Our Favorite Sheer Complexion Products for Breathable Summer Skin
BB creams, tinted moisturizers, foundation-meets-serum hybrids—these are the 21 formulas we swear by.
While the phrase “your skin, but better” is practically a beauty cliché by now, we’ll admit that we still want that near-perfect complexion without layering on a million and one products. Plus, summer is just a few weeks away, and face masks are our new must-have “accessory” (seriously, wear a mask), which means a super heavyweight foundation or full-coverage concealer is less than appealing. Your skin needs to breathe.
Enter the sheer, tinted, and barely-there complexion product. Thanks to the rise of K-beauty staples like the cushion compact and BB cream over the last decade, there are more options than ever to choose from, and—bonus—a good percentage of those formulas also include sun protection (which, as we know, is non-negotiable). Unsure of where to start? Allow our 21 favorite lightweight complexion makeup products to guide you.
Creative Producer & Social Media Manager
1. Ilia Super Serum Skin Tint: The second I saw a friend wearing this, I needed to grab some of my own. Someone I saw so often (who already has pretty flawless skin) was completely glowing with a perfectly even skin tone and texture—and in the same moment, I knew she wasn’t wearing any “makeup.” This product is a total game changer—complete coverage that a foundation would provide, with a gentle sheen that doesn’t look like you dipped your face in highlighter.
2. Saie Super Gel: This super gel is an all-natural no-brainer. I would say it serves more as a highlighter, but it is so exceptionally lightweight that it will be in my bag all summer. If we ever make it to that magic moment where you go right from the beach to the bar, this is the exact product I would throw on to add an instant glow, day to night.
3. Drunk Elephant Umbra Tinte Physical Sunscreen: After years of teenage sun damage, I basically treat this like my summer foundation. Zero white cast, all of the coverage, and ALL of the sunscreen! What more could you want?
Associate Creative Producer
1. Laura Mercier Oil-Free Tinted Moisturizer: I swear by this all year round. I dump plenty of moisturizer on my face in the morning and find that the oil-free version of this cult classic combines perfectly with all that moisture. The coverage doesn’t go overboard, which is exactly what I’m looking for!
2. Glossier Future Dew: This serum adds such a fabulous glow to my cheekbones. I like to use it sparingly because I don’t like to be super dewy—a pea-sized amount patted around the high points of my face does the trick!
3. Radiant Creamy Concealer: This is the only concealer I will ever use. It blends so well and sort of melts into my skin. Nothing is worse than a concealer you can see.
Senior Beauty Editor
1. Armani Luminous Silk Concealer: The long-awaited sister to the Luminous Silk Foundation is worth every penny, in my opinion. I use this under my eyes to brighten and conceal dark spots, as well as around my nose to disguise broken blood vessels or irritation. It’s creamy, breathable, and never looks like I have a heavy coating of product, no matter how much I use. Just soak your beauty sponge in warm water, and blend like you mean it.
2. YSL Touche Eclat All-Over Brightening Pen: Every makeup artist has this bad boy in their kit. It’s more like a highlighter-and-concealer combo, but it really does help you look more awake after a long night or too many
bottles glasses of wine. I use this under my eyes and on the high points of my face—the top of my cheekbones, middle of the forehead, and center of my chin—to brighten and banish discoloration.
3. It Cosmetics Your Skin But Better CC Cream: If I’m not using the Ilia Super Serum Skin Tint (Olivia is totally right about that one), I’ll always return to this CC cream. It has a cult following for a reason—you look airbrushed! It’s also super lightweight and has added SPF 50 protection, because unless you live in a cave, you need daily sunscreen. Do you want premature fine lines and wrinkles? No? Then wear some damn SPF.
Senior Marketing Manager
1. SkinCeuticals Physical Fusion UV Defense SPF 50: During the warmer months, especially, I am obsessive about my SPF usage. This fluid is super lightweight and stays on during outdoor runs (no melting down your face). It also provides the perfect amount of color for a “no makeup” makeup look!
2. Tula Face Filter Blurring Primer: I love a good multi-purpose product when it comes to skin care. This blurring primer is super moisturizing and is a simple and efficient one-step product to hydrate and perfect your skin.
3. Westman Atelier Vital Skin Foundation: My obsession with this gorgeous line is real. While technically a foundation, I reach for this for sheer coverage. Rather than applying to my entire face, I dab a few dots of this stick onto the center of my face and blend out for a natural look that’s perfect for any time of year.
Head of Sales & Brand Partnerships
1. Supergoop Bright Eyed 100 Mineral Sheer Eye Cream: This is a sheer under-eye brightener that doubles as a daytime eye cream. It doesn’t cover with color, but it offers an illuminating tint that helps me fake a 12-hour sleep. I apply it sparingly underneath my eyes in the morning and call it part of my skin-care routine.
2. Becca First Light Priming Filter Face Primer: The first time I used this stand-in for a base layer, my best friend asked why I was glowing. While this doesn’t really offer coverage, it certainly reflects light and illuminates my skin. I love using this on top of an invisible SPF on days when even a tinted moisturizer feels like too much makeup.
3. Cicapair Tiger Grass Color Correcting Treatment SPF 30: This skin care/makeup hybrid stole my heart when we first met. It arrived as a mini Sephora sample and made my skin look so flawless when I put it on that I purchased the full size before taking it off. Although it’s intended to combat redness with its color-correcting, green-to-beige application, it also disguises sun spots and acne scars, too. Sometimes I just pair this with a lightweight serum, and go!
1. Bareminerals Complexion Rescue: My makeup routine is lazy—I mean low-maintenance—and I’ve edited my makeup kit down to a few favorites that I use all year round. As someone with a love/hate relationship with my freckles, I’ve searched long and hard for a product that provides just the right amount of coverage without looking cakey. Bareminerals Complexion is just that, while keeping me hydrated and protected from the sun.
2. Elta MD Skincare Tinted Sunscreen: As with most of my favorite products, I discovered this one on a Coveteur photo shoot. When I’m in a rush or not in the mood for my full routine, this makes my complexion look even without it looking like I have anything on my face. Most mornings, it’s this and mascara, and I’m ready for Zoom.
3. Nudestix Tinted Blur Stix: This product is like a concealer and lightweight foundation in one. It goes on smooth and light—perfect for blending and evening out imperfections that don’t call for a heavy concealer.
Head of Production
1. AmorePacific Color Control Cushion Compact Foundation: I worship this ultra-luxe K-beauty brand. As someone who suffers from rosacea, but also hates the way a heavy foundation looks, it is near impossible for me to find a product that suits my very specific needs. I want something that looks natural and sheer, but can neutralize my constantly red cheeks. This is the miracle product that actually works. When I apply, all that pesky redness instantly disappears, and my skin is left looking airbrushed. And it has SPF 50. Could something be more perfect?
2. RMS Magic Luminizer: I am a huge clean-beauty advocate, and no one does it better than RMS. If I had to pick just one favorite from them (which is hard because all their skin care is amazing), it would be their luminizer. It comes in a little smudge pot, and all you have to do is dip your finger in and blend over the areas you want to highlight. It gives the most amazing, luminous glow—it’s like a selfie filter in a pot! My favorite thing about it is that the base of the formula is coconut oil, so it’s super hydrating, but also sort of melts into your face. Truly heaven.
3. La Mer The Reparative Skintint Broad Spectrum: This is a holy-grail product for a reason, and it’s a total must-have if you are looking for a lightweight tint that protects your skin. My favorite thing about this product is it is chock-full of antioxidants, so you can repair your skin while getting that coverage you need.
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