Frequently Asked Questions
How do tinted sunscreens work?
Sunscreen options include those with chemical/organic or physical/mineral filters — and occasionally, both. Where each provides protection from harmful UV rays, chemical filters tend to have a more sheer, unnoticeable finish on the skin, whereas mineral options that contain
oxide and/or titanium dioxide may not.
“Mineral sunscreens provide the best UV protection and are the gold standard of sunscreen,” says Dr. Onyeka Obioha, MD a board-certified dermatologist and Glory Skincare Dermatologist Advisor tells INSIDER. “Unfortunately, mineral sunscreens often don’t blend in well.”
Dr. Obioha says she recommends tinted mineral sunscreens instead. “It will blend in better and not leave a gray hue to your skin, as many sunscreens do. Better yet, tinted sunscreens with iron oxides also protect against visible light which has been shown to contribute to hyperpigmentation, especially in darker skin.”
As cosmetic formulator Annalisa Branca explains, tinted sunscreens work by combining UVB/UVA filters and mixtures of oxides that create different shades to suit different skin tones. “The downside of these products,” says the Netherlands-based formulator, “especially when they are quite pigmented, is that people don’t apply nearly enough to avoid looking cakey.”
She personally prefers tinted products with just a hint of color as this might encourage more product — or rather, the appropriate amount of product — to be used. “A tinted sunscreen is sufficient only if it is used at the recommended 1/2 teaspoon for face and neck,” Branca confirms.
When should you wear tinted sunscreens?
“Tinted moisturizers are the best for everyday use,” says Dr. Aegean H. Chan, MD, FAAD, a board-certified dermatologist and dermatopathologist. She reiterates the common dermatological advice that SPF protection should be used every day, and not reserved for designated outings where you’ll be in direct rays, such as at the beach. “If you’re going to be outside for a sustained amount of time, you should be using a proper sunscreen and make sure you’re putting on enough.”
For daily use — “You’re going from your house to your car, your office to your car, running a few errands,” she suggests — tinted SPF serves as protection and, for those who want it, a smooth finish that can help even skin tone. Spending hours in direct UV rays and still want a tinted product appearance? “You can mix with a proper sunscreen but it can be tough if you’re using a tinted product. The more product you use, the harder it is to blend in.”