My Derm Said to Wear More Sunscreen, so I Put These Tinted Ones to the Test


(Image credit: @elizagracehuber)

My first trip to the dermatologist in a while resulted in my derm not being happy with me—just as I predicted. In short, he said that in the last few years, I'd spent far too much time in the sun and far too little time applying and reapplying sunscreen. And he was right. When the weather permitted, I spent hours lying in the sun on my rooftop. When I wasn't doing that, I was hanging out in a park or running outside—all either sans sunscreen or with very little sunscreen on. 

Suffice it to say I left that appointment on a mission to finally take care of my skin, starting with my SPF routine. As someone who spends a lot of time scrolling on TikTok, my mind went straight to sunscreen of the tinted variety. Thus, I set out to find a tinted sunscreen that gave me a no-makeup look while protecting my skin from damage.

First, I called on Debra Jaliman, an NYC-based board-certified dermatologist, to give me the lowdown on sunscreen in general. "Sun damage is cumulative," Jaliman told me. "Even on a rainy day, you will get ultraviolet damage because the UV light goes through the clouds. That's why it's important to wear sunscreen every single day, rain or shine." According to her, there are three rules of thumb for purchasing and using sunscreen: 1) Stick to an SPF of 29/30 or higher, 2) use about a half teaspoon of product, and 3) reapply every two hours (more if you sweat or go swimming). Tinted sunscreen, tinted moisturizer with SPF, or sunscreen that's not tinted—none of that really matters. Instead, it's all about the three things mentioned above. Well, that and the concentration of zinc oxide, which Jaliman says should be above 9%, especially if you have sensitive skin.

With a wealth of knowledge behind me, I test-drove six tinted sunscreens, many of which are in heavy rotation on my For You page. There's EltaMD's UV Daily Sunscreen, which Hailey Bieber has shared on her TikTok page. And, of course, there's Supergoop! Glowscreen, which has a cult-like following of its own. But despite what Beauty TikTok might have you believe, those aren't the only two tinted sunscreens on the market. In fact, neither received my number-one ranking. 

See which one did and read all about my tinted-sunscreen journey below. 


(Image credit: @elizagracehuber)

Okay, so I may have exaggerated before when I acted like Supergoop! Glowscreen was far from being at the top of my list. I loved this product and used it daily for at least two weeks. It goes on smooth, feels light and barely there, and gives your skin a nice shimmery sheen, sort of like Charlotte Tilbury's Hollywood Flawless Filter primer. That said, given that I don't usually wear makeup or anything with a shimmery look to it, this product ended up being a little bit too much for me. I prefer the brand's Unseen Sunscreen, which has no color to it and feels like you have absolutely nothing on. But hey, that's just me. 


(Image credit: @elizagracehuber)

To say I've seen EltaMD's tinted sunscreen a lot lately would be the understatement of the year. It's practically all I see people on TikTok using for SPF, and when I put up a poll on my Instagram asking people for their favorite tinted sunscreens, it and Glowscreen were by far the top contenders. So, of course, when I decided to test some products, it was high on my list. 

I can see why people love this product. It's simple and effective, and something about the brand having "MD" in its name made me feel extra good about wearing it. Also, like Glowscreen, EltaMD's sunscreen includes hyaluronic acid, giving it an almost skincare-like quality. My only qualm is that there is only one shade (it's meant to be universal), and it is too dark for my skin. Perhaps in the summer, once I've had a little more time in the sun, it would match better, or if I mixed it with some of my moisturizer to dilute the color a bit, but on its own, the shade didn't naturally match. 


(Image credit: @elizagracehuber)

Everyone always says that if you're lost about skincare to default to the brands that make simple, no-fuss products, one of which is CeraVe. Because of that, I stopped at my local CVS and picked up the brand's Hydrating Mineral Sunscreen, which is tinted and has an SPF of 30.

For one, the price is hard to beat. This isn't a small product size, so you're getting a lot of bang for your buck. The formula is very creamy and hydrating, and I like that the shade was a nice match for my skin and blended in nicely. Because of its creamier, thicker texture, I'd suggest using a little less of this sunscreen than you would with most other tinted SPFs at first and then building on it. Either way, though, you'll absolutely get that wet, glowy look from this product, which is never a bad thing if you ask me. 


(Image credit: @elizagracehuber)

As someone with fair skin that's seen its fair share of sun damage, I was intrigued by Koa's high SPF at 45+. After talking with Jaliman, I was also impressed that it contains 12% zinc oxide, which I now know is nice and high. Upon trying it out for the first time, I enjoyed the lightweight formula, which is more liquid than most other sunscreens I tested for this story. My only issue was the slight white cast it left behind, which wouldn't bother me if I were going to the beach but might hinder me from using it for regular, everyday wear.


(Image credit: @elizagracehuber)

As a kid, when I'd go on vacation to the beach, I'd always try to convince my parents to buy me Sun Bum sunscreen rather than a bottle from one of the big brands because I loved the way it smelled and its overall cool, surfer aesthetic. I guess it stuck because when I saw the brand had a tinted face sunscreen with SPF 30, I immediately picked it up and took it to the register without so much as a second thought.

This sunscreen feels almost whipped, it's so lightweight, and it goes on almost matte, which is very different from the other products I tested out. Normally, I'm not really a matte-makeup person, but since summers in New York are extremely hot and humid, I actually think that once the weather heats up, I'd love a slightly matte sunscreen to counteract my natural dewiness. 


Best Overall Tinted Sunscreen
(Image credit: @elizagracehuber)

Are you still here? If you're one of the people who stayed until the end, you'll be rewarded with my absolute favorite tinted sunscreen—well, technically, it's a tinted moisturizer with SPF 35. It's Saie's Slip Tint in the shade 3.5. Hear me out: As someone who rarely wears makeup, especially face makeup, I was shocked at how much I liked wearing this barely tinted moisturizer and sunscreen. It didn't really cover up anything on my face. All it did was make my natural skin look glowy and more even. It also made my blush and highlighter—both liquid—stay on for way longer, which has always been somewhat of an issue for me when using those products on my bare skin. Since I started using this product, I've had to force myself not to use it so that I could test out others—that's how much I love it. 

More Tinted Sunscreens to Try

Shop Our Favorite Non-Tinted Sunscreens

This article was originally published at an earlier date and has since been updated.

Senior Fashion Editor

Eliza Huber is a New York City–based fashion editor who specializes in trend reporting, brand discovery, and celebrity style. She joined Who What Wear in 2021 after almost four years on the fashion editorial team at Refinery29, the job she took after graduating with a marketing degree from the University of Iowa. She has since launched two monthly columns, Let's Get a Room and Ways to Wear; profiled the likes of Dakota Fanning, Diane Kruger, Katie Holmes, and Sabrina Carpenter for WWW's monthly cover features; and reported on everything from the relationship between Formula One and fashion to the top trends from fashion month, season after season. Eliza now lives on the Upper West Side and spends her free time researching F1 fashion imagery for her side Instagram accounts @thepinnacleoffashion and @f1paddockfits, running in Central Park, and scouring eBay for '90s Prada and '80s Yves Saint Laurent.