Let me first say I’m not at ALL a sunscreen lover. The natural ones make me ghostly white, and I don’t personally use chemical sunscreens (think oxybenzone, avobenzone, octisalate), which leaves me relying mostly on tinted mineral sunblocks for my face. (I don’t mind using the thick white stuff on my body if I’m going to be getting full sun- but my face is another story). Having said that, SPF is still a non negotiable for me. I'm very prone to hyperpigmentation, and after a round of three IPL sessions last year and having it STILL come back, keeping my face protected and taking preventative steps is my biggest skincare priority.
An ingredient I want to briefly mention that pertains to most of these products is dimethicone. As the "cone" ending implies, it is a silicone, and one that I generally stay away from. I prefer natural ingredients whenever possible. Now, it's debatable whether silicones in skincare products are pore clogging. Some experts say they are completely noncomedogenic, but in my personal experience I still feel that they are best avoided, particularly for acne prone skin types. Thankfully my acne days are over (knock on wood) so I felt ok using dimethicone containing products IF it meant I could find an SPF for my face that I actually like.
Which leads me back to these sunscreens- three out of four of them contain dimethicone, and I hate to admit it, but I like them the best. I'm no product formulator, but it's clear to me after testing these sunblocks out and wearing them all day, that the dimethicone just makes a nicer product that still looks really nice and natural by the end of the day. I've experienced zero breakouts or clogged pores. And so, reluctantly, I've allowed dimethicone into my life. But our relationship shall remain solely in the sunblock category. I still see no reason to put dimethicone in actual skincare products like serums and moisturizers- products whose priority is NOT to sit nicely on top of the skin, but rather feed, nourish, and absorb into the skin.
So without further ado, and with my full disclosure that I am trading in my usually rigid standards for clean products and allowing some potentially less "green" ingredients into my routine for the sake of sun protection, here are the tinted SPFs I have been testing out.
Skinmedica Essential Defense Mineral Shield- I picked this one up after trying it at the med spa where I had my IPL done. The tint is subtle enough that it just helps even out my skin tone without being too heavy. It goes on smooth, feels nice, overall I do really like this one. No complaints! It is my #2 pick out of these four products.
Super Serum Skin Tint SPF 40- After trying and liking the Skinmedica but still not loving that it wasn't the most natural product, I gave Ilia's new tinted SPF a try. It's formulated with squalane and shea butter (no dimethicone) and was awarded best clean foundation of 2020 by Glamour. I liked it at first. It's pretty heavily pigmented so it seems to go on a bit thick and did not seem to match my skin tone right away, but after a few minutes it blended in quite well. Sadly, my problem with this one is its wearability. It seems to look nice at first, but by the end of the day? It had settled into every fine line in my face, and actually appeared to be flaking off, causing my skin to look considerably drier and older than it is. And that's just not going to work. I SO wanted to like this one, because of it's cleaner ingredients, but at the end of the day (literally) I need an SPF that holds up.
TiZO Photoceutical AM Replenish SPF 40- Tinted- The Tizo sunblocks are highly touted among some top skincare experts. And by the ingredient deck, I guess I can see why. No crazy long ingredient list, plus some antioxidants like Vitamin C (and in THD ascorbate form at that- one of my favorites), Vitamin E, and skin barrier supporting ceramides. Surely, THIS must be the one! This will be the holy grail! Uh, no. This sunblock has dimethicone, like most of the others, but my problem was it just feels way TOO dimethicone-y. I know, I'm starting to sound like goldilocks. Not enough! Too much! One of the purposes of a silicone is to add glide and slide to a product. The problem with the Tizo, for me, was that it had SO much slip, it felt like it was slipping right off my face and not even staying on there. A completely bizarre feeling. Like it was actually resisting my skin. I feel like one swoop of my hand across my cheek and I would actually wipe it all off. Sadly, that's not going to work either. Plus, the tint seemed too matte, it really didn't do much to blend with my skin tone or compliment it in any way.
Peter Thomas Roth Max Mineral Naked Broad Spectrum SPF 45 UVA/UVB Protective Lotion- You know I was saving the best for last. And who would have thought? As unsuspecting SPF found easily at Sephora. I LOVE this SPF. The tint is just right, solid enough to even out my skin tone but subtle at the same time. It has some light reflecting particles that add a natural glow. It doesn't feel fake on my skin, and by the end of the day my skin still looks like my skin- and happy, hydrated skin at that. Of these four SPFs currently sitting in my bathroom, this is the one I look at with heart eyes.