We’re all busy these days, so who doesn’t love a product that can multitask? Tinted SPF products, like tinted sunscreen and moisturizers, are an easy way to even out your complexion while protecting your skin from UV rays — or so it seems.
While tinted sunscreen products may seem easy to use and offer many benefits, many people don’t get the sun protection they think they do. This leaves their skin vulnerable to harmful UV rays, which can eventually lead to signs of aging like lines, wrinkles, and discoloration (not to mention skin health issues). Read on to learn what could go wrong and how to properly apply your tinted SPF products.
Tinted sunscreen products and their benefits
The difference between tinted sunscreen and tinted SPF moisturizer is little more than marketing. Ultimately, a product labeled with an SPF number undergoes the rigorous sun protection testing required by the FDA. These tests are extensive and are designed to ensure that the UV filters in a product remain stable and effective, especially when combined with the other ingredients in a formula or packaged in a specific material.
The UV protection of these tinted SPF products can come from either chemical or physical sun protection filters (or, my personal preference, a combination of both). Chemical filters contain ingredients such as oxybenzone, octinoxate, octisalate and avobenzone. Physical filters, sometimes called mineral filters, are made of mineral oxides such as zinc oxide or titanium dioxide.
But what about the “tinted” aspect of these sunscreen products? Where does the color come from? In general, cosmetic tints are made using a combination of mineral oxides (typically titanium dioxide for white and iron oxides for yellow, red and black).
This combination of titanium dioxide and iron oxides is particularly advantageous because It protects the skin from blue light better than untinted sunscreen. Blue light is part of the visible light spectrum and is emitted by our screens, but the largest source of blue light is the sun. There is evidence for that blue light can contribute to visible skin aging and hyperpigmentation.
The problem with tinted SPF products
That all sounds great, right? So what’s the problem?
As with so many things in skincare, the problem stems from user error. If you want your skin to be properly protected from UV rays, this is the absolute most important thing you can do Apply the right amount of sunscreen. I always say a quarter-sized dollop for the face and the same amount for the neck (or if it’s easier to imagine, at least half a teaspoon for the face and neck combined). Many people also mistakenly assume that by using a product with a higher SPF you can get away with fewer applications. In reality, SPF 100 gives you just about 2% more protection than SPF 30. It really comes down to applying enough of the product or you’ll leave your skin vulnerable to damage.
The problem with tinted SPF products is that applying a full quarter teaspoon to the face can look very overdone (especially when first applying), so most people won’t use that much. And if you don’t use that much, it becomes more of a cosmetic product than a functional sunscreen.
How to apply tinted sunscreen
If you really like your tinted sunscreen product, or want to use one to take advantage of better visible light protection, there are ways to get around this.
First things first, just get used to measuring out your tinted sunscreen, at least for a while, until you get used to the amount. Apply an even layer over the entire face and leave on for a few minutes. At this point you can gently tap (do not rub) to blend the remaining tint.
If that seems too cumbersome or time-consuming, you can also try my layering method. Use an untinted sunscreen as a base, let it dry, then apply your tinted SPF product on top. This gives you all the benefits without worrying about under-applying.
Finally, you can still get blue light protection by applying regular foundation makeup over your base sunscreen. Remember that both physical sunscreen filters and tinted products contain mineral oxides? This means that even if your foundation, tinted moisturizer or concealer isn’t labeled with an SPF number, they still provide some protection from UV rays and blue light. Of course, you never want to use makeup as your primary sunscreen, but that’s why I actually recommend people to wear foundation makeup every day.
Famous beautician and skincare expert
An esthetician trained in cosmetic chemistry, Renée Rouleau has spent 30 years researching skin, educating her audience and building an award-winning line of products. Her hands-on experience as an esthetician and trusted skincare expert has created a real solution – products formulated for nine different skin types to give your face exactly what it needs to look and feel good. Celebrities, editors, bloggers and skincare enthusiasts around the world trust her extensive real-world knowledge and ongoing research. Marie Claire calls her “the most passionate skin practitioner we know.”