What is a Skin Tint?

What is a skin tint and what makes them different from a foundation or tinted moisturiser? Discover everything you need to know about skin tints and why they’re so popular.

Darlings, skin tints have been taking over the beauty industry in recent years, but what is a skin tint and how do they differ from a foundation or a tinted moisturiser? In this guide, I’m doing a deep dive into skin tints and answering your skin tint FAQs! Discover what distinguishes a skin tint from other complexion products and learn how to use a skin tint in your makeup routine for the most beautiful, natural-looking results.

Bella Tilbury skin tint

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What is a skin tint?

A skin tint is a sheer or light-coverage complexion product that looks natural and provides just-a-tint of skin-perfecting pigment. Skin tints are generally formulated with thin, lightweight textures that feel breathable and barely-there, helping them to unlock a super-light, second-skin effect. Many skin tints have luminous, serum-like characteristics and are infused with skincare ingredients, allowing them to mimic the hydrated glow of a good skin day. The pigments used in skin tints are less saturated to produce a subtle, semi-sheer tone that allows for a natural-looking tint rather than full-glam makeup coverage.

What is a skin tint

What are the benefits of a skin tint?

Skin Tint Benefits

Natural-looking finish

Skin tints are known for their light, skin-like coverage which makes them perfect for creating natural, ‘no foundation’ makeup looks. Their barely there appearance is perfectly suited to ‘no foundation’ days and everyday makeup where you want your skin to look luminous and healthy without the super-perfected look of a foundation.

Lightweight, breathable feel

Skin tints are generally comfortable and easy-to-wear thanks to their light, second-skin texture. They feel weightless on the skin and are almost undetectable, feeling as though you are wearing next to no foundation at all.

Flexible shade matching

Due to skin tints having lighter coverage, the need for an exact foundation match lessens as they are less noticeable on the skin. Skin tints like my Unreal Skin Sheer Glow Tint Hydrating Foundation Stick are formulated to stretch across several skin tones, blending out effortlessly to mesh with your skin tone while leaving a subtle tint.

Quick and easy to apply

Skin tints are perfect candidates for 5-minute makeup! One of the biggest benefits of using a skin tint instead of a medium or full-coverage foundation is that they’re quicker and easier to apply. Generally, skin tints are extremely fluid and malleable, helping them to blend effortlessly into skin. They also have extremely light coverage which minimises the risk of looking patchy on the face.

Tilbury Tip: You can blend out Unreal Skin Sheer Glow Tint Hydrating Foundation Stick in just 15 seconds! It’s so easy, you could apply it in the dark! Discover how to apply stick foundation, here.

Wears effortlessly

When you apply a full or medium-coverage foundation, you run a greater risk of your base makeup visibly separating throughout the day. Skin tints wear much more naturally; because of their light coverage, it is much less noticeable if a skin tint starts to fade or break down in areas such as around the nose or mouth.

Discover how to stop foundation separating

What is the difference between a skin tint and a foundation?

All skin tints are foundations, but not all foundations are skin tints. Skin tints are a subcategory of foundation; the term skin tint has become extremely popular in the beauty industry and refers to any foundation or face makeup product that has a sheer level of coverage that tints your complexion to create a soft, barely there base.

Just like a foundation, skin tints are designed to even the appearance of skin tone and blend seamlessly with your complexion. However, a skin tint takes a far more minimal approach to makeup, concentrating on creating an ultra-lightweight veil that still looks like skin. To achieve this, skin tints have lighter coverage than other foundations which helps them to look undetectable and avoids any heaviness or caking. While foundations help to cover the look of redness, blemishes, and discolouration, skin tints allow your natural skin to peek through and have a natural-looking, your skin appearance.

Skin Tint vs Foundation

Discover my guide to foundation finishes

What’s the difference between a skin tint and a tinted moisturiser?

Skin tints and tinted moisturisers are similar in the sense that they are both light-coverage alternatives to full-coverage foundation. The key difference between the two is the prominence of skincare ingredients within the formula. A tinted moisturiser is a moisturiser by definition, and so they often have a thicker, cream consistency that’s infused with moisturising skincare ingredients that will help to hydrate and prep the skin. Skin tints can also contain hydrating skincare ingredients and are often more lightweight than a moisturiser, however, their primary purpose is to provide coverage for your complexion, even if that coverage is on the sheerer side.

Tilbury Tip: Unreal Skin Sheer Glow Tint Hydrating Foundation Stick is powered by hyaluronic acid to keep skin feeling moisturised and lock in hydration for up to 24 hours!*

Does skin tint replace foundation?

Technically a skin tint is under the umbrella of foundation, so you don’t necessarily need to wear both. There are some situations where you may want to wear a foundation as well as your skin tint; if you love the look of a skin tint but require more coverage in certain areas, try mixing your skin tint with a foundation or applying foundation only in the areas you feel you need to – this will let you customise your skin tint to your own makeup preferences.

How to use a skin tint

You can apply a skin tint in a similar way that you would apply foundation. The secret to using a skin tint is prepping your skin with supercharged, high-performance skincare that helps your skin to look and feel its best, then reaching for a natural-looking, super-flattering skin tint that layers seamlessly over the top. Discover how to use a skin tint to perfect the look of your complexion, below:

  1. Chengxin applying Charlotte's Magic Cream to prep their skin for skin tint

    1. Prep your skin with skincare

    It all starts with skincare, darlings. Before you apply your skin tint, complete your skincare routine to revive the look of your complexion and create a hydrated, smoother-looking base for makeup to glide onto. I recommend moisturising with Charlotte’s Magic Cream or Charlotte’s Magic Water Cream to hydrate, plump, and prime the look of your complexion, as well as using serums, face mists, and masks for a surge of even more magical moisture.

    Discover how to prep your skin

  2. Wonderglow softly tinted illuminating makeup primer with swatch background

    2. Apply a face primer

    Primer is an important step for prepping your skin for your skin tint as it creates a smoothing-effect barrier between your skin and your makeup. Reaching for a hydrating face primer allows you to create a super-smooth canvas for your skin tint to apply onto, and it also helps to perfect the look of your complexion by blurring the appearance of pores and smoothing the look of skin texture. I recommend my Invisible UV Flawless Poreless Primer SPF50 to prime and protect your skin – it looks flawless underneath makeup and pairs perfectly with Unreal Skin Sheer Glow Tint Hydrating Foundation Stick.

    Learn more about face primer

  3. Daniel applying shade 6 of Charlotte's Unreal Skin skin tint

    3. Apply your skin tint

    Once your skincare routine is complete and you have applied a hydrating primer, your skin is prepped and ready for skin tint application. Take a skin tint such as Unreal Skin Sheer Glow Tint Hydrating Foundation Stick and apply a small amount onto your face, smoothing it onto any areas where you want to add coverage. The beauty of a skin tint is that you can build it up gradually – if you want extra coverage, you can apply more product to get a greater level of coverage.

    Shop all skin tints

  4. Daniel wearing shade 6 of Charlotte's Unreal Skin skin tint

    4. Blend with your fingers or a brush

    You can blend out your skin tint with your fingers or a brush. If you are using your fingers, you should lightly massage your skin tint into your skin, paying attention to hard-to-reach areas such as around the nose, between the brows, and the hairline. If you prefer to use a brush, I recommend using the flat end of my Hollywood Complexion Brush to gently stipple your skin tint into your complexion until it appears as one with your skin with no visible brush strokes or unblended edges.

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What is a Skin Tint? More FAQs

Bianca skin tint

Do you need primer for a skin tint?

Yes – I always recommend wearing a makeup primer underneath any sort of foundation makeup as it will help your complexion to look smoother and plumper while giving it a flattering blurring effect. As skin tints provide a lighter amount of coverage, primer can do some of the work that foundation would normally do by helping to perfect and soft-focus the appearance of skin and even out the look of facial redness and uneven skin tone.

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Do you apply concealer before or after a skin tint?

I recommend applying concealer after your skin tint just as you would when applying foundation. Skin tints are designed to even the look of your complexion by providing light coverage; it’s best to apply an even layer of skin tint across your face and neck, then identify any areas where you may want to add more coverage with concealer such as under the eyes or on top of blemishes.

Tilbury Tip: I like to apply Unreal Skin Sheer Glow Tint Hydrating Foundation Stick all over the face to create a luminous, hydrated base, then take a brightening shade of Charlotte’s Beautiful Skin Radiant Concealer and dot it under the eyes and around the mouth for a flattering, lifting effect.

Discover the correct order of makeup steps

Can I wear skin tint on its own?

Yes – a skin tint can look gorgeous worn alone or with other complexion products like concealer, cream bronzer, and cream blush. If you prefer a minimal makeup look that uses a skin tint to even the look of your complexion, I suggest following your regular skincare routine, then applying a hydrating primer and skin tint combination to create a light, fresh, low-coverage makeup look.

Discover my guide to minimal makeup

Who should wear a skin tint?

Everyone can wear a skin tint, darlings! Whatever your skin type, skin tone, or skin texture, a hydrating skin tint can work wonders for your complexion.

  • If you have normal/dry skin: Skin tints with hydrating ingredients can help to boost skin moisture and rehydrate dry patches on the face.
  • If you have oily/combination skin: Set your skin tint with powder and setting spray to help lock it in for longer.
  • If you have mature skin: Pair a skin tint with a full-coverage concealer to conceal the look of discolouration and signs of ageing.
  • If you love natural makeup: A skin tint will give your skin a subtle beauty boost while looking soft and natural.
  • If you only have 5 minutes for makeup: Skin tints apply effortlessly onto the skin and require minimal blending – just smooth them on and blend them out for a quick and easy makeup look!
  • If you are a makeup beginner: Since skin tints have super-light coverage, they’re perfect for anyone that’s new to makeup and is learning how to blend out foundation.

Discover the best foundations for your skin type

Discover Charlotte’s Skin Tints

  1. Unreal Skin foundation stick skin tint with texture swatch

    Unreal Skin Sheer Glow Tint Hydrating Foundation Stick

    Hydrating stick foundation

    Sheer-to-light, buildable coverage

    Dewy, luminous finish

    Unreal Skin Sheer Glow Tint Hydrating Foundation Stick is a super-natural, ‘no foundation’ foundation that provides just-a-tint of skin-perfecting coverage. It’s hydrating, smoothing, blurring, and gives your complexion an UNREAL glow!

    Shop Unreal Skin

  2. Wonderglow skin tint and makeup primer on light pink background


    Luminous tinted primer

    Sheer coverage

    Illuminating, soft-focus finish

    Wonderglow is an instant, soft-focus beauty flash that primes the face for makeup. The formula gifts your complexion a warm, candlelit tint with a blurring, illuminating effect.

    Shop Wonderglow

  3. All shades of Hollywood Flawless Filter illuminating skin tint

    Hollywood Flawless Filter

    Glowy tinted illuminator

    Sheer coverage

    Hollywood glow finish

    Hollywood Flawless Filter bottles the beautifying effects of Hollywood lights and retouch filters, tinting skin with sheer, illuminating coverage that unlocks your dream Hollywood glow.

    Shop Hollywood Flawless Filter

Darlings, introducing a skin tint like Unreal Skin Sheer Glow Tint Hydrating Foundation Stick into your makeup routine will change your foundation game! There’s a makeup moment for every type of foundation, and skin tints take centre stage when it comes to creating a magical, minimal makeup look.

Now that you have learnt what a skin tint is, discover my skin-perfecting skin tints for yourself, darlings, and give your skin a super-natural glow!

*Clinical test on 33 people after one application.

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Author Details

Charlotte Tilbury

Founder, President, Chairman and Chief Creative Officer of Charlotte Tilbury Beauty

With over 30 years experience, Charlotte Tilbury MBE is the world's number 1 makeup artist and British beauty entrepreneur. Charlotte established Charlotte Tilbury Beauty in 2013, which is now a record-breaking beauty brand that has won over 400 awards.

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