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tinted SPF: your rundown

After a year of blue light, sun exposure and masks, it seems as good a time as any to take a fresh look at mineral sunscreens for everyday use.

After a year of blue light, sun exposure and masks, it seems as good a time as any to take a fresh look at mineral sunscreens for everyday use. I prefer a high percentage of non-nano zinc oxide as the active ingredient in my sunscreen products to minimize bio accumulation from chemicals and exposure to endocrine disruptors amongst other things. Along with a “clean beauty” or EWG Skindeep safe rating, products that I tried are also tinted to avoid the ghostly white cast – a difficult task when approaching 20% zinc oxide content. For reference I have sensitive dry skin that somehow became more like combo skin over the last year. So I chose one-step tinted moisturizers with 30+ SPF that work day-to-day.

Products have been listed in order of finish, from the most dewy to matte

HAN Serum CC with SPF 30+
30 ml | 1.01 oz

This is a waterless oil-based product with 21% zinc oxide and 6% titanium dioxide. The serum is like a thin foundation that you can layer onto trouble areas for more coverage. But I would be careful about over applying as it did wind up settling into deeper lines when I got overzealous covering some stubborn spots. You definitely want to shake this beforehand and two pumps is enough for the entire face. It comes in 7 different shades, and their website references the corresponding shade from IT Cosmetics for a color match. I was able to easily match with two potential shades. For people with dry skin who are looking for more coverage this might be a holy grail SPF serum as it feels silky going on and does not emphasize fine lines while still providing plenty of pigment. The product applies matte but dries to a glow. Because of the amount of pigment in the product it can emphasize flaky areas but my skin still feels dewy. I have a few small dry patches that are not super noticeable but for the purpose of these reviews I went ahead and got really close to that mirror! The scent is lightly floral and has hints of kaolin clay but seems to dissipate so it’s not distracting. While it’s not an aroma that I am drawn to, I can easily overlook this as the finish is satiny and gives off a slight glow that nods at K beauty. For the coverage and light texture, this product is a real winner in my book.

Juice Beauty Stem Cellular CC Cream SPF 30 Sunscreen
50 ml | 1.7 oz

This is a cream-based multi-tasker with aloe, coconut oil and 20% zinc oxide. Many of the ingredients claim to be anti-aging and are also organic. While I can’t attest to any significant anti-aging effect, this has been my favorite one-step product for the past two years. As I run dry in the winter I really appreciate that it feels moist on the skin and does not accentuate fine lines or pores despite being dimethicone-free. I’ve even layered foundation on top of this (desperate times) before I found lighter SPF products that play well with foundation. This cream makes my skin feel protected when leaving the house and the coverage is light, evening out skin tone for a make-up free look. It is available in 7 shades and I found one that was a match. The scent is reminiscent of sweet apples and astringent but fades quickly. I imagine that the tackiness might be a dealbreaker for some. While I appreciate this in the winter, it may feel too heavy in a humid or warm climate.

Keys KPRO Tinted Moisturizer with Sunscreen SPF 30+
100 ml | 3.4 oz

This iridescent shea butter moisturizer with 20.5% zinc oxide has a slight cooling sensation that feels pleasant on the skin. It dispenses out of a no-fuss airless pump, and the texture is a light and airy whipped texture despite being shea butter and oil based. My skin feels dewy and hydrated with it on. While described as a tinted moisturizer “foundation”, it is entirely sheer and is offered in only one shade. But it does flatter my skin tone with a smoothing and illuminating effect. Apparently it was created for a makeup artist who wanted an SPF beauty balm, and it can be layered to optically smooth out areas with fine lines with its reflective properties. I reach for this mainly on my no-makeup days because of the subtle lift that it offers, but it does pair well with foundation. My school-aged daughter loves this product for the shimmer and uses it daily. The scent, which is likely derived from essential oils, is uncloying and verges on earthy. It did not bother me or my daughter, and we are both pretty sensitive to smells. I consider this the workhorse of facial SPF products as it is sold in a 100 ml size and can be used alone or as a primer. My concern is that it may not work well on darker skin tones with the added shimmer.

Saie Slip Tint Broad Spectrum SPF 35 Sunscreen Tinted Moisturizer
40 ml | 1.3 oz

This tinted cream contains only 15% zinc oxide, but I still had to include it in my list for so many reasons. I love this product because of the light texture and how smooth my skin feels with it on, which I attribute to the hyaluronic acid and the argan oil which are favorites in my beauty arsenal. The coverage is sheer but it does even things out. I found myself reaching for it over other products because it just “slips” on (you see what I did there?). I even re-applied this product over something else one day because I was so confident that it would glide on and dry effortlessly. While it is advertised as dewy, on my skin it just looks and feels hydrated. I suppose dewy is relative! Impressively, there are 10 shades offered and I was able to find two acceptable shades for summer, winter and in between. The product appears lighter on initial application and dries to a warmer tone. The dispenser is made out of biodegradable sugarcane resin (no virgin plastic) and the company will send you a mailer by request to recycle your empty containers. My only major beef with this product is that it has less zinc oxide than I would prefer. But the silver lining is that I don’t mind reapplying this product throughout the day.

Marie Veronique Everyday Coverage Tinted Sunscreen SPF 30
60 ml | 2 oz

This EWG clean beauty favorite contains 20% zinc oxide, essential oils as well as anti-inflammatory and antioxidant ingredients such as red raspberry oil, green tea and sea buckthorn oil. It must be shaken very well before application. The texture isn’t for everyone as it can feel a bit grainy. The tint can also appear streaky if you don’t pay attention during application. I use a patting motion with fingertips to set the product after initially rubbing it in. When I purchased this I was told to put on a beauty oil beforehand if my skin runs dry, but seeing as I am now the proud owner of combination skin, I use toner beforehand and have no problems. I tried it with a hyaluronic acid serum and it pilled horribly! But left to its own devices the oils from this product absorb well into my skin, as well formulated essential oil blends do, and it ultimately dries to a photo-ready matte finish. The coverage is light and despite what I think about the texture or the coverage I get compliments about the appearance of my skin when I wear it. I might credit the pearl powder. At the end of the day my face feels smooth and protected without any excess shine in my combo areas. The scent is citrusy and clean. They only offer three shades, and none beyond medium skin tones. I had high hopes for this product as it is made in small batches with well-curated ingredients and has a bit of a cult following for those seeking organic skin care for aging or acne-prone skin. I don’t see myself going out of my way to reach for this because of the texture and the fact that it might pill if I use anything other than an oil underneath. But I do feel like I am actually nourishing my skin when I use this product so I tend to use it after I’ve done some exfoliation or other anti-aging treatments.

W3ll People Bio Tint Multi-action SPF 30
35 ml | 1.2 oz

This coconut-based cream with 20% zinc oxide touts ingredients such as organic algae complex, broccoli seed oil and bio-peptides amongst many others. My first pump revealed an intensely grainy texture because I failed to shake it. After shaking it became a creamy satin texture and surprisingly dried quickly to a matte finish on my skin. While it feels the least hydrating out of all of the formulas, my skin is comfortable. It comes in four shades and provides light coverage. The shade that I settled on had a bit more yellow tones than I would prefer. It does a good job of not settling into lines, but emphasizes any texture on my skin and does not mask the appearance of pores. It also has a dusty earthy scent which I suspect is the aroma of ginseng. This product is purported to be free of bad mojo and while I can definitely get on board with that, this will likely not be a repeat purchase unless I’m headed somewhere humid. I wish there were more color options and that the texture could be improved to enhance the appearance of my skin.

A decade ago I wasn’t able to find nearly as many products that fit my requirements but these new formulas check all the boxes for a wearable moisturizer with a high zinc oxide content and clean ingredients. I hope that these reviews are helpful and that you find an all-in-one product that suits your everyday needs. I know that I will definitely switch up my daily routine with these new finds!

LiShan (@cleanbeautylulu) has always been a beauty and skincare enthusiast. With motherhood her priorities may have shifted but she still can’t resist a good product or two. She lives in Marin County, California with her human family and two rambunctious long-haired chihuahuas.

lead photo credit: Viet Hwang (@veryviet)

all opinions are our own; no free products or compensation were received from manufacturers for these mentions.

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