When foundation feels too heavy, opt for one of these lightweight skin tints instead…

Recent years have witnessed a shift from the heavier, glamourous matte looks towards a barely-there, fresh-faced complexion. Driven by TikTok trends such as ‘clean girl’ and ‘glass skin’, achieving that elusive lit-from-within luminosity has gained traction. As highlighted in our Boots beauty trends report, more and more of us are swapping out heavy base layers in favour of lightweight options. Enter: skin tints.

Soaring in popularity, skin tints are having a major moment. And it’s easy to see why. These lightweight beauties enhance complexion without looking as if we’re wearing make-up. “They even out skin tone and give a beautiful glow, while still looking natural,” confirms Mira Parmar, London-based make-up artist. 

And while foundation will always have a time and a place, skin tints are the perfect summer choice for a light, breathable base that won’t clog pores or cling to dry patches. Here, we share some of our favourite formulas and answer your most-searched questions on this new hot weather staple.

What is a skin tint?

“A skin tint is a super sheer alternative to foundation,” explains Mira. Its lightweight texture blends in effortlessly, delivering just a hint of coverage that’s somewhat buildable.

“A great option for spring and summer, skin tints give good glow without masking features such as freckles,” adds Mira. Plus, many can be found brimming with skincare ingredients for an extra boost.

What is the difference between foundation & skin tint?

The main difference between a skin tint and foundation is coverage. Generally speaking, “foundation is heavier and gives more coverage – concealing redness, blemishes and broken veins,” says Mira. Skin tints aren’t designed to give full coverage. Instead, they subtly even out skin tone, while still looking natural.

Is skin tint the same as sunscreen?

The firm answer is no, a skin tint is definitely not the same as sunscreen. While some skin tints also contain SPF, they’re unlikely to be applied in the amount needed to offer adequate protection.

When it comes to suncare, it’s always best to wear a separate broad spectrum sunscreen of at least SPF30 underneath your make-up. If you’re looking for an SPF with a bit of colour, a tinted sunscreen can be a great option to try.

What’s the best way to apply skin tints?

Skin tints are designed to subtly enhance skin and let your natural complexion shine, making a great skincare routine all the more important. Make sure you cleanse, moisturise and protect with SPF to prep your canvas.

Skin tints can be applied in a similar way to foundation. For a fuss-free, natural-looking application, use your fingers to smooth and pat the skin tint over your face, using the warmth of your fingertips to melt the formula into your skin. For a more flawless finish, use a damp beauty sponge or a foundation brush to blend the skin tint over your face, focusing on any areas where you want more coverage.

How can I make my skin tint last all day?

The lightweight texture of skin tints can make longevity a challenge, particularly if you have oily skin, you’re sweating, or unexpected rain makes an appearance. For a long-lasting skin tint, a final spritz of setting spray is a must. This finishing step helps to lock in your look to help it stay put all day long.

11 of the best skin tints to try now

From exciting new launches to cult classics, here are 11 of our favourite skin tints for all budgets, skin types, tones and needs.

For more top picks with glowing reviews, shop our full range of facial make-up.

Best for brightening

Maybelline Super Stay Up to 24H Skin Tint Foundation + Vitamin C

• Available in 20 shades

• Contains vitamin C

• Vegan-friendly*
• Sweat- & humidity-resistant

Lighter than your average tint, this featherweight formula from Maybelline perfectly evens out skin tone, delivering a second-skin finish that looks and feels barely-there. Expect a fresh-faced complexion and long-lasting wear. Laced with vitamin C, it helps brighten skin and bolster glow over time, too. Tick, tick, tick!

Best for all-day wear

Rimmel London Kind & Free Moisturising Skin Tint Foundation

• Available in 12 shades

• Vegan-friendly*

• Hydrating formula

• Easy to build

If you’re after a natural yet slightly dewy finish, the Rimmel London Kind & Free Moisturising Skin Tint Foundation is the one for you. The lightweight formula lends skin sheer, glowing coverage with an extra boost of moisture. Infused with an antioxidant vitamin complex (E & B5) and aloe vera, the formula is also made with 77% ingredients of natural origins. Win win.

Best for glow

M.A.C Strobe Dewy Skin Tint

• Available in 16 shades

• Hydrates skin

• Long-lasting

Love a luminous skin finish? Turn your face to M.A.C Strobe Dewy Skin Tint. Great for those dewy skin days, this gel-like tint lends skin a sheer veil of coverage that blurs blemishes without masking. And thanks to a cocktail of skin-savvy ingredients (including hyaluronic acid, shea butter, squalane and vitamin E), it hydrates and soothes skin too.

Best for every day

Shiseido Synchro Skin Self Refreshing Tint

• Available in 12 shades

• Hydrating

• Resists sweat & humidity

A great everyday option, this weightless skin tint provides just enough coverage to balance skin tone without looking as if you’re wearing make-up. It’s also long-wearing, sweat-resistant and contains SPF20 – making it the perfect pick for the summer months, as it stays put without doing a disappearing act by lunchtime. Sold!

Best for sensitive skin

No7 HydraLuminous AquaRelease Skin Perfector

• Available in 6 shades

• Hydrates skin

• Suitable for sensitive skin

• Non-greasy formula

This Skin Perfector from No7 is a great all-rounder that provides light-to-medium coverage to minimise redness and blur pores. Loaded with skin nourishing goodies (such as vitamin E and C), the creamy liquid also supports the skin's barrier and boosts hydration. We love how this one looks on the skin – delivering a demi-matte, second-skin finish that’s not at all greasy.

Best for travel

Try: Fenty Beauty Eaze Drop Blur & Smooth Tint Stick

• Available in 25 shades

• Longwear formula

• 100% recyclable packaging

After a skin tint you can apply on the go? Reach for this super simple option from Fenty. The creamy, crease-proof formula is packed with hydrating ingredients, such as murumuru butter and sodium hyaluronate. We love the portable twist-up stick formula that you can glide on anytime for an instantly blurred, second-skin finish.

Best for a natural finish

Bobbi Brown Vitamin Enriched Skin Tint

• Available in 18 shades

• 12-hour wear

• Resists fading, creasing, sweat & humidity

• Pigment-Flex Technology adapts to a wide range of skin tones

• Uplifting grapefruit & geranium scent

This moisturising option from Bobbi Brown is part make-up, part skincare, perfect for those days when you want to care for your complexion while adding a hint of coverage. True to its name, it’s chock-full of good ingredients, from nourishing vitamins B, C and E to conditioning and softening shea butter. It also helps shield skin from damaging UVA and UVB rays, with SPF15 added into the mix.

Best for a second-skin finish

ICONIC London Super Smoother Blurring Skin Tint

• Available in 15 shades

• With plant-derived amino acids, peach flower & pea extracts

• Vegan*

If you’re after a flawless, soft-focus finish, this hydrating skin tint from ICONIC is sure to tick every box. The lightweight formula is buildable, so you can use a lighter touch or work up to a medium coverage if you prefer. The clever blurring complex instantly enhances, for a your-skin-but-better finish. The result? Skin that looks fresher, plumper and smoother – everything we want in a skin tint.

Best for redness

Avène Antirougeurs Unifying SPF 30 Tinted Moisturiser for Skin Prone to Redness

• Protects skin against UVA & UVB rays

• Suitable for sensitive or rosacea-prone skin

Redness or rosacea can be difficult to deal with, but if they’re regular concerns for you, this skin tint from Avène could help calm skin while providing instant coverage. The hydrating formula works to unify skin tone for up to six hours while hydrating, protecting and leaving skin feeling comfortable. Plus, it’s full of active ingredients that help to soothe sensitive skin, including thermal spring water

Best for added sun protection

Drunk Elephant Umbra Tinte Physical Daily Defense SPF 30

• Free of chemical sun cream, essential oils, silicones & fragrance

• Cruelty-free

Want to combine your skin tint and SPF into one simple step? Drunk Elephant have you covered. This formula includes a hint of tint along with UVA and UVB protection to help keep skin shielded from harmful rays.

Best for light coverage

Natural Collection Skin Tint

• Available in 20 shades

• 92% natural origin ingredients

• Vegan*

• Fully recyclable

After a super lightweight skin tint that you can wear all day, every day? Try this skin-enhancing option from Natural Collection. The blendable, dewy-finish formula contains hydrating chamomile extract and melts into skin for a sheer-to-light coverage that’s perfect for an everyday look.

*Vegan formulas do not contain any animal-derived ingredients or by-products.