Taking off the Mask: Why tinted moisturizer is the new foundation

As soon as people learn I’m a makeup artist, they invariably weave their burning questions into our conversation, even if we’re only talking about the weather.  “Seems we’re in for a bit of a warm spell…  ..speaking of warm spells, what kind of foundation should I be wearing?”

I’m lucky I’m not a doctor, because my answer is always unoriginal.  I’d like to say that I carefully evaluate each and every person’s skin type and make a qualitative analysis of each line, pore, and wrinkle…but the truth is–I think EVERYONE should wear tinted moisturizer with sunscreen instead of foundation.

I know, that seems rather general, doesn’t it?  I do use “foundation” (a full coverage liquid or mineral) on my brides or models when doing event makeup, but unless you are on a movie set or being professionally photographed, I would never recommend foundation for everyday. It’s simply unnecessary.  The point of makeup should be to enhance your natural features, to make your individual beauty shine, not to reinvent the wheel.

The use of foundation, or “base” is as old as mud; women throughout the centuries have endeavored to cover everything up (and sometimes shave everything off) and paint it on again.  It’s a way of creating a completely new persona, and Hollywood relied heavily on this idea in the 30s and 40s when creating sultry starlets out of freshly scrubbed girls-next-door.  There’s nothing wrong with wanting to start from scratch, but before you camouflage your features in a thick shade of beige, take a look at your freshly scrubbed face.  What is it that you really want to change about your visage?  Here are the typical complaints:

Redness/blotchiness around the mouth & nose, unevenness/blotchiness on the cheeks, freckles/age spots, under eye circles, blemishes

As you can see, the majority of concerns have to do with evenness of skin tone.  The good news is that tinted moisturizer (a lightweight lotion with a hint of color, and spf) will even out your complexion without smothering it. Your skin will GLOW, rather than look matte or cakey.  Your skin will BREATHE, rather than gasping for air, and your skin will IMPROVE in both appearance and texture.

If tinted moisturizer alone doesn’t address problem areas, then all you have to do is use a small amount of concealer (under the eyes, on a blemish or age spot, around the nose).  There’s simply no need to conceal your entire face!

Here’s my favorite everyday 5 Step Fast Face:

1. tinted moisturizer all over

2. concealer under the eyes

3. creme blush on cheeks

4. lip gloss

5. mascara

Your face is your calling card.  Do you really want to be the kind of person who is unrecongnizable without their makeup?  Embrace your face.  Save the foundation for the Big Ball, or your cousin’s wedding.  You don’t need it at 8 in the morning, and you certainly don’t need it in the office.

Special HIPPIE note: If you’re the kind of person who NEVER wears makeup, considering making tinted moisturizer your new best friend.  You won’t look like you’re wearing makeup, because it’s really not makeup–but your skin will look and feel fantastic, and you’ll have the added protection of at least spf 15, everyday.

Here are some of my favorites:

100% Pure fruit pigmented

tinted moistuizer

Suki tinted moisturizer

Juice Beauty tinted moisturizer

mask photo courtesy of flickr’s Flamed


14 thoughts on “Taking off the Mask: Why tinted moisturizer is the new foundation

  1. I agree that tinted moisturizer is the way to go. And I love, love Suki’s Tinted Moisturizer. Smells divine, gives a nice glow, has SPF (and I could swear it heals blemishes too)…love!

  2. Hi there, I just got Josie Maran’s tinted moisturizer and I was in love at first–great coverage and dewy finish. But, don’t they all just end up sliding off your face? God forbid you blow your nose or brush your face, in an hour it’s just gone. I want to love it, and sometimes dust on some Jane Iredale mineral powder on the t-zone, but it’s sticky and I don’t even have oily skin. Really happy to find your blog, btw!

  3. LOVE your blog!

    I am torn between trying 100% Pure, Suki, and Jane Iredale for a tinted moisturizer.

    Is 100% Pure really oily? I have acne-prone, oily T-zone combination skin, and I’m afraid it will make me look shiny. On the other hand, I think Suki’s “Natural” will be too dark, haha.

    Thanks for the recommendations!

    • 100% isn’t oily, but I’d recommend going lighter that you think you are– I tried the “light” and it was a touch dark yellow/orange on me (I’m pretty white). Suki’s “natural” is a bit dark, too: my favorite way to use Suki is to add an spf moisturizer to their lighter CONCEALER (they only have 2, flax and linen), and use the combo as a beautiful tinted moisturizer. I know, it sounds weird, but it works. Keep in mind: the more zinc or titanium dioxide in your spf, the more lightening you’ll experience with a moisturizer when you mix it with foundations or concealers whether they are mineral based or liquid. I also like the look of Dr. Hauschka’s sheer foundations mixed with spf moisturizers, and the line has plenty of shades to choose from from pale to dark. I’m not completely thrilled with the tinted moisturizers as they appear on the green market right now; there’s not a line that’s great for everyone yet, so sometimes we have to finesse the products a bit to make them work for us….it’s the beauty of bathroom chemistry!

  4. I thought you might be interested….

    I e-mailed Susie Wang of 100% Pure RE: the tinted moisturizer, and this is the response I got:

    “hi colleen!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! we will soon come out with a lighter shade than white peach — a shade for fair skin

    Thank you!

    Susie Wang
    100% Pure”

  5. Me again. 🙂

    I also contacted Suki, and they said that they are in the process of developing lighter shades of their tinted moisturizer, which will be out in “6-8 months.”

  6. Hey there I’m interested in the 100% pure tinted moisturizer but I’m not sure what color to get. I’m an NC30 in MAC. What do you think?

    • I’m a big fan of 100% tinted moisturizer; it’s sheer, so you don’t have to worry about getting an exact match the way you do with foundation–(and you wouldn’t believe how many women have been badly matched in foundation to begin with!) That said, 100% does have a peachy color to it, (and in fact the pigment comes from actual peaches–nice), so unless your skin has a real golden tone to it, I’d err on the lighter side (it will be far less noticeable than going too peachy)

      Looking online at NC30, I’d think you’d look good in 100% “Peach Bisque” or even “Golden Peach” if you’ve got a just a bit more color. My best advice: Take a look at the 100% Pure site and get an idea of the shade ranges on real faces. I use the “Creme”, and get a good bit of color out of it, even though I’m not as pale skinned as the model for “Creme”. In other words, I go a shade lighter than I normally would. If you live in the Bay Area, stop by the 100% Pure Apothecary Boutique in Berkeley or visit Rainbow Grocery here in the City to try it out before you buy. Another option is buying from QVC; they often have great starter kit deals with 100%, and let you send it back after you’ve tried it out–something department stores don’t do! Good luck!

      • Thanks so much for replying and your suggesting 😀
        I’m on the combo to oily side, do you think this would work out for me?

        Thanks a bunch

      • Absolutely! I’ve never had a client break out with ANY of the 100% line, and why would they, really~ you’re putting FRUIT on your face. So, unless you’re allergic to peaches (and go online to read all of the ingredients if you have sensitive skin at all) I think you’ll enjoy it. It’s got a sunscreen 20 factor, too, so I’d treat it as your all-in-one for the day: Wake up, splash some cold water on your face, pat dry, and apply tinted moisturizer. You don’t need ANOTHER moisturizer underneath, especially if you err on the oily side, anyway. I find that one squirt covers the face well- two if you want more “coverage”. Apply undereye concealer, and a little bit of sheer bright blush, lip gloss and mascara, and call it a day! If you find you feel oily halfway thru the day, then just before leaving home, dust a bit of loose powder down your nose, across your forehead, above your upper lip, and on your chin. Leave your cheeks glowing:)

  7. Hello Greenmakeupartist,

    I stumbled across you blog on what I believe to be a quest for the holy grail. I am trying to find a tinted moisturizer with SPF, preferably paraben-free, but, more importantly, in recycable packaging. I am would very much like to try one of your recommendations, but I have been unable to find that information on their product descriptions. Would you be able to confirm that one of these moisturizers has recycable packaging or potentially recommend one that does? Thank you for your time. You really do have an excellent blog!

    ~ GreenInCanada

    • Hi GreenInCanada!
      Love hearing from the neighbors up North, and I know lots of readers share your concern. When I go on about “clean” and “green”, I’m often referring to ingredients (organic, fairtrade, natural). But I don’t talk a lot about recycling, so thanks for your question!

      100 Percent Pure has this to say: Thank you for supporting and believing in our mission to bring the world 100% Pure health food for the skin without any harsh, unsafe chemicals that can pollute our bodies or our planet. All our 100% Pure formulas are biodegradable, all our labels are printed with non toxic soy ink, our packaging is from post recycled and or recyclable materials, our shipping materials are pre-cycled – we pick up from our neighbors packing materials such as popcorn and packing boxes to re-use them which eliminates waste, and majority of the paper we use is recycled. Also, thank you deeply for supporting and believing in our mission to help animals. 100% Pure formulas are completely cruelty free (none of our formulas or ingredients were ever tested on animals) and 100% Pure formulas and makeup brushes are vegan (or vegetarian when cruelty free honey ingredients are used).

      I’m a big fan of their tinted moisturizer, of course, and they’ve also added lighter and darker shades to the original line, so there’s really something for everyone, even the pale skinned folk up North:) Spf 25, paraben free, recyclable. You can order from their website, or even QVC, who often has package deals.

      As far as Tarte (you can find them online as well as Sephora), they’ve got an spf 20, paraben free tinted moisturizer and here’s what they have to say about recycling: reduce. reuse. recycle. customer recycling incentive program: Send us your empty clean slate primer and/or smooth operator SPF 20 foundation and we’ll give you 15% off of your next complexion purchase (products include: clean slate, smooth operator, pressed powder, mineral powder bronzer)
      Send your empty slide tin lip balm with SPF 15 and tarte will give you 15% off of any lip product purchase. Send us your empty cheek stain and receive 15% off of your next cheek stain purchase. They have recycling symbols on all the packaging. Contact info@tartecosmetics.com for more information.

      Hope that helps!

      • Thank you so much for that! I have been combing drug stores and cosmetic sections of department stores desperately searching for products just like these. You have saved me countless, future hours : D

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