scarring, texture, and all. Plus, with more casual Instagram feeds, the reign of TikTok, and the introduction of candid pics on BeReal, how you actually look is more normalized. And now the beauty industry is catching on.
Jen Horsley, MECCA’s Head of Artistry, told Vogue Australia:
“We have noticed our customers are looking for options to customize their complexion, using products that work for your particular needs and help you achieve glowing skin. We are always looking to see the natural texture and integrity of the skin come through by layering skincare, using a tint even to tone and then just using concealer where needed. This approach will always keep the complexion fresh. Gone are the days of having one blemish and using full coverage foundation all over the skin to hide it. It’s all about choosing what finish is right for you."
But how does this match up with the Y2K/maximalism fervor that’s sweeping the mainstream? Surprisingly, the two are more compatible than you would think. The current trendscape dictates that bold makeup and eye-catching aesthetics are not about adhering to one particular form of beauty — they’re about self-expression. And true self-expression shouldn’t mean covering yourself up. No more painting on your face out of obligation. But on your glittery eyeshadow and nothing else if that’s what suits you.
This approach to makeup has been co-signed by one of Gen Z’s major beauty influences: the hit HBO show Euphoria. Donni Davy, the infamous Euphoria makeup artist, doesn’t use foundation or powder on the cast. “I actually think it adds to the glam makeup and makes it feel more accessible and unapologetic,” she told the New York Times. Now, you don’t need hours and hoards of makeup to recreate your favorite looks. And you don’t have to worry about the effort it takes to keep a full face looking fresh all day. Thank God.
And not to make everything about Hailey Bieber and her Clean Girl-approved skincare line, but even the New York Times agrees — she’s emblematic of the trend. They reported: “In June, Rhode Skin, the Hailey Bieber line, introduced a Peptide Glazing Fluid, which the company said has sold out multiple times. It’s a lightweight, quick-absorbing gel serum that plumps, hydrates, and illuminates — and is being promoted for how it makes skin look immediately after application, much as foundations are marketed.”
Real skin is back! Even when people are doing a routine of blush-bronzer-concealer, new TikTok hacks are emerging as alternatives for caked-on, heavy makeup.
But is all this as rosy as it seems? The Clean Girl look might be all the rage right now, but it has popularized aesthetics that — for a long time — Black and brown girls were ridiculed for. Slicked back buns, lip gloss, long nails, and big hoop earrings used to be called “ghetto” and “ratchet,” … but now that Hailey Bieber and Matilda Djerf are doing it, it’s a vibe? And no shade to them — I love the look. But too often, these trends are only trends when conventionally attractive white women do them.
So the purported gospel of skin acceptance is a little suspicious to me. Hailey Bieber has the money and time for expensive skincare and regular facials. It’s like when Kendall Jenner acted like Proactiv was the thing that solved her acne. Or when Zoe Kravtiz told Vogue that she believes in using makeup to “highlight” your features instead of covering them up. All this is easy to say when you’re rich and gorgeous. But what about the rest of us?
It’s easy to accept your skin when you only get the occasional breakout. And it’s easy to praise the minimal beauty look when your skin is clear and even. Are these minimal aesthetics creating a hierarchy where only people with so-called “good genes” can really attain them?
The @rhode trick ✨ @Leah Darcy
Luckily, you can have the best of both worlds. While TikTok might convince you that you need Chanel’s expensive, watery skin tints to create the perfect glowy visage … for most of us, that’s not going to cut it. But some brands just get it. It really is possible to get a little bit of coverage while keeping the natural look.
Here are the best brands to give you featherlight but substantial coverage for the clean girl look without celebrity prices. The full coverage foundation might be dead. But tinted moisturizers and SPFs are the solutions you need:
All products featured are independently selected by our editors. Things you buy through our links may earn us a commission.
Hailey Bieber herself recommends this — and she knows what the girls want. I’m the girls. And what I want is this Kosas face oil. So thank goodness I can afford this! This luxe oil texture glides onto the skin like a skincare face oil to plump, repair, and brighten the skin underneath its glowy tint.
This cult-favorite skin tint is a powerful serum with light coverage. Superstar ingredients like Hyaluronic Acid, Plant-Based Squalane, and Niacinamide blend together to soften and clear your complexion while the impressive shade range blends into your skin seamlessly.
via Ami Cole
Made by Black women for darker skin, Ami Cole is your go-to brand if you have dark spots, scarring, or hyperpigmentation. This lightweight, skin-enhancing tint creates a blur effect that makes your face look like a filter without piles of coverage.
Designed for breakout-prone and sensitive skin, they know we don’t all have a clear, glowy visage under there, so SunnyDays evens out redness and soothes UV-stressed skin while maintaining a natural finish. It’s also certified by the National Eczema Association's Seal of Acceptance to be safe for sensitive, eczema-prone skin.
Hyaluronic Acid is a top-shelf ingredient for its instant plumping and moisturizing properties. What if you could get all that — and a bronze glow too? The world may never recover. This essential last step comes in three colors to give you super light coverage in the form of a bronze tint. All while moisturizing and nourishing your skin to fortify your glow from within.
via Summer Fridays
This also features Hyaluronic Acid with superpowered squalene for a touch of color and a wash of hydration. Layer this buildable, glowy skin tint for a look that’s dewy but never cakey and still looks like your skin.
This suncare beauty favorite is a powerful SPF with buildable coverage that gives your skin a glowy, bronzed finish while pumping it full of moisture. More of a bronzer effect, it adds a glow to any skin tone while protecting you from UV damage and sun exposure