In honor of the beginning of summer, we decided it was the perfect time to settle a long conversation about which of the tinted facial sunscreens we carry at Harben House is the best.
Is it EltaMD UV Clear, our overall best seller? Is it Revision Intellishade, a long time favorite of Harben House staff? Could it be Alastin's Hydratint, a newer but extremely popular option? Or, is it something that's been going under the radar a bit more unnoticed?
I decided to try all of our top selling tinted sunscreens, giving each a day of full wear, so I could compare them all and finally crown a champion.
The overall winner was a bit of a surprise to me, but of course, since everyone's skin is different, I had to choose more than one winner. We have the best of several categories for different skin types or desires, and I will share my overall notes on each of them.
As a caveat, I am someone who likes an all-in-one tinted moisturizer SPF that can provide enough coverage to function as a foundation replacement on days I don't want to wear makeup. While I have a natural bias toward products of that type, I also know that a lot of people prefer a daily SPF with less coverage that will layer well under makeup, so don't worry, the lighter coverage options get some love too.
I also weighed the opinions of Courtney and the rest of the Harben House staff to be sure and represent different people's needs.
Best Overall - Sente Even Tone Mineral Sunscreen SPF 40
In Light-Medium, 1.7 oz. Active ingredients: Zinc Oxide 7.80% Titanium Dioxide 4.25%
From the very first moment, this sunscreen surprised me! It’s a totally different shade from most tinted sunscreens, (a more taupe-beige color) but the tint is sheer enough that I think this could work for most skin tones. Plus, it comes in two different shades for added flexibility, something none of the other sunscreens offer.
My favorite thing about Even Tone is how smooth and luxurious it feels going on. Of all the sunscreens I tried, this one definitely feels the most expensive & indulgent. It’s easy to apply and blend across your face, and it feels lightweight and breathable. It also didn’t make me feel greasy throughout the day, as some sunscreens do. It finishes matte, but gave my face a slight glow without being glittery or shiny.
I loved this sunscreen so much that if it provided more coverage, I would strongly consider switching to this as my daily SPF. But, since not everyone wants the level of coverage I do, I see this as a good middle option that most people would like. I highly recommend giving this sunscreen a try if you're in the market for a new daily SPF-- you might be as pleasantly surprised as I was.
Best All-In-One - Alastin Hydratint Pro Mineral Sunscreen SPF 36 and EltaMD UV Elements SPF 44
Hydratint: 3.2 oz, Active Ingredients: Titanium Dioxide 8.9%, Zinc Oxide 3.4%
UV Elements: 2 oz, Active Ingredients: Zinc Oxide 10.0%, Titanium Dioxide 5.5%
It feels like a bit of a cop-out to have a tie on this list, but I honestly couldn't choose between these two. Both Hydratint and UV Elements impressed me enough that I've worn each for a few days instead of the one day I did for most of the sunscreens I tried for this project. They both function really well as an all-in-one moisturizer, SPF, and foundation replacer.
HydraTint is a nice-feeling, oil free formula that goes on smooth and feels really light and breathable even through its good level of coverage.
UV Elements also goes on smoothly, feels good on the skin, provides decent coverage, and doesn’t leave me feeling greasy.
I'm hard pressed to find a meaningful difference between the two, but I think UV Elements is slightly more hydrating, so that could could be the better option for people with drier skin, and Hydratint for more oily skin. Either way, both are quality oil-free formulations that I think should work well for anyone looking for an all-in-one SPF.
Best Light Coverage Sunscreen - EltaMD UV Clear Broad-Spectrum SPF 46
1.7 oz, Active Ingredients: Zinc Oxide 9.0%, Octinoxate 7.5%
UV Clear is the best-selling sunscreen we carry, and it's easy to see why.
The oil-free formula goes on smooth and absorbs nicely, with a sheer, unobtrusive tint that leaves a clean finish without a white cast.
Having been formulated for sensitive or acne-prone skin, it feels lightweight and breathable, making it a great fit for people intending to wear it under makeup. It's definitely the one to try if you want a sheer coverage, gentle daily sunscreen that won't exacerbate skin conditions like acne or rosacea.
Best Makeup Replacer - Revision Skincare Intellishade SPF 45
Matte (1.7 oz.), Active Ingredients: Octinoxate 5%, Octisalate 3%, Titanium Dioxide 4%, Zinc Oxide 3%
Original (1.7 oz.), Active Ingredients: Octinoxate 7.5%, Octisalate 5%, Zinc Oxide 2%
TruPhysical (1.7 oz.), Active Ingredients: Titanium Dioxide 4.4%, Zinc Oxide 14.4%
Intellishade has been my daily SPF for years, and I was curious to see if any of the sunscreens I tried for this project would turn my head enough to replace it.
In reality, I found I liked both the Alastin Hydratint and EltaMD UV Elements just as much, but Intellishade beats them on one level: coverage. If you are hoping to have your daily SPF double as your foundation, then Intellishade is your best bet, as it provides the best coverage.
As for the 3 tinted Intellishade options, the Matte is my personal favorite, because of how clean and dry a finish it produces. I also like the TruPhysical a lot, and Original is great, but finishes a bit dewy for my personal preference.
Best for Sensitive Skin - EltaMD UV Physical Broad-Spectrum SPF 41
3 oz, Active Ingredients: Zinc Oxide 9.0%, Titanium Dioxide 7.0%
UV Physical is another sunscreen I tried and loved, and one I will likely use in the future if my skin is feeling more sensitive. It’s a creamy, almost whipped formulation that soothes skin as it goes on, absorbs quickly, and leaves a finish that isn’t shiny.
Plus, it’s got full-physical active ingredients, is oil-free, and includes antioxidants to help protect skin from additional sun damage.
Designed for post-procedure or extra-sensitive skin, it’s perfect for anyone trying to protect skin from the sun without irritation. If you have sensitive skin, whether temporarily or all the time, this SPF is a great option.
Best for Oily or Acne-Prone Skin - Jan Marini Marini Physical Protectant Tinted SPF 45
2 oz, Active Ingredients: Titanium Dioxide 6%, Zinc Oxide 8%
At first, I thought I didn’t like this sunscreen. It left me looking really dewy at initial application, so I worried I would feel greasy throughout the day. But, I was quickly surprised to see it absorb and finish lightweight and matte, and after reading more about this sunscreen, I realized it was the oil absorbing particles at work. This is an SPF solution that is all about oil control, making it great for people with oily or acne-prone skin.
The tint blends in well, plus I could feel the anti-aging ingredients in this formula-- it made my skin feel softer & smoother, which was a pleasant surprise. I think for someone with more oily or acneic skin than I have, this sunscreen could be a perfect fit.
Best for Pale Skin - iS Clinical Eclipse SPF 50+ in PerfecTint Beige
3.5 oz, Active Ingredients: Titanium Dioxide 5.2%, Zinc Oxide 1.1%
The first thing I noticed about this sunscreen is the color: it’s paler and pinker than the tint in the majority I tried. It blends really well and avoids having a white cast, but I wouldn’t expect it to provide much coverage unless you are very fair-skinned.
I also noticed is how nice Eclipse’s formula feels. It’s beautifully smooth and feels great going on, leaving you with a nice glowy finish without being shiny. If you've got pale skin, I think the tint might provide more coverage than it did for me, and this could be a fantastic sunscreen for you.
Best Moisturizing Sunscreen - EltaMD UV Daily Broad-Spectrum SPF 40 - Tinted
1.7 oz, Active Ingredients: Zinc Oxide 9.0%, Octinoxate 7.5%
Of all the susnscreens I tried, this is the one that feels like the best moisturizer. UV Daily includes Hyaluronic acid to hydrate and plump skin, plus it has Vitamin E to boost antioxidant protection and fight free radicals.
I like how this sunscreen manages to feel lightweight and meaningfully hydrating at the same time. It blends in quickly, absorbs well, and evens skin tone with its tint, all without leaving skin feeling greasy or sticky. I liked this a lot as an all-in-one with light coverage, so if that sounds like what you want, give UV Daily a try.
Best Anti-Aging Sunscreen - Elta MD UV Restore Broad-Spectrum SPF 40
2 oz, Active Ingredients: Titanium Dioxide 2.0%, Zinc Oxide 15.0%
At first glance, UV Restore is a thinner formula, comparable to UV Clear, but it provides surprisingly good coverage with the tint. It’s a richly hydrating formulation, including squalane, antioxidants, and anti-aging ingredients to leave skin looking smooth and healthy.
I liked this sunscreen a lot, though it isn’t exactly what I’m looking for personally. I would definitely recommend it for anyone interested in a daily SPF with extra skincare benefits, and who wants their skin to feel moisturized, with a subtle glow.
Did your favorite sunscreen make the cut? Or, are you ready to try something new based on these recommendations? Either way, we hope you are wearing SPF everyday (especially in the summer), since it's the #1 best thing you can do for your skin's health and appearance.